Nokia unveiled the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 way back in September last year and it took quite a while for the phones to find their way on to Indian shores. Continuing the theme, here's our slightly belated review of the Nokia Lumia 920.
The first thing you notice about the Nokia Lumia 920, no doubt, is the bulk. The device may not be as large as the Galaxy Note II, but somehow Nokia has managed to make it heavier than Samsung's phablet. Once you get past the weight, however, there's plenty to like.
The Nokia Lumia 920 is solidly built out of a polycarbonate unibody shell that goes all around the device and offers a welcome change if you've been living in the Samsung world of plastic for too long. The left side of the phone is completely bare, giving way to the Micro-SIM slot on the top left. The 3.5mm headphone/mic jack is at the centre of the top edge, adjacent to a noise-cancelling microphone. The right edge has the volume rocker, power-button and the camera button, in a typical Windows Phone button arrangement.
The bottom edge comes with the micro-USB port flanked on either side by a rather cute looking speaker grill. Nokia Lumia 920 is one of the few phones that manages to have two visible screws without flipping the ugly switch over. The back has Nokia/ Carl Zeiss branding alongside the dual-LED flash. The front has an earpiece grill and a front camera next to Nokia branding at the top, with three capacitive touch buttons rounding off a typical Windows Phone device look.
Nokia has put in plenty of work on the display of the Lumia 920 and thrown in a helping of buzzwords for good measure - PureMotion HD+, ClearBlack and the likes. So does that translate into a great viewing experience? By and large, yes.
Nokia has ditched the AMOLED display found in the Lumia 900 and gone with a 4.5-inch IPS LCD with 768x1280 resolution in its latest flagship. We've always been fans of truer colours that the IPS LCD represent and while colours on AMOLED may look 'prettier', even its biggest proponents have started moving away from the technology, given the obvious inaccuracies in colour reproduction.
Overall, the Nokia Lumia 920 offers best in class viewing experience, indoors as well as outdoors. Yes, we did give the touchscreen a spin while wearing gloves and yes, it does work as advertised.
Much has been written about the camera in the Nokia Lumia 920. The camera carries the PureView moniker, made famous by the 41-megapixel Nokia 808. Unfortunately, the Nokia Lumia 920 does not have the 41-megapixel sensor or the oversampling technology found in the 808, so we're not sure what component of 'PureView' technology has been carried forward here. Nonetheless, the camera doesn't let us down.
There are two things that the Nokia Lumia 920 camera does better than any other camera-phone out there. The first is photography under low-light conditions, where the Lumia 920's imaging capabilities really come to light (excuse the bad pun). Images clicked in poor light conditions using the Lumia 920 are much better than those clicked with the iPhone 5, perhaps the Lumia 920's closest match in low-light photography. However, if you really cherish a shot, we would recommend clicking an extra snap or two, since the results can be a little bit unpredictable in terms of which object gains focus.
The other area where we can safely say the Lumia 920 is lightyears ahead of the competition if image stabilisation. We shot side-by-side videos taken with the Lumia 920 and competition, and the difference was like night and day. Nokia has suspended the entire Lumia 920 optical assembly using tiny springs that absorb shocks and the results are stunning. If you are fond of taking videos on the move, or just have the hands of a drunken sailor like us, you'll love the Nokia Lumia 920's cameras.
Windows Phone 8 introduced the concept of camera lenses, which let you see and click images in a "different light". Nokia Lumia 920 comes with Bing Vision, Panorama, Cinemagraph and Smart Shoot lenses to cater to various shooting moods and requirements.
The Nokia Lumia 920 comes with Windows Phone 8, Microsoft's latest mobile-OS that ships with multiple improvements like enhanced performance, multi-core processor support, NFC and more. Lumia 920, of course, benefits from these and the focus in this review will be to highlight the non-core software components of the Lumia 920.
While Windows Phone 8 doesn't offer much flexibility to the manufacturer in terms of customising the OS, Nokia has managed to include a few apps that may well prove to be the differentiator compared to the competition. The Lumia 920 comes with popular apps like Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps and Nokia Music, as well as other Nokia apps like Nokia Care and Nokia City Lens. We're big fans of the Nokia Drive app - as documented in the Nokia 808 review and as far as we are concerned, Nokia continues to set the benchmark in navigation apps, even ahead of Google Maps.
Two other services we like are Nokia Maps, which is a huge improvement over the stock Bing Maps and Nokia Music, that offers unlimited music free for a year. We've had mixed results with the City Lens app, though your mileage may vary. All in all, thanks to a small but important lineup of exclusive apps, the Lumia 920 offers a compelling option once you've decided to go ahead with Windows Phone 8.
But is Windows Phone 8 itself worth your time? Sure, if you can look past a rather bare looking app store and other annoyances like the app-installation procedure that requires a few too-many clicks to get back to what we are doing. Windows Phone could surely do with an improved notification system as well. But if you're a first-time smartphone buyer, or looking for a change from the monotony of the Android/ iOS world, Windows Phone 8 offers a pretty solid alternative.
Performance/ Battery Life
Windows Phone 8 paved the way for multi-core processors to find their way to Microsoft's mobile world, with earlier versions limited to single-core processors. The current generation of flagships including the Lumia 920 promptly utilise the enhanced capabilities by shipping with dual-core chips, and the benefit, is there to be seen.
The Nokia Lumia 920 suffered from no noticeable delays during our time spent with the device and handled pretty much everything we threw at it without any problems. Battery life is unlikely to be a problem even for heavy users, and you can expect to go by an entire day on a single recharge.
Nokia Lumia 920's release can perhaps be termed unfortunately timed. The current generation of flagship Android devices from the likes of Samsung and HTC have been around for a while and have benefited from one or more rounds of price-cuts, to the point that they are available at a considerable price advantage compared to the Lumia, even when their original prices weren't too dissimilar compared to the 920's. In this environment, it is understandable that customers would be tempted to pick up more impressively specced devices at lower prices.
Having said that, both the camera and the display are as good as money can buy at the moment and if you're willing to give Windows Phone a spin, we definitely recommend giving the Lumia 920 a second look. At Rs. 38,199, the Lumia 920 is slightly more expensive than HTC's flagship Windows Phone 8 device, the HTC 8X, which is priced at Rs. 35,023. However, given Lumia 920's superiority over the 8X in terms of the camera, display as well as bundled apps, we give Nokia's offering a slight edge.
Price: Rs. 38,199
Lumia 920 and 820 in pics