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Nokia Lumia 920 Review: Best Windows Phone out in the market?

Our full review of the Nokia Lumia 920!
Our full review of the Nokia Lumia 920!

Nokia Lumia 920: A Solid Alternative to Android and the iPhone

Choice. That is what the Nokia Lumia 920 embodies for us. It’s a welcome respite from the seemingly repetitive iPhone iterations and the non-stop flood of Android devices. The Nokia Lumia 920 offers a fresh and bold take on the smartphone both on the hardware and the software aspects. We’ve been using the Nokia Lumia 920 as our primary smartphone for well over three weeks now and we can definitely say that it is a solid and worthy alternative to the best iOS and Android can offer.

Nokia Lumia 920 Spec Sheet

  • 1.5GHz Dual-core Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon
  • Adreno 225 GPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 32GB Storage
  • 4.5-inches IPS LCD Capacitive Touchscreen, Gorilla Glass 2
  • 768 x 1280 pixels, 332 pixels per inch, PureMotion HD+, ClearBlack Display
  • 8.0-megapixels rear-facing camera with Carl Zeiss optics, OIS, autofocus, dual-LED flash
  • PureView Technology (for amazing low-light photos)
  • Can record 1080p@30fps video with stabilization (floating lens technology)
  • 1.3-megapixels front-facing camera
  • WiFi a/b/g/n, DLNA, WiFi Hotspot, Bluetooth 4.1, NFC
  • 3G, HSPA+, LTE (to be activated via OTA update locally), GPS with AGPS support and GLONASS
  • 2,000mAh Battery
  • Microsoft Windows Phone 8 OS

If you haven’t read our unboxing and initial impressions article, you might want to check it out first.

Hardware goes against the grain in a good way

The trend for smartphone chassis design is thin and light. That’s what Apple has been doing and that’s what Android device manufacturers have also been trying to do. Guess what? The Nokia Lumia 920 is NOT light. It is NOT thin. In fact, some people might go as far and say that it’s too bulky and heavy. However there are times when some heft and size is good. There’s a certain tipping point before it becomes too difficult to use. The Nokia Lumia 920, for us, strikes the balance between too big and too thin (na parang cardboard na). It still feels natural in the hand but the added heft is reassuring of the build quality and the technology that’s packed in it.

Definitely not the thinnest smartphone out there, hehe.
Definitely not the thinnest smartphone out there, hehe.

 

What’s fascinating is that we get this feeling that the “bulky” chassis was purposely made and that there was a lot of thought put into it.

Looks good from any angle!
Looks good from any angle!

What’s fascinating is that we get this feeling that the “bulky” chassis was purposely made and that there was a lot of thought put into it. We say that because Nokia has paid incredible attention to detail with the Lumia 920. Let’s start with the display. The gorgeous 4.5-inch curved screen is a marvel to look at when you hold it close to you. It flows seamlessly into the solid polycarbonate body. The ceramic covered buttons on the side not only add to the aesthetic allure of the device but they’re also optimally positioned, especially the dedicated camera shutter button. At the top and the bottom we find the headphone jack and the microUSB port. For the back we have the signature Carl Zeiss 8.7-megapixel shooter with LED flash nestled comfortably on a metallic like plate.

Observe how the glass flows into the polycarbonate shell
Observe how the glass flows into the polycarbonate shell
What the back looks like
What the back looks like

Over-all with design we’re very happy with the Nokia Lumia 920. Note though that the size can be polarizing. Some people really do prefer thin and light and they abhor hefty devices. While we’re awed with it, you should test it out yourself before buying. Head on over to a Nokia store and get your hands on a demo unit.

Packed with all the right goods

What’s inside the phone is just as equally as impressive. All the bells and whistles of a modern day flagship smartphone is in the Nokia Lumia 920! Let’s go through them one by one.

