Nokia Lumia 920 Review

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The Nokia Lumia 920 is the first Nokia phone I've owned since 2004. My last was the Nokia 6260 (online manual), starting my flip phone obsession. I've owned over 50 phones since my first back in 1999, but the turnover rate has slowed down since smartphones entered the market. There's not much variation these days, and I had my excellent Galaxy Nexus for over a year (remarkable for me). After using iPhones and iOS extensively, and becoming bored, I switched to Android. I very much enjoyed using Android, but only really had the choice of the Galaxy Nexus, as the Android phones here in Japan are crippled by network bloatware & "services". Flashing different ROMs to my Galaxy Nexus was fun, but the experience was always much the same. I then noticed what Microsoft and Nokia had done with Windows Phone, fell in love with its minimalist design, and decided to make the jump.

Effortless design, requires effort

Effortless design, requires effort

Design

I absolutely love the design of the Lumia 920. It's extremely well made, and feels very durable. There's considerable heft to the device, but it's relatively reassuring. It has very smooth lines, and some of the best buttons I've ever pressed on a phone. I think it's probably the best looking phone out at the moment, though that's just a subjective musing.

The screen is gorgeous. It's not 1080p, but it has a very high DPI on its 4.5" screen. The screen itself is the best I've ever touched. It's got an oleophobic coating which actually works. I hardly ever see a fingerprint! My fingers just glide across, like nothing else. iPhones, Androids - nothing has felt this good under the thumb. I couldn't think how it could be improved.

The back of the device continues the minimalist theme, with a well-placed (i.e. central, not top-corner) stabilised camera. More on the camera later.

The screen is a joy to use and begs to be touched

The screen is a joy to use and begs to be touched

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UI

One main region I wanted to switch, was for the UI. Android haters lambast Android for its lag (more noticeable after switching, like changing to a good pair of shoes). iPhone haters mock the closed nature of iOS, and the ugly 5-year old design (and iOS7 is not really the improvement many hoped for). Both camps laugh at Windows Phone and its lack of apps. However, I made a list of apps I use daily, and found that they exist on all three platforms. I was free!

Before this phone, I used a Galaxy Note II for around a month, which I enjoyed immensely. It's a two-handed phone, though. Android has lots of UI elements along the top, as does the smaller iPhone. Not so with Windows Phone. Furthermore, Windows Phone apps, if designed properly, integrate seamlessly with the beautiful UI. This phone never lags. I couldn't believe how much Android appeared to lag, after I switched. A buttery-smooth 60Hz refresh rate makes the apps flow between each other, and the UI effortlessly blows me away with its beauty. It's very functional, too. There aren't always the latest games, but I don't game on my phones. Many other apps are probably missing, but that doesn't affect me. For what I use the phone for, the only thing I miss here in Japan is maps. There are Google Maps clients, but they aren't great. However, I do have a [2012] Nexus 7 for times when I absolutely need maps.

Slide through some selected screenshots below.

Peoplehub

Windows Phone integrates social feeds such as Twitter and Facebook into one place, which I think is fantastic. Usually, I don't care *what* service someone is using, but rather *who* the person is. Peoplehub does this for you. It's really brilliant, and is a one-stop-shop for all my social network needs (except Google+). It's features like this that put Windows Phone in a completely different league, in my opinion. The stock twitter application doesn't really look very nice, but I don't need it. Same for Facebook. I don't need their data-churning, poorly written apps, and I can just use an app built into my contacts list, to see who is doing what. Brilliant!


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Wireless Charging

This, is a god-send. One of those things you don't realise how good it is until you try it. Like properly cooked liver. I wake up, grab my phone, and am on my way (yes there's considerably more in my morning routine, but you get the idea). The phone just slept all night on its charging pad, and now it's at 100%. I get to the office, and pop my phone on the desk, like most people.

Except I have a wireless charger on my desk! That way, my phone is being topped up periodically throughout the day. The phone will make it through a day, but this workflow makes a lot of sense to me. People may mock the Lumia 920 for its size, but then plug their iPhone into a battery pack, or a battery case, rendering that point moot. Unfortunately, wireless charging is not so popular, as people want thin phones. Even if they then put said thin phone into a huge battery case. Sigh.

Change the accent colour to suit your mood

Change the accent colour to suit your mood

Camera

Ah, the camera! Well, I'm into photography, of course, so a phone's camera is a considerable factor regarding its purchase. The Lumia 920 sports an 8.7MP Pureview Camera with a Carl Zeiss f/2 lens (same aperture as on my RX1). In short, it's very good, but I think that the new Nokia Pro Camera app (expected shortly) will improve the images greatly. I'm enjoying using the camera, and the stabilisation really helps in low light, or simply in general. 

Camera UI is simple, but Nokia Pro Camera should be arriving soon

Camera UI is simple, but Nokia Pro Camera should be arriving soon

Photography is aided still further by the fabulous dedicated camera key, wahoo! A half-press with focus the camera, with a full press taking the shot. The dedicated button really helps in keeping the phone steady, as it behaves more like a camera. I never liked poking the screen of a phone to take a picture, so it's of huge benefit to me. When the phone is in standby, a long press of the shutter button will auto-start the camera app - another excellent feature. 

Click on a thumbnail below to see some of the photo's I've taken with the Lumia 920: 

Lenses

As part of the camera application, it's possible to download additional "lenses" such as the excellent Nokia Cinemagraph. Here's a gif I created with cinemagraph.

 

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Nokia Music

I can't get Spotify without a premium account, here in Japan. What makes matters worse, is that it's blocked on my university network. Sigh. Nokia Music is just like Spotify, but directly on my phone. It's fantastic, and I use it all the time on my commute.

Wrap up

Of course, this phone isn't for everyone. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone. It's definitely more simple to use than Android (the latest samsung smartphones have more settings than an Airbus A380), and more beautiful/consistent than iOS. As I don't use a lot of different apps, the switch was relatively painless, and I haven't looked back. Who knows what the future holds, regarding operating systems and mobile phones. All I know is that for the time being, I am very content with my Lumia 920.

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