Today, we take a look at the most awaited and much delayed review of Nokia’s latest flagship Windows Phone 8 device, the Nokia Lumia 920. Like our review, the device itself has been one of the most awaited and sadly, much delayed, smartphones in 2013. Nokia have had issues with the supply chain ever since they launched the Lumia 920 in the US back in November last year. Being branded as the first WP8 phone with PureView camera technology, Lumia 920 went off to a great start in the US & then in Europe. It was launched at a questionable price in India last month. Let’s see if it warrants such high pricing and how it stacks up against its main competitors like HTC 8X, Apple iPhone 5 & Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
Hardware & Design
From a distance, Lumia 920 is absolutely gorgeous. Those vibrant colors like Yellow, Cyan & Red for the back-panel makes the phone beautiful. But once you lift the phone for the first time, you realize that it’s bulky. Very bulky. At 185g, Lumia 920 has to be one of the heaviest smartphones in the market right now. It’s heavier than Galaxy Note2, Nokia 808 PureView & even that good old Nokia N900. But once you start using it on a daily basis, you’ll forget the weight factor, as Nokia has ensured that the weight is evenly distributed from top to bottom.
The polycarbonate unibody shell is similar to what we had seen with Nokia Lumia 800 & 900, but the back panel is glossier and the edges are curved a little more, ensuring better grip. All the ports are neatly accessible, including the power/sleep button & volume buttons (unlike HTC 8X). There is a dedicated button for the camera on the right, while the microSD slot is completely missing. The back cover is beautiful with a neatly placed Nokia branding along with an 8 mega-pixel Carl-Zeiss lens. For those who prefer sober colors, Lumia 920 comes in Black and White as well.
Lumia 920 is powered by a 1.5GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor & 1GB RAM. Though the navigation around the OS looks slick (typical of Windows Phone 8), some apps take forever to load, making us feel if the phone is indeed making use of all the power in the first place. Once loaded, most of these apps work great, but slow load times can be annoying at times.
Nokia Lumia 920 carries a 4.5-inch IPS LCD display with 768×1280 resolution. Thanks to ClearBlack technology, you get to see deeper blacks, richer colors and crispy text. The highly responsive touchscreen experience, coupled with super-smooth Windows Phone 8 OS is a delight to use. The Sunlight enhancement works as advertised and does a very good job of combating the glare or lack of visibility during sunny days. Increased sensitivity ensures that you can operate the phone even with your gloves on during winter.
Well, this has to be the biggest PLUS of Lumia 920. The camera comes with the much acclaimed PureView technology, which we saw in Nokia 808 last year. Unlike the enormous 41 megapixel sensor on Nokia 808, Lumia 920 carries an 8 megapixel sensor, which doesn’t disappoint in most cases.
The camera on Lumia 920 takes stunning pictures in low-light conditions, even better than iPhone 5 in most cases. There are multiple of customizations and options provided under Photo settings, which is typical of Nokia. Sadly, under certain situations, the Auto mode fails to capture & retain the color details. If you’re someone who know about ISO & white balance, you should be able to capture amazing pictures with Lumia 920. If you are an amateur, Nokia has added useful features like camera lenses, Panorama, Cinemagraph & Smart shoot.
When it comes to video capture, Lumia 920 scores big time, thanks to features like Optical Image Stabilization. If you’re someone who like to take videos on the move, you’d love the camera on Lumia 920. OIS is more than a buzzword and far from gimmick. It really works. At times you’ll be able to make out the image stabilized part of the video, but at large it works as advertised and ensures stunning results. The video capturing capability is what made me ditch my DSLR & camcorder, and go with Lumia 920 alone during the whole of CES 2013. Below is a sample video shot with Lumia 920.
Here comes the most questionable part of the whole package. Windows Phone 8 came with a lot of promise. As we discussed in our detailed review, WP8 does a lot of things right. Features like Kid’s corner are innovative and useful. The navigation is butter smooth and you won’t feel the lag at all. Lockscreen looks refreshing, and with addition of notifications, it’s more useful than ever. Skydrive is tightly integrated with the OS, and with 7GB of free storage it covers the cloud-based needs of most people. Browsing with IE10 is fast, and WP8 offers the best experience for Microsoft Office.
But Windows Phone 8 is far from perfect. There are lot of small annoyances like absence of a proper notification center. Live Tiles look great, but they’re hampered when you’ve lots of apps and get loads of notifications. As a power user, it kept annoying me throughout my two-week long usage. Same with third party apps. Though the situation has improved immensely over the past few months, WP8 still struggles with absence of top quality apps. Even though it’s the third biggest mobile platform, it struggles to get the top app developers on board. Sure, there are alternatives for missing top apps like Instagram, Tweetbot or Google Maps, but the choice is limited and looks forced for most parts.
But one place where Lumia 920 thrives is with Nokia made apps like Nokia Drive & Nokia Maps. Though Nokia Maps has replaced Bing Maps as the default Maps app on WP8, Lumia phones have some exclusive features like transit information. Nokia Drive is possible the best Navigation app available on any platform. Nokia Music is also exclusive to Lumia phones and offers unlimited music free for a year. Other apps like Photobeamer & City Lens are extremely useful.
Nokia Lumia 920 is by far the best Windows Phone 8 right now. Though we liked the build quality of HTC 8X, Lumia 920 scores big with X-factor features like PureView camera & Optical Image Stabilization. How it stacks up against the likes of Apple iPhone 5 or Android biggies like Galaxy note 2, Google Nexus 4 & HTC Butterfly, is majorly dependent on how much you like Windows Phone 8 over iOS or Android.
As for the pricing, it’s extremely well priced in the US. At $99 with two-year contract on AT&T, it’s a steal.But in markets like India, the pricing looks dicey. With an MRP of Rs. 38199 (and MOP of Rs. 36000), it’s pricier than market biggies like Galaxy Note 2 & Galaxy S3.
If you are new to smartphone market and/or if you can live with the lack of apps and other WP8 related issues like absence of notification center, Lumia 920 is a great choice. It has a beautiful design, wonderful display, best-in-class camera, a highly responsive operating system and futuristic features like Wireless charging.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10