Nokia Lumia 920 Review & Giveaway
A couple of weeks ago, Nokia introduced two new devices to the world: the Nokia Lumia 925 and the Nokia Lumia 928. The top notch of Windows Phone 8 devices, these two smartphones will only be available in June, but the advent of the next generation of Lumia devices inspired us to finally get our hands on one of Nokia’s flagship smartphones — namely, the Nokia Lumia 920.
At the time of its release, the Lumia 920 made some big waves, and won some prestigious “phone of the year” awards, but how does it fare today, only mere months after its release? Available since last November, the Lumia 920 came hand in hand with the launch of Windows Phone 8, and despite its successor being announced, it is still a strong competitor in the smartphone field based solely on its specifications, comparable to some big players such as Google’s Nexus 4, the Samsung Galaxy S III and even the iPhone 5.
The Nokia Lumia 920 is available for anywhere between $20-$450 with a contract or locked to AT&T in the US, and can go up to $600-$800 for an unlocked device in other parts of the world. But today, you have a chance to get your hands on a shiny new unlocked Nokia Lumia 920 device, without paying a dime! If you’ve been curious about this Windows Phone device but too scared to make the actual jump, read on to find out if it’s worth your time, and, of course, to learn how you can win this $750 device for free!
In the fast world of smartphones, The Nokia Lumia 920 is already a fairly old contestant. Only 5 months old, the phone is no longer the cream of the crop, with newer devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One surpassing it easily in most aspects.
Having said that, most of us don’t necessarily go for the newest smartphone every few months, and the older generation of phones, which suddenly becomes more affordable, is an excellent option for those looking for a powerful device for a good price.
The Lumia 920 comes with a 4.5-inch LCD screen with a 1280×768 resolution and 331 PPI, which is on par with the Nexus 4 and the iPhone 5 , if not better. While it doesn’t have an SD card slot like Samsung devices, it comes with 32 GB of internal storage, which should be more than enough. And with its dual core processor and 1 GB of RAM, it’s not as powerful as the Nexus 4, but is definitely competitive against the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy S III.
Looking at cameras, the Lumia 920’s doesn’t look special on paper, but features Nokia’s PureView technology, which should supposedly take in five times more light without using flash, and provide reduced blur using a new stabilization system. The official battery life of 10 hours is a bit low, but not lower than the iPhone 5’s, and like most modern devices not made by Samsung, the battery cannot be removed or replaced.
When it comes to phones, an informative price comparison is not an easy task, with prices varying wildly between carriers and countries; but looking at Amazon, a contract-free, unlocked Nokia Lumia 920 (if you can get your hands on one) is priced similarly to a 16GB iPhone 5 and the international version of the Samsung Galaxy S4.
What’s In The Box?
The first thing I noticed about the Lumia 920’s box is how colorful it is, and for a device that comes in red, yellow and cyan I expected nothing less. The phone and its accessories are packed in layers, with the phone being the first thing you lay your eyes on as you slide open the box.
The Nokia Lumia 920 comes with a micro-USB charger (European plug for this one, so get your adapters ready if you’re anywhere else), a white micro-USB cable, a pair of headphones, a key for the SIM-card drawer, and some neatly packed booklets.
The headphones are good for a pair that ships with a smartphone, and come with interchangeable rubber ends in four different sizes. The SIM drawer key is relatively wide, but can be used on other devices as well, if you so desire. I used this same key on my Nexus 4 without too much trouble.
Design & Hardware
Taking the Lumia 920 in my hands, I immediately noticed two things: how amazing it is to hold, and how heavy it is. A quick check showed that the Nokia Lumia 920 weighs in at a staggering 185g, which is quite heavy for such a modern device. To give you an idea of just how heavy it is, the Nexus 4 weighs 139g, the Samsung Galaxy S4 weighs 130g, and the iPhone 5 weighs a measly 112g. So at 185g, the Lumia 920 feels almost like a paper weight.
Despite its weight, the Lumia 920 feels better to hold than any smartphone I’ve ever laid my hands on. While not featuring the Nexus 4’s glass back, or the HTC One’s metal back, the Lumia 920’s plastic back is very different from its Samsung kin. While the entire phone is covered in plastic, the smooth mat finish gives the device a distinct premium feeling, and the sharp angles and flat sides make it easy to hold and use.
