In this Nokia Lumia 920 review, Mister Mobility shares his experience with using the first Windows Phone 8 smartphone to come our way here at MOBILITY Towers. We were eager to play with it, and we have done so for about a week now. Come along with him on this journey.
I have used the Lumia 920 as my primary smartphone in a diverse range of circumstances. I know that you are itching to read what I have to say about this device. That is understandable, as how it fares can make or break the prospects of Windows Phone as a platform. Let’s begin with the traditional quick specifications.
Nokia Lumia 920 review: Quick Specs
– Dimensions: 130.3 x 70.8 x 10.7 mm
– Weight: 185g
– Dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait plus Adreno 225 GPU
– 4.5 inch PureMotion HD+ ClearBlack display with Gorilla Glass 2, with 768 x 1280 pixel resolution
– Windows Phone 8
– 8MP camera, with Carl Zeiss optics, optical image stabilisation and dual-LED flash
– Support for 3G WCDMA (HSDPA) network up to 42.2 Mbps, and LTE
– Dolby Headphone audio
– 32GB internal memory
– 1GB RAM
– 2000mAh Li-on battery
– Wireless/Inductive charging
– Wifi Hotspot
– USB Mass Storage
– Bluetooth File Transfer
– No system-wide file manager
– No media downloads in browser
– No 3G-only network mode
Nokia Lumia 920 review: Introduction
In terms of design and looks, the Lumia 920 sticks to the legacy of the N9 and its older Windows Phone 7 cousin, the Lumia 900. I like that identity. It is beautiful. Pick it up and you can feel the solid build and attention to details that went into the hardware. Traditional Nokia.
If you do not have another phone in hand when you pick up the 920, chances are that you will not feel the weight right there and then. But even at that, if you hold the phone in one hand for more than a few minutes, a small ache in your wrist tells you that this device is heavier than what you have been used to. 185g is high-end in 2012. Some don’t mind the weight; others do.
Nokia Lumia 920 review: Software
The Lumia 920 runs windows Phone 8, which visually is only different from Windows Phone 7 on the homescreen. Most of everything else are similar. The homescreen’s live tiles are now more flexible, allowing users to pin tiles of up to three (3) different sizes. This means that you are able to pin so many more applications on the home screen. This is very useful and convenient.
You can find out more about Windows Phone 8 here.
Nokia Lumia 920 review: Display
The Lumia 920’s display is gorgeous. It is very sharp, as it has a higher pixel density than even the iPhone 5’s Retina display, There’s ClearBlack and PureMotion HD+, which Nokia says makes it the most responsive display out there. It feels like it too. I was unable to test it out wearing gloves. The display also has Gorilla Glass 2 to protect it from those scratches.
Nokia Lumia 920 review: Web, Gmail and Email
However, you will find some iOS-style limitations as well. There is no support for download of media files. When you attempt to download an audio or video file, the browser launches the respective media player and streams the media. The option to save is not available.
Email is nice and easy-to-use. there’s conversation support, and multiple email accounts can be linked together. The old Windows Phone 7 limitations are still there though. For example, type out an email, then select the attachment icon to attach a file, and you’re presented with the picture gallery! Only pictures can be attached from inside the email application. Sending Office files by email is supported, but the action can only be initiated from within the Office hub.
Gmail is supported too, and the phone can be setup to synchronise your contacts and calendars as well.
Nokia Lumia 920 review: Multimedia
The Lumia 920 is quite capable on the multimedia front. Audio quality is good, though not as superb as what obtains on the 808 PureView. Volume is better though, and the placement of the loudspeakers at the bottom end of the device just makes sense. As such, audio is not muffled when you put the phone down.
Video playback is quite good too. HD video is played back nicely. AVI and WMV files play, but I observe that while some MP4 files are supported and show up in the Videos gallery, some others do not. It looks to me that MP4 files encoded in H.264 are not supported, as Steve Litchfield’s Phones Show files are not supported on the 920. I am guessing though that if you synchronise them via Zune desktop software, they will get converted and can then be accessed on the phone.
FM Radio is not on board this baby. This is odd, as FM Radio is present on the older, Windows Phone 7 Lumia 610.
I was able to get media (audio and video) files on to the Lumia 920 via Bluetooth file transfer, via mass storage, and via Zune desktop software. But attempting to download from the web browser or from Dropbox resulted in the files being streamed. Another iOS-style limitation? I am sure that many old-time Nokia fans will prefer the option to actually download the media to the phone.
