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Thread: Our Nokia Lumia 920 review: Nokia's Last chance

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    Our Nokia Lumia 920 review: Nokia's Last chance

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    Here is Nokia’s new flagship, the Nokia Lumia 920. I’ve been reviewing phones for almost 12 years now. My first really cool phone was a Nokia 5190. Over the years many of my favorite phones were Nokia’s. The 3650, one of the first real smartphones. I’ve got fond memories of my old 8190, 6620, 6681, 8800, n80, n95, n85, e71, n86 among others. However, since the n86 things have gone down hill for Nokia.

    The iPhone came out around the same time as the n95 while Android came about a year later and since then, they’ve been clobbering Nokia to the point that they’ve dumped their own Smartphone OS and started using Windows Phone around a year ago. Their first Windows Phones, the Lumia 800 and 900 were nice phones in their own right but with the intense competition in the smartphone marketplace, they ended up getting lost in the mix.

    This time around, Nokia has got some help with a new version of Windows Phone. Not only is Windows Phone 8 new, but Microsoft released new versions of Windows for computers and tablets with a unified user interface. Hopefully, the buzz around Windows will help consumers notice Nokia again.

    Since Nokia’s first generation of Windows Phone didn’t sell that well, I’d say that their latest version is a bit of a last chance for them. If new ones don’t work out, it’s hard to imagine that there will be many more generations after this.

    Its hardware places it in the upper midrange. You get a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor. I first tried this processor on the HTC One X about 7 months ago and it’s currently being supplanted by the Quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro, Quad-core ARM Cortex A-9 chips like in the Galaxy Note II and dual-core ARM Cortex A-15 chips on Android..

    You also get 1GB of RAM which is double what you used to get on Windows Phone and 32GB of non expandable storage. I hate it when you can’t expand a phone’s storage but most users will probably be satisfied with 32.

    Other hardware includes a 4.5” LCD display, an 8MP stabilized camera and quad-band, LTE support. Just to compare, the iPhone 5 on Rogers, Bell, TELUS, AT&T, etc supports 2 bands. The same goes for the Galaxy S III.

    The display looks fantastic. Instead of an AMOLED display like the 800 and 900, the 920 has a LCD display. It’s much brighter than the 900’s display (about the same brightness as the iPhone 5). It’s also much sharper because it has a 4.5” 1280x768 display instead of the 900’s 4.3” 800x480.

    Unlike its competitors, you can still interact with the display while wearing gloves. I tried it out and it actually works though you have to make sure the ball of your finger tip is pressing against the screen through your gloves. It’s not enough to just touch it with the tip of your gloves like it was a resistive display.

    While it’s black levels aren’t as deep as the 900’s, they’re still decent for an LCD. It works awesome outside in direct sunlight. Viewing angles are decent.

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    The 920 is actually very close to the to the 8X in the display department. The 8X display is a super LCD2, the same kind of display on the One X. To my eye, the 920’s is a bit warmer while 8x is cooler. The 8x seems slightly little more saturated.

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    The 8X has better viewing angles though it exhibits more colour shift. The 920 just gets darker once you’ve moved about 40 degrees off-angle.

    In direct sunlight, both are very good but the 920 is slightly better. What I did was set the background to black, loaded up the settings and tried to view the greyed out letter underneath the headings. The 920 is easier to read though the difference is so small, it’s hard to notice even when you have them side-by-side. What I did notice is that, when the sun is reflecting directly off the screen, the 920’s reflection is more distracting because it’s anti-reflective coating scatters the light into different colours. It reminds me of the GS3 screen in this regard. The reflection off the 920’s screen is much less distracting.

    Between the display on the 2 phones, I’d pick the 920 mostly. The 8X has a slight edge colour and viewing angle wise but the 920 is better in the sun and can be used while while wearing gloves.

    Body:

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    The 920 has an unpainted poly carbonate body. The black you see is the actual colour of the poly carbonate That means there’s no paint to chip off if you drop it or scratch it. While I didn’t get a chance to take some pictures, I saw a 6 month old 920 prototype that had lived a difficult life. It was scuffed and scratched up and had obviously been dropped more than a few times and it actually wore very well.

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    It’s a solid phone but I noticed that the top had a tiny bit of give to it. When I press it in wiggles a little. I’m not sure if this is just isolated to mine.

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    Normally, I don’t care how thin a phone is because frankly, most phones that come across my desk are thin enough. That is till I tried the 920. Nokia claims that the 920 is 10.7mm. According to my calipers, it’s closer to 12mm. Just to compare, the GS3 is around 8.6mm thick while the iPhone 5 is 7.6mm. It also weighs a portly 185g, compared to the GS3’s 133g and the 5’s 112g. While I can appreciate a weighty phone, the 920 borders on too thick and heavy. Make sure you hold one in your hand before you buy one.

