The Nokia Lumia 920 is the undisputed star of the recent Windows Phone 8 launch.
It’s bold and trendy, Coming in eye-catching colours to match your moods. I’ve gone for no-nonsense black here, But if you’re feeling particularly funky, There’s always fiery red or psychedelic yellow. But it’s not just outside gloss. The 920 boasts a range of impressive features like Optical image stabilization in the camera, And a pixel-packed display you don’t even need to take your gloves off for. So, is this enough to see the Lumia 920 leapfrog over its Apple and Android competition and take top spot in the smartphone arena, Or are there some irritating snags holding it back? Let’s find out. If you’ve seen the Lumia 900 before, Then the 920 won’t be a big surprise in terms of design. It may look blocky, But it has a nice curve, And sits quite comfortably in the hand. The flat front is a sheet of scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass. And the glass edge curves into the unibody chassis, Which is made from a single piece of polycarbonate, A premium grade plastic. The chassis continues to curve down the sides and around the back, So when you hold the 920, there are no awkward sharp edges digging into your hand. The whole phone also feels quite solid, But much of that has to do with it’s very obvious weight. The Lumia 920 is not a dainty phone. Let me see if I can put that into perspective for you. This is the Galaxy Note 2, Samsung’s 5.5 inch display, megalith of a phone. It weighs 183g, And that’s with the stylus included. The Lumia 920 is a 4.5 inch display phone, And weighs 185g. A lot of weight in a smaller phone, that’s basically made of the same materials. Compare that to the 133g weight of the Galaxy S3. A 4.8 inch display phone that’s pretty much the same width as the Lumia 920, And just half a centimetre taller. The difference between these two is thickness. The S3 is 8.6mm thick and the 920 is 10.7mm. This extra weight and thickness is quite significant when using the 920 one-handed. I find it a little difficult to balance and navigate on screen at the same time. It feels all too easy to drop. But then, my hands are medium size, And I’m more used to smaller and lighter phones. You might actually prefer the solid feel and weight of the 920. But it’s a definite case of try before you buy. Pretty much everything else on the phone is placed as standard. All the physical buttons are on the right hand side. With the volume control at the top, The power button below that, And the camera button further down. This opens the camera app even when the phone is in sleep mode, But you do need to press and hold the button down firmly for a few seconds, A simple tap won’t do. I like how all the physical buttons are big and stand out from the phone body. It makes them easier to press, And they all respond with a nice, satisfying click. Above the display there’s the earpiece grille, The front 1.3 MP camera, And the ambient light and proximity sensors are placed above the Nokia logo. Below the display are the back, start, and search capacitive keys. There’s a lot of physical space in-between and below these keys, Which again, makes them easier to use. One thing to notice with these keys is their backlight. This is controlled by the phone’s light sensor. So in bright or sunny areas this backlight turns off a few seconds after the key is pressed. But in indoor and darker lighting, the backlight stays on continuously. Rather annoying when you’re trying to watch a movie at night or read an ebook. On the top of the phone there’s the microSIM card slot, 3.5mm audio jack, And the secondary microphone. On the bottom there’s the microUSB data and charging port, Flanked by dual speaker grilles. This doesn’t mean dual speakers though, before you get all excited. The Lumia 920 has a single speaker box. The primary microphone is behind the left speaker grille right next to the microUSB port. The back of the phone has the 8.7 MP camera and dual LED flash. You’ll notice with the unibody design of the phone, the back case is non-removable. This means the battery inside can’t be swapped. There’s also no microSD card slot, so no expandable storage. Which strangely enough, it’s younger relative, the Lumia 820 has. Still, there is a good 32GB of internal storage available as standard. And you also have access to 7GB of free SkyDrive cloud space, Which you can increase to 100GB with a subscription. With every new phone comes some improvement to its display. Because, that’s really what a phone is all about, right? Well, Nokia have gone all out with the Lumia 920, And tried to get rid of all the drawbacks of mobile displays in one go. They call this PureMotion HD+ Display Technology. Quite a mouthful. But what is it exactly? Well, the HD+ stands for the display resolution. The Lumia 920 has a 4.5 inch IPS LCD display, With a resolution of 1280 x 768 pixels, Which is wider than the standard HD resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The basis of ‘PureMotion’ is the screen refresh rate. Basically, a temporary high voltage is used to speed up individual pixel response. So instead of the usual 23ms, you get a pixel response rate of less than 9ms. This means no motion blur while watching movies, scrolling, or playing fast paced games. But then, to be fair, I haven’t come across any distracting motion blur while using any of the other top-end LCD or SuperAMOLED phones. However, the Lumia 920’s features don’t end