From left to right: Google Nexus 4, Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy S4
Unlike most smartphones, the Lumia 920’s hardware buttons are all packed on the same side of the device. This includes the power button, a volume button, and a camera button. The buttons are wide and protrude nicely from the phone’s surface, making them easy to locate with your fingers as you’re using the phone. The camera button, which sits on the lower side of the phone, is meant to be used when the phone is in landscape mode, and is pretty unusable when using the camera in portrait mode.
From top to bottom: Nokia Lumia 920, Samsung Galaxy S4, Google Nexus 4
There are no other physical buttons on the device, but three capacitive buttons provide Home, Search and Back functions on the bottom of the device. The capacitive buttons on the Lumia have more than one function: a long press on the Back button opens the task switcher, and a long press on the Home button brings up a Siri-like voice-activated service for simple functions such as calling or texting, or for searching.
The bottom of the device is where you’ll find the speakers, which provide excellent sound, as long as you’re not in the habit of holding your phone from the sides while watching videos. The speakers’ location makes for super sound quality even when the phone is placed on its back (unlike the Nexus 4, which has speakers at the back of the device), but they are easily blocked when holding the phone in landscape mode.
On top, you’ll find the headphone jack, the microphone, and the device’s SIM-card drawer.
The Lumia 920 comes with a 8.7 MP camera, and a 1.3 MP front-facing camera. The main camera is placed in the center of the phone’s back, with a small LED flash sitting right next to it, creating a fetching design. While I have no complaints about the camera itself, its relatively low position on the device’s back takes some getting used to, creating a bunch of finger photos on the way, especially when using the camera in portrait mode.
The only real design glitch is the way the display panel is attached to the phone’s plastic back, leaving a visible crack where dust specs, cat hair, and whatever else you have flying around the house gets caught, and is very hard to remove once lodged inside.
All in all, the Nokia Lumia 920 is a truly beautiful device, and I found myself falling in love with it before I even turned it on. It feels that Nokia put a great emphasis on a unique design, making this 5-months-old phone stand out from the crowd in every way possible, even in today’s market.
Display & Usability
Things didn’t change much after turning the phone on. Before diving in, it’s important to emphasize that although I’m completely new to the Windows Phone operating system, I am not reviewing this phone’s OS, but the device itself, so I will not go too deeply into general Windows Phone usability.
Right off the bat, I was impressed with how responsive the Lumia 920 felt. Although I’m an Android user, I’m the first to admit that iPhones are, as a general rule, much more responsive. The Nokia Lumia 920 is more responsive than any iPhone I’ve ever used, with an amazing user experience and touch sensitivity.
The colors on the screen are brilliant, and although the screen is nothing out of the ordinary on paper, there’s something very bright and vivid about it, making it visibly different from other devices I’ve tried. The Lumia 920 seems to be able to grasp and show colors better the the Nexus 4 (see below), which is great most of the time, but can yield some pretty weird results, as we shall soon see.
Aside from bright and vivid colors, and impressive contrast and sharpness, the Lumia 920 also boasts a nice viewing angle, which is not as good as the Nexus 4’s, but enough for most everyday uses.
Without getting into Windows Phone’s general usability, I can safely say that the Lumia 920 is powerful and intuitive to use. There are no visible lags or slowness and no recurrent crashes, and the phone was able to run pretty much anything I threw at it.
Being a Nokia, the phone comes loaded with many Nokia apps such as Nokia HERE Drive, Nokia City Lens, Nokia Maps, and more. I must admit, I didn’t expect much of these, but the first time I had to drive somewhere and realized Waze was not available for Windows Phone, I reluctantly launched HERE Drive and hoped for the best. I was very pleasantly surprised.
HERE Drive is a competent navigation system, even outside the US, and while it’s not crowd-sourced enough where I live to take traffic into account, it definitely got me where I wanted to go, alerting me every time I went over the speed limit (this option can be muted). Nokia City Lens is a great way to find local nearby restaurants, hotels, shopping, entertainment, sights, transportation, and more.
Nokia Maps gives Google Maps a run for its money, and while not as polished as its more popular counterpart, it’s definitely better than I expected.