Gorgeous Display

Nokia Lumia 920's beautiful display quality
Nokia Lumia 920’s beautiful display quality

First up we have display quality. The Nokia Lumia 920 has a 4.5-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1280×768. The result? Deep blacks and crisp colors which leads to amazing detailed images, videos, and text. It’s also worth noting that Nokia used Corning Gorilla Glass 2 for the screen. In all honesty though we still recommend people use screen protectors because despite the “scratch-resistant” claim backed up with marketing videos, it’s common to see hairline scratches on Gorilla Glass displays across a variety fo smartphones. Same can be said for the Lumia 920.

NFC and Wireless Charging

Next up we have Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. This lets you just tap the phone on certain accessories to activate their functions. We already ordered a JBL PowerUp Speaker from Nokia Philippines so hopefully we can get it soon and then we’ll feature it here on Unbox. One NFC accessory that we have on hand though is the Wireless Charging Stand. All you have to do to charge the Nokia Lumia 920 is just place it there and it will charge without any wires whatsoever. Awesomeness. Wireless charging should be standard for flagship phones moving forward.

LTE update coming soon… (Pakibilisan Nokia PH)

Bitin! Saan ang 4G?
Bitin! Saan ang 4G?

Now this is a bit of letdown. The Nokia Lumia 920 supports LTE but they haven’t pushed out the update yet enabling Nokia Lumia 920 smartphones in the Philippines to let users access the network. I have no idea why they haven’t sent it out but I would like to think and hope that it is coming soon. We’ve gotten used to LTE from our Sony Xperia Z and iPhone 5 and we think any good flagship model should have it ready if users want it.

The Nokia Lumia 920 has a check mark already on all the boxes of what we want with a smartphone save for LTE. Nokia PH kindly fast track deployment of the firmware update please!!!

Microsoft Windows Phone 8 runs blisteringly fast on the Nokia Lumia 920

Nokia stuffed a 1.5GHz dual-core processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon) in the Lumia 920 together with 1GB RAM. While this doesn’t sound too advanced compared to the Android quad-core machines, the specs don’t really matter as much since Windows Phone 8 as a platform works quite well on a dual-core system. In fact the only time we experienced lag was when we were searching for someone on the People (contacts) app… and that was mainly because we had over 5,000 contacts listed on our phone, lol.

Microsoft Live Tiles! Metro UI FTW.
Microsoft Live Tiles! Metro UI FTW.

The Metro UI of Windows which uses Live Tiles, like what we said during our HTC 8X review, is a breath of fresh air for user interfaces for smartphones. It’s deceivingly plain but it actually lends itself to a lot of customization and personalization. You can pin a lot of stuff on your home screen and change the sizes of the tiles. You can the re-arrange them to what suits your personality or usage habits.

Unfortunately we did encounter some hiccups

In the interest of full disclosure and fair reviewing we do have to disclose that the unit we got had display issues. We had to give it back to Nokia and fortunately it was still covered by warranty. They replaced the phone after 2 days. There were also a few instances that it froze or hanged but it was remedied with hard resets (hold down power lock and volume down). 

That said make sure you buy from a store that offers official Nokia warranty and keep the receipt.

Nokia Add-ons

Nokia Collection (exclusive to the Lumia)
Nokia Collection (exclusive to the Lumia)

To further enhance the Windows experience, Nokia has been relentless in coming up with exclusive applications. There are three main categories where they’re focusing on: maps, photography, and gaming. For maps they have the HERE Suite of apps which includes maps, drive (beta), and transit. For photography they have a bunch of exclusive lenses and photo editing tools and a pretty interesting app called #2InstaWithLove. It’s basically some sort of appeal app to the makers of Instagram to finally come around to making an Instagram app for Windows Phone 8, lol. For games they have a lot of EA and PopCap content exclusive. Our favorite? Bejweled+, hehe.

