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Nokia Lumia 920 - Review


Nokia Lumia 920 - Review
The Nokia Lumia 920 is the company's flagship Windows Phone 8 device and one of the first devices to feature Microsoft's newest smartphone platform. The device features a 4.5 inch PureMotion HD+ touch display, up to 32GB of internal storage, an 8.7 megapixel PureView camera capable of 1080p HD video capture, a secondary HD camera for video calls, 4G LTE connectivity, Qi-based wireless charging and is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM
  • Lumia 920 vs. Lumia 800
  • Lumia 920 vs. Nexus 4
The Lumia 920 is available around the world and in the U.S. exclusively through AT&T. It costs $100 with a two-year contract and $450 contract free.

PROS CONS
  • Very fluid performance
  • Sturdy attractive design
  • Amazing PureView Carl Zeiss camera
  • Optical Image stabilization
  • Affordable price on and off contract
  • No microSD card slot
  • Not the lightest in its class
  • Not the thinnest in its class


Meet the Nokia Lumia 920 – The newest flagship smartphone from Nokia and our choice for best smartphone of 2012. We have been singing our praises of the Nokia Lumia 920 since it was first launched and compared its key features with its competitors in our review on why the Lumia 920 was the best smartphone in the market. For those who weren't convinced we posted five reasons you should upgrade to the Lumia 920 and even found five more reasons the Lumia 920 was the top smartphone choice. Now we have a devices in our hands and we are ready to put it through a vigorous review to make sure it lives up to its name.   

INTRODUCTION

Nokia needed a difference maker with their smartphone offering and they didn't choose to compete with largest display, slimmest body or best hardware. Instead they decided to take on the smartphone market with something they knew they were good at – cameras, and the Lumia 920 doesn't disappoint. It may not have a 41 megapixel monster camera like the Nokia 808 PureView, but by introducing PureView Phase 2 with a floating lens technology and optical image stabilization the company definitely brought a vow factor which gained attention. Coupling a great camera with fun features like wireless charging and a super sensitive display was a big enough step for Nokia to start a long journey forward, but we can definitely say that the Lumia 920 was a step in the right direction.


UNBOXING

The Nokia Lumia 920 is sold in the U.S. exclusively through AT&T and very much like other AT&T packages, the contents are quite moderate. Inside you will find the SIM tray ejecting key, some manuals, a USB cable and an A/C adapter.






Nokia and AT&T didn't even bundle earphones with this one, but given that you can take advantage of the ongoing promotion for a FREE wireless charger. So I guess we can forgive these small indiscretions.


HARDWARE

The Nokia Lumia 920 features a polycarbonate body with a curved glass display which gives the device a premium finish. The classic black and cyan color options are offers with a matter finish which almost gives the device a metallic feel in your hand, while Nokia has also introduced new colors like the glossy red and yellow which will reach out to a more fun loving generation.


The biggest advantage of the polycarbonate body is that you wont see any scratches that your device may accommodate over its life. The entire body of the device is made by the same colored material, so even if you managed to scratch it the body color remains the same.


The handset is heavier that some of its competitors, but still comfortable to hold and use. Its curved edges could be attributed for the way it comfortably settles into your hands. However we think the device does tend to slip out of your hand on occasion, and we feel it will be best housed in a rubber casing like the one Nokia offered with the Lumia 800.

 The Lumia 920 offers 32GB of internal storage with no option of expansion. While 32GB should be enough for most users, we think that there will be some you would prefer having the option of microSD expansion.


The beautifully curved 4.5 inch PureMotion HD+ display of the Lumia 920 is protected by Gorilla Glass which keeps it scratch free and contributes to your device looking fresh and new even after several months of vigorous use. But Nokia hasn't stopped there, as they have put a lot more effort into giving the users a great experience with their device display.

Firstly the Lumia 920 is the first flagship to offer a Super Sensitive capacitive touchscreen which supports operation with gloves. This makes the device a great choice for winter sports fans or even for someone who lives in a consistently cold region.

The next feature is the higher than average refresh rate with its PureMotion technology which offers a much smoother scrolling experience than its competitors. This ads to the already snappy experience with Windows Phone 8 and manages to give Nokia an advantage over its own competitors like HTC.


The Lumia 920 also features Nokia's second generation of ClearBlack technology, which makes blacks seem blacker and offers nice color detail. We find this most advantages using the Lumia 920 under direct sunlight, as the text is quite comfortably visible even in relatively harsh conditions. You even get great viewing angles on this display, which can be useful when you want to share what you are watching with a friend. 

