- Display size: 4.5 ''
- Display technology: IPS
Loads of features from the PureView camera; Crisp, vibrant display; simple solid design; excellent Nokia apps; wireless charging.
Short battery life; weighty
"The Nokia Lumia 920 boasts some unusual features, some great apps, neat camera features and also offers wireless charging. The only thing is you’ll have to charge it twice a day and take a portable charger if you venture outdoors"
Nokia certainly thinks a lot of the Lumia 920, which we’ve all been waiting for. This is the first smartphone from Nokia to run Windows Phone 8 – and it’s a 4G phone too. Nokia tells us it has the ‘best camera’, the ‘best display’ and the ‘best design’. That’s quite a lot to live up to, so how does it do?
Design is always rather a subjective thing – but we do really like the rounded finish and simple design of the Lumia 920. It reminds us rather of the Lumia 900, boasting the same flat edge on the bottom and top. However, it is rather weighty, so when you pick it up you notice that before you get to admire the glossy colour or the smooth plastic chassis. It comes in at 185g, making it probably one of the heaviest handsets around. After a while you don’t notice, but at first it feels like you’re carrying a brick around in your pocket.
The power button, volume toggles and camera key sit on the right side, which leaves the left side bare. On top you’ll find the micro SIM card slot – it uses the ‘pin hole’ design, so you’ll need a paper clip handy if you want to open it to get at your card.
The front of the handset is covered by a single glass panel, which also features a trio of touch-sensitive keys for search, Windows and back. The back and edges are rounded, so that the handset sits nicely in the hand. It doesn’t have a textured reverse side, but it sits securely because of its weight. And it certainly looks good, although our white review model attracted dirt and fingerprints – but you can choose a red, black or yellow handset.
The display measures 4.5 inches – which positions it in the middle between the 4.8-inch display on the Samsung Ativ S and the 4.3-inch screen on the Windows Phone 8X from HTC. The display is really bright, making it easy to view in bright indoor lighting or out in bright sunlight. Colours are bold and the viewing angles are wide, so it’s easy to watch a film with a friend. The screen is responsive too – it reacts instantly to each swipe and poke – you can even use it if you’re wearing gloves – handy with winter on its way. The display is amazingly sensitive, which really impressed us.
The resolution comes in at 1280x768, which offers sharp images – and watching 720p HD films is also impressive, which is a bonus if you want to use 4G LTE and quickly download movies. If you enjoy watching sports or action films, the inclusion of Nokia’s own Pure HD Motion + technology will be a bonus. It means you lose out on the motion blur that often occurs when you’re watching football, for instance. In fact we tried it out with a variety of sports (oh how we suffer to bring you the most comprehensive reviews!) and the technology did its job every time.
We got the power
Under the hood sits a dual-core Qualcomm chip that runs at 1.5Gz. Teamed with 1 GB of RAM, it ensures that the phone can cope with any game or app you test it with. It’s as powerful as the Windows Phone 8X by HTC.
Storage space adds up to a massive 32GB, twice as much as the HTC 8X offers. Although remember there’s no memory card slot – if you do need more space, there’s 7GB of cloud space on offer.
The camera on board is of the ‘PureView’ kind, which is Nokia’s own special camera. We last saw one on the Nokia 808 PureView, and it produced some great images, even if the handset itself was a tad unwieldy. So, we headed off to test out the 8.7-megapixel snapper on the Lumia 920.
Hold down the shutter key and the camera app will fire up from hibernation mode in about three seconds. Press the key again and your snap is taken. In good light, the quality is impressive, but where it really excels is in low light, Come dusk most smartphone cameras show their true colours, and the Lumia 920 offered up great colours, brighter shots and more details. This is apparently all down to its floating lens which is able to stay open for longer than your average lens, which reduces the occurrence of blurring. However, we still experienced some blur, and would suggest you instead tap the display to focus and take your snap.
It is also possible to grab Full HD video. Image stabilisation does a good job here – we were impressed with the video quality when viewed on a monitor – and that floating lens helps to cut down on shake and hand wobbles.
