Nokia Lumia 920 assessment: Home windows Telephone eight and (somewhat little bit of) digital camera magic

Nokia Lumia 920 review: Windows Phone 8 and (a little bit of) camera magic

It has been virtually a yr to the day since we reviewed Nokia’s first Home windows Telephone and now we’re gazing its second-era flagship, the Lumia 920. Because the Lumia 800, Nokia’s taken a reasonably large position in enhancing Home windows Telephone’s standing in a crowded (however profitable) smartphone battlefield. Whereas it might be sharing the highlight with the brand new HTC 8X, this slab of hewn polycarbonate has garnered loads of admirers. Little question, a big chunk of these would-be telephone consumers are, for higher and worse, lusting after the telephone’s PureView imaging tech — and after our early checks, it seems prefer it might be simply as spectacular because the lossless optical zoom seen on the PureView 808.

The Lumia 920 dominated Nokia’s presentation at Microsoft’s Home windows Telephone eight press occasion a couple of months in the past, with the smaller Lumia 820 barely getting a glance-in. It is acquired a “higher-than-HD” 1,280 x 768, four.5-inch excessive-distinction IPS show, constructed-in contactless charging, strong construct high quality and extra of Nokia’s unique software program additions. This time, a minimum of on hardware specs, the corporate goals to place its flagship on equal footing with the likes of the Galaxy S III and the iPhone 5. Can Nokia’s largest and (actually) brightest smartphone keep its place at prime of the Home windows Telephone pile? How does that digital camera fare with prolonged use? And can the Lumia 920 supply sufficient to tug you away from Android or iOS on your subsequent telephone?

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Nokia Lumia 920 assessment

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Nokia Lumia 920 evaluate (AT&T mannequin)

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Nokia

Nokia Lumia 920

Execs

  • Wealthy show
  • Clean video seize
  • Greatest-in-class low-mild digital camera efficiency

Cons

  • Some softness in pictures
  • System feels unwieldy
  • App choice nonetheless missing
  • Sluggish refresh on social networks

Abstract

It is Nokia’s biggest Home windows Telephone but. The Lumia 920 packs an outstanding display with nice visibility and sensitivity, however the digital camera provides a combined efficiency.

Hardware

We’ll be frank: Nokia has crafted one substantial smartphone. After experiencing the curves and lightness of HTC’s Home windows Telephone 8X (four.5 ounces), the Lumia 920 makes the scales tremble at 6.5 ounces. Whereas different telephone makers are pushing the bounds of light-weight supplies and buildings, this beast is noticeably heavier and feels greater compared to virtually each different current telephone. Granted, Nokia’s Home windows Telephone flagship has a bigger four.5-inch display, however that incremental distinction (HTC’s show is four.three inches large) does not utterly clarify how totally different the 2 Home windows Telephones really feel in-hand. Measuring the pair, the Lumia 920 is zero.forty two inch thick to the 8X’s zero.four inch. Their footprints are additionally comparable. However the 8X’s tapered edges felt extra at house in our palms than this new Lumia. That stated, we have been capable of attain the outer reaches of that PureMotion HD+ display. What’s extra, regardless of that bigger display measurement, one-handed navigation is sort of attainable, although it is perhaps a stretch for smaller arms.

Fortunately, Nokia has carried throughout a number of design licks from the Lumia 800 and avoids one of many hardware design complaints we had with its greater brother. Yep, this specific telephone’s display curves into the body and does not awkwardly protrude just like the one discovered on the Lumia 900. Our white mannequin — sadly these eye-catching yellow and pink fashions weren’t obtainable for assessment simply but — has a shiny (however fingerprint- and smudge-susceptible) coating, however in case you’re on the lookout for one other matte-end smartphone, fortunately the black AT&T LTE model has that shine-free look.

Nokia Lumia 920 review: Windows Phone 8 and (a little bit of) camera magic

Nevertheless, it is nonetheless one other superbly crafted smartphone from the Nokia design workforce, with tiny particulars like micro-drilled holes within the base for the pair of loudspeakers reminding you that this can be a firm that is aware of the right way to make fascinating hardware — even when the ultimate product is a bit weighty. The rounded sides and that barely curved again make this telephone simpler to grip than its predecessors. This time round, there’s additionally a darker end on each the rear digital camera unit and the bodily buttons lined up on the fitting edge (replace: these are literally ceramic and in response to Nokia, shall be much less vulnerable to scratches), whereas the flash is the one different element on the in any other case easily curved again. Alongside the flat prime edge, you will discover the pin-accessible micro-SIM slot (no nano-SIM simply but), some tiny perforations that hook up with the secondary mic and headphone socket. The decrease edge presents fast entry to the micro-USB port and the aforementioned two audio system.