HERE Maps in action
HERE Maps in action

Here’s a list of recommended apps that we also posted on our Nokia Lumia 820 review:

Social Networking: Facebook, Twitter, #2InstaWithLove*, LinkedIn
Photo Editing: Cinemagraph*, Creative Studio*, Panorama*, SophieLens for Nokia*, Smart Shoot*, Lomograph
Communication: Kik, WeChat, Whats App, Skype, Viber
Maps and Traffic: Here Maps*, Here Transit*, Here Drive + Beta*, gMAPS Pro, MMDA
News: Weave News Reader, Inquirer, GMA News, ABS-CBN News, ESPN, CNN
Live Tiles: Connectivity Studio, Battery Level for WP8, MegaTile, PhotoGrid
Games: Armed (RTS), Fruit Ninja, Angry Birds series, Plants vs Zombies, Asphalt 5, Bejeweled+*
Others: Evernote, Metrotube (really good YouTube app)

*Exclusive to Nokia Lumia

Camera is SUPERB!

The banner feature of the Nokia Lumia 920 is their Pureview Camera. This camera is supposed to do two key things that others struggle with: low light photography and image stabilization during video recordings. We were able to test both and the results were very convincing. Not only did it even perform well in lowlight but it can easily be a strong contender for one of the best shooters as a whole compared to other Android devices and even the iPhone 5.

Here are some sample shots that we took in decent lighting:

 

 

WP_20130316_005

WP_20130317_003

And here are photos in low-mid light conditions. For comparison’s sake we put the 920’s pic side-by-side with a 12-MP shooter of an Android smartphone (with BSI).

lumia 3

lumia 920 pics

lumia low light

As you can see the Lumia 920 photos have more detail, less noise, and feel like they were taken in a room with good lighting. When it comes to low-light photography the Nokia Lumia 920 delivers in spades. Note though that in order to get good pictures in low light using the Lumia 920 you need to have steady hands. Shooting in Night Mode will blur the photo with minimal movement.

Battery life is average-good for a high-end smartphone

Usual fare for battery. Nothing breakthrough
Usual fare for battery. Nothing breakthrough

The Nokia Lumia 920 touts a 2,000mAh battery. With moderate-heavy use it can actually survive the day. However there are two things you can do that will drastically lower battery. First is turning on Location. For some reason that seems to really kill battery life. Secondly is playing games. I’m not sure if the GPU of the Lumia 920 is up to spec or if it’s properly optimized but playing even casual games like Bejeweled+ has a big effect on the battery.

Verdict: Probably the Best Windows Phone 8 Devices Out in the Market

Two thumbs up for the Nokia Lumia 920!
Two thumbs up for the Nokia Lumia 920!

Compared to all other Windows Phones in the market today the Nokia Lumia 920 comes out on top. While it’s thicker and heavier compared to it’s main rival, the HTC 8X, it more than makes up for it with Nokia exclusive apps, a ridiculously good camera, and the smorgasbord of Nokia Lumia accessories like the Wireless Charging Stand.

We actually just have two main criticisms. First, we don’t have the LTE update yet. That’s just a bummer especially with local telcos like Smart going all-out in promoting LTE. Nokia PH is going to miss the boat on this one if they don’t push out the update in the next few weeks. Secondly, I pray to God that what happened to my first device was an isolated case. The display issues coupled with the buggy 3G was such a downer but fortunately the warranty was there.

Official SRP is Php26,990. If you’re looking for a good deal though you might want to go for the Nokia Lumia 920 on Widget City for Php24,990. Not a bad deal if you ask me. It would be a much better one though if LTE update comes out soon, hehe.

Carlo Ople

Carlo is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of Unbox.ph. During daytime he’s the Managing Director and Partner of a Digital Marketing Agency in the Philippines and by nighttime he’s living out his passion as a gadget enthusiast and story teller through Unbox.

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4 Comments

  1. what about the wifi hotspot? android devices can’t detect Nokia N9 meego and N8 symbian hotspots. i have not tried with nokia windows yet.

  2. Sir sa pag basa ko ng different reviews ng nokia 920 yan po talaga ang problema ng device then kaya d po ako nag buy ng 920 820 po un binili ko mas matibay po siya…

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