Nokia Lumia Icon Review

Lumia Icon

There are very few things in this world that can truly be considered “iconic.” The Beatles are iconic. The pyramids are iconic. The Coca-Cola logo is iconic. But a phone? That’s what Nokia and Verizon set out to create with the Lumia Icon. Every new Lumia phone seems to top the previous model and earn the title of “best Windows Phone.” Can the iconic Lumia Icon continue the trend?

Lumia Icon Design

Verizon is very particular about the phones they offer. They like to put their own personal stamp on every phone. Some phones, like the iPhone and Galaxy S#, have become so powerful that Verizon can’t tamper with them. Nokia does not have such power, which is why the last few Lumia phones for Verizon have looked completely different from anything else Nokia makes.

Lumia Icon 8

Like the Lumia 928, the Icon has a squared-off design. All four sides of the phone are completely flat, and the edges are sharp. This is a stark difference from Nokia’s usual curvy and smooth design. This makes the Icon look like a block of space-age metal. The back of the device is aluminum, and surrounding the micro USB and headphone ports are strips of ceramic for strength.

The design of the Lumia Icon looks and feels more “grown-up” compared to Nokia’s usual design. The plain back and white with metallic accents give it a more professional feel. If that’s something you care about this is a great design. If you’re looking for something more fun you might be turned off.

Lumia Icon Display

Lumia Icon 9

In our Lumia 1520 review I mentioned that the 6-inch display may be too big for some people. I also said if it was closer to 5-inches it could be the perfect size. That is exactly what Nokia has done with the Lumia Icon. The slightly smaller 5-inch display is both beautiful and more practical to use. It’s still 1080p, making it only the second Windows Phone device with the feature, and it’s still gorgeous.

Since this is a 1080p display you also get the extra column of live tiles on the Start Screen. This might seem like a small feature, but it’s actually one of our favorite things. You can see so much more on the screen at a time, and it makes small screens seem even smaller. In our Lumia 1520 review we mentioned that not many apps take advantage of the extra screen real estate. Unfortunately, that is still the case on the Lumia Icon.

Lumia Icon Performance

Lumia Icon 2

The Lumia Icon is the second Windows Phone device with a quad-core processor. Whether you’re using a Lumia 520 or 1520 Windows Phone is a smooth and snappy OS. Of course the Icon feels great with a quad-core processor, but there really isn’t much available to use all that processing power. One thing you will notice from the processor is the phone getting warm. Playing games like Halo: Spartan Assault makes the Icon get a little hot. We had similar experiences with the Lumia 1520.

Battery life has been very good. The Icon easily lasted an entire day while streaming podcasts, installing app updates, and browsing the web. All on Verizon LTE. One thing that will help you to limit the battery usage is the absence of Glance screen and double-tap to wake. We have no idea why Verizon had these features removed.

Lumia Icon Camera

The Lumia Icon has the same 20MP PureView camera that we saw on the Lumia 1520. You might remember that we weren’t blown away by it on the 1520. We are happy to say it’s looking better, for whatever reason, on the Lumia Icon. Photos seem to be much crisper and more detailed. Low-light photos with flash look especially nice compared to anything else we have (not a Lumia 1020). The only problem we saw was a red hue that appeared on some photos. Adjusting the filters in Nokia Camera didn’t seem to help.

Lumia Icon Audio

One feature that Nokia is touting the most is the audio capture. Nokia has placed four mics (two in front, two in back) around the device to capture great audio. Smartphones are notoriously bad at picking up sound in noisy environments, such as concerts. In our testing the mics didn’t make a noticeable difference. We have seen some videos where the mics did a great job. It really depends on the situation.

I also had a weird audio issue totally unrelated to the mics. When listening to TuneIn Radio there was a lot of choppiness and squeaks. I could not replicate the problem with any other app that plays audio, and the problem was not present on my Lumia 925. It’s very odd.

Verdict

stars

Pros

  • Perfect size
  • Gorgeous display
  • Excellent build quality
  • Battery life

Cons

  • Red hue in some photos
  • Audio issues in some apps
  • No Glance screen

Nokia and Verizon set out to create an iconic device. They checked every box necessary to create a winner: perfect size, gorgeous display, powerful processor, great camera, and a modern design. In my eyes they accomplished their goal. It may not live on to be the iconic smartphone, but it is very close to a perfect device. If you’re a fan of this sharp design and you’re a Verizon customer this is an easy decision. When something iconic comes around you don’t want to miss it.


  • Zach

    “The Cocoa-Cola logo is iconic.” Mmmmm, that is some tasty sounding soda. ;P

  • 1MyTh

    I think it might be better that in the audio comparison video you switch between the devices every few seconds. At the moment you point in one direction with sound on one device, then turn around and switch to sound from other device. Could you make another video?

  • Damon Nevils

    Dang….I want this phone soooo Bad….

    I sold my Nokia 928 and have been using an 64gb Gold Iphone 5s while waiting (nice but Stale)

    I really miss WP8…by far (my opinion) the Best Mobile OS in terms of doing the Basics and when 8.1 hitsIt looks as if it will be the best OS with no caveats.

    As for this phone a little bland in its design, but I like the more subdued looks as opposed to the WAY overdone Galaxy S5 and the little Apple
    (HTC One a different story—Perfect phone wrong OS).

  • Nick Mantzoros

    I think the lack of Glance isn’t due to Verizon, but due to the hardware used. Case in point” The MOTO X has a similar feature and it could only be used on a 720p display.

    But all in all – I love my Icon – I came from Android and Windows Phone is so fluid – the processing power of the phone enables Photosynth to stitch the photos effortlessly. The only issue I have is that my bank doesn’t have an app. I feel that Windows Phone will be a powerhouse of apps by 2015.