And there’s more…
As well as its camera features, the Lumia 920 also has some other intriguing offerings for those who like taking images. Cinemagraph, for instance, is a neat tool that will capture a scene over several seconds, and then you can keep any movement from that time as an image inside the still image, for example, you shoot your dog galloping around the park – you can freeze all the other people in the park and keep your hound moving. It looks like time has stopped and is amazingly cool. The resulting file is saved as a GIF so you can watch it on a computer – we had great fun experimenting with this.
Another app we enjoyed is SmartShoot, which lets you take a number of shots just by pushing the shutter button down – rather like the burst shot mode on handsets such as the HTC One X. Choose your favourite image from the series and you can get rid of the rest. It’s only a shame that you have to fire up the app first before you can use SmartShoot. On other handsets such as the Motorola Razr I and One X, you just hold down the shutter button.
Look mum, no wires
An interesting feature on the Lumia 920 is its wireless charging facility. Some retailers will sell the phone with the wireless charging plate bundled, otherwise it costs £45 to buy separately. All you do is plug in the charging plate and you can sit the Lumia on top, and it will start charging straight away. It saves having to fiddle around plugging in a charger and takes around four hours to get a full charge. We’re hoping that businesses will take this up so that eventually you’ll be able to charge up your phone in a coffee shop while you’re having a drink.
The Lumia 920 also supports NFC, so that in the future you’ll be able to use your phone like a virtual wallet to pay for things, rather like the Oyster card on the London underground. Until that happens, though, you can use it to share files with other NFC handsets. Nokia is also plugging NFC as a way to stream music – sit the handset on top of a special JCB speaker and it will not only stream music to it, but also charge it at the same time. There are also wireless headphones available from Monster, which sync up to the Lumia, which will save you getting caught up in the headphone cables.
Already onboard is Microsoft’s mobile Office app, as well as some other treats from Windows Phone 8. Nokia has also included its impressive Drive and Maps app. Maps is far superior to the Windows Phone 8 maps app, and does a great job of searching for street names, places of interest and putting together driving and walking directions using your current location.
Another useful app is Nokia City Lens, which highlights the best hotels, shops, attractions and restaurants in your local city, although we couldn't actually get it to work, so can’t offer a review of it. Hopefully this will be sorted before the phone hits the shelves.
Nokia offers a neat music service called Nokia Music. If you’re short on funds it’s handy because it offers the chance to play special mixes to your handset for free – there’s no need to sign up to accounts and it is possible to download up to four favourites – that’s around 12 hours of music. You get info and cover art with each song and it is possible to pay to download a song if there’s something you really like.
The only shame is that it is not possible to see a track listing for the mix before you fire it up – and that’s even more galling because you’re only allowed to skip six tracks each hour. However, as this is a free service we can’t moan too much – although we’re not impressed when One Direction comes on and we’ve hit our skip limit. However, the service has introduced us to some tracks we’d never heard before, and being able to download mixes is a great feature we weren’t expecting.
One oddity that occurred was when we plugged in the earphones – sound wouldn’t always reroute to them and instead continued to play through the handset’s speakers. It happened sporadically but enough to be annoying.
The major issue with the Nokia Lumia 920 is its disappointing battery life (the same issue we had with the Windows Phone 8X by HTC). We had the battery fully charged before we streamed an hour of music, sent some emails and texts, played with some apps, surfed the net for 15 minutes and took a few pictures. The battery had drained in only eight hours.
We tried all the usual tricks – turning down the brightness of the screen, switching off Wi-Fi and getting rid of music streaming. This gained us another 24 hours, when used with the battery saver mode, which shuts down apps not in use and turns off auto-syncing. We hope Nokia will bring some updates to lengthen battery life – it did this with the Lumia 800.
Stream video and you’ll only get three hours before the juice drains. That’s about half the time we’d expect from a smartphone. This is not good is you’re planning to sign up to a 4G plan and want to stream video regularly. And we suggest you buy a portable battery charger.
The Lumia 920 from Nokia offers some great features that you won’t see on other Windows Phone 8 handsets. There’s the excellent Drive, Maps and music apps, plus that impressive PureView floating lens snapper and some neat NFC offerings. And of course it’s a 4G-compatible handset too. The curvy, colourful chasses may weigh a lot, but it’s solid and only that disappointing battery life lets it down.
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