Enter the Nokia Lumia 920. It’s round two for Nokia to try and prove itself to its fans as being a company that’s still quite relevant in the smartphone game. The Lumia 920 is its latest flagship device for Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 platform. HTC beat Nokia to the punch by launching its 8X first, ushering in the new Windows Phone 8 age in India. But it wasn’t a race, so no winners here. So, we’ve done a review based on just the specifications as well as a hands on with the Lumia 920. We’ve also done come comparisons pitting it against other high-end devices like the 8X and the iPhone 5 based on specs and camera samples respectively. This is our official review of the Lumia 920 after using it for a few days and putting it through its paces.
Our first impression is that the Lumia 920 is a good looking handset, but it’s large and rather bulky as well. Take into account the fact that HTC has a super slick looking WP8 device and the 920 comes off in quite a bad light. It does, however, feel very sturdy just like the Lumia 800 and 900. Unfortunately, like both its predecessors, this one too is quite heavy at 185 g. There also seems to be an offset of balance as the upper portion of the handset seems to be slightly heavier. The 920 also features a unibody design form, which means no access to the battery and no support for additional memory over and above the 32GB of onboard storage.
All buttons are placed on the right
All buttons are concentrated on the right side of the handset starting with the volume rocker, power/screen lock and the camera’s activation/shutter release button. A MicroUSB port is located at the bottom while a 3.5 mm handsfree socket is placed at the top near the SIM card (micro) tray. The now famous PureView camera (8 megapixel) with Carl Zeiss optics is just slightly off centre on the rear panel with dual LEDs for the flash. There’s also a 1.3MP front facing camera placed right next to the earpiece.
Lastly, Nokia Lumia 920 has one of the most impressive displays yet. With a 768 x 1280 pixel resolution spread across the 4.5-inch display and 332ppi, the screen is crisp at all times and easily legible with colours that really pop. Nokia has included what it terms a PureMotion HD+ display and coupled it with its ClearBlack technology to make it more appealing to your eyes. Being an IPS LCD panel also ensures that your visual experience is as good as possible. The display is also sheltered by Corning Gorilla Glass 2, which we noticed was quite handy in keeping scratches at bay.
The rear panel is host to the advanced PureView camera
The Lumia 920’s glossy shells are colorful and very chic, but a matt or rubberised option would have made the handset easier to grip.
Features and performance
The Lumia 920 comes running Microsoft’s Windows Mobile 8 on a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor of the 1.5GHz dual core variety (Krait with 1GB RAM). The OS on its own is smooth and quite fluid and there’s a slight (only a slight) improvement in motion blur reduction while scrolling thanks to the PureMotion HD+ display. The Windows phone 8 platform offers quite a bit in terms of it being a very user friendly, clutter free setup. Where it sorely lacks is in the application department. The lack of popular application support for this OS will be a make or break type situation for a handset this highly priced.
The Lumia 920 with Windows Phone 8's new Start screen
The new Windows Phone 8 homescreen with the options to resize tiles comes in very handy as you can fit so much more on the page and still keep it neat and tidy. Pop-up messages that show up on the upper part of the display can easily be accessed with a simple tap. The keypad is still just as good as it was in the older devices. It’s large and well spaced out, but should have had tap-and-hold characters. Transitions and animations are smooth with no lag.
Thanks to the USB mass storage accessibility and non requirement of the Zune software for media transfer, it’s a simple drag and drop option now for movies and music alike. The music player’s interface is very well set up, but the biggest issue is that one has to go to the settings menu in order to adjust the EQ or to switch the Dolby enhancement on or off. This should have been made accessible right from the player interface. Tone quality is quite above average. With the help of Dolby and the 7 band customisable graphic EQ option, or the many presets, the audio proved to be really good.
Great audio that gets better thanks to Dolby and the presets
You can access your music via the dedicated music app or via the Nokia Music app that also gives you access to a lot of online content for streaming audio. The same service also lets you download music for free onto your device. For some reason, we were unable to do so as we kept getting a “Network problem” error. Mix Radio is an ad hoc streaming service for online music. You can choose from multiple languages as well as genres etc. A Podcast option is also available.
The new Windows Phone 8 comes preloaded with quite a few video codecs that support MP4, WMV and a few AVI formats as well. Full HD videos in the supported formats play without a hitch and thanks to the vibrant display, they look really good while doing it. Another plus point for the WP8 system.