Nokia Lumia 920 review: Windows Phone 8 and (a little bit of) camera magic

Round entrance, the 920’s four.5-inch display is underlined with a barely thick bezel that homes the capacitive Home windows button trio. These all mild up and, as we’ll additionally cowl within the show part, all of them work via your winter gloves or freshly manicured nails. Alongside the highest of the display, Nokia branding has this time been ushered to the correct nook, with the earpiece housed above middle of the display. Each the ambient mild sensor and a entrance-dealing with 1.2-megapixel digital camera take their place between the 2. Beneath the display, Nokia has put in Qi contactless charging for the telephone’s 2,000mAh battery. Our assessment mannequin arrived with a contactless charging pad to check it out with, and it really works precisely the way it ought to, resting nearly all of the telephone on prime of the pad will begin it charging instantly, if slowly. The non-detachable battery is tasked with powering a twin-core Snapdragon S4, alongside 1GB of RAM and a beneficiant 32GB of storage. Microsoft’s additionally throwing in 7GB of cloud storage for any new SkyDrive accounts and although it is fairly attainable you are already grandfathered into 25GB, there is no microSD slot for increasing the bodily reminiscence.

As is to be anticipated, our international mannequin crams in quad-band radios with GSM / GPRS / EDGE (850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900MHz), UMTS / HSPA+ (850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100MHz) and LTE (800 / 900 / 1800 / 2100 / 2600MHz) bands, whereas the gadget will launch solely on AT&T within the US, and solely on (for now) EE within the UK — the nation’s first 4G community. And if there is no 4G close to you but? Nicely DC-HSPA+ (42Mbps) can also be stuffed inside that polycarbonate shell.

Show

Nokia Lumia 920 review: Windows Phone 8 and (a little bit of) camera magic

The Lumia 920’s display packs a lot new stuff from Nokia that they even wrote their very own white paper on what is going on on behind that sliver of curved glass — we have linked to it on the backside of this assessment. The four.5-inch, 1,280 x 768 enhanced IPS display is titled PureMotion HD+, and whereas the 332ppi means Home windows Telephone eight appears crisp and pictures are fantastically showcased, new know-how right here additionally improves the display’s transition response. Whereas typical IPS LCDs have a mean pixel transition time of 23ms, the Lumia 920 apparently trounces it with a mean of 9ms. Are you able to inform the distinction in actual life? Properly, barely — we observed lowered blur as we poked across the UI and swung the digital camera round. It is unlikely to be instantly noticeable to new smartphone customers, however we will not fault Nokia for making an attempt to push the envelope.

Conversely, the Lumia 920’s outside efficiency is a real promoting level. Whereas the Lumia 900 was no slouch in outside efficiency, the Home windows Telephone eight sequel boosts distinction, brightness and shade composition, which means pictures and web sites are noticeably clearer — and video games and apps are simpler to pilot underneath vibrant lights. Nokia has additionally improved its ambient mild sensor, and we discovered the display not solely adjusted quicker to lighting modifications, however noticeably cranked up each shade and distinction settings to enhance viewing relying on no matter setting we have been in. Whereas November is not the perfect time to check a telephone’s display towards full daylight, we had no issues with the display outdoor or beneath harsh present flooring spotlights. These winter months, nevertheless, did show very best for steering the Synaptics-powered capacitive display whereas sporting gloves, and the telephone carried out simply in addition to it did when it was first unveiled. The floor even picks up nails and a few pens — one thing we had no worry of testing ourselves because of the safety provided by a coating of Gorilla Glass.

Digital camera

Nokia Lumia 920 review: Windows Phone 8 and (a little bit of) camera magic

The place to start out? Studying down the Lumia 920’s spec sheet, there’s lots to get us excited: an eight.7-megapixel bottom-illuminated sensor paired with an f/2.zero autofocus Carl Zeiss lens, the return of Nokia’s PureView branding, the promise of excellent low-mild efficiency, 1080p video seize, and (on each stills and video) optical picture stabilization — the primary floating lens and sensor in a telephone that may ignore minor trembles whereas letting in additional mild. So in any case that construct up, does the Lumia 920 reside as much as that PureView appellation? Properly, that is a bit more durable to say.