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    If you remember the 800 and 900, they have a strip of chrome on the back where the camera is. While it looked cool, the chrome was very soft, it felt like all you had to do was look at it to scratch it. It certainly didn’t wear well. Anyways, the 920 also has a strip around the camera but it’s made from ceramic. Ceramics are very hard and doesn't scratch easily. You know that 920 that lived a difficult life? While the body was scratched and scuffed up the strip around the camera was in perfect condition.

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    Volume, power, camera buttons.

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    speakers, micro USB

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    headphone jack, SIM card slot

    One interesting feature is that the Lumia 920 supports inductive charging AKA wireless charging. You just put the 920 on a charging surface and it will charge. You don’t need to plug anything into the 920. It supports the QI wireless charging standard so you don’t have to buy a charging from Nokia if you don’t want to. As long as the charger supports QI you’re good to go. While inductive charging isn’t a new feature there hasn’t been a standard till now. So the inductive charger from the Palm Pre, Powermats and shaver won’t work with it.

    Camera:

    I take a ton of pictures and videos with my camera phones. I probably shoot around 500 to 1,000 pictures across my various phones each month so I was extremely excited to hear that the 920 has optical image stabilization.

    Image stabilization has many benefits. In the case of the 920, it allows you to shoot slower using shutter speeds. Since the shutter is open longer, it can let more light in which makes it useful when it’s dark. It also can help counter shaking, especially if you’re holding the 920 with one hand, when you’re moving moving or if you’re trying to shoot in a moving vehicle. For video, IS also helps smooth out video when you’re moving around.

    One thing IS can’t do is help you to do is slow action. If your subject is moving around and you use a slow shutter speed you’re going to have a blurred subject.

    I admit, I have huge expectations for the 920’s camera but at the same time, I’m cautious because Microsoft doesn’t allows their partners to customize Windows Phone much. The camera software on Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 was terrible so I was worried that one for Windows Phone 8 would also be lacking.

    Unfortunately, the 920 does indeed use the Microsoft’s camera software though Nokia has customized some of it’s options.

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    One cool thing you can do with the camera software is view your previous shot while you’re framing your current one. Swipe left to view your last shot and then pinch zoom so that you can see both at the same time.

    Unlike other OSes, you can actually use third party camera applications within the native camera app. The feature is called lenses. You launch the camera, choose lenses and then select which one you want to use. There are 4 lenses included: Panorama, Bing Vision (for OCR and scanning QR codes), Smart Shoot and Cinemagraph.

    While it only allows you to pan from left to right in landscape mode, the Panorama actually works really well. I tried it in my kitchen and was impressed. The 920’s wide-angle lens can make it difficult for panoramas because there’s usually some perspective distortions around the edges. It did a good job of making the picture NOT look was made from a bunch of pictures stitched together.

    Smart Shoot is really cool. If you’re taking a picture of a group of people it will take multiple shots, find peoples faces and let you choose which faces you want to use. So if someone’s eyes are closed in shot #1 and someone else’s is closed in shot #4 you can choose the face from #1 and #4. It also allows you to remove people from shots.

    What’s even cooler is that if there’s a lot people moving behind your subject, you can actually remove them from the picture. Smart Shoot analyzes the pictures, figures who’s moving around and gives you to the option to remove them. I’ve seen demos of this but I haven’t had an opportunity to really use it yet.

    Cinemagraph is basically an animated gif creator. It takes a bunch of pictures quickly and turns them into an animated gif. It should be perfect for people who hang out on forums.

    The camera UI is the same one you’ll find on other Windows Phone 8’s but some of the options are customized. There are different scene modes, ISO settings, exposure, white balance, aspect ratio and focus assist light settings. While intuitive, the camera UI settings should be faster to set.

    The scenes can actually make a big difference. The sports scene raises the ISO so that the 920 can use faster shutter speeds. This helps freeze action. The night mode will also raise the ISO but will also use slow shutter speeds. That coupled with the stabilization makes the 920 a good choice as long as your subject is static.

    Focus speeds are decent though shot-to-shot speeds are slower than I’m used to. You can only take about 1 shot a second. It doesn’t sound slow but the GS3 and iPhone 5 can snap many shots a second. I wish the 920 had a burst mode.

