What's for sure is that the Lumia 920 has a promising set of specs: a 4.5-inch HD ClearBlack display with 1280 x 768 resolution and Gorilla Glass 2, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 4S dual-core processor clocked at 1.5 GHz, 1 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal memory (non-expandable, with 26 GB available for use) and an 8.7 Megapixel camera sensor with an optical image stabiliser.
But what is this smartphone—one of the first in a number of recent Windows Phone 8 releases—really worth? Is the camera function as good as Nokia says? What about the battery life?
Here's what we think...
DESIGN & HANDLING
After carrying the HTC 8X around for a while, the Lumia 920 can't help but feel bulky in comparison. And it is. Big, thick and, frankly, not very light (185 g) compared to the iPhone 5 (112 g) and HTC 8X (130 g), Nokia's newest addition stands out both in public and in your pocket. It does feel nice to the touch, though, and, as one should expect from Nokia, the finishing is impeccable.
But the weight really is daunting; it flies in the face of the current trend brands have undertaken to reduce their smartphone tonnage to a minimum. Nokia insists this is the price you pay for a camera sensor with a real (i.e. not digital) image stabiliser and a plus-size 2,000 mAh battery. On the upside, it makes the phone feel solid and reliable.
As for the look, hey, it's a question of taste. To appreciate its stripped-down, minimalist appeal you have to like plastic (good quality plastic), flashy colours (it's advertised in a range of zany colours but also comes in black and white)... and phones shaped like a brick. If it's anodised metal, matte soft-touch casings and Kevlar-style rock-solid materials you're looking for, then you're in the wrong place.
The ON/OFF button is somewhat awkwardly located on the side. We think it would have been more practical at the top of the phone, which would have made it easier to take screenshots with one hand (by simultaneously touching the Windows button and pressing ON/OFF).
The Nokia Lumia 920 has good, standard connectivity (MicroUSB for charging and transferring data and a 3.5 mm headphone jack) and a more-than-welcome dedicated camera button. Microsoft has finally decided to allow brands to include expandable memory on their Windows Phones, but Nokia—like HTC with the 8X—isn't having it. The most memory you can get on a Lumia 920 is 26 GB, end of story.
The Lumia 920's screen is jam-packed with pixels, offering superb resolution with tons of detail and no visible pixels; it's generally a very well-balanced image.
The colours are stunning, with a Delta E of 3.7 (Delta E measures how true the onscreen colours are to reality, where the closer to zero the better). The Lumia 920 is one of the smartphones with the most accurate colours, alongside the HTC 8X, iPhone 5 and LG Optimus 4X HD.
The brightness is just as outstanding, with backlighting that goes up to 410 cd/m², compared to 374 cd/m² on the HTC 8X. And while it may not boast the contrast of an AMOLED screen, which produce deeper blacks, the contrast is nonetheless quite impressive at 724:1. In use, this screen is a real pleasure to look at, remaining perfectly legible in the sunlight.
If you want to increase its legibility even further and accentuate the contrast, when, say, you're outside at the park, you can always switch the OS's background to white.
get to decide which apps and content their kids have access to. Great idea!
Here's one of our favourite things about this phone: you can use it with gloves on. Yes, the screen stays precise even when you're wearing big winter mitts! We'd say it's about time all of the competition did the same thing with all of their tablets and smartphones...
INTERFACE & NAVIGATION
Windows Phone 8 isn't a complete departure from 7.5, but it does have some new features that are great additions to Microsoft's enjoyable operating system. We went over all these features (SkyDrive for calendar sharing, notes, photos with different contact groups, the Kid's Corner, etc.) in detail in this article. All the popular features from WP7 (the Office suite, 7 GB of free online storage on SkyDrive, OneNote, etc.) you'll still find in WP8.
In terms of performance the Lumia 920 is just as good as the HTC 8X, the other flagship Windows Phone we reviewed yesterday. In other words it runs super-smoothly and is as responsive as they come. Whether you're flipping between web pages, scrolling quickly down the Facebook newsfeed or downloading an app, the Lumia 920 obeys, no questions asked. This phone is living proof that a stable operating system combined with powerful, optimised hardware produces good results.