There’s a definite build-up when trying out the Lumia 920’s camera for the first time. With its PureView, Pure Motion HD+, and other big names, this device’s camera was the part I was anticipating the most. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Aside from regular photos and HD video, the Lumia 920 has an excellent panorama feature, a “Cinemagraph” feature for short animated photos, a “Smart Shoot” feature for a quick blast of photos from which you can choose the best one, and a barcode scanner. Within the camera, you can change the kind of scene you want to shoot, control ISO and white balance, and even the exposure value. But none of these are necessary to get good photos out of the Lumia 920.
These sample photos were taken with the basic, automatic settings; trying to see what kind of photos I can get out of the Lumia 920 without changing a thing. As mentioned above, the Lumia 920 has a way of capturing colors more vividly, and in this it managed to outdo even Samsung’s newest flagship device, the Galaxy S4.
The Lumia 920’s lens is also much wider than the Galaxy S4’s, capturing a lot more into the picture when standing at the same spot. This is visible even in the following sample photos, which were all taken from the exact same distance with the Lumia 920 and Galaxy S4.
But the differences become truly apparent when trying to shoot in the dark. PureView promises to capture five times more light than a normal lens, but I still did not expect a significant difference when shooting at night. Below you can see the same photo, one taken with the Lumia 920, the other taken with the Galaxy S4, in a room that was almost completely dark. No flash or other additional lights were used for the Lumia 920 shot. I think the photos speak for themselves.
As mentioned above, the Lumia 920 has its way with colors, presenting a colorful and saturated view of the world when looking through its lens. This is usually a positive experience, if not exactly an accurate one, but at times it can go as far as distorting colors completely, as you can see in the photo below.
Can you see how different the box looks on the two screens? The real color is a shade of turquoise, very similar to what you see on the Galaxy S4 screen. On the Lumia 920, however, it looks completely blue.
The Lumia 920’s camera has some pretty impressive macro abilities, but nothing groundbreaking. While I did manage to take some nice close-up shots, I could manage the same results with both the Nexus 4 and the Galaxy S4.
While the Lumia 920 doesn’t come with as many camera features as the Samsung Galaxy S4, and doesn’t have the intuitive interface of the Nexus 4’s camera, the photos it produces range from vastly superior to slightly better. And when it’s all said and done, that’s the most important thing I look for in a camera.
Living With The Nokia Lumia 920
When I first unwrapped the Nokia Lumia 920, I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve been coveting this device and its predecessors ever since they were first announced, having been a happy Nokia user for over 10 years, and generally thinking Windows Phone deserved a chance just like any other mobile OS.
I lived with the Lumia 920 as my main device for several days, and at the end came to this painful conclusion: if there were more apps for Windows Phone, my editor would have had to wrestle the device away from me, because I would not have wanted to give it back.
In the first few days, I was so happy with the Lumia 920 I considered selling my Nexus 4 to get one for myself. Beautiful, powerful, responsive, and easy to use, the Lumia 920 running Windows Phone is everything I expected it to be, and more. It’s only after several days that I realized there’s something missing, something Nokia can’t do anything about — my good old apps.
No Waze, no Dropbox, no Instagram, and crippled versions of WhatsApp and Facebook finally took their toll. If you look hard enough, all these apps have replacements, with Skydrive being an excellent one for Dropbox, and HERE Drive doing a good enough job in place of Waze, but had I decided to stay with the Lumia, it would have taken some getting used to. On the other hand, some people will find that having Microsoft Office on their phone is the most convenient thing since email came to phones. And if you’re not already used to specific apps, almost anything can be found on the Windows Phone ecosystem.
Should you buy the Nokia Lumia 920?
All in all, the Lumia 920 is an incredible device, and it’s sad to see it ignored by users just because of Windows Phone. Then again, I’ve just joined that same statistic.
How do I win the Nokia Lumia 920?
We have a new giveaway procedure in place, which will hopefully make participating much easier. You may enter using your Facebook credentials (which will require you to sign into Facebook) or by submitting your name and email address. You’ll receive one entry simply by doing so.
After that, you’ll also be offered various methods to earn additional entries. They range from sharing a link to this giveaway on social networks; to commenting or visiting a specific page. The more you participate, the higher your chances of winning!
This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, June 7th. The winner will be selected at random and informed via email.