Review: Nokia Lumia 920 – The Classy Affair

Introduction:

Lumia 920 is that one and the only phone to come out of the Finnish HQ making lots of noise. After some not so good quarters with not so good phones, Nokia finally seems to have got it right. Lumia 920 has that real Nokia DNA. From PureView camera and highly praised design to the display, everything that one would boast about.

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But as they say “with great powers come great responsibilities”, Lumia 920 has lot of burden on its shoulders than its predecessors had. It would need to help the former Finnish giant hold its ground in the highly competitive market where there’s very less left for others after Android and iOS. It’s not just the Nokia that needed a phone like this but the whole Windows Phone camp desperately needed one. Today, Lumia has become synonyms with Windows Phone so it has a task to represent the Windows Phone in the perfect suit with all its glory. Let’s see if it lives upto all these expectations.

 

Design:

Lumia 920 is based on the same design as older Lumia 900/800 which again have their roots in N9, where all this started. But the design has been tweaked to suit the needs of the flagship. First of all, there is no curved glass display like on the three devices we devices we mentioned above but it’s not completely flat either with the main body. Lumia 920 again uses polycarbonate unibody design which makes it one of the solid devices out there but it has gained some fat also. At 185gms, Lumia 920 is certainly bulkier and when you compare it to its lighter competitors like HTC 8X the difference becomes even more significant. Well that’s the trade-off for the number of technologies it brings along.

Lumia 920 has a 4.5″ display, biggest in Nokia portfolio so far. Unlike Lumia 800/Lumia 900 which had AMOLED displays, Lumia 920 uses LCD IPS display. If you thought there’s no fancy then wait. Don’t come to conclusions so soon. It has HD+ (1280x768p) display which gives the pixel density of 332 ppi. Plus it’s the first to have 60Hz refresh rate, first on smartphones which prevents ghosting. And Nokia didn’t forget to put their ClearBlack technology atop it. We guess it’s getting too technical here but the truth to be told. Although it’s just a LCD display, it has surprisingly great contrast ratio. Sure, it will not be able to catch AMOLED displays here but it goes near it by producing very deep shades of black. That’s not the usual stuff for sure. It also has good viewing angles something which you don’t see in LCD segment very often.

Display mixes so well with the bezel that if the device is locked you won’t be able to tell where it starts and where it ends exactly. Thanks to the ClearBlack (polarization layer) equipped glass above it which makes all these possible. The so called ClearBlack also has great readability even under the direct sunlight. The same glass also encloses the buttons, front camera, ambient and proximity sensors and even the earpiece grill.

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The Lumia 920 has a curved back which gives it the good grip and the polycarbonate body isn’t too smooth. Just perfect we’d say. There is a small yet much needed improvement since N9. The silver plate around the camera in the previous devices would get scratched easily and to a magnitude that it’d become a spot on the gorgeous design. This time it’s made up of ceramic zirconium which makes it less vulnerable to scratches.

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The top of the phone has a microSIM slot and a 3.5mm audio jack. Nokia provides a nice little pin to open the microSIM tray. The design is much of a standard across the WP8 portfolio. The benefit here is that you don’t really have to get used to the new things when you switch the devices. Given the dimensions of Lumia 920, another sensible thing that Nokia has done is putting the power button on the right side. Lumia 920 design is very comfortable to hold as well. The height to width ratio is very good which makes it easy to hold the device and makes it possible to use it with one hand. You can reach the extreme corners easily without any hassle. This is where Lumia 820 misses the mark. On the right there is also a volume rocker and camera key.

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Much like other WP 8 handsets Lumia 920 doesn’t have anything on left side either. “Bare nothing” kind of. Although there are two loudspeaker grills, Lumia 920 has mono output only. Don’t mistake it for the stereo output. Lumia 920 design also exposes couple of screws on both bottom and top. To make the servicing easier, maybe. It’s not for you and us, we think. And there’s also a microUSB on the bottom. We wonder why much useful lanyard socket is vanishing from new smartphones. Now only if it could be lighter. Don’t wear low waist jeans if you’re gonna carry Lumia 920 around. Oh, we’re just kidding.

Hardware, Performance and Battery:

Lumia 920 is powered by the dual core Snapdragon S4 Krait core CPU while graphic operations are handled by the Adreno 225. This configuration is quite powerful. We didn’t bother to run benchmarks since most of them are optimized for Windows Phone 7 phones with single core processor. But in the real life we didn’t face any lag or sluggishness. It’s not just the hardware but operating system is very well tuned which results in the lag free experience.

The Lumia 920 has 32GB of internal memory and there’s no microSD slot for further memory expansion. Windows Phone 8 doesn’t allow apps to be stored on SD card so the phones like Lumia 820 are crippled. But that’s not the issue with Lumia 920 since it has plenty of internal space. Out of 32 GB, only 26GB is usable. Then there’s wireless charging present aboard as well but you need separate accessory for that.

The battery life on Lumia 920 was just excellent. The 2000 mAh battery has enough juice. Our usage pattern would return more than 20 hrs of battery life. Our handset would be tied to WiFi for syncing mails, surfing and tweeting and sometimes gaming. It could be different for others. If in case you’re getting not so good battery life, we’d advise you to turn off the NFC or tap-to-send in phone settings which in our case was initially the culprit for low battery life.

