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Nokia Lumia 920 review

Verdict

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

Review Date: 1 Nov 2012

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: £129, on a £36.00 per month, 24 months contract.

Buy it now for: £240
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
3 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

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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User comments

And it's goodnight from Stephen Elop

185g LOL. What were they thinking?

The burning platform just sank into the sea.

By gavmeister on 6 Nov 2012

a fair review....

Thank you. Things changing at PCPro...?

Personally waiting for the rest of the launch line up. L920 and 8X are both way too big for my needs. I would like to know why all manufacturers (except Apple, who could offer me free stuff for life and I still wouldn't touch with a barge pole) insist that the high-end phones have to be the "massive" ones. I would like a 3.5-3.7" high end WP8 preferably with a HW Keyboard please. I think I may have a long wait.

Roll on the L820 review.

By nickallison on 6 Nov 2012

Does size matter that much?

I don't understand the obsession with size/weight. I can't imagine ever being inconvenienced by holding something that weighs 185g, but then again, I didn't find my first mobile phone, which was around 300g and nearly an inch thick, particularly unwieldy either.

The quality of camera, NFC and wireless charging (OK, bit gimmicky that last one) more than justify the few extra grams in my opinion.

By andygr on 6 Nov 2012

@colaoll

They also give the iPhone 5 the same rating for features & design. Which is crazy considering the huge list of features the 920 has that the iPhone doesn't.

Unfortunately, each reviewer will have differing opinions on what is worth a star or not and they don't appear to work it out with any reference to previous reviews.

So largely the star system here is best ignored.

By Grunthos on 6 Nov 2012

Really?

"Everyone who handled the Lumia voiced concerns about its weight and dimensions."

185g - come on. Are you all weaklings?

As long as the battery gets through the day, what's the problem?

Also: I think the review is mostly fair and positive so I don't see how the headline verdict of "A great camera, and we generally like Windows Phone 8, but the bulky, battery-sapping Lumia 920 has too many issues to recommend" measures up to the review generally.

By AlphaGeeK on 6 Nov 2012

4 out of 6 for performance

"Underpinning everything is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4, the same dual-core CPU that underpins most of Windows Phone 8’s launch devices, and here it runs at 1.5GHz. With this processor at the helm, the Lumia 920 is blisteringly quick.
Its score of 920ms in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark beats every other phone we’ve tested. Slowdown was extremely rare and barely noticeable when it occurred, apps opened quickly, and there was no sign of juddering frame rates in any of the games we tried..."

hmmmmm. i wonder how it would have needed to perform to get 5 or 6 stars :-)

By sihaz2 on 6 Nov 2012

Performance

Hi sihaz2,

Thanks for your comment about performance. While the Nokia's very fast in our benchmarks, the performance score also takes into account battery life - and it's dreadful.

Cheers,

Mike

By Mikey_Jennings on 6 Nov 2012

Nokia 820 and HTC 8S

I think it’s balanced and fair review. Read a few from US based MS cheerleaders and this one paints much more realistic picture.

Want to get a Windows Phone for my wife. It’s obvious that Nokia 920 and HTC 8X are way too bulky for her. Looking forward to 820 and 8S reviews. Any idea when these are coming?

By aa111 on 6 Nov 2012

3G data caps (or lack of them)

By the way, the £36 per month 3G tariff on T-Mobile includes unlimited data -- I've just ordered this phone, having concluded that I don't give tuppence that it's a bit heavier than a similarly-sized slab of polystyrene.

You won't find it anywhere on T-Mobile's website, though, which still has the iPhone 5 as "coming soon", nor on EE's, which makes no mention of T-Mobile contracts at all.

(And don't try going into an EE store and asking about it...don't get me started on that.)

By andygr on 6 Nov 2012

Weight...

For those that think the device is too heavy: http://i.imgur.com/3IWdv.png

By Macer71 on 6 Nov 2012

Weight

For those that think this phone is heavy... I've found something a bit lighter: http://bit.ly/Sxxv7f

By dja74 on 6 Nov 2012

Of course size matters

Since I carry my phone in my shirt pocket size and weight are important.

As much as I'd like to support Nokia this phone is off the agenda due to its weight.

The HTC Windows Phone 8X seems as good yet weighs the same as Apples and Galaxies. (sounds quite appealing, dunking apple in molten Galaxy)

By SparkyHD on 6 Nov 2012

Doesn't bother me....

It still tops my list for upgrade time - closely followed by another so-called "heavyweight", the Galaxy Note II.

WP8 just sank due to a phone being a few grams heavier than it's competitors? Really?

