Some may consider that former heavyweight Nokia has missed the smartphone boat, but its Windows 8 based 920 pretty much rocks the house.
THE NOKIA LUMIA 920 really is a design statement as much as it is a state-of-the-art smartphone. Manufactured out of what looks to be a solid piece of polycarbonate, the 920 has a curvy, almost organic look and feels pretty sleek in the hand. Adding to this is a 4.5-inch curved toughened Gorilla glass screen. As nice as the matt body and curved glossy screen is from a design perspective, it also has the added benefit of being hard wearing. Even after several weeks of carting it around in a pocket with spare change and house keys, the 920 still looks as good as new.
Under The Hood
While a growing number of flagship smartphones are packing quad core processors, the 920 is only powered by a dual-core, 1.5GHz Snapdragon CPU. This might not be such a negative given how zippy the 920’s OS is, not to mention the energy efficiencies that a dual core processor is likely to confer over its quad core counterparts. In practice, battery life for the 920 was typically 2-3 days between charges with typical use and energy saving features enabled.
Complementing the dual core CPU, the 920 also contains 32Gb of memory. This is a generous amount to build into a phone, but with no option for external storage could also become restrictive if installing lots of apps or media such as videos or photos happens to be your thing.
The 920’s screen was a standout feature. At 4.5-inch, it felt roomy, and there was definitely no shortage of on-screen real estate. Even under daylight conditions, the screen proved to be bright and vivid, especially when reviewing photos or surfing.
Speaking of photos, The Lumia 920’s 8MP camera leaves the shooters bolted onto most other smartphones for dust. Under normal daylight shooting conditions (with auto mode), photos had a balanced exposure , were sharp and sported life-like colours. Where the 920’s camera really shone (pun intended) however, was in the evening or indoors where there wasn’t so much light. Under these conditions the 920 produced passable photos where other smartphones tend to produce washed out, grainy and dull images.
As you’d expect of a Nokia phone, voice calls were clear while HSPA mobile data performance on the Skinny network was consistently reliable throughout the course of several days across multiple locations. I also particularly liked the inclusion of the retro Nokia text notification ringtone which was loud enough to alert me to incoming text messages from the other side of the house.
Windows 8 Phone OS
The 920 also sports the latest flavour of Microsoft’s mobile operating, Windows Phone 8. Having earlier auditioned the Lumina 820, I was somewhat disappointed to see that all it got was a patch from Windows Phone 7 to the largely cosmetic Windows Phone 7.5. Surely it could have been upgraded to Windows Phone 8 (even if the 820 didn’t support all the features of the newer system). Thankfully the 920 supports Windows Phone 8, which in use proved to be responsive, smooth and stable.
Considering its relative newness, I was reasonably impressed with the volume of applications on offer from the Windows phone app store. A few big name apps I’d grown used to with Android were nowhere to be seen, but substitutes with similar functionality were available. The missing apps issue wasn’t a biggie as Nokia had also thankfully bundled a pile of apps on the 920.
Nokia Maps was a stunner, and I particularly liked its ability to download maps for offline use. Considering that this is a feature I’d tend to use while overseas, it could potentially save me a bundle on data roaming charges. Another app that also appealed was the rather clever Nokia City Lens. Simply fire it up and point your phone’s camera in any direction and move it around to get an on-screen representation of businesses, restaurants, accommodation, and other stuff that’s likely to be useful to a tourist.
About the only fly in the ointment with the 920 was its propensity to sometimes lock up when it was charging. This tended to be a random, infrequent yet frustrating occurrence that was only resolved by holding both the volume down and the power button to perform a reboot.
Random lockups and the lack of external storage capacity aside, the 920 otherwise performed flawlessly, being intuitive to use with the positives easily outweighing the negatives. A striking design plus responsive OS and great bundled apps make the 920 a definite contender in the utra-competitive smartphone market. Here’s hoping subsequent firmware patches fix the lockup issue. PAT PILCHER