Camera:

If there’s one feature of the Lumia 920 that made lot of noise on the web then it’s its PureView camera. Thank 808 PureView for giving the meaning to that word. For anyone hoping to see 41 MP camera, no Lumia 920 doesn’t have one. Rather it has a 8.7 MP camera which is still termed PureView. As Nokia calls it, it’s the PureView phase two. 808 PV was for lossless zoom and superb picture details while Lumia 920 is for better night shots. It does what it is supposed to do and is excellent at its job.
The Lumia 920 has f/2.0 compared to f/2.4 of 808 and the sensor produces 1.4 micron pixel. All these combined lets the more light in which in turn produces better photos in low light environment. We all have faced blurriness photos while taking photos in low light since camera is exposed for the longer duration of the time. And not that everyone has steady hands. Nokia has tackled this issue by embedding the OIS (Optical Image Stabilization). The OIS in Lumia 920 moves the entire optical assembly whenever the shakes are detected. OIS has been used in only high end stand alone cameras. Lumia 920 is the first cameraphone to embed this technology and improved it further. As Nokia claims, it’s around 50% more improved than the conventional OIS system. It can detect 500 movements per second. This helps to eliminate the possible blurriness in during low light shots. It’s not limited to just low light shots; it will help you take photos irrespective of the lighting condition.

We put Lumia 920 against Lumia 820 for low light test. Note that even Lumia 820 takes good low light photos but there are some conditions where no phone can catch Lumia 920. In low light conditions such as evening time, the photos taken will look like the ones taken in bright light. Things seem very bright. In the clear daylight condition though, it slightly disappoints. Sometimes even in very well lit conditions it tends to over expose the photos. And secondly, photos in the daylight are sometime not as sharp as you’d expect. That seems to be the more of the software problem. Here are some samples,

Photos:

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Videos:
Sample 1

Sample 2

Sample 3

Nokia Apps

The great thing about having a Lumia Windows Phone device is that you get lots of stuff which are otherwise not available on other handsets.

First off, it’s Nokia’s mapping and navigation suite. It consists of Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive+. Both of them are proven to be one of the solid SatNav solutions out there. With Windows Phone 8 it gets even better. Previously on Windows Phone 7, offline maps were only available for use with Nokia Drive but with Windows Phone 8 the Nokia Maps app can use them as well. Now you might argue that offline maps are now standard option in Windows Phone 8. But that’s it. Nokia takes the experience to the next level. It offers precise walking, driving or even public transport directions. There is a dedicated app for public transport called Nokia Transport. So if in a case you’re planning for a journey using the available public transport it’ll give you all the info you need. Additionally Nokia Maps has public transport view and traffic view to show you detailed information about each.

Unlike standard Windows Phone maps, Nokia Drive+ offers full fledged voice guided navigation. Nokia Drive+ immediately calculates the new route in case you miss a turn on the suggested route. And you don’t even need to have active data connection for it to work.

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           Nokia Drive+                           Nokia Drive+

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             Nokia Transit

Couple it with Nokia City Lenses and you have even better experience. It makes use of the camera viewfinder to show you the places around you. You hold your phone horizontally, it switches to the maps mode. Hold it vertically in 90 degress it starts showing list of the places to choose from.

Nokia also has special apps to use with the camera on your Lumia phones. Nokia Cinemagraph to create animations on the go, Nokia Creative studio for image editing, Smart Shot lens for brilliant group photos and Panorama lens to obviously capture panoramic photos. We’ll see them one by one.

Nokia Cinemagraph basically captures multiple frames of some duration,let’s you choose which part of the frame stays in the motion while rest of the frame stays still. Final output is a gif file. Next is Nokia Creative Studio. It offers a basic set of image editing tools. For starters it lets you quickly add funky color effects to you pictures. If you hit the more advanced edit mode, you get to fix the color balance, brightness etc. in your pictures. You can even remove red eye effect too.

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    Nokia Creative Studio

Panorama lens by Nokia is pretty much self descriptive. Let’s talk about Smart shot. We all have sometime captured photos of friends or family in which someone has closed their eyes or is making a weird face and you always wished to correct the photo which is nearly impossible unless you’re really good at photoshop. For users like me and you Smart Shot is the solution and it works on the spot, on demand. When you use Smart Shot it captures around 10-15 frames. From there you can chose the best shot. It doesn’t end here. You can even replace the faces from the selected frame with the one from another frames.

Nokia Music is another hit feature. Music lovers are so in love with it. What makes it special is the unlimited access to the huge song library and it’s absolutely free. You just need to register your phone with your Nokia account. And the music is also DRM free. Mind you it’s free only for a year, thereafter you’ll need to purchase the subscription.

Conclusion:

Lumia 920 makes for a proper flagship not just for Nokia but also for the whole Windows Phone series. It holds its ground against all the odds and rival Androids. Lumia 920 is sure to blow your mind away. Lumia 920 doesn’t just talk about number of cores and megapixels. It does what it says and does it 100% right. The only thing that would turn off some of you is the limited 32GB memory and the hefty price tag. And anyone who is going to use it’s camera to the fullest they are right. The camera features that Lumia 920 is offering were hard to find even in top-end Androids. The only recent phone that offers similar features is HTC One. It is yet to hit the shelves.  If you’re not convinced with its hardware features, it comes with apps that only Nokia provides like HERE Maps and excellent navigation with Nokia Drive. And their camera apps make full use of the camera like never seen before. It’s retailing around Rs.36,000 which seems not too fair even to us but that’s the truth. Apart from these there’s nothing in Lumia 920 that should disappoint you.

If you’re a loyal Nokia user who has been waiting for the proper Lumia phone this is the one you should get. Talking about the consumer’s perspective, yes Windows Phone 8 is much better and usable than Windows Phone 7. If you’re concerned about your favorite apps, then we gotta tell you that the scene is improving. Developers are showing willingness to develop for it but the change is not going to happen overnight. But there are now plenty of apps. There are still few quirks that Microsoft still needs to iron out but the current state isn’t bad either.

We’re not going to talk about the competition today because for us there’s nothing that comes close to this phone. This one has a class of its own. Take it or leave it.