Nokia Lumia 720 preview: a slim and 'trendy' Windows Phone 8 handset for the social networking set (update: video)

Nokia Lumia 720 preview a slim and 'trendy' Windows Phone 8 handset for the social networking set update video

It's what the 920 should've been -- the Lumia 720, that is. And that's likely what other press will claim, as well. From the moment Nokia laid the slim, 4.3-inch device in our hands, it was apparent the company has a different user in its sights: the hyper-social and style-obsessed. With a profile of 9mm, the Lumia 720 is now the thinnest Windows Phone 8 device in the Finnish company's lineup. And it's also the "trendiest," as Nokia will no doubt remind you in its eventual marketing. So, you can forget about dazzling specs -- the 720's demo supposedly isn't concerned with bleeding-edge tech. In fact, some of what you'll find in the 720 can also be found in its lowest-end cousin, the 520; like that dual-core 1GHz Snapdragon processor and 800 x 480 Sensitive Touch display.

The question then is: what makes this Lumia sleek enough for the fashion crowd (and their tiny purses and skinny jeans)? At its base, the 720 is all about color(s) and camera, just not in the way the Lumia 920 was. For starters, the slight-looking 720 will come in five different shades (matte: cyan, yellow, black and red; glossy: white) and includes a 1.3-megapixel front facer with wide-angle lens and a new 6.7-megapixel rear camera module with f/1.9 lens (developed with Carl Zeiss labs) for low-light performance. There's also a new digital lens Nokia's pre-installed, dubbed Glam Me, to give selfies (aka personal portrait shots) an extra bit of sheen -- something Nokia tells us its Asian users are clamoring for. Apparently, this new filter adds the ability to whiten teeth, widen eyes, soften skin and even overlay a rainy-day window or magazine-like layouts to shots.

As we've seen with other stylishly built smartphones in the past, a focus on design doesn't always necessarily translate to a great, ergonomic fit. That's not so with the 720. Hold it in your hand and you'll immediately notice its weight is evenly distributed, so it doesn't register as heavy, despite its 2,000mAh battery. And because its edges are softly curved, your fingers will wrap comfortably around and rest on the screen which, itself, melds gently into the polycarbonate body. In short, you'll be hard-pressed to find any hard edges.

The Lumia 720 also marks the first time Nokia's added an expansion slot for microSD (up to 64GB) into one of its polycarbonate builds. Add that to the 8GB of inbuilt memory and complementary 7GB of SkyDrive storage, and users have plenty of space for their multimedia files at the ready. To access that slot (located on the phone's upper right edge), however, you'll need one of those pin keys -- the same goes for the SIM slot on the top right. As for its hard key layout, all of those buttons (volume, power and dedicated camera key) reside on the right, with nothing but a 3.5mm headphone jack up top and microUSB port at its base.

Around back, the Lumia 720's rear camera module is housed neatly in that familiar metallic strip, which also plays host to the Carl Zeiss branding, with the flash off to the left. Move further down and you'll see a tiny, circular speaker grille on the left and three pin connectors for an optional wireless charging cover. In addition to offering these protective, charging cases, Nokia's also introducing a wireless charging car dock with NFC, so users can juice up and launch the Drive app while they... drive.

Unfortunately, it appears Nokia's restricting the 720's availability to very select regions, with an concentration on the Asian market (China Mobile is a confirmed carrier). Plans for a US bow are up in the air, but even when it comes to Europe, Nokia admitted it doesn't expect operators currently enmeshed in LTE rollouts to commit to the HSPA+ device. When it does make its initial market debut in Q2 2013, expect to see it retail for €249 (about $330 USD).

Brad Molen and Sharif Sakr contributed to this post.