To start with, the Lumia 920 features an LTE (FDD) that isn’t supported in India, so you’ll have to stick to 3G or EDGE. Wi-Fi (dual band) support is also provisioned and so is NFC and Bluetooth (with A2DP and EDR) for data transfer. With an Internet sharing option thrown in, you can set your phone up to be a Wi-Fi hotspot whenever you need it. The Wi-Fi also comes in handy for DLNA.
Web page rending is swift and setting up accounts can be a little buggy at times
WP8’s IE browser with full support for HTML5 is as swift and easy to use as they come. There are a couple of alternatives available on the Market as well, including US Browser. It’s not too hard to set up your email, Outlook or social networking accounts, but we did have issues with syncing some accounts including our Microsoft Hotmail account. In some case, it would only sync our email or contacts and sometimes it would sync the rest but not contacts. “800xxx” errors seem to be a plague on Windows Mobile device. The Contacts or People tab syncs with your FB account and it’s well integrated with the social network.
Offline maps are a Godsend
GPS with GLONASS is on board to support Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive as well as other location-based services like City Lens etc. Nokia Drive is a well-designed mapping application that’s extremely versatile. Maps are available for pan India and quite a few other countries as well. The maps themselves are downloaded to your handset's memory and are very usable offline.
Like the others, the Lumia 920 WP8 handset also comes with One Note and Office that allows you to access SkyDrive, email and documents stored on your handset. Angry Birds Roost has been preloaded, allowing you to access all the goodies from Rovio’s best seller. Of course, the game is not free on this platform. On the application store for WP8, Nokia has a list of apps available for the handset. They range from freebies to those that are priced at Rs. 160. The Xbox game tile lets you access your downloaded games and your Xbox account. Wireless charging is also another capability of the Lumia 920. However, all the charging stations are accessories you'll have to purchase as extras. The handset can also be set to activate a few chosen features via NFC when placed on any of the wireless charging stations.
A few extras thrown in
And now for the piece de resistance – Nokia’s famous PureView camera. In the settings, you’ll find Scene options, ISO settings, Exposure control, White Balance and more. Nokia has also thrown in four lenses that include Panorama; Cinemagraph, which lets you capture animated images; and Smart Shoot that’s a brilliant feature giving you the ability to capture multiple images, choosing the best one and removing unnecessary obstacles from the way. Bing Vision lets you scan QR codes. There are also a few edit options for cropping or auto fixing images.
Here are a few samples taken from the 8MP camera:
In Close Up mode (scenes), the closest focus range is 7 cm from the subject. The depth of field is the shallowest (background blur) for that range as you can see in the image. Images appeared very crisp with colours looking quite vibrant.
Low Light, Night Mode
Low light shooting is this cameras forte. The Night scene mode keeps the shutter open for a longer time, allowing the camera to expose the scene optimally in low light. The Lumia 920 did this beautifully. The PureView’s floating lenses technology is handy for slight handshakes, but we recommend resting your handset on a surface for the best results.
Standard Out Door
The overall exposure, white balance and colour reproduction proved to be well above average for mobile camera technology. The Lumia 920’s camera is definitely one of the best out there in the mobile domain.
The handset can also capture videos in 1080p full HD and once again, the floating lens comes to the rescue to counter movement. The front camera can also record videos in 720p HD.
We compared the Lumia 92 with a series of devices you can check out those links below –
Versus the HTC 8X
Versus the Apple iPhone 5
We even compared the device to digicams like the Galaxy Camera and a Lumix TZ30.
Nokia Lumia 920’s 2000mAh battery managed to give us a full day’s usage on a full charge. Usage included almost 20 images captured in low light, 2 hours 45 minutes of video, constantly accessing email accounts and social networks and a few calls as well. It works out to be quite an asset. The system also comes with battery saving options as well that we estimate will extend battery life by a couple of hours at least.
Wireless charging uses the Qi standard already available in many accessories.
The bottom line
Nokia has launched the Lumia 920 for a whopping Rs 38,000. That’s quite a hefty price tag all things considered. But that being said, the handset is easily the highest spec'd WP8 device available for India right now. It does have its kinks with the lack of expandable memory and possibly its biggest issue is constraint by an ecosystem that’s in dire need of apps. However, Nokia has tried to offer a few choice apps to compensate. So while the bulky, heavyset smartphone should have been better priced, you do end up with a product featuring a really great camera, decent battery and a great mapping software. If that’s what you’re interested in, the Lumia 920 satiates your needs.
Nokia should, however, consider the fact that in today’s fast-paced smartphone world, they still have to deal with tough competition from competing operating systems and better spec'd handsets at lower prices.
For a comparison of the 920 vs the HTC 8X click here.
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Oct 27, 2016
Oct 27, 2016