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Nokia Lumia 920 "Putting Nokia Back in the Game!"
Nokia Lumia 920
Member Name: hotrock4
Nokia Lumia 920
Advantages: Great Screen/Picture Quality, Super Quick, Zune Has Been Removed, 4G Capable
Disadvantages: No Wireless Charging Mat Provided in Box, Fiddly Micro Sim
Having been fortunate enough to be selected to take part in a recent Nokia Lumia user test campaign, I was asked to test the newly released Nokia Lumia 920 (released 02/11/2012 in UK). Having done quite a bit of research to find out all I could about the phone, and also to find out what other people thought of it, I felt armed with all the relevant facts about the phone that I would be testing, along with other people's opinions of what was supposedly good or bad about the phone there was nothing to do but wait in anticipation for the phone to arrive and form my own opinion of the Nokia Lumia 920, the Windows 8 flagship phone model.
At a cost of between £420 - £500 for a sim free Nokia Lumia 920 or coming in at somewhere between £35 - £60 a month mark on a contract with an upfront cost of £40 - £170 depending on which deal is best for the individual I will be expecting great things from this phone with this price tag taken into consideration.
Out of the Box and Setting It Up:-
When my phone arrived with me I was greeted with the traditional style Nokia box in blue and white with high quality, life size pictures of the phone printed on it displaying the different colours that the phone is available in (Black, White, Red and Yellow). When it comes to mobile phones I have always preferred black so was glad when I excitedly broke into the box to retrieve a very shiny smart looking Lumia 920, although I do consider the red to look quite smart but couldn't see myself owning the yellow or white.
The box that the phones supplied in is more than suited for the purpose of getting the phone to the consumer in one piece, being sturdy and robust. The box is of the typical outer sleeve and slide in sleeve variety that are common place for most mobile phones these days. The phone lays in its own section of the box with a sim card door key (will get to this later) stuck to the cardboard behind, with a section underneath this for the accessories so they do not rattle against the phone. In the box along with the phone are the USB charger lead and a plug which can be linked together to make a mains charger or used as a USB charger and data cable to connect the phone to another device via USB. There is a pair of Nokia bud style earphones, and small getting started instruction booklet also supplied in the box. Overall I was impressed with the packaging although thought it could have had a slightly higher end finish given the value of the phone, such as other expensive phones I have used come with a felt lined box, maybe not necessary but definitely adds to the feel of quality.
The first thing that strikes you when you open the box is the sheer size of the Lumia 920, the second being the weight when you first pick it up, when I stopped for a second however and thought about other smartphones available on the market at present this isn't too much bigger and heavier than average. The overall phone size is W 70.8mm x H 130.3mm x D 10.7mm with a weight 185g, so in comparison to my HTC Sensation the Lumia is not much larger in surface area, is actually a ½ mm thinner and only weighs 30g more, so despite appearances the phone is still quite slim and still just about manages to slide into my pocket easily.
The only assembly that was required when I got my Lumia 920 out of the box was to insert the sim card at the small door located at the top of the phone. This was where I needed the simcard door key just to poke into the hole at the corner of the sim card door which pops it open and allows the sim card to be inserted. The Lumia series use Micro Sims which are about half the size of a standard sim card which means along with the little door tool fitting the sim card was quite a fiddly operation.
After the phone was turned on for the first time it took me through the initial setup which included, setting my country, time zone, time, date, then assisted in transferring contacts from my other mobile phone via Bluetooth, and also setting up a Microsoft Live account, these last two steps can be skipped and set up later on at a time of convenience if necessary. The one problem that I encountered here was that in my hastiness to explore the phone I had set the date incorrectly which meant that I was unable to download apps or even make an internet connection via WI-FI or mobile until this was rectified, not really an issue but something that took me a while to figure out where I'd gone wrong.
Appearance Build Quality and Spec:-
The phone itself is of a sleek stylish design with a slim black border around the screen with just three buttons at the bottom for phone navigation, and three down the right hand side for volume, camera and an on/off button which is also used to lock the phone. The back of the phone as with the front border is satin verging on gloss black in colour and is only broken up by the flash and aluminium housing for the camera and the camera lens itself.