Nokia has also wanted to offer the maximum resolution with their flagship, taking the device past the traditional 720 x 1280 pixel HD to a slightly larger 768 x 1280 pixels HD+ resolution. This wont stand out much to someone who owns a regular HD display, but the added pixels would be warmly welcome by someone who is upgrading from Windows Phone 7.

Above the display you will find the earpiece and the 1.3 megapixel front facing camera which is capable of 720p HD video. Also hidden above the display are the ambient light sensor and the proximity sensor. The top also has a shiny AT&T logo on the left and the Nokia logo on the right.


The top of the device has microSIM tray, 3.5 mm universal audio connector and a secondary microphone. Nokia has provided a SIM eject tool to insert and remove the SIM, but it was quickly evident that Nokia needs to work on this as we found ourselves struggling to release the tray. The secondary mic assists with noise cancellation, allowing you to stay focused on your conversation.


Below the display are the three touch sensitive buttons which help you navigate through the Windows Phone UI. I am personally not a fan of touch sensitive buttons, which accidentally get pressed while you are in the middle of a game, but Nokia has done a great job in spacing these out, and we didn't find this an issue during operation.

Below the device you will find the microUSB port, which has the loudspeaker and the primary microphone on either side. The grills on either side of the USB port actually look like they could offer stereo speakers, but one of them is actually the mic. It looks like Nokia has used the same scratch and stain resistant material on the audio jack, the USB port looks to be vulnerable to collecting some stains over its life.


The left side of the device is completely blank.


The right side of the device has the volume controls, power button and the dedicated camera key. The camera can be launched directly from the camera key and your device doesn't even have to be unlocked to launch the camera, which is useful . The buttons feel nicely placed out and easy to control and they are made of a scratch free materiel which keeps your device looking new. While we liked the look of the buttons we didn't quite like the feel of them. With the device being somewhat on the larger side, the buttons felt sharp and the operation didn't always feel smooth.


Turning the device over reveals the 8.7 megapixel Carl Zeiss camera and dual LED flash. The camera has the same scratch and smudge proof material used for its accent as the other elements on the device. The camera is the most significant aspect of this handset, and we will get more into its features abilities later in this guide.


The Lumia 920 has a 2000 mAh battery which cant be accessed or replaced. The device offers about one day of fairly heavy use, but can last as much as two days if it is not used as much.

CAMERA

The Nokia Lumia 920 features an 8.7 megapixel camera with 26mm wide-angle Carl Zeiss lens with true (OIS) Optical Image Stabilization. OIS is achieved on the device using a technology Nokia calls floating lens, which the camera lens is suspended using springs. When the gyroscope in the device detects motion, the mechanism moves in the opposite direction to cancel the movement. This means that if you hand shakes when you are capturing a photo the mechanism will eliminate the common blur.

Combining the OIS technology with the f/2.0 aperture leads to top of the class low light performance.

You would expect that with top of its class low light performance, the camera would probably be the best in the market. Surprisingly the Lumia 920 doesn't perform as well as some of its competitors in the daylight and you will notice certain elements aren't as sharp or detailed as you would expect.

The Lumia 920 unfortunately isn't the fastest when it comes to capturing photos, especially compared to some of the others in the market. This comes as a result of the OIS which keeps the lens opened for extra time to give you that superior low light photos.

However when the light level is low, the Lumia 920 cant be matched making it the perfect companion for those who like spending the evening out with their friends. Nokia has also paid special attention to the LED flash on the Lumia 920 and have given it an extra boost of power to help light up those low light photos. 

Check out some photo samples captures with the Nokia Lumia 920.


Lumia 920 without flash, artificial lightLumia 920 with flash





Low light, no flashNearly no to low artificial light

The camera interface is easy to use to use. The controls on the right side of the viewfinder include – photo/video toggle, front/rear camera toggle, flash mode setting and the Lenses setting. On the left you have an arrow  which will take you to you gallery, which you can also access with a swipe gesture.


Lenses are one of the best of the best features introduced on Windows Phone 8. Lenses are like plugins for the camera which interact directly with the native camera app. You can use a specific lens for a specific task and even pin a lens to your Start Screen for quick access. Nokia takes good advantage of this feature.


Nokia has preloaded the Smart Shoot lens on the Lumia 920, which is by far the most powerful, but you can also download the Panorama and Cinemagraph lenses.

