In this era of iPhone and Android smartphones, Blackberry and Windows Phone-based smartphones have been largely overshadowed. The reason for this has mainly been the lack of a proper ecosystem, but the launch of the new BB 10 OS and Windows Phone 8 has signalled a comeback for the two OSes. Microsoft seems to be completely relying on a select handful of smartphone manufacturers; HTC, Samsung and Nokia are presently the only ones whipping out the latest from Microsoft. We did review the Nokia Lumia 920 recently and now we have the Lumia 820 with us. Let’s check out what Nokia has to offer its smartphone fans through this new entrant.
4.3-inch AMOLED display with 480 x 800 pixel resolution
Design and build
Nokia is well-known for producing phones with a solid build, be it for basic candy-bar feature phones or large-screen smartphones. The Luimia 820 is no different. The entire shell is well-crafted and at first, there is a feeling that the body cannot be opened up. There are no notches or indications to open the panel. But the rear panel does open up; it houses the battery and SIM and the memory card slot. Opening it is tricky and after a bit of practice, you can open it with ease. The glossy shell and rounded smooth edges make opening the back a struggle. Nokia has gone with an entirely glossy exterior that can be ruined if not handled with care. Looking on the bright side, if you end up with damaging the rear panel, you can always opt for a replacement to make the phone look new.
Volume, power, camera buttons on the right, micro USB on the bottom
Moving on, the handset weighs 160 grams, is around 9.9 mm thick and 68.5 mm wide, which means you can have a decent enough grip while handling or operating it.
The Lumia 820 has the power, volume and camera buttons on the right side. The top sports the 3.5-mm jack while the bottom has the micro USB port and a mono speaker. The rear only sports the 8MP camera with the dual-LED flash. The front is mainly occupied by the large 4.3-inch display panel which is highly glossy and easily gets smudged with finger-prints. So if you are one of those who are constantly on the move outdoors, make sure you don’t use it with sweaty hands. If possible, opt for a matte-finished screen shield, which could help in better visibility by reducing the fingerprints. Below the display is the standard row of WP capacitive buttons.
The rear panel, as mentioned earlier, can be replaced with different colours, which are optional and need to be purchased. Also available is a wireless charging shell option that contains the wireless charging module. Simply swap out the standard rear panel with this one and you can juice up the battery without connecting any wires at all. Yes, you would also have to buy the wireless charging mat or pod, which does not come cheap.
Thickness of 9.9 mm, weighs 160 g
The Nokia 820 packs a powerful dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor clocked at 1.5GHz. The graphics processor paired with the main processor is the Adreno 225 and a decent amount of 1GB RAM is provided for the system. The operating system is Windows Phone 8. The screen is a nice 4.3-inch AMOLED-based Nokia ClearBlack display with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels. The pixel density is 217 ppi, which makes the picture quality pleasant and crisp. The internal storage is just 8GB of which around 5GB is available for the user’s data. We recommend opting for a 32GB or a 64GB microSD card while purchasing the handset in order to have sufficient storage. The camera featured here is a Carl Zeiss optics-based 8MP with dual LED flash, which is capable of taking full high definition 1080p videos at 30 fps. The front camera is a standard VGA camera for video chats. Connectivity options are dual-band Wi-Fi with 802.11 a/b/g/n interface, 3G with HSDPA at 42 Mbps, NFC, Bluetooth v3.1 with A2DP and LTE, which sadly is not available here as yet. What we found missing on the handset is the video output in the form of AV or HDMI. Most Android-based entry-level tablets and mainstream smartphones sport HDMI out, but this one lacks it. The handset is powered by a 1650 mAh battery and bundled along are the charger, a pair of earphones and a micro USB cable.
8MP camera on the rear with dual-LED flash
Since it runs the speedy Windows Phone 8 OS, the handset performs superbly right out of the box. The user interface is very fluid and we did not find any glitches whatsoever. The only complaint from the user side could be the relative lack of ease of use, especially when getting around the UI to make calls, type texts, pull up some videos or even getting to the settings. For someone coming to Windows Phone from Symbian, Java or Android, which usually have basic functions within easy reach, this is a completely different experience. Well, this issue is not much of a complaint and the user should get accustomed to the phone in no time.
Wireless charging kit needs to be purchased seperately
On the performance front, it would be difficult to judge the actual strength of the handset because of the operating system. Though the hardware is almost similar to most Android-based dual-core processor smartphones, the operating system plays a very important role in making the hardware dance to its tunes. For example, the IOS is developed and tuned to take advantage in the best possible manner of the hardware it runs on, and hence the super-fluid interface and flawless operation. But again, to make things a little less confusing, AnTuTu Benchmark was run on the 820 and the score obtained was 11789. If we had to go with this score as a final, we could state that the 820 is a tad slower than the Samsung Galaxy SIII which features a Quad Core 1.5GHz processor. But as we said, the operating system matters and the actual performance can be compared only to a handset with similar specs and operating system. Just for the record, we also ran the PhoneMark and PiMobile benchmark, which gave us results of 885 and 30251 respectively.