Once first out of the box the Lumia 920 took around 3 hours to charge fully after I used the battery life it was delivered to me with, and this lasted most of the day, after my second charge I noted that the battery must have gained some condition as it lasted a full 10 hours of pretty intensive use. The most frequent complaint from anybody who owns a smart phone is almost always poor battery life, but I feel that Nokia have cracked it here managing to run such a feature rich phone for so long on one charge. There are certain apps that run down the battery quickly such as the WI-FI hub facility but this has an auto-switch off feature to save battery life. There is also a battery saving mode which stops e-mails, and apps from updating unless requested to by the user which massively extends the battery life past the 10 hours. Nokia will tell us that the battery will last for 400 hours (16.7 days)on standby alone which I haven't actually tested out, but the talk time of around 9 hours seems to be a reasonable estimation from Nokia.
The Nokia Lumia 920 sports a 1.5Ghz dual core processor, backed up by 1GB of Ram which makes for an almost unbelievably smooth and quick experience when browsing the phone itself, searching the internet, checking Facebook or even doing all of this at once with more apps open on top.
The back camera is an 8.7MP camera with a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens that is capable of recording full 1080p HD videos. I did some research into this to find out why the Carl Zeiss lens was so special and raved about in all the advertisements I've seen. I won't bore you with all of the facts that I don't understand myself, but to give an idea of quality Carl Zeiss lens are used in medical equipment and even planetarium telescopes. The idea of using this lens is that it gives super quality photos and recordings The front camera lens also offers great quality recordings and pictures in 720p HD. I will go into more depth with the camera later in the review I just wanted this here for the sake of the spec.
The only real gripe that I have with the spec of this phone is the fact that the 32GB of storage is non-expandable, although I have been downloading apps constantly for nearly two weeks now and have only filled 30% of the 32GB I would like to be able to add extra if this phone was on a 24 month contract to avoid me having to spring clean my apps and storage space.
The dominating feature of the Nokia Lumia 920 which just so happens to be my favourite is the 4.5inch curved gorilla glass, capacitive touch screen which makes for a great user experience. The screen uses IPS technology which Nokia has branded as PuremotionHD+ with the basic outcome of Nokia's advanced screen technology being that it reduces motion blur when scrolling around the screen or flicking through documents, and gives some of the sharpest images I have ever seen on a mobile phone. This is really noticable when watching videos, films, TV or viewing pictures on the Lumia 920. The technology built into the screen carries on behind the glass as the screen is backlit and has sensors which adjust the screen brightness and contrast so whether in bright sunshine or lying in bed the screen is always visible and isn't too bright in low light situations. As soon as the screen displayed the Windows 8 homepage in stunning HD and I started to immerse myself in the world of my Nokia Lumia the difference in size and weight from my HTC was in complete honesty totally forgotten along with my HTC I haven't felt the urge to use it since having the Lumia 920 to use.
So overall in the appearance stakes the Nokia Lumia 920 is definitely keeping up with the competition, bearing in mind the similar size and style of the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the smaller but in my opinion not as attractive I-Phone 5.
As far as build quality goes the weight of the phone in my eyes gives a reassuring feel of quality and robustness whilst the phone is in the palm of my hand. Whilst many reviews I have read have criticized it for the weight I don't find a problem at all especially when I stop to consider what is inside of the case.
I searched around on the internet and actually found a video of somebody carrying out a destruction test on a Lumia 920, whilst keen to do this myself I didn't want to waste a perfectly good operational and at the end of the day very expensive phone. Turned out I needn't have worried, the phone withstood the following, having keys rubbed harshly all over front and back with almost no damage, a sharp kitchen knife being used to slice across the front and back with minimal damage and being hit with a rubber mallet like the guy hated it and still survived fully functional with the screen intact. Not satisfied the phone was then driven over by a car and the screen still worked, it finally stopped working after being thrown in the air and hit like a ball with a piece of wood onto a concrete car park, and it still took being thrown on the floor and against a concrete block before the screen actually broke.
So with all of the above in mind I am pretty confident in saying that the Lumia 920 is second to none in both appearance, build quality or spec with all of the above proving that this phone is fit for everyday life, will not have to be left in the car when you go to work for fear of breaking it, and will not lack in performance when showing it off next to an I-Phone 5 owners handset.
Navigation and Ease of Use:-
Due to running on Windows 8 which is an operating system I have never used before it took me an hour or so to find my way around the phone and access all of the features as I had to register my Windows Live account on my phone, as well as start a Nokia account to enable me to use the Nokia Apps fully. These were the only two slight inconveniences on my way to accessing the full features of the phone and in fairness most other smart phones will need some sort of information like this from you in order to use them fully.