Firstly, Nokia appears to be a bit restricted as to how a lot it may well convey to Home windows Telephone eight digital camera UI. Load up the digital camera app (or maintain the bodily digital camera button) and you will be greeted with a well-known digital camera interface — it is easy, however a bit sparse. Positive, in comparison with the all tweaks and choices obtainable to 808 PureView customers, this may disappoint, however provided that we have been supremely impressed by that Symbian system’s photographs on auto, we weren’t all that fearful. Nokia’s tried to amend this to some extent by including its additional performance by means of the Home windows Telephone eight’s Lens system. Each from the Home windows Telephone market (and from Nokia’s personal assortment) you possibly can set up panorama features, burst shot and even a GIF maker; these apps may be accessed each from the telephone’s program listing and the arrow icon contained in the digital camera UI.

Nokia Lumia 920 review: Windows Phone 8 and (a little bit of) camera magic

We set to work capturing samples and seeing how the Lumia 920 stacked up towards each its PureView predecessor and present smartphone heavyweights. All through the course of our testing, we pitted Nokia’s new Home windows Telephone towards quite a few different succesful cameraphones, together with the 808 PureView, the HTC One X+, Apple iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S II and Galaxy Notice II and the LG Optimus G. We got here into these testing situations with exceedingly excessive expectations, and in extraordinarily low-mild conditions, the place most telephones fall flat on their face, the Lumia 920 certainly hit its stride. Sure, there was typically some ISO noise to be seen and the outcomes weren’t all the time spectacular, however the 920’s low-mild photographs have been all the time the perfect of the bunch. Photographs have been blur-free and fairly clear, a particular enchancment from the frequent messy high quality induced by longer shutter occasions within the different cameras. All the things from distinction to paint copy in low-mild imagery was really superior within the 920 to some other shooter we sampled it towards, dwelling as much as Nokia’s claims on that entrance.

Nokia Lumia 920 review: Windows Phone 8 and (a little bit of) camera magic

Sadly, the identical cannot be stated for daytime images. Right here the tables have been typically turned, with the 920 often producing photographs that have been subtly tender. Totally different conditions confirmed the issue greater than others, nevertheless it was constant throughout all shot varieties, whether or not macro or specializing in topics farther away. We made doubly positive the lens was smudge-free and examined on 4 separate 920s to make certain, however on every we noticed the identical signs. It is as if the lens mechanism is not fairly focusing appropriately. We spoke with Nokia at size about this and have been advised it is at the very least partially because of some pending software program tweaks to extend sharpness — however that does not clarify why we did not see any such aberrations once we visited Finland to check a 920 final month. This softness typically resulted in some extra fuzziness in low-mild too, however we discovered we might compensate by decreasing the publicity settings to -1/three or -2/three.

That is to not say the daytime pictures seemed dangerous, essentially — in truth they typically seemed fairly good. However on this case, the Lumia 920 did not persistently ship pictures that beat the remaining. Actually, it was typically the 920 that ranked mid-pack in comparison with the heavy-hitters we listed earlier. One other minor grievance was the white stability, typically off in cloudy circumstances outdoor (the 808 PureView had comparable points with fluorescents indoors), left a few of our photographs with a yellowish tinge — the guide settings did treatment this, nevertheless.

We look ahead to testing the revised software program on the system to see if it improves issues, and we genuinely hope it does, however for now 920 consumers could also be pressured to decide on whether or not excessive-high quality images at the hours of darkness is actually sufficient to make up for sometimes middling efficiency when the solar is out. It is value reiterating that the smartphone’s picture stabilization is a marvel, rescuing some photographs we thought can be a blurry mess. It is one other instance of real innovation coming from Nokia — however it’s not fairly there but.

We additionally discovered that the Lumia had problem metering the scenes we introduced. We frequently needed to determine between capturing an in depth skyline or a properly-lit topic. An HDR mode definitely would not go amiss. Admittedly, the low-mild efficiency, as we might already teased, beat every thing else outright, however that efficiency has one way or the other value your properly-lit pictures a level of element you won’t need to surrender. We advise have a look via our picture gallery — we have been positive to run the digital camera telephone via as many various environments as we might. Noise artifacts are low (once more, particularly in low mild) and file sizes recommend that Nokia hasn’t compressed a lot away. However we will not struggle our disappointment with these outcomes; in any case that fanfare, the all-spherical imaging efficiency nonetheless leaves one thing to be desired.