Rear panels are available in various colors
We did state earlier that the user interface is pretty fluid and swift. We did not notice any lag whatsoever at any given stage. Transitions from the main tiled homescreen to the application drawer and the apps happens as though there is no bottleneck anywhere. A nice feature of WP8 is the integration of third-party apps and content into the core apps. For example, one can jump to the CNN app from the Music + Videos app to watch videos of news. Though this is a good feature, some may find it irritating and confusing. However, once you know your phone well, it will be the simplest and smoothest way to switch between connected apps. Users from other operating systems might find it a bit difficult to navigate around the new OS, but trust us, a few hours with your new phone and you shall definitely get accustomed to it.
User interface is very smooth and swift
Display and media
The AMOLED display sports a resolution of just 480 x 800 pixels, but the quality of the pictures and videos are crisp and clear and could make an onlooker think it is an HD display. The colour levels are great, pictures are crisp and the black levels are too good—thanks to the Nokia ClearBlack Display and the AMOLED. Being an AMOLED display, the Nokia Lumia 820 has awesome viewing angles and remains stable from every position you hold it. The sad part is the display’s surface, which is very glossy and picks up fingerprints very quickly. This causes a big issue for the display to be visible in broad daylight. Also, the brightness levels are a bit lower than one would expect and could have been better considering the high-glossy and reflective screen in front of it. These facts do effect the display quality when outdoors, but even though there are complaints here, the readability is pretty fair outdoors.
AMOLED display, crisp colours, deep blacks.
Out of the box, the 820 plays MP4, H.263/264 and WMV files without a glitch. Installing a third-party video player will enable playback of many other formats without fail. The built-in video player plays standard and high definition 720p videos without any glitch. Full HD 1080p videos are almost flawless with an extremely minute jitter in fast motion videos, but the problem is not detectable most of the times and one can enjoy full HD videos for sure.
The onboard speaker is loud enough but is not as clear. Casual music and videos are good enough to be used with the phone’s speaker, but if you want to enjoy good audio, you should use the bundled handsfree. The handsfree on our white review unit was an all-white in-ear type and has good quality cords. There is an inline microphone on the right earpiece cord. The audio quality is very good and we bet you won’t complain.
Outdoor pictures are dull and not very sharp
Built using the Carl Zeiss optics, the 8MP rear camera should have been a good shooter and at least should have been comparable to the elder sibling, the Nokia Lumia 920. However, outdoor shots are a bit below average. Photos are not as sharp; the contrast levels are low and the images are a little grainy. In broad sunlight, the image looks as though it was shot in a shade. Indoor shoots are decent enough, but not impressive. Close-ups are the same with average colour levels and sharpness, and the images are a bit dull. To sum up the camera performance, we have to say there was a little disappointment here.
Indoor shots are not as great either
Close-ups are decent, but lack sharpness again.
The power is drawn from the 1650 mAh battery, which seems sufficient enough for around three days of casual usage and talking, as per the manufacturer's claim. We did our verification by running a standard definition video in a continuous loop and it lasted us a good 9 hours and 30 minutes. Using it for other purposes such as surfing over 3G or Wi-Fi, shooting photos and videos or gaming would give you a different running time – and this would differ from person to person and their usage habits. As usual, anyone using a new phone would tend to use it more often till he or she is bored of it. The battery life would then vary and be more than what you got initially. Overall, the battery life is definitely good enough, at least when comparing it with standard Android-based smartphones.
1650 mAh battery. Rear panel can be changed for wireless charging option
To sum up the whole experience with the Lumia 820, we would state that the Windows Phone 8 seems pretty impressive because of the fluid user interface and stable performance. A few downsides on the hardware front, such as the camera performance and the glossy surface of the display and shell, can be ignored. If you are just diving into the smartphone zone and were to opt for the Lumia 820, we are sure it won’t disappoint you, but if you are coming from other operating systems such as Android, iPhone or Blackberry, you might be a bit lost in the initial stages. But sooner or later, you shall definitely get a hang of it and all will be stable. Some features like phone UI personalisation, for example, having your own wallpaper like you can do on almost all phones, is what you will be missing out on. But finally, the smooth user interface, the good battery life, the crisp display quality and the solid build quality of the Lumia 820 is something other manufacturers could learn something from.
If you are looking for a mid-range phone or your first smartphone, the Lumia 820 is a good choice. However, there are other equally powerful smartphones in the same price range, which cannot be ignored. We suggest you ask your friends and do a bit of research on what you can buy in this price range, or if you can raise your budget by almost Rs 10,000, opting for the Lumia 920 is a much better idea.
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Oct 28, 2016