In 1386 a man named Geoffery Chaucer wrote the proverb “for bet than never is late.” Over 620 years later that has evolved to “better late than never,” and it especially holds true for this review. The Lumia 822 is not a new phone, but it’s not an old phone either. It arrived on Verizon store shelves just over two months ago as their first Nokia Windows Phone device. Since it only has the HTC 8X and Samsung ATIV Odyssey to compete with it is still a very good choice. The 822 is free almost anywhere, so money is not an object, but is it worth your two-year contract? Let’s find out.
The Lumia 822 is a little on the boring side when it comes to design. The shape of the 822 is very Galaxy S III-like, except that it’s not gargantuan in size. The corners, top, and bottom are all rounded, as well as along the edges on the back. What that translates to in real life is it feels great in the hand, but probably won’t turn as many heads as a Lumia 920. It also feels a lot thicker than it really is. The 822 is only fractions of an inch thicker than the HTC 8X, but because the 8X has a tapered back it feels dramatically thinner in the hand. The glossy finish on the white model we had is a huge fingerprint magnet, and it does feel cheaper than a phone with a matte finish.
The button placement on the 822 is typical Nokia. The power button on the side can take some time to get used to, but it really does make more sense. All phones that have screens larger than 4″ should have the power button on the side. I like that the buttons actually feel like buttons. They stick out enough that they are easy to press, and you can tell when they are pressed. Anyone who uses a HTC 8X will know what I’m talking about. The speakers are on the bottom of the device. They provide adequate sound quality, but it’s nothing to write home about.
Battery life was actually pretty good. I was charging the phone once every day and a half after normal use. using Bluetooth and Tap-to-Send can make a big difference on how long the battery lasts. The 822 has NFC which works just like it should. To send photos or videos to other Windows Phones you need to have Bluetooth on. NFC Tags work, but at this time there isn’t much you can do with them.
The display on the Lumia 822 is a mixed bag. The colors are very vivid, and the blacks are very black. Those two things alone make Windows Phone look great. However there are a couple bad things about the display. You’re only getting 480 x 800 resolution, which is pretty common for mid-range phones. Some people will be bothered by this, other people won’t. The other issue is whites look a little yellowish, especially in predominately white apps like Mail. Once again, it’s not something everyone will notice, but once you do it’s hard not to see (sorry).
The display is not PureMotion HD like the Lumia 920, but it does have the heightened touch sensitivity You can’t operate the touch screen with a knife like we saw in videos of the 920, but it does work with thin gloves.
Nokia phones are renowned for their cameras, and the Lumia 822 is no different. In my testing I found the Lumia 822 to outperform the HTC 8X in almost every situation. Low light shots were remarkably better, and daylight shots were more vivid and clear. Both have 8MP cameras, but Nokia obviously did much more fine tuning. I never thought the 8X photos looked bad, but next to the 822 there is a big difference. Neither can compare to the Lumia 920. Another thing you get with a Nokia phone is the camera apps such as Cinemagraph, Panorama, and Smart Shoot. I’ll talk more about these in the software section.
I don’t think I need to say much about Windows Phone 8 at this point. It’s the same OS we’ve seen for a while now. On the 822 it runs just as smooth and fast as it does on the 920 or 8X. The only real software story is the Nokia apps. If you’ve never had a Nokia Lumia phone there are quite a few apps that you’re missing out on. Cinemagraph, Panorama, and Smart Shoot are camera apps with lens functionality. Cinemagraph makes gifs, Panorama makes Panoramas (duh), and Smart Shoot allows you to cut things out of photos. All three work relatively well. Cinemagraph is especially fun. Other Nokia apps include Maps, Ringtone Maker, App Highlights, Transit, City Lens, and many more. City Lens is one of the most useful Nokia apps available.
These are just apps, but they do make a difference in the overall experience. I’ve personally never used a Lumia as my daily phone, and there are some Nokia apps I would really like to have. Cinemagraph is just a fun app, but something like City Lens is very powerful and useful. Would I buy the Lumia 822 over an 8X because of the apps? Probably not.
The thing about the Lumia 822 is there isn’t really one killer feature I can point to. It doesn’t look really cool like the HTC 8X. It doesn’t have an amazing camera like the Lumia 920. It isn’t even thin like the Samsung ATIV S. So what it is? It’s a jack of all trades, but a master of none. It can do everything a Lumia 920 can do, but it doesn’t do it quite as well. If you’re on Verizon you’re only options are the 8X, ATIV Odyssey, or Lumia 822. If money is no object you’d be wise to choose the 8X, but if you want something cheaper the 822 is an excellent choice.