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Nokia Lumia 920 pattern photographs

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Nokia 808 Pureview comparability pattern photographs

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Samsung Galaxy Notice II comparability pattern photographs

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HTC One X+ comparability pattern photographs

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LG Optimus G (13MP) comparability pattern photographs

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Apple iPhone 5 comparability pattern photographs

In higher information, video seize is crisp and amazingly secure — because of that OIS. Strolling with the telephone introduces minimal stutter — particularly in comparison with what we’re used to on different smartphones, whereas autofocus is ready to latch on to factors of curiosity shortly. You will make the prettiest video clips you’ve got ever seen on smartphone, all missing any movement illness-inducing shuttering. As you may see in our samples, the telephone typically produced some barely muted colours in our movies — although we reckon this was nonetheless an correct illustration of the scene. Equally, typically the auto-white stability would change in the midst of filming, which means our movies would sometimes leap from heat yellows to chill blues and greens; one thing that would definitely profit from some software program changes.

Software program

Nokia Lumia 920 review: Windows Phone 8 and (a little bit of) camera magic

We’ll depart the finer particulars of Home windows Telephone eight to our in-depth evaluate, nevertheless it’s value concerning how WP8 fares on the brand new Lumia. The marginally extra customizable Stay Tiles offer you one thing to fiddle with as quickly as you turn it on — they usually nonetheless really feel recent, if solely incrementally totally different from what we turned accustomed to with Home windows Telephone 7. Masking some acquainted software program highlights; Nokia Maps is an outstanding app and free flip-by-flip navigation is tough to smell at. Additionally, Web Explorer 10 is swift, and appears sharp on the Lumia 920’s excessive-response PureDisplay.

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Nokia Lumia 920 screenshots

The Stay Tiles are a standard-sense setup and are straightforward to know and regulate, whereas every thing is essentially organized in a wise method. Nevertheless, loads of points nonetheless stay; the prolonged refresh time for social apps like Twitter and Fb, light-weight Google integration (which is admittedly higher than what Microsoft’s cellular OS provided prior to now), and the jarring hole in app choice. Whereas Microsoft was fast to say it is catching up, the brand new iteration (on the time of this evaluate) oddly lacks Spotify, already out on Home windows Telephone 7, whereas the likes of Dropbox, Instagram and Flipboard nonetheless stay absent.

Nokia Lumia 920 review: Windows Phone 8 and (a little bit of) camera magic

The gaming choice, regardless of the Xbox Reside connection, appears affected by titles of yesteryear and does not give cellular players sufficient to tug them away from the wealthy delights of each iOS and Android. Xbox SmartGlass replaces the My Xbox Stay app, handing you one other solution to work together together with your console. The complete model requires an Xbox Reside subscription (and a succesful broadband connection), and throws up some touchscreen controls that map to controller buttons together with a content material browser. SmartGlass-suitable content material is signposted with its personal icon, though sadly not all of it (notably Xbox Video) has been switched reside simply but.

We have been in a position to hook up with Netflix, however once more, this requires a subscription. The contents do not look like absolutely fleshed-out but — presumably extra contents will go reside when the units hit shops and whereas a keyboard is on the market once you flick through the telephone, some elements of the Xbox UI nonetheless require typing by means of the UI — and controller. We might like to see additional (probably in-recreation) integration utilizing Home windows Telephone as Microsoft continues to flesh out the function — as a result of in the meanwhile, there’s not a lot right here for us to do. We’ll keep on with the controller.

Nokia Lumia 920 review: Windows Phone 8 and (a little bit of) camera magic

Whereas our ecosystem complaints stay, Nokia has continued to supply its personal “hero” apps, and even improved a few of them within the course of. Nokia Music continues to broaden its music providing, regardless of apparent competitors. The app itself now helps Dolby sound and has its personal constructed-in seven-channel equalizer, whereas the gig finder function now faucets into location knowledge for search outcomes. The app will even spin out navigation outcomes and the power to purchase tickets on your present of selection — so long as they’re nonetheless obtainable. Whereas anybody that is already signed as much as Spotify, (or Pandora) will doubtless ignore the perform, Combine radio nonetheless gives a raft of free (mainstream and never) music to stream and obtain, with the power to take a number of playlists offline to be used anyplace.

Unsurprisingly, Nokia’s included loads of further digital camera and imaging apps, starting from the truth-augmenting Metropolis Lens, which was greater than able to main us to the closest cafe or pub throughout London, to the GIF-crafting expertise of Cinemagraph. Nevertheless, that final one feels prefer it is not fairly prepared for public use simply but. After recording a quick clip, you possibly can then choose areas of the picture to maintain animated, whereas pausing the remaining. This file could be then shared as a GIF file — nicely, at the least via a convoluted add to SkyDrive.