there. It has a high pixel density of 332ppi, Higher than the iPhone 5 [(326ppi)] and the Galaxy S3 [(306ppi)]. And certainly everything on the 920’s display looks clear and sharp, But is it much better than the other two phones in practical use? Let’s compare text in the Amazon kindle app to find out. I have here the iPhone 5, which has an LCD display same as the Lumia 920, And the Galaxy S3, which has a Super AMOLED display. All three phones are set to maximum brightness. There really isn’t any visible difference in text sharpness between the three. They’re equally clear and sharp, Despite the Lumia 920 having a higher ppi. Better outdoor legibility is another feature of Nokia’s PureMotion display. This comes from combining low reflectivity and high display brightness. The ClearBlack polarization filter is also there to minimize screen glare. But looking at text oudoors in normal daylight, Again there’s no huge difference between the three phones, They’re all readable. When it’s very sunny, The Lumia 920 manages to keep a level of readability similar to the iPhone 5. What about colours though? Here’s my display test video in the bright sunshine. The Lumia isn’t keeping up with the iPhone, Which is showing better contrast. In more normal daylight, The Lumia 920 is still not the clearest. And here, both the S3 and the iPhone 5 are doing better for brightness and contrast. Let’s have a look at colour accuracy now. Back indoors, at maximum brightness, The 920 suddenly regains all the contrast that it lost outside The S3’s AMOLED is known for colour saturation, But the Lumia 920 seems to be equally as saturated. I do wonder if that’s from the ClearBlack filter though. It’s meant to show blacks as really black. It seems to be darkening all the colours though, And you can see that in the background green, As well as the flower. That’s not a bad thing in some cases. I think it actually gives a dimensional feel to the image, Especially light ones like this, Even at the cost of colour accuracy. Dark colours do look as dark as you would see on an AMOLED. The Lumia 920 shows colours similar to AMOLED, Deep and saturated. But the darker the image, The less detail shown, Especially in darker areas. There’s an overall darkening to the image, But the 920’s display doesn’t show a cold picture, It doesn’t have a blue cast like the one on the S3. Here’s a look at side viewing angles. And as you can see, the Lumia 920 loses a lot of brightness, so the video is less visible from the side. The same thing happens with text. Now, this could work quite well for you, if you’re concerned about privacy, and people around you seeing what’s on your phone’s display. What if I don’t want to take my gloves off to use my phone? Well, that hasn’t been possible with capacitive touch screens so far. But Nokia have solved the problem with super-sensitive touch on the Lumia 920. It works with wool gloves. It also works with leather gloves. And surprise! It works with thick ski gloves. Texting like this does take a bit of practice, But at least it’s doable. So, well done Nokia! The Lumia 920 has a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and 1GB RAM. Specs-wise it may not match some of the latest quad-core phones, But really it’s got more than enough power to run Windows Phone 8 smoothly. I found that for everyday use, switching through menus, and opening apps, The Lumia performed with great response, and no lag. Amongst the different brands of Windows 8 phones, The Lumia 920 has more exclusive features, Due to Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft. Generally, I’d place Windows phones in between Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android OS. The tiles give a unique look that isn’t as easily simple as iOS or as customizable as Android, But on the whole, the Windows 8 interface is straightforward to learn. Once you get used to setting and working with the homescreen tiles, You’ve pretty much mastered it. There are several useful stock apps like Kids Corner, Social hubs, and a mobile version of Windows Office. The App store, at the moment, is lacking in apps compared to the iOS and Android stores, But it may well catch up in a year or so. Overall, it’s an interface that will visually appeal to many people thanks to its large fonts and clean layout. To see the interface review in full, check out my Lumia 920 interface video on the Uoobe website. The Lumia 920 is a 4G-LTE enabled phone with dual-band wi-fi and bluetooth file transfer support. There’s NFC, And this works with the wallet app, But you won’t find much use for it while out shopping just now. However, it does work for small file sharing with other NFC-enabled phones. Connecting the Lumia 920 to a Windows PC is simple. Just plug it in, and it’s recognised as a disk drive. It shows you the various folders in the phone, And you can drag and drop items there. For Mac, to do the same thing, You’ll first need to download and install the Windows Phone app from the Mac app store. Ubuntu users have the same system as windows, Where you see all the folders when you connect the phone, And you can drag and drop items. With the Lumia 920, you get more than just the default Bing maps you find on other Windows 8 phones. There’s Nokia maps, Nokia drive, and City Lens, which shows places of interest near you through the camera app. Nokia maps doesn’t have navigation. It’s a more interactive style of hand-held paper map. There’s map view, satellite