By everton2004 on 6 Nov 2012

battery

Any chance Drive was left running in background during battery test? Need to exit the app with back arrow. "Settings-applications-background tasks" to check if Drive is running or block the app from running in background.

Just a thought as it might not be shown in task manager (holding down back arrow) even though it is running.

By Mike69 on 6 Nov 2012

battery

Any chance Drive was left running in background during battery test? Need to exit the app with back arrow. "Settings-applications-background tasks" to check if Drive is running or block the app from running in background.

Just a thought as it might not be shown in task manager (holding down back arrow) even though it is running.

By Mike69 on 6 Nov 2012

@Mike69

CNet report the same problem with short battery life.

By tirons1 on 6 Nov 2012

I always found my S2 to be too light and a bit too thin without a case. Since I added one it feels a little bit more substantial and easier to hold but it comes down to personal preference.

Agree with AlphaGeek, as long as the battery lasts a day that's fine by me, I charge every night anyway. Unless someone comes up with a battery which lasts 2 to 3 days they're all much of a much.

Bit concerned about the high temps though, my S2 gets way too hot on the back and I'd like to avoid that on my next phone.

The cost of the Lumia 920 is a big downer, was quite keen but a 16GB Nexus 4 for £279 is an absolute steal and will be hard to pass up, even in spite of the lack of additional storage.

By Deano on 6 Nov 2012

Size and Weight

A lot of reviews comment on the size/weight thing. Well, all of them do. They seem to fall somewhere between two extremes.

Some, like Pocket-Lint, have an anaphalactic "OMG - it is legally too heavy" hysterical reaction. Others are more nuanced, and accept that size and weight are a subjective preference, maybe even one where your judgement will change with time and acclimatisation. None seem to rate its size and weight as a bonus - its just a question of whether you can live with it, and eventually excuse it on account of its technical features.

You have to set all that against a near universal inability of reviewers to come to terms with anything which falls outside of their recent experience. So stepwise improvements to existing metrics they can handle. But faced with a phone which does not fit in their box marked "mobile phones" - remember the universal panning that the Note 1 received in early reviews, just because it was an 'unrecognised' size?

By martindaler on 7 Nov 2012

As ever we get price-gouged in UK

I'll post this, though my effort yesterday has "vanished"!

The Lumia 920 is priced at $450 sim free at ATT in USA. To save you working it out that's around £280.
Add 20% VAT to the US price & you get around £336

Current UK prices (if you can find one) range from £469 to £500. That's a difference of £133 based on UK price of £469.

According to some reports, deliveries start from the 9th November. Compare & contrast to UK where the damn things can't be had for love nor money, even a £130 premium!

Commercial suicide from NOKIA \ MS surely they could just give me the billions they're wasting with this incompetence?

By wittgenfrog on 7 Nov 2012

@wittgenfrog

The price difference is partly the usual rip off Britain but don't you have sales tax to add on to the US price too depending on which state you live?

Engadget think it's priced very favorably in the US, $100 less than the S3 and $200 less than the iPhone 5 - http://www.engadget.com/2012/11/07/att-selling-unl
ocked-lumia-920-449-99/

By Deano on 7 Nov 2012

Never mind the phone ...

I'm just in awe of the heroic feats of civil engineering (no doubt at vast public expense) going into preserving that mediocre brick building in the middle of the site that keeps featuring in PCPro's test shots!

By JohnAHind on 7 Nov 2012

Battery\Sim Free\Weight

Nokia has already stated that battery life in these pre-release review models have a bug that has been addressed in the GA models.

As for comments on Sim Free this is wrong. The 920 is available off contract in the UK but not Sim Free its still tied to EE, Orange & T-Mobile which is madness. Nokia needed to be selling this cheaper that the S3 to try to gain market traction.

As for weight, 185g isn't an issue as far as I'm concerned as the USP far outweight the added weight. An iPhone 4S with a cover is heavier and I don't hear uproar about that.

By BlackCoral on 8 Nov 2012

Hmmm

To compete against iOS and Android, Windows Mobile really needs a high end, kick ass device to show off what it can do. Until it gets one I fear WM will not get the hold on the market it desperately needs.

By confucious on 8 Nov 2012

Building Site

Are they ever going to finish that construction outside your office?

By ThePoshCat on 8 Nov 2012

Can I use it as a phone?

The thing about smartphones is that - well, they are all particularly dumb at being phones. Try getting your granny to use it! If it was "smart" then she would have no problems. I think this category of device should be re-named - "smug phones".

By peterj6 on 8 Nov 2012

@confucious

Wow, are we really getting a Win Mobile version. On capable hardware, like the Lumia, won't it be a bit like Android? Maybe that's the plan.
Then again, maybe you mean Windows PHONE as it has been for