When it comes to raw figures, the benchmarks are similar to the 8X: the processing speed has nothing to envy of competing chipsets—although the 3D graphics (GPU) are a tad behind.
Nokia's Lumia product line has a number of exclusive apps such as Nokia Transport, Nokia Drive, Nokia Music and Nokia Explore. Each of these free apps is handy because just like Nokia Maps, which comes with all Windows Phones, they're both efficient and well-thought-out.
Nokia Drive: an effective navigation system, exclusive on all Lumia models
Nokia Explore: basically like the app AroundMe
Nokia City Lens, another exclusive Lumia app, uses augmented reality to suggest area restaurants, stores, movie theatres, etc.
Nokia Transport is a practical, thorough exclusive app
The voice command function, which you can get to by touching the Windows Phone icon for a couple of seconds, works well... from time to time. It doesn't always understand your requests (to open the agenda, see what traffic's like, read a text message, call Mom...), but when it does it executes them quickly. Like Siri, S-Voice and the like, software updates should help improve this service.
The Windows Store may not be as well stocked as the Apple App Store, especially when it comes to games, but it has good apps that you want to download, even the paying ones. SmartGlass is an app that helps bolster the gaming experience by allowing you to control your Xbox 360 with the phone (also available on Android and iOS).
But there are also a number of popular apps that still haven't made their way to the Windows Store, such as Instagram and Dropbox (although you do have SkyDrive for cloud storage and sharing).
Nokia is hailing the Lumia 920 as a smartphone with an unrivalled digital camera that uses its optical (as opposed to digital) image stabiliser and PureView technology to produce stunning photographs even in low lighting. Is this true? Does it really pummel the competition? No, not all of the competition—and not all of the time. That's the conclusion we reached a few days ago when we published our camera test results, which you can refer to for more details.
In low lighting the Lumia 920 is currently the best camera phone of its kind, there's no questioning that. It has excellent white balance and produces sharp images. Now, in almost complete darkness the iPhone 5 produces an image where you can actually see something, as opposed to other smartphones with which you can hardly even make out the forms. But in the same conditions the Lumia 920 produces shots where you can see a lot of things. It has less noise, more detail and more accurate colours... In dark settings, the Lumia 920 has the best digital camera of any smartphone we've seen.
In other settings, such as in daylight or in a room with average lighting, the sensor gives far inferior results, with decent rendering around the centre of the shot but a clear lack of consistency everywhere else. At those times (i.e. most of the day) the Lumia 920 is indeed not the best camera phone on the market. The iPhone 5 beats it. And the HTC 8X beats it, despite over-accentuating the contours of objects.
Nokia has hinted at a future update to correct the sensor, which means they must at least be aware of these shortcomings—which means we may see improvements at some point. But at the time of writing this we have no details about what it will correct, how well it will correct it or when it will be out... So this is all hypothetical.
However, in addition to the effective image stabiliser there are a number of other very handy features, such as photo editing in the Creative Studio app, filters, panorama mode, multiple-file deletion and sharing...
Video mode records in Full HD 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second. The optical image stabiliser is more than useful here. Compared to most smartphones, the Lumia 920 produces stable movies with no shaking or jittering, and decent audio to boot—which is rare!
With the 920 Nokia has corrected the issues with loss of stereo that was present in the older models. Now that the flaw's fixed the audible spectrum is decent, with just about average dynamics and volume, although there's still progress to be made in the overall rendering.
For web browsing the Nokia Lumia 920 comes with a fast and reliable Internet Explorer, a bare minimum for speedy browsing on a mobile device. The excellent display makes web pages as clean and clear as can be. However, the zoom function is precise but otherwise gets choppy at times.
This phone has backbone. With a generous 2,000 mAh battery the Lumia 920 can easily last until the wee hours, even with intensive use. It also boasts integrated wireless charging (optional).