There are only three buttons on the front of the phone, on the left is a back button, in the centre a home button, and on the right an internet search button which connects directly to Bing. The rest of the phones features are simply accessed from the tiles on the home page or the apps list.
Once up and started Windows 8 is really quite a simple operating system to use and runs excellently as it was a actually designed to run on the slower processor speeds of smartphones rather than laptops, and desktops. There are two main screens which are frequently used, the first is the home screen which is made up of different size tiles each with an attached function which can be added, removed or changed in size which after speaking to users of the previous Lumia series is apparently something that could not be done on the last generation of this phone so a definite improvement here. The second screen is reached by sliding the home screen across and this brings up a list of all of the apps that are on the phone which are organized in alphabetical order and be viewed as one long list or shorter lists by starting letter.
E-mail accounts such as Google, Yahoo, and Hotmail amongst others are easy to add and can be displayed on the home screen or in the list of apps. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, E-bay and more all have apps available for Windows 8 and can be added to the phone in the same way as described for e-mail accounts, and I can be safe in the knowledge that they will all work glitch free as Microsoft has its own vetting department for apps which is somewhat more stringent than that of Apple and Android powered companies hence the negativity I read in some reviews about only 130,000 apps being available for Windows 8. How many apps do people think they can use in one lifetime? I have looked through the apps every day for nearly a fortnight and have not exhausted the supply of free apps and have noticed nothing that different from the Android market, except for the fact that instead of having 6 apps for one job where only two work fully and properly Microsoft will have vetted one that works very well indeed.
Once again the Nokia Lumia 920 performs well and at least matches, if not outpaces its rivals when it comes to the basic use and navigation of the phone.
Calls and Texts:-
Before I get too carried away with the extras on this phone I must remember that first and foremost this is a mobile phone derived device which means it should carry out the basic tasks of calling and texting with minimal effort given all of the technology that is crammed into this phone. I am pleased to report that this is most definitely the case and once again the Nokia Lumia 920 performs well in both of these vital areas. The speaker, loudspeaker and microphone are super clear I have been on both ends of the line using the Lumia to call both a landline and mobile, and on all occasions the call quality was crisp and clear. The Nokia's reception on the same network as my HTC is also far better allowing me to make calls with 2 bars of signal where my HTC is picking up no mobile network at all, and only having minor problems with signal when I live in a known weak spot for signal from the 3 network.
To make a call from the phone it is simply a case of tapping the phone icon on the home screen which automatically brings up your call history, and four options buttons at the bottom of the screen; voicemail, enter number, search contacts, search history and it is simply a case of choosing the one you need and selecting the number that you wish to call. Adding contacts is easy and can be done straight from the phone dial screen with just a couple of taps of the screen, contacts can also be imported, via Bluetooth e-mail, or USB connection.
Texts are also very easy to send, once again being accessed by one tap from the start screen, which brings up recent text conversations, and buttons which allow the user to send a new text, set their online chat status, and sliding the text screen across brings up who is on-line and available to chat to online. The keyboard is really well developed and the predictive text works very well indeed and learnt which words I used frequently and in which order so a lot of the time it is just a case of selecting my next word from the list.
Another very important part of this phone that works very well indeed and once again compares favorably to the competition.
The main connectivity tool for the Nokia Lumia 920 is undoubtedly the internet connection, whilst I am with 3 who tend to have good connection speeds when it comes to internet anyway I have always found mobile internet a little on the slow side. However when it comes to the Lumia 920 there is very little to differentiate it from running on a WI-FI connection from my home broadband. I'm putting this down to the operating system mixed with the fast processor and ample RAM, as it is far quicker than my HTC Sensation on the same network. Whilst I was only using the Lumia on a 3G connection due to network limitations, the phone is actually capable of a 4G connection in light of plans for future mobile internet connections, so the speed of the internet on a 4G connection in theory would be quicker than with the 3G network.
WI-FI connectivity is excellent with connections being easy to set up although in order to be able to turn WI-FI on without downloading a connectivity tile app it is necessary to go into the phone settings. The Lumia 920 also works the other way round and will work as a wireless hub allowing other devices to connect securely to the internet by a password protected connection shared with the Lumia 920.
Bluetooth is easy to use to transfer contacts and the like but the same issue with having to download the connectivity app to turn it on and off without going into the settings here to. Facebook, E-mails and the like are all easy to link to the phone and as soon as they are linked there is the option of importing information such as contacts, addresses, and e-mails.
