Nokia Lumia 920 Review

The Lumia 920 is Nokia’s flagship device for its first Windows Phone 8 offering. With a stunning camera, hyper-responsive touch screen, and hardware that feels as sexy as it looks, the Lumia 920 is certainly the best offering from Nokia yet. Despite this, a few niggling issues with the phone itself have marred an otherwise perfect experience with both Microsoft and Nokia’s latest attempt at the mobile space.

Hardware

I upgraded from the Lumia 900 to the Lumia 920. The polycarbonate back of the Lumia 900 was a huge plus for me as it felt great and the phone actually felt well-made, unlike the Android device I had previously. That being said, between my upgrade from the Lumia 900 to the Lumia 920, I reviewed the T-Mobile Lumia 810. I thought it would be impossible for Nokia to make the polycarbonate back feel any better, but after touching the Lumia 810, I knew if I didn’t get the same experience from the Lumia 920, I would be disappointed.

Thankfully, Nokia has delivered just that with the back of the device. It’s so soft to the touch that I have to watch what surface I place the device on, as a slight incline or a glass surface like the top of my Nexus 7 will send the Lumia 920 tumbling into the floor. I dropped the phone about three different times from this smooth issue. Once it fell from a three and a half foot drop onto the floor simply because I set the phone on top of the Nexus 7 and walked away. There are no scratches, though I’ve yet to be unfortunate enough to let mine hit concrete.

Aside from the new soft touch polycarbonate back, Nokia also reworked the hardware buttons on the side. Where as the buttons on the Lumia 900 were melded into the device and often felt mushy and hard to press, the buttons on the Lumia 920 actually stick out more and offer a better experience. I had a hard time with the dedicated camera button on the Lumia 900 simply because it had to be pressed into the device so far to activate it from sleep mode. This issue has been fixed with the hardware buttons on the Lumia 920.

My only other complaint about the Lumia 900 has been addressed in the Lumia 920 as well. The charging port is now located on the bottom of the phone, so awkward docking positions are a thing of the past. I wish I could comment on how well the wireless charging seems to work, but AT&T has been completely out of the wireless charging docks that come free with the phone, so I was unable to test that aspect.

Battery life for me has been my main concern, as I could often go several days without needing to charge my Lumia 900. I was happy to see that this is the case with the Lumia 920 as well, as Battery Status tells me that my average time between charges is currently a little under 16 hours. There is more noticeable drain when playing games such as Wordament, but I think that is to be expected given the constant connection.

Aside from the great feel of the back of the device, the fact that the gorilla glass folds into it instead of producing an edge makes for a surprisingly smooth experience when holding the device. I never realized how much of a lip the inset glass on the Lumia 900 created until after I held the Lumia 920. That being said, the phone is rather hefty, even for a Nokia device. I’ve never felt as though it were too heavy to carry for every day use, but it is noticeably heavier than the Lumia 900 and when holding it with one hand, sometimes my right thumb struggles to reach the back button.

Bigger is not always better and despite how great the phone feels in my hand, I find myself wishing it were about a half inch smaller to reduce both the weight and the reach needed to text and perform other actions one handed.

Software

Nokia has done a good job at making the Windows Phone 8 experience complete with essential services like Nokia Drive and Nokia Maps. While these were initially available only on Nokia devices, the services are slated to come to other handsets as part of Windows Phone 8 “soon”. Still, while Nokia Drive remains exclusive to Nokia devices, it makes all the difference if you travel.

As a small anecdote, I recently traveled to Portland to meet up with a few friends, one of whom recently purchased the LG Optimus G. My friends related to me how much trouble they had navigating the city using his Android device because the turn by turn directions were insufficient. I decided to put my Lumia 920 to the test against his Android device. We both entered our restaurant destination from the hotel and let the phones do their thing. Each time the Lumia 920 called out precisely the turns that were needed, while Google Maps sometimes called them after we had already turned. In the end, my Android-loving friend was impressed by Nokia Drive and that says something.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Nokia phone without other exclusive titles that the company has negotiated for users. Nokia itself produces several amazing apps that should be on the device if you own it, including Creative Suite, Smart Shoot, and Cinemagraph.

Click to check out this Cinemagraph I made of a waterfall at the Portland Zoo.
Camera

The big draw for the Lumia 920 is the camera. It is the first smartphone to feature optical image stabilization and it shows. Nokia flubbed up with the marketing of this feature leading to industry backlash, but honestly it’s not something that should have even been flubbed. The following is a video taken with the Lumia 920 and the Lumia 900 running side by side just to show you how much of a difference there is between the two phones.

As you can see, the Lumia 920 is not only more stable than the Lumia 900, the color saturation is much improved as well. The camera is an absolute pleasure to use and as previously mentioned, I had no trouble quickly hitting the camera button on the Lumia 920 to get shots I wanted to take. The low-light performance is decent to amazing, depending on the quality of the light available and your own expertise. One area of disappointment is low-light being unavailable in lenses, but hopefully this is something that Nokia can rectify in the future.

Low-Light Shots

Conclusion

Overall, Nokia has a solid first offering with the Lumia 920. The extra weight is barely noticeable if you’re transitioning from from a previous Nokia device like the Lumia 900 and the amazing camera more than makes up for it if you’re the type who loves to snap photos on the go. The ecosystem is alive and thriving, as several of the developers I’ve contacted about their apps have enthusiastically replied with their intention to update their offerings for Windows Phone 8.

The Lumia 920 is a great entry-point for anyone who is unfamiliar with Windows Phone 8 and is eager to try something different, while offering enough new features to previous Windows Phone 7 supporters that an upgrade to the device feels exactly like a full-fledged upgrade instead of a rehashed money grab.


  • http://winsource.com/ Joe Fedewa

    I find myself wishing I had Cinemagraph on my 8X a lot. It seems really cool.

  • http://www.2girls1game.com Sarah

    Cinemagraph is definitely fun to play around with.

  • http://www.2girls1game.com Sarah

    My dog is famous on Winsource! :D

  • LlamaPants

    wow image stabliization really made a difference in that video. didn’t even realize it would be that noticeable great for nokia. now do a comparison between the 920 and the 8x!

  • Edgar Cervantes

    I didn’t even now this phone had some of these features! Pretty awesome, especially for camera enthusiasts. Great review, Ashley!