    While using the camera, I noticed that it has a very wide angle. When composing shots, I frequently found that my fingers and feet would sometimes creep into the shot. According to Nokia, the 920’s lens has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 26mm. Wide angle are nice but personally, anything wider than 28mm is too wide. They’re great if you’re indoors and want to capture a wide angle, but they can be distracting if you’re taking close-ups. I find that 28mm-35mm is a good compromise. Another benefit to the 920 is that its wide-angle lens makes it less susceptible to camera shake.

    At first, I thought the 920’s lens has soft corners. However, after comparing pictures taken with the 920 and the 8x, it’s actually a case of the 920 having a much shallower depth-of-field compared to the 8x. You won’t mistake the 920 for an SLR but there is a difference so the 920 must have a larger camera sensor.

    I also noticed that the 920’s sensor is a little cleaner than the 8X at similar ISO’s.

    Picture quality is a mixed bag. It appears to have very aggressive noise reduction which reduces the amount of detail it captures. There is also a slight amount of chromatic aberrations though it’s relatively minor.

    Video quality is decent but the software sometimes hunts for focus more than I’m used to. I noticed captured audio has a lot of noise suppression processing, so people sort of sound like they’re squeezing their noses. It’s not terrible but I did notice it. I think it’s something most people wouldn’t notice.

    The stabilization is really useful for video. Check out this video I took in my car.


    It’s hard to say how effective the stabilization is because the 920’s camera is wider than just about every other phone I’ve tried.

    It’s been awhile since I looked this closely at a phone’s camera. While the 920’s lacks a burst mode, faster shot-to-shot speeds and its image quality isn’t the best I have ever seen, the optical image stabilization allows it to take certain pictures that you simply can’t with other cameras.

    Software:

    You get the latest version of Windows Phone 8. One of the things with Windows Phone is that Microsoft doesn’t allow their OEM’s latitude when it comes to customization. Aside from a few settings here and there, when you turn the 920 on, the software looks exactly like it does on the 8X and ATIV-S.

    So, you’re probably wondering how different OEM’s are able to differentiate their software. Each OEM has Windows Phone 8 apps that are exclusive to their devices. While most of the apps are not pre-installed you can grab them from the Windows Phone marketplace.

    Here’s where the 920 really differentiates itself from the 8X. For now, the 8X only has 5 apps available for it. Most of them are mildly useful utilities. The 920 has 24 apps for it right now.

    The most important extras are Nokia Drive+ and Nokia Maps. While turn based navigation is standard on other Smartphone OS’es, it’s not on Windows Phone. Nokia Drive+ also has public transit support. As of right now the 8X will only give you directions, it doesn't come with turn based navigation out of the box. Another nice feature is that you can download maps for offline use. Nokia allows you to download maps for an entire state/province/country easily. You don’t have to worry about map caching or anything like that.

    Other nice extras include:

    Angry Birds Roost (Angry Birds, news/ringtones/wallpapers) You still have to pay for the Angry Birds games.
    More camera lenses (8X doesn’t come with any lenses besides Bing Vision)
    Words with Friends
    Nokia Trailers - a movie trailer app
    Creative Studio - (image adjustment program)
    Transfer my Data - (contact transfer via Bluetooth)
    Nokia City Lens - augmented reality app

    Otherwise, the 920 is just like any other Windows Phone 8. The keyboard works really well. Most people should be able to just pick it up and start typing on it really quickly.

    The home screen is called a start screen. It’s populated with tiles. One new features is that you’re able to resize the tiles. Tiles are basically shortcuts to programs but they can also display information from that program. The tile for messaging can also show you how many unread messages you have while the tile for the picture viewer also shows pictures stored on your device and on other services. Probably the most useful thing about it is that now there are smaller tiles available which only take up ¼ the amount of space. Useful if you have many programs you use regularly.

    Your address book is located in the people hub. Instead of it just holding your contacts, it also integrates with Facebook and LinkedIn. When you view it, you can also see updates from your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn friends. One new feature is that you can organize your contacts into rooms. You can put all your family members into one room, your work colleagues into another, that sort of thing.

    The picture hub is similar. Instead of just holding pictures stored on your device it integrates with other services. There are also hubs for office, music+video and games.

    One thing I’m disappointed about is that the multitasking hasn’t changed from Windows 7.5. While it’s nice that you can see the programs you’re switching to, there’s still no way to kill tasks.

    If you asked me what the worst thing about Windows Phone is, it would be the marketplace. You see, when you get a new Windows Phone to replace your old one and try to download your old apps you’ll be in for an unpleasant surprise.