When connecting to a computer for the first time the driver set up is automatic and only takes a few seconds, then importing music and files to and from the phone is as easy as can be. One improvement here is the fact that Nokia are no longer using Zune which was the media management tool on the last generation of Lumia which use to take all files not imported by Zune from the phone and move them to the PC/Laptop being used to update the mobile. From what I can make out users of the old Lumia series are glad to see the back of Zune and think that the phone will be a vast improvement without it.
The Nokia Lumia 920 can be set with a pin number to stop unauthorized use of the phone, the phone automatically locks when the phone enters standby mode. There is also a Find My Phone setting embedded into the software on the phone which allows the phones owner to log in online to windowsphone.com and allows the owner to ring, lock, erase, locate or send apps to the phone. The only part of this I used was more out of curiosity to see if it would work was to try and ring my phone as I thought this was a really handy idea and yes it did work. I have seen the location tracker used before and this will tell you where your phone is within a few meters of the actual location, so anyone who steals this phone will never be too far from getting caught.
As the camera on this phone is my second favourite feature bar the super clear screen and it has received so much hype from Nokia's advertisements I have given it a section of its own as it also has a few apps that run specifically for the camera. The camera is quick and easy to access by pressing the camera key on the side of the phone the camera is instantly activated providing the phone is unlocked.
As mentioned above the Carl Zeiss lens is the main selling point of this camera and allows excellent camera shots and videos to be taken in low light conditions where other mobile cameras would struggle and display almost nothing. I had read some complaints that whilst good in low light the camera made images taken in low light appear soft and almost fuzzy due to the contrast being out of balance, in my opinion however I do not believe that there are any real issues with the images I have captured, when compared to my 10MP digital camera and shots taken on a Galaxy S3 and I-Phone 5 the pictures are just as good if not superior in quality. The camera has a feature I like that allows the shutter button to be pressed half way to focus the shot and as soon as the button is depressed fully the picture is taken instantly, no blurred images due to your target moving whilst the camera is capturing the image.
The Apps for the camera include Panorama which allows a 360 degree photo to be taken by starting at one point and then moving the phone and holding it at points determined by the phone which then seamlessly stitches the images together into one long image. This app is a little tricky to get use to using but once you have the hang of it the results are great.
Cinemagraph is an app that creates moving pictures, the picture button has to be held down for around 5 seconds whilst keeping the phone aimed at the scene you want to capture, the phone will then prompt to select the parts of the photo the user wishes to animate. This apps works particularly well and ends up with some good effects when taking pictures of scenery especially.
Smartshoot is a function that takes four photos at once with the idea being that for example when taking a photo of a group of people it will recognize faces and allow the photographer to pick the best faces from each shot and combine them as one photograph, or simply just chose the best photo of the four (handy for wildlife/pets).
Bing Vision is the last of the apps available to use directly with the phone and allows, barcodes, QR codes, Microsoft tags, Books, CD's and DVD's to be scanned recognized and found on the internet. This is a simple app but one which works well and saves the download a separate scanner app should you happen to need one.
As with most smartphones these days the built in functions and applications are almost endless and the Nokia Lumia 920 is no different and is definitely pushing the boundaries of smartphone technology with this one. I have downloaded well in excess of 100 apps for this phone and all of them have worked as they should so I will just cover my favourites and the better known ones for the means of this review, as well as the Nokia Apps that were pre-installed on the phone as I see testing these as part of the reason I have the phone.
As mentioned previously E-bay, Facebook, and Twitter all have apps available for Windows 8 and all of them run very and I have had no problems with running all of this apps and more simultaneously whilst noticing no difference in speed. Some of the other apps that I have used for this phone to give you more an idea of what's available are; BT WI-FI Hotspot Connector, Compass, Decibel Meter, Little Piano (great for the kids), Pay-Pal, Sky-News and last but not least Walkee Textee (uses the rear camera to display an image of where you are walking whilst texting).
Nokia Exclusive Apps:-
Okay so the Lumia 920 really comes into a world of its own once you start digging into the Nokia Apps that are available all of which I will try to sum up here briefly with a paragraph each.
Nokia Maps/Drive are probably the most useful so I will start here, Nokia Drive Beta + has got to be the best Sat-Nav app that I have ever seen on a phone, it really does work as well as a standalone sat-nav device with the only downside being the lack of choice over the route you take (you cannot avoid/request motorways to be used for example), however it will get you there by the shortest route possible and hasn't taken me too far off the beaten track. As far as I can make out there are maps available for every country and all of these maps are free to download to your phone so you don't have to eat through data allowances to display maps and get to where you are going, all you need is a GPS connection which the phone picks up in seconds whether you have mobile signal or not.
