Nokia Lumia 920 Review
Nokia Lumia 920
The Lumia 920 is the flagship model for Nokia’s highly publicised Lumia series sporting the new Windows Phone 8 operating system. After seeing and hearing so many reviews about the device, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on its shiny new polycarbonate casing and dynamic live tiles. But will it live up to our high expectations? And how will it compare to the slightly smaller, and cheaper, Lumia 820?Reviewed by Charlotte Kertrestel
The first thing I noticed on taking the Nokia Lumia 920 out of its packaging was its weight; at 185g, the device comes in at a massive 50g more than other models, including the larger screened Samsung Galaxy S3. Although I said the same thing about the Lumia 820, I didn’t think that a newly released smartphone would feel quite so heavy in your hand, especially considering that most smartphone designers are going down the route of slim, light devices.
Another difference that I found when comparing the 820 and 920 was the phones’ shapes. While I really liked the 820’s rounded edges, which made the phone soft and easy to hold, the 920’s rather sharp corners make the phone slightly uncomfortable to hold. The only advantage of this design feature is, however, the fat that the phone’s speakers are located at the base of the device, meaning that when the phone was laid down it did not muffle the sound in any way.
The Lumia 920’s impressive 332 ppi pixel density really makes the most of the Windows Phone 8’s brightly coloured and dynamic looking home screen, and towers over the S3’s 306ppi. However, whilst the screen quality of the 4.5 inch 920 is also better than the 4.3 inch 820 at 217 ppi density, I found that even when both phones were set to maximum brightness, the 820 made colours and objects appear more strikingly than on the larger handset.
The polycarbonate casing that features on the Lumia range has also made an appearance on the 920, and gives the phone a comfortable and high quality feel, which resists bumps and scratches much better than some models. The only downside is that you cannot remove the back casing from the handset, meaning that you cannot change the battery or insert additional storage. However, the Lumia 920 redeems itself on this front as it comes with a built-in 32GB of memory, which is perfectly adequate, and is far superior to the 820’s 8GB.
Phone Set Up
The Nokia Lumia 920 is pretty fast, run by a 1.5 GHz Krait processor, and the model boasts a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset. In terms of specs, the 920 is right up there amongst the likes of the Galaxy S3 and the HTC One X.
What makes the Nokia stand out from most other phones on the market, though, is its operating system. In many ways it’s the Lumia range’s operating system that makes the phones one to watch out for. The OS’s home screen is based on a series of live tiles which update in real time, making the interface look really dynamic and modern. I like the way that the tiles are organised into categories by colour; for instance, you might make the business applications such as Microsoft Office blue, all social apps red and the games and music icons yellow, in order to make it easier to work your way around the home screen. Unlike most Android apps, the Windows Phone 8 OS allows you to increase and decrease the size of each tile on the home page in accordance to how frequently you use each app. You can also customise the home page, not by importing a photograph as is custom with most smartphones, but by changing the colour of the backgrounds and tiles. You don’t miss out on being able to gaze at your favourite photo of you and your girlfriend, or of the beach from your last holiday as your home screen, though, as the Windows Phone 8 OS allows you to set your own lock screen, meaning you get the best of both worlds in terms of customisation.
One feature which appears on both the Nokia Lumia 820 and 920 is the Nokia Wallet app which essentially does what it says on the tin. The app stores all the details and information that you will keep in your wallet or purse such as credit or debit cards, membership cards and vouchers. It’s a great way to store everything in a safe, PIN-protected manner which stops those annoying moments when you get to, say Pizza Hut and remember that you’ve left your discount voucher at home!
The app also works like many banking apps, allowing you to keep track of statements, balances and transactions, which is particularly great if you have accounts with more than one bank, as you can check them all using the Wallet app as opposed to separately via the bank’s own apps.
Many people have commented about the lack of apps available in the Windows Phone app store, due to its relative youth in the smartphone arena. While this is true to an extent, I did find that the majority of apps that I use on a daily basis were available, such as Facebook, Twitter and the Met Office app, and for apps that weren’t offered, either Microsoft or Nokia have made alternatives available.
The only issue that I did find was that many of the Nokia apps were in the app store which I felt could have been pre-installed on the phone, making their existence more obvious to the user on first application.
