Nokia Lumia 920 review

The Nokia Lumia 920 is a bigger, faster, brighter handset running Windows Phone 8

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Nokia Lumia 920 review

For

  • Windows 8 skills
  • Large screen
  • Nokia apps

Against

  • Pure bulk
  • Poor battery life
  • Lack of apps

The Nokia Lumia 920 is a bigger, faster, brighter Windows phone but can it take on the might of the iPhone 5?

Update: The Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 release date for Europe has been confirmed as November 2012. US release dates have yet to be announced.

Key execs from both Microsoft and Nokia took to the stage today – including head honchos Steve Ballmer and Stephen Elop – to launch the new Nokia Lumia 920 and 820, the handset makers latest duo of Android and iPhone rivalling smartphones it hopes will make a real impact on the market.

The fact it was so inherently a joint operation is telling as to just how just how strategically interlinked the firms are becoming in the smartphone space. As much as the handsets themselves were raved about (almost entirely the higher end 920), Microsoft took the opportunity to reiterate a lot of the features of its upcoming OS Windows Phone 8. Indeed, at times it wasn’t obvious which was a Nokia innovation or a Microsoft one.

If you were in any doubt before, the two tech giants are putting on a united front when it comes to their respective smartphone campaigns, and if the Lumia 920 is to be taken as the product of this, on first impressions at least it doesn’t disappoint

Nokia Lumia 920: Build

One of the first things you notice about the 920 is that, like previous iterations such as the Nokia Lumia 800 and Nokia Lumia 900, it’s big, colourful and nicely designed. The polycarbonate unibody build is apparently used because of better antenna performance, being more RF transparent.

It certainly feels solid, and ceramic keys and plating are supposed to be more or less invulnerable to scratching.

There’s definitely a sense that Nokia is trying to stand out from the crowd in the design front, as with previous Lumia models. The signature bright colours are injection moulded into the polycarbonate, so shouldn’t fade with wear and tear. The Lumia 920 manages to be Technicolor without seeming like a toy, which is probably a fine line.

Nokia’s R&D department apparently put it through rigorous tests, including dropping it, splashing it, and even putting sun tan lotion on it to see if the colours would be effected. The overall result is a solid feeling build that feels like it could take a knock or two. Though if course, we can’t say for sure until we get a more extensive play with it.

Nokia Lumia 920: Features

Nokia made a very big stick indeed of the imaging capabilities. At the core of this is the PureView system.

The PureView system essentially means the camera components ‘float’ on tiny little springs. The optical assembly should therefore stay somewhat steady if the phone is being jiggled around.

The main upshot of this is that the lens can be open for longer with reduced risk of blurring, which means images and videos should benefit from enhanced brightness and clarity. The images we saw, combined with the HD display, certainly looked good.

An decent camera similar to that seen on the Nokia 808 PureView, and Carl Zeiss optics do the ground work.

As much a part of Windows Phone 8, new lens applications can be utilised before or after you snap, such as FX Suite. We were shown a number of nifty filters and apps (such as Photo Synth, which produces a panoramic view which you can slide across to see more), which along with that powerful camera bolster this as a phone with imaging at its heart.

Probably the other most interesting thing about the phone is the built-in wireless charging. We were demonstrated it sitting on a ‘Fatboy Recharge Pillow’. This is likely to be an increasingly important trend in the future, and Nokia seems well placed with a seemingly hassle free approach.

The firm has also struck a number of deals with businesses, such as Virgin Atlantic and some US café chains, which will see the installation of wireless recharge plates for when you’re out of the house.

Live tiles – a huge part of Windows Phone 8’s proposition – can be re-sized, moved and customised Also, bundled features such as maps and voice control have been given a tweaking for the new handset.

Nokia City Lens is a new feature - point it at the street and it will overlay info about businesses, restaurants and other bits of info.

The 920 will also have offline maps ‘that work’, which will have augmented reality and will be linked with Nokia Drive.

NFC, which was demonstrated on stage by tapping a speaker to make it play, is also on board.

Nokia Lumia 920: Screen

The previous similar screen sized Nokia Lumia 900 abandoned curved glass, as there wasn’t an ideal way of solidly including it into the large screen at the time, so we’re told. However thanks to new techniques the 920 features a curved 4.5-inch high definition screen.

It features Nokia Pure Motion HD Plus – tech that is designed to enhance clarity in stills and video.

Nokia claims it is the fastest LCD display ever shipped on a smartphone- and that it’s 25% brighter than rival smartphones.

Nokia Lumia 920: Performance

The 920 has a 2000mAh battery, which is the largest Nokia has installed in a phone. The snapdragon S4 processor is also supposed to help with battery efficiency, ‘as opposed to quad core alternatives’.

At this stage we weren’t able to exhaust the performance of the device, but there certainly seems to be a move towards pushing for a decent amount of use out of a charge. If may be less of an issue if we do end up in a world filled with wireless charging ports…

Nokia Lumia 920: Verdict

Nokia’s mission statement in the smartphone space is arguably to play catch up with the iPhone and slew of Android based rivals that now are so strong in the market, certainly in the west. The Lumia series thus far has done a good job of providing a sturdy, nice looking alternative to both of these.

Linked into this is Microsoft, which also still has some work to in order to catch up the likes of Android in terms of market share and apps. It looks well placed to make significant headway with this with the upcoming Windows Phone 8 – which has commentators buzzing for its release.

It’s difficult to separate the two factors when examining the Lumia 920. As stated, it’s clear from the launch how close the firms have become in their respective smartphone pushes. The device will not just be Nokia’s flagship handset, but it’s also bracketed as something like a showcase for what Windows Phone 8 can do – much like the Galaxy Nexus was for Android.

In all, the device looks like an imaging powerhouse, and has a number of interesting features in its own right – however the role it will play in the early first shots of Windows renewed push for a larger share of the smartphone market will be key.

Nokia Lumia 920 availability: November 2012

Nokia Lumia 920 price: TBC

Hands-on review by Andrew Wooden

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view.