Nokia City Lens is another innovative app which supplies information about points of interest in and around the area that you are in. Food, fun, shopping, sites and hotels are just some of the available categories to search or just click nearby to see everything of interest in the immediate area. The searches take seconds to complete and once completed it is just a case of scrolling through to find something you like then tapping on it and Nokia Maps will get you there. I would find this app most useful in a city I didn't know as it even enlightened me to a few things I didn't know about my home town.
Nokia Music has to be my favourite Nokia app on the Lumia 920 not for the fact that it allows you to buy musical content for your phone, but for the fact that it again offers free content just like Nokia Maps does. Nokia Music allows downloads of radio mixes for free which include everything from best albums of 2012, to 70's Disco, and 90's Rock. These radio mixes are easy and free to download to the phone to listen to when you like so no eating through data limits here either. The only downside to these mixes is that due to radio licensing laws you can only skip past 6 tracks an hour, but you can listen to all of the tracks that have already been played and they do not count towards this. The speaker on the phone is more than capable of playing music without the tinny sound I associate with music on most mobiles, upon plugging in the standard earphones supplied though I was once again pleasantly surprised by the Lumia at the quality and volume of the music that has been achieved by Nokia. This app far exceeds any music store I have previously used on a mobile for free content and easily matches them for chargeable content.
Office 365 allows Microsoft Word, Power Point and Excel documents to be created, saved and edited on the Lumia, this app allows Microsoft documents that have been saved to the Microsoft Cloud either from the phone (Using the SkyDrive App) or other device to be downloaded to the phone viewed and edited. A live document can also be placed on the cloud using the phone, allowing multiple people access to view and even edit the document as they wish if allowed by the document owner eliminating the need for e-mails back and forth. I didn't have much call to use this other than to make notes for this review but can only presume it works as well as everything else on this phone.
The only real problem I had with this phone was the fact that it actually shut down on me whilst in the middle of browsing the internet but this was after 3 days of constantly having apps running in the background as I heard this was an issue. I had between 4-8 apps running constantly on the phone without giving it a break or turning it off as I heard that overheating was the cause of this, to be clear I don't think it was overheating that caused this problem as it restarted as quick as it had shut down and worked perfectly other than that and I have not had the same problem since.
The only other real issue I have with this phone is the fact that the micro sim is so fiddly to fit and whilst the sim card door is fairly sturdy, it is small and liable to pop off and get dropped as there is a knack to the amount of pressure required to get the sim door open.
This isn't really an issue but I was provided with a white charger for a black phone which to me screams cheap and cut corner. It really would have been more aesthetically pleasing and not much work on Nokia's behalf to include a colour matched charger for my shiny black smartphone.
Also with all the hype regarding wireless charging I was half expecting to receive a wireless charging mat in the box with the phone however this was not the case and it needs to be purchased separately at an approximate cost of £55. I was quite disappointed not to have a wireless charger supplied with the phone as this is one piece of technology I was really interested in checking out.
So despite the few small gripes I have listed just above I have overall been very impressed with this phone, and in my eyes Nokia have finally put themselves back into the driving seat where the mobile phone market is concerned. Pushing the boundaries of mobile technology and photography to the limit I believe that the Nokia Lumia 920 is one of if not the best smartphone available on the market at the moment, it's more of a mini tablet PC masquerading as a phone, I have even been leaving the laptop at home when I go to work as I have the Lumia in my pocket it does everything it's supposed to so well. I believe that Nokia have bettered Samsung's, HTC's and Apple's latest offerings into the smartphone market with the amazing effort that they have made with the Lumia 920.
Despite all of the issues I have read about from other users; too big, too heavy, overheating, randomly shutting down, poor battery life and long charging times, I have only experienced one problem with it shutting down, and I'm putting this down to me deliberately running too many apps over an extensive period of time in an effort to create this fault. I have tried to trip this phone up at every turn but have only managed it the once.
This is an excellent phone that I believe will help get Nokia back to the top of their game as far as the phone market is concerned and I will definitely be recommending this phone to friends, family and strangers alike.
(Also on Ciao under username MrGump)
Summary: Overall a great and pretty much indestructable phone.
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