We have been unable to get our animated footage to ship by way of e mail, Twitter or Fb with out the information being mechanically transformed to JPEG. In the long run, the SkyDrive choice does provide the animation, and even the prospect to embed into your personal weblog, nevertheless it’s a convoluted workflow for what might be a enjoyable little additional. You will additionally want a SkyDrive account simply to see your uploaded footage. Yep, Microsoft’s cloud storage, whereas stitched into the very seams of the Home windows Telephone eight is usually fairly unintuitive, particularly relating to transferring pre-present photographs to our telephone. We simply needed to take advantage of these photograph tiles, however we discovered each the online and cellular aspect to the cloud storage system unclear and irritating.

Efficiency and battery life

Nokia Lumia 920 review: Windows Phone 8 and (a little bit of) camera magic

Alongside that newer software program comes brisker hardware — and the arrival of twin cores on Home windows Telephone. The Lumia 920 packs a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, which means it is greater than able to breezing via transitions, content material-dense web sites and the present crop of obtainable video games. We have examined the telephone on WPBench and AnTuTu, each Home windows Telephone 7 benchmarking apps that are not calibrated for the newest model simply but. Nevertheless, outcomes line up with the HTC 8X and yet one more spectacular SunSpider rating that is been borne out in our actual-life expertise with the handset; the system is greater than able to rendering the desktop variations of web sites — one thing that the large display can also be properly-suited to.

Nokia Lumia 920 HTC Home windows Telephone 8X Nokia Lumia 900 Nokia Lumia 800 WPBench 227 221 ninety two 86 Battery rundown 2:36 2:30 four:29 2:forty SunSpider (ms, decrease numbers are higher) 914 914 6,902 7,200 AnTuTu (*GFX check off) 10,957* eleven,775 2,596 2,398

It is also value contemplating that the Lumia 920 has each a bigger and barely larger-decision show than HTC’s gadget, which means the internals are being taxed a bit of extra. Its battery, at the very least, is extra substantial, at 2,000mAh, and in WPBench’s CPU-taxing battery check (which is predicated on Home windows Telephone 7), we reached 2:36, incrementally greater than the 8X. In typical use, the telephone was greater than capable of sustain with a day’s common use, though we discovered that elevated outside use (and thus a brighter display) did make noticeable dents within the battery life. Utilizing the Lumia 920’s contactless charger was a bit slower than merely plugging it in, however that is what you pay for comfort. We’re simply glad to see the charging perform arrive with no clunky case ruining a telephone’s design.

Wrap-up

Nokia Lumia 920 review: Windows Phone 8 and (a little bit of) camera magic

Nokia arguably provided up the most effective hardware for the final iteration of Home windows Telephone. Does it repeat that success right here? Sure, nevertheless it ties with the HTC 8X for that honor. The Lumia 920 feels considerably chunkier, regardless of having comparable by-the-quantity dimensions, however it stays one other superb piece of hardware from Nokia. That enormous shell has afforded more room for the newest PureView digital camera, which delivers excellent low-mild efficiency and efficient optical stabilization throughout stills and video. Whereas these options labored in addition to we might hoped, properly-lit photographs lacked the readability and element we noticed throughout earlier check periods. General, outcomes have been a bit too smoothed out (and lots of smartphones generally tend to over-sharpen), and fell in need of our expectations for Nokia’s newest PureView telephone.

All of your unimaginable photographs of that nice night time out may even be tinged by SkyDrive frustrations and restricted methods to share them — one thing that Microsoft’s cellular OS goes to need to cope with in the event that they actually need to turn into the third selection in smartphone working techniques. In the meantime, alongside its imaging advances, Nokia has pushed ahead on its display hardware, besting the outside visibility of the Lumia 900 and including colour and distinction tweaks from a brand new ambient mild sensor — that is all on a capacitive touchscreen now you can deal with with gloves on. Nokia might crown it probably the most revolutionary smartphone, and alongside embedded wi-fi charging, there’s a lot right here to reveal that. However, for all that Home windows Telephone eight does proper (excellent maps, zippy browser, simplicity), these holes within the app choice stay one thing that must be plugged.

Replace 1: We have added our lacking (conspiracy anybody?) gallery of iPhone 5 comparability photographs, and this is a ZIP file containing most of our Lumia 920 photographs together with matching footage taken with different cameraphones.

Replace 2: We have additionally examined Nokia’s Lumia 920 for AT&T, and outlined the variations proper right here.

Myriam Joire and Tim Stevens contributed to this report.

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