I also found that video files transferred by Bluetooth do not show up in the video gallery. After the transfer is completed, a prompt to view the file is displayed and I am able to view it. But I am unable to find it again once I exit that view. And since there is no system-wide file manager, it is as good as not having the file on the phone. Bummer.
Nokia Lumia 920 review: Navigation
Nokia Maps is on board here, with the ability to download maps for offline use. Voice guidance is here too. If you have used Nokia Maps before, you know that it is currently the best navigation app on mobile.
Nokia Lumia 920 review: Camera
The Lumia 920 packs an 8 megapixel camera with optical image stabilisation, LED flash, and HD video recording. The camera is a joy to use for taking pictures. Point the lens, tap the screen to focus and shoot. Very convenient. The average user will enjoy the convenience, and while I am more than the average user, I am liking it too.
The camera produces good shots in daylight and simply unbelievable shots in the dark. If I didn’t know better, I would call it witchcraft. Here is a sample comparison shot taken against its cousin, the Nokia 808 PureView:
You can enjoy more comparison shots from the 920’s camera here.
Nokia Lumia 920 review: Office
The Office hub allows you to read, create and edit Office documents. Documents can be saved on (or opened from) the phone, SkyDrive, or Office 365. You create only new Word and Excel documents. As far as I can see, PowerPoint documents cannot be created. In editing a Word document, I couldn’t find a way to insert a table. However, colours, highlights and text formatting work well.
There is a “Share” option in the menu, but only via email. The option to send Office files via Bluetooth or any other channel does not exist.
Nokia Lumia 920 review: Social Networking
Social networking is integrated into the Windows phone 8 OS like it is on no other. If you have set it up before, when you sign in to your Microsoft account and the OS automatically signs you up into all your social networking accounts. If it is your first time, you get to configure it. Supported services include Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
All your contacts’ updates are displayed in the People hub, and you are able to respond to these. The Me hub lets you post your own updates too. It is all nicely done, though it doesn’t give you the full functionality that you are used to in the official apps or even other 3rd party apps. Depending on your needs, you may want to install alternative apps to enjoy those missing features.
Nokia Lumia 920 review: Windows Phone Apps
There are more than enough apps available in the Windows Phone Store – over 120,000 at last count, and still growing. As shown in my earlier article, I was able to setup the older Lumia 610 with free apps for my everyday needs without issues.
But what about paid apps? Was I able to purchase an app from the Windows Phone Store? Yes!!!! It was easy-pie with my ATM/VISA debit card issued by my bank. My test purchase was the “Battery Level for WP8” app, which costs only £0.79 (N210.54). Screenshot below (with my bank account details blotted out, of course).
Nokia Lumia 920 review: Performance
The Lumia 920 performs like a champ. Everything works smoothly. It really is a joy to use. The processor and RAM seems quite adequate, because I leave a webpage open and return to meet it there. No reloading, even with multiple tabs open. That is a pleasant surprise. There is nothing else to say but that Windows Phone 8 is a smooth job on the 920.
Nokia Lumia 920 review: Battery Life
Battery life is not particularly outstanding. With moderate use, the 920 will take you through a day. More extensive use, especially if you have set it to switch between 2G and 3G automatically, and you will need to recharge before the day is up.
If you want to stretch out your battery longer, you can disable SkyDrive auto-upload, auto backups, Connect with Xbox Music, and lower the frequency of your email synchronisation.
The Nokia Lumia 920 can be charged via standard microUSB plug, or via a special charging plate. How it works? Plug the charging plate into a mains socket and put your plate on your desk or a table. To charge your phone at any time, just put it down on the plate face-up. It starts charging. You want to do something on your phone? Pick it up. When done, just place it back on the plate. Read more on Wireless charging on the Lumia 920.
Nokia Lumia 920 review: Conclusions
The Lumia 920 is a superb piece of work from Nokia and boasts huge improvements over the first generation Windows Phone (7) smartphones from the Finnish maker. The Lumia 920 delivers a lot of what long-time Nokia smartphone fans have been asking for – Bluetooth file transfer and USB mass storage being key. It delivers a fresh new user interface too. But it still borrows a few of the restrictions of iOS.
Does it stand a chance out there? Most definitely. It is not for everyone, but then no phone is for everyone. The iPhone isn’t. The Galaxy S3 isn’t. As things stand, if you are looking for a flagship smartphone that does what it does well, the Lumia 920 has put Nokia back in the smartphone game. And that brings to a wrap my Nokia Lumia 920 review.