Smart Shoot uses Scalado technology which Nokia owns – It shoots multiple photos and lets you choose which one to save. For example you can browse through the photos to find which facial expressions you like best from each of those photos. There is also an erase option which allows you to remove certain objects form the photos.


Meanwhile Cinamagraph allows you to capture and save photos which are partially animated. All you have to do is hold the camera steady when you can capturing your picture and you know the OIS will help you there. When your done you will offered two or three areas which can be animated and you can tweak the animation and set the loop pattern before saving it. You can even edit the image again at a later time.

The Panorama lens like its name, lets you capture and then align photos to stich them together.

Microsoft also has an application called Photosynth which we would like to see as a lens on Windows Phone 8. Photosynth works the same as Google's Photosphere feature which was released.


Swiping the right side reveals the Settings with include scenes, effects, white balance, contrast, saturation, sharpness and ISO. There is a dedicated Macro mode but no setting for face detection. You can set your flash to auto, forced or off based on your requirement.

The Lumia 920 is capable of capturing both 720p and 1080p videos. If you want some added light, you can make use of the LED flash as a video light. The video capture quality was quite good in our experience and can be compared to the top devices in the market today.

However once again the device benefits from its OIS technology with gives you video stabilization. It may not be as noticeable if you have a steady hand but would be more useful when there is more movement.


The camcorder interface is identical to the one on the camera. You can features like white balance, sharpness and video resolution which you can change according to your requirement.


SOFTWARE

The Nokia Lumia 920 runs the Windows Phone 8 platform. The Nokia Lumia 920 we received for testing was locked to the AT&T network. As an AT&T device you are presented with some additional boot customizations and AT&T apps, but other that that you can the same Windows Phone experience across all the devices. You can read our detailed review of Windows Phone 8 below.

Windows Phone 8 Windows Phone 8 - Review
Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 is the successor to Windows Phone 7 and brings the same dynamic live tile experience, which is now customizable. Microsoft has also introduced several improvements and enhancements to the platform. Here is all you need to know


Nokia Apps

One of the greatest advantages owning a Nokia Lumia Windows Phone is the collection of exclusive Nokia apps which you are offered with your handset. As the flagship the Lumia 920 has access to the entire collection of apps, but we would have liked to see some added exclusivity for the flagship handset.

While other Windows Phone 8 devices come with Bing Maps, the Lumia handsets including the Lumia 920 features Nokia Maps which is a more powerful alternate to the default mapping solution.


Nokia Maps makes it easier to explore your city or the city you are planning to visit. You have quick descriptions, photos and reviews of the places you want to visit and you can check renowned guides like Lonely Planet or Insight Guides to find out their take on where you are.


Nokia Maps also offer walking, driving and public transport navigation which will be warmly welcome to anyone who is switching over from using an iPhone running iOS 6.0.

Probably the most impressive feature of Maps is the offline maps caching feature, which is fast and easy to use. In fact we found Nokia Maps a much better user experience than what Google Maps offers on its Android or iOS versions.

These offline maps are shared with another great Nokia exclusive app Nokia Drive. Nokia Drive offers free, life-time voice-guided navigation anywhere in the world. All you need to do is download the voice in the language of your choice and you are ready to go. If you have downloaded the offline map for the location you are in you have offline navigation at your fingertips.


Nokia Drive allows you to easily plan your routes by finding the fastest, shortest or most economical route. You can also choose to avoid motorways, toll roads, ferries, tunnels, unpaved roads and motor trains with icons reminding you of your settings.


You can switch between 2D and 3D mode and switch the color scheme (day, night, auto). There are speed alerts and real-time traffic information. The interface is big clear and easy to use while you are driving.

The fact that both iOS and Android require a data connection for navigation, puts Nokia ahead of its competitors with its Nokia Drive application.

 Another great application in Nokia's catalogue is Nokia City Lens. An augmented reality application which allows you to view various places of interest along with distance and star rating through your camera. You can view these locations by simply panning your camera in various directions.



If you hold the phone upright you will be switched to a list view or a map view if the device is held perpendicular to the ground. If you tap one of your POIs Nokia Maps will open and show you more information and offers available for that place.

The Nokia Music app with Mix radio for Lumia smartphones is a free music streaming service which you can use with your data or WiFi connection. There is no sign up of subscription required.


You'll find over one hundred music channels lovingly crafted for you from our catalogue of over 17 million tracks. With mixes to suit every taste from hip hop to house, rock to rap, indie to jazz, and with new mixes being added every week there's always fresh new music to enjoy. You can even see upcoming tour dates by the artist you are currently enjoying, straight from the now-playing screen.