    If you have children, Windows Phone 8 has a really cool kid’s corner features. Basically, you tell kid’s corner which apps you want your kids to be able to use. When the phone is locked you swipe sideways to enable kid’s corner. Your kids can access the apps you specified plus they can customize it.

    I’m a little annoyed that apps are able to open a browser window if your kids click on an ad. Still, they’ll get a message saying that they’re not allowed to if they are redirected to the marketplace.

    The lock screen has been given a makeover. You can now allow apps to display content on it. I hooked it up to my Facebook account and now it shows pictures from my account as a background. Still, I wish the lock screen could show more important information like on my iPhone 5. Instead of being able to read my recent emails, messages, etc all the lock screen tells me is how many of unread messages of each type I have.

    While it’s not really Windows Phone’s fault, a lot of programs don’t run in the background. So when you switch away from them they have to relaunch when you switch back. My favorite example is Plants vs Zombies. First off, it takes a long time to launch and has to re-launch every time you switch away from it. It drives me nuts.

    While it doesn’t come with a compatible charger, the 920 supports wireless charging. It uses the Qi wireless charging standard so you can use third party chargers as long as they’re Qi compatible.

    Unlike previous versions, you don’t need to connect the 920 to your PC using Zune desktop if you want to copy content to the 920.

    You can now copy music, pictures and videos simply by connecting the 920 to your computer. You don’t have to mess around with Zune desktop. Just connect it and you can drag and drop files to it. You can copy music, videos, pictures, etc. I tried MP3’s and MPA’s audio files plus avi and mp4 videos files. All played back just fine. 720P MKV’s didn’t work.

    Performance:

    SunSpider is a browser javascript benchmark. Internet Explorer had awful SunSpider scores in Windows Phone 7/7.5. It looks like Microsoft has worked on Internet Explorer’s javascript performance because the 920’s SunSpider scores are very fast. Check it out, when running the default Android browser, the Galaxy S III which has the same processor as the 920 is nearly 2x slower.

    SunSpider (lower is better):
    Apple iPhone 5: 911.7
    Nokia Lumia 920: 909.1
    HTC 8X: 904.7
    Samsung Galaxy Note II: 1005.4
    LG Optimus G: 1314.1
    Samsung Galaxy S III: 1781.5
    HTC Titan II: 6360.5

    Peacekeeper is another browser-based benchmark which allows us to compare devices across different platforms.

    Peacekeeper (higher is better):
    Apple iPhone 5: 807
    Nokia Lumia 920: 331
    HTC 8X: 345
    Samsung Galaxy Note II: 749
    LG Optimus G: 505
    Samsung Galaxy S III: 476
    HTC Titan II: 153

    While Internet Explorer does really well in SunSpider it’s Peacekeeper scores are a little more modest.

    Gaming:

    Unfortunately, I’m not aware of a 3D gaming benchmark that’s available for both Windows Phone and another platform. I’m not big on synthetic benchmarks but one thing I think about is that the Samsung Galaxy S III has the exact same processor as the Lumia 920. Since Windows Phone 8 is optimized to run on the Snapdragon S4 processor I’d expect similar or better 3D performance than the GS3. It should be adequate for any games you throw at it for the next while.

    Battery life:

    To test battery life I switched the phone to airplane mode and played back a video at full brightness till it shut off.

    Battery test (mins):
    HTC 8X: 274
    Nokia Lumia 920: 340

    I’ve noticed while I can compare these results across platforms it’s not generally a good idea. For example, iOS does really well in my test but it’s real world numbers are much lower. It’s really only useful for comparing devices running the same operating system.

    While the 920’s has an average-sized 2000mAh battery and even though Windows Phone is supposed to have a lot of power management tweaks I don’t feel it will be able to make it through the day. Most high-end phones these days fall into the category with the exceptions being the Samsung Note II and to a lesser degree, the Motorola RAZR HD LTE.

    I haven’t used my 8X enough yet to comment if it’s battery life is really inferior to the 920’s.

    One new Windows Phone 8 feature is battery saver. It kicks in when the battery runs low and can do stuff like turn off emailing pushing to help save battery life.

    I’m happy to report that the 920 can charge at 1.6A. That means it can charge up much faster than say the Galaxy S III which can only charge at 1A. I’m a little disappointed that Nokia only includes a 1A charger in the box.

    As a phone:

    RF performance is stellar. My basement is a bit of a black hole on Rogers. Most phones don’t find any LTE while they struggle mightily to even find HSPA and usually end up on EDGE or GPRS. The 920 is the first phone that I’ve tried that is able to find and use a usable LTE connection. It’s even better than the RAZR HD LTE in this regard. Next to the Lumia 920, the iPhone 5 is basically a paperweight in my basement.