The Nokia Music app is a great app which puts all of your tunes, the Mix Radio, and music store all in one place for ease of use. Not only can you listen to the most played charts or new releases using the app, but you can also find out all of the upcoming gigs in your area. The Gigs option uses GPS to locate where you are and to find out all of the big and small artists and bands which are playing in the next week or so wherever you are. By selecting the artist, you can discover who, when and where the artist is playing, how far away it is from your current location and how to buy tickets.
City Lens is another great app which appears on the 820 as well. It essentially allows you to explore an area, however familiar you may or may not be with it, by discovering the nearest places to, say, eat and drink, or go out. The app is pre-installed on the phone and allows you to search for hotels, shops, famous sights, fun places to visit, restaurants and cafes and even local transport links. The app is brilliant if you find yourself in a new place and wanting a miniature Tourist Information at your fingertips, or even if you just want to discover the nearest place to your office which serves a much needed caffeine boost!
One major drawback for many users with the Windows Phone 8 OS is the concept of not having access to the thousands of apps that Android and iOS devices offer. While this may be a downside of the Nokia Lumia 920 for the time being, I feel that it is an issue which will be resolved given time, as more apps are made compatible with the relatively new OS.
One such app which isn’t currently available in the Microsoft app store is Instagram. However, I found the Lomogram app for free in the app store, which essentially does the exact same thing. And although I felt that some of the filters didn’t quite measure up to Instagram standards, I found that there were many more filters available to apply to your photographs.
PhotoBeamer is one of those apps which I found might not be the most useful in enhancing your day-to-day life with your Lumia 920, though I thought it was pretty cool. It essentially allows you to transfer all of your photos from your phone to a friend’s computer or phone screen by holding your phone up to it. It’s a really quick way of sharing photos, and allows you to see how images will look when they are blown up on a larger screen than your 4.5 inch smartphone display.
Camera & Video
The Lumia 920, like the 820, features an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera, which I found to be of a fairly high quality. The lens offers 3264x2448 pixels and Carl Zeiss optics. The camera itself is located in the centre of the handset, which differs from the 820, where it is situated at the top of the handset, which makes taking landscape photos much more centrally focussed.
First of all I tested the camera out in my house one evening, in order to see how it reacted to low-light. And I’d give the 920 a thumbs up as it developed some good quality photographs which emerged brightly even without the flash on. The ring that appears on the camera screen makes manually focusing on a certain object really easy and effective, as you can see from the photos in the gallery to the left.
Initially I really liked the physical camera button located on the right of the phone, as it made the device feel more like a real camera. However, when I took photographs in a portrait orientation, I found it difficult to stretch my thumb to the physical camera button, and often found myself using two hands which was a little annoying. Also, I feel that not having a touch button to snap photos would make it more difficult for left-handed users as well.
That said, I felt that the camera reacted really well, especially bringing out all of the striking colours of the football flag, pictured on the left. The only thing that I was disappointed about, however, was the lack of editing options after I had taken the photographs. Apart from rotating and cropping the images, there was no option to add different filters or borders to the shots, meaning that you would have to install one of the photo-editing apps mentioned above in order to funk up your photos.
I found that the video camera was really easy to switch to from the main camera screen, and at 1080 at 30 frames per second, produced decent quality videos which picked up backgraound sound well. You can also record using the front-facing camera, which is a real bonus considering most phones don't have this function.
I was initially quite impressed with the Lumia 920’s battery life, especially when compared with the new Nexus 4 which used a fair amount of battery even when it was sat idle. That said, the Lumia 920 wouldn’t win any awards for its outstanding battery life either.
When left idle, as with most phones, the battery didn’t drain too quickly, but when I used the phone’s apps and camera features, I found that I had to charge the phone by the end of the day. It probably doesn’t help that the cool-looking live tiles on the 920’s home page use up a fair amount of juice just by being there! However, I would say that it’s worth having to charge the phone more often to benefit from the dynamic, interactive tiles, the predominant feature which gives the phone a real Windows identity.
Unlike the Lumia 820, however, the back casing is not removable on the 920, which means you don’t have the option of replacing the battery in an emergency.