view, and public transport routes. You can also pull up more information about a popular place, Things like photos, people’s reviews, guide books, and nearby places of interest. Navigation comes with Nokia Drive. There’s voice directions in different languages, And best of all there’s full offline navigation that lets you re-route, Something you don’t get with Apple and Google maps, since they need a data connection to re-route. The routes and instructions shown are all clear and large, And the phone’s 4.5 inch screen comes in handy here. It was pretty accurate with roads, even in remote areas. But my one issue with drive is that it doesn’t take me to my front door. It keeps telling me I’ve reached my destination even though I’m several houses away. Next, let’s check out the in-call quality for the Lumia 920, the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy S3. Here’s something from Marilyn Monroe: I believe everything happens for a reason. People change so that you learn to let go. Things go wrong so that you learn to appreciate them when they go right. You believe less, so eventually you believe in no-one but yourself. And sometimes, good things fall apart so better things can fall together. I found all three phones to be equally loud and clear. Let’s check out the Lumia 920’s microphone. What you’re hearing now is a call from the Lumia 920. It’s pretty noisy where I’m standing, I’m not sure how much of that you’re picking up. It should give you an idea of how well the noise cancellation works though. And while I try to avoid being run over, why don’t you listen to how the loudspeaker sounds. I feel the Lumia 920 sounds louder than the others. It has a better range, picking up on more tones, so making the music sound fuller. The iPhone has better bass, but lacks a bit in the mid-range tones. And the S3 sounds more tinny, with not enough bass. But I’m sure you’re enjoying the song, so I’ll get out of your way and let you hear on. The rear 8.7MP camera captures 1080p video. Contrast and colour is really good. Check out the blue in that blue sky! The whole video is vibrant. And the optical image stabilization is working its magic here. I’m holding the phone up freehand, no tripod, but there’s not a lot of camera shake. The autofocus can be pretty quick into action when zooming in. Anytime now… Now.. Now.. Yep, there it is. Let’s go stare at some boats, Just for fun. This is an evening, low light, video, And the colours are still really good. And again, the optical image stabilization is working. It’s freezing, and I’m shivering, but you’re not seeing that. The large screen, and numbers are really handy here. And the Lumia 920’s thickness is actually a plus point when you’re holding it up in camera mode. It’s easier to grip and keep steady. It never felt slippery. Welcome to winter wonderland. And this is the unpredictable UK weather. We move from sunshine to snow in a heartbeat. Macro shots really catch a lot of detail. And I’m testing out the autofocus again, Just don’t get too close with it. Here’s a night shot. There’s a lot more noise or grain in the video, and motion blur. But it’s actually doing well compared to other phones, And picking up enough detail. Now a really really dark road. Just to give you an idea. There’s something called ‘lenses’ in the camera app. These are sort of like plugins you can download from the store for more features. Here’s the panorama lens for example. You move the phone so that the guide circles align, And at those point the camera takes a picture. These are then stitched together to form the panorama. BATTERY The Lumia 920 has a 2000 mAh battery. With a day of usual use, including things like web browsing, watching some youtube videos, and taking pictures, I typically get more than 12 hours out of a full charge. These are some ten minute battery usage figures for common tasks done under test conditions, to give you a better comparison. Everything was done at medium brightness, and all connections like wi-fi, bluetooth, and GPS turned off. 1080p video recording with the camera for ten minutes used 4 percent battery. Ten minutes of gameplay used 3 percent, While a graphic intensive game used 5 percent. Web browsing for ten minutes used 4 percent battery. Watching a 1080p movie for ten minutes used 2 percent battery. So did reading an ebook for ten minutes A ten minute phone call drained 1 percent battery. While listening to music used half a percent. If you need the battery to last a little longer, Then you can turn on battery saver in settings. This stops apps running in the background, But it also means you’ll need to manually sync your email. The Lumia 920 also has Qi standard wireless charging built in. So all you need is the appropriate charging pad to rest the phone on, and it’ll charge. Handy if you don’t like fiddling with microUSB cables all the time. But at around £50 each, those charging pads aren’t cheap. If you’re really into apps and games, Then a Windows phone wouldn’t be for you. The Windows app store doesn’t really have the selection that the Apple and Android stores have at the moment. But the Lumia 920 is a solid phone, Solid in looks, size, and weight. I particularly like the supersensitive touch that lets you use it with gloves, And the full offline navigation that comes with Nokia Drive. So if you’re in the market specifically for a Windows 8 phone, Then the Lumia 920 with it’s smooth looks and performance is definitely one to consider.