    While I’m not able to force my 920 to LTE only, I forced my RAZR to LTE only mode and found that while it’s able to find LTE as well, it’s connection isn’t as stable as the 920’s is. So it’s not a matter of the RAZR simply not using LTE because a stronger HSPA connection is available.

    Maximum earpiece volume is decent though it’s not as loud as my iPhone 5’s.

    Incoming sound quality is nice and clean sounding. It’s very good.

    The 920 has a very loud built-in speaker. While it’s about the same loudness as my iPhone 5 the 920’s speaker sounds much worse. It’s kind of hollow and bloated sounding in comparison. Still, you probably won’t notice it if you’re in a loud environment.

    Conclusion:

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    No doubt about it, the 920 is a superb piece of hardware. The image stabilized camera allows you to take certain pictures that you simply can’t capture with other phones. The screen is about as good as it gets and the RF performance simply blows everything else out of the water. Wireless charging is a bonus, the quad-band LTE is bonus for travelers and the ability to use it with gloves should make my winters much warmer.

    On the hand, Windows Phone 8’s future is still cloudy. While Microsoft claims that there are over 100,000 apps in the Windows Phone market it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Compared to my iPhone or Galaxy Note II, looking for new apps on the 920 is a lot less interesting.

    Nokia‘s back is to the wall and the Lumia 920 shows that they know this. The Lumia 920 shows that they’re not going down without a fight.

    vs HTC 8X:

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    Next to the 8X the 920 is a bit of a pig. The 8X is about the sleekest phone you can buy right now. Yes, it’s even sleeker than the iPhone 5. The biggest advantage the 920 has over the 8X is its 32GB of built-in storage vs the 8X’s pathetic 8GB or more reasonable but still too small 16. The stabilized camera allows the 920 to take some pictures that are much harder to capture on the 8X though the 920’s overly-aggressive noise reduction is a bit of a let down.

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    On paper, the 8X’s Super LCD2 should easily beat the 920 but actually the 920 screen is better in some respects. If you live somewhere cold the ability to use the 920 while wearing gloves makes it a compelling choice. Maybe that’s why Nokia made the 920 so big (a small phone is harder to use with gloves).

    Both run Windows Phone 8 but as of right now, the 920 has a few key pieces of software which are missing. Personally, the 920 has so much more right now it makes me question how seriously HTC takes Windows Phone.

    So, if you can look past the bulkiness, I’d pick the 920.

    Pros:

    • stabilized camera
    • slick design
    • easier to manage files
    • RF performance
    • screen
    • quad-band LTE
    • built-in wireless charging


    Cons:

    • bulky
    • overly aggressive noise reduction on camera
    • no wireless charger included
    Last edited by howard; 11-21-2012 at 12:04 PM.

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    RE: Our Nokia Lumia 920 review: Nokia's Last chance

    Great review got the phone yesterday. Personally think the hardware makes the iphone look and feel like a big steaming dump.
    Sent from my RM-820_nam_canada_200 via the HowardForums WP7 App

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    Our Nokia Lumia 920 review: Nokia's Last chance

    I really like the 920. Seems like a solid phone all the way around.
    Running too many phones

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    Re: Our Nokia Lumia 920 review: Nokia's Last chance

    Well its been a week and I'm back on my Galaxy nexus. Way to much missing from the 920 still. To bad cause the build quality was so good. Maybe windows 8.5 will get it right.

    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2

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    Great review
    WWJD

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    Quote Originally Posted by terd ferguson View Post
    Well its been a week and I'm back on my Galaxy nexus. Way to much missing from the 920 still. To bad cause the build quality was so good. Maybe windows 8.5 will get it right.

    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk 2
    what exactly made u switch back to galaxy nexus from lumia 920?

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    Re: Our Nokia Lumia 920 review: Nokia's Last chance

    App selection and standard features were the 2 big ones. Took the phone back and got the note 2, so much better.

    Sent from my SGH-I317M using Tapatalk 2

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    I need something new on the AT&T 4GLTE network (contract expiring), so I'm looking at this. As a graphic designer who scribbles on the go, I'm putting the G Note 2 on my list, but it’s heavy. Too bad we can't order custom-made phones!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Donwald View Post
    I need something new on the AT&T 4GLTE network (contract expiring), so I'm looking at this. As a graphic designer who scribbles on the go, I'm putting the G Note 2 on my list, but it’s heavy. Too bad we can't order custom-made phones!
    The Lumia 920 is Heavier than the Note 2.

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