Nokia Lumia 920 review

1 Nov 2012

A great camera, and we generally like Windows Phone 8, but the bulky, battery-sapping Lumia 920 has too many issues to recommend

Price when reviewed: 
460(£460 inc VAT)more
Buy it now for 
4

Nokia and Windows Phone, both on the back foot in 2012’s mobile landscape, are likely bedfellows: the former lags behind Samsung, Apple and HTC when it comes to smartphone hardware, and the latter has found it tough to make inroads to a market dominated by iOS and Android. The arrival of the Lumia 920, the first we’ve seen with Windows Phone 8 on board, is a big moment for the partnership.

Nokia’s hardware is as good as ever. The Lumia 920 is good looking and sturdy and, like the HTC One X, it’s milled from a single block of polycarbonate. The screen slightly protrudes from the body, and all its buttons are on the right-hand side: a volume rocker at the top, power button in the middle, and a camera trigger towards the bottom.

Nokia Lumia 920

The back is slightly convex, and both ends are flat, with two Torx screws at the bottom sandwiching the speaker grilles and micro-USB port. At the top there’s the microphone and 3.5mm headphone jack, and the awkward door on the top of the Lumia 800 has disappeared – here, the micro-SIM card holder pops out with the push of a pin, just like the one on the side of the iPhone. We were supplied with the smart-looking white model, but the Lumia 920 also comes in black, grey, yellow and red.

So far, so good, but there’s a sting in the tail: this is an extremely heavy, large phone. Its 10.7mm girth and 185g weight make it one of the bulkiest smartphones around, easily outstripping rivals: "Samsung’s Galaxy S III is 8.6mm thick and weighs 133g, and the iPhone 5, with its smaller screen, tips the scale at only 112g – 39% lighter than the chubby 920. Everyone who handled the Lumia voiced concerns about its weight and dimensions.

Camera

The camera isn’t a 41-megapixel snapper like that of the 808 PureView, but Nokia claims the 8.7-megapixel shooter included here isn’t far off when it comes to quality: this is the first smartphone camera we’ve seen with optical image stabilisation as opposed to electrical, which aims to dramatically improve low-light shooting and smooth out shakes in video.

Colours are accurate without being bright or oversaturated, and detail is good – although we found the Samsung Galaxy S III’s shots to be sharper. The Lumia’s macro mode returned good close-ups, and low-light performance was excellent: shots were brighter, more colourful and detailed with less noise than on the Samsung. The lens handled extreme sunlight well, too, returning balanced, usable shots when faced with bright light.

Nokia Lumia 920

The Lumia 920 shoots 1080p video, as you’d expect from a flagship phone, and the much-hyped optical image stabilisation worked exceptionally well to smooth out shots. Surprisingly, though when compared to iPhone 5, which uses digital stabilisation, there wasn't much difference. We strapped the Lumia 920 and iPhone 5 to a caddy and shot a scene while walking down the street, and found the footage looked largely similar.

The camera is enhanced by Windows Phone 8’s convenient new Lenses feature. Lenses are, effectively, third-party camera apps, integrated into the phone’s main camera app – and they’re accessed by tapping a button in capture mode.

There aren’t many these Lenses available right now, but the phone comes preinstalled with Cinemagraph (similar to Cinemagram on iOS), which embeds animated GIFs into static JPEG files, to give the illusion that part of the picture is moving. Bing Vision, meanwhile, allows you scan barcodes and QR codes.

If there are any negatives about the camera it’s that there are no burst or panorama modes built in (they can be downloaded separately as Lenses), but these are small complaints. Otherwise it’s a cracking effort – the match of any camera on any smartphone in good light, and capable of bettering them all in low light.

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Details

Price ex VAT £383
Price inc VAT (£460 inc VAT); £130, on a £36 per month, 24 months contract
Cheapest price on contract £129
Contract monthly charge £36.00
Contract period 24 months
Contract provider EE
Overall rating 4
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 3

Physical

Dimensions 71 x 10.7 x 130mm (WDH)
Weight 185g
Touchscreen yes
Primary keyboard On-screen

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 1MB
Camera megapixel rating 8.7mp
Front-facing camera? yes
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 4.5in
Resolution 768 x 1280
Landscape mode? yes

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Other

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