With all this new music streaming into your phone you're bound to discover songs you'll want to download, so our MP3 store of over 17 million songs is always just a click away, making it easy to purchase and download tracks straight to your Nokia Lumia.

AT&T Apps

The AT&T variant of the Nokia Lumia 920 has a few carrier specific tweaks and costs $100 with a two-year contract. Nokia is even including a FREE wireless charging plate with the device which stocks last. Visually the only difference is the AT&T logo on the left of the earpiece.


AT&T also bundles their usual set of apps with the device: AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T Family Map, AT&T Navigator, AT&T Radio, AT&T U-verse Live TV, myAT&T and YPmobile. Fortunately you are not tied down to keeping them on your device and can be uninstalled if you don't want any of the apps.


The AT&T Code Scanner reads QR and Data Matrix barcodes that you find on every day products, in advertisements or online. From there you'll be sent to a web page with product information.

The AT&T FamilyMap, uses the phones aGPS or cell tower information and maps out the phones location within a few hundred yards. You can locate family members from an online portal or directly from your Windows Phone by way of text messaging. There is a free 30 day trial period and after that the service will run you $9.99 a month to locate two phone and $14.88 a month to locate up to five phones.If you have family members (e.g. teenagers just starting to drive) that you may need to track down, it's worth a try.

The AT&T Navigator gives you turn-by-turn directions and there is a thirty day trial period. After that, the directions will cost you $9.99 a month unless you cancel the service before the thirty days expire. Navigator does have real-time traffic monitoring and the ability to find local restaurants, gas stations, hotspots, etc. While Navigator is a nice service, there are plenty of free alternatives out there. The thirty day trial period is more than enough time to let you decide if it's worth ten bucks a month. With Nokia Drive on your device its very unlikely you will choose to use this service.

The AT&T Radio is a subscription radio service through AT&T. There is a trial subscription and after that, AT&T Radio is strictly a pay to play application. Subscriptions run $4.99 a month, which is inline with other radio service apps such as Slacker but where Slacker offers a limited number of free stations, AT&T does not.

The AT&T U-verse Live TV offers a 30 day trial period available and after that you'll be charged $9.99 a month unless you cancel the account. The concept is nice and a decent selection of shows but, everything I wanted to watch wasn't available for at least thirty days.

The myAT&T for Windows Phone app allows you to manage your AT&T Wireless account from your Windows Phone device. With this application, you'll be able to easily and securely manage account functions including: View and pay your wireless bill View wireless voice and data usage Trouble logging in? Recover your User ID and reset your password Add or remove wireless account features.

The YPMobile app is an easy-to-use guide for local info near you and helps you find nearby restaurants or coffee shops with ease.


CONCLUSION


 The Nokia Lumia 920 is definitely one of the best camera phones in the market right now and arguably the best all round smartphone. We say this because Nokia has focused on key aspects that other smartphone manufacturers have left out with their handsets while they race in offering better specs.


Nokia offers a great screen, top of the line design and build quality, amazing camera and a smooth performer thanks to Windows Phone 8. Nokia's value added services like their free voice-guided navigation with offline maps, a cool Music service and exclusive camera lenses make the Lumia 920 a great competitor to handsets like the iPhone and the Galaxy series which dominate the smartphone landscape.

Obviously the biggest concern users will have with choosing the Lumia 920 is the limited number of apps in the Widows Phone Store. However we find that most users will be satisfied with the app and game collection which the store offers. We also see that developers are bringing the newer apps and games to the platform so it wont be long before all the missing apps would have found their home on Windows Phones.

The pricing and availability of the Lumia 920 in the U.S. is something that we were concerned about. Even though the handset is freely available through AT&T and their retail partners in the U.S. the lack of a factory unlocked version is disheartening. Especially to T-Mobile users who may want to use the handset. However if you are willing to get the handset on AT&T, the $100 subsidized price or the $450 SIM free price are both worth spending your money on. The factory unlocked version is currently priced at nearly (sometimes over) $700 on Amazon and we would prefer having the unlocked version offered at more competitive prices.

In any case, first signs indicate that Nokia's choices with their Lumia series and especially the Lumia 920 have good and we hope the company continues that momentum. We want to see Nokia standby its flagship devices and not replace them for at least a year. This has brought success to Apple with their iPhone and help Samsung rise to become the top Android manufacturer. If customers can rely on Nokia as a brand it wont be long before the company can rise to the glory it once held.

We can then look back and remember that this rise started with a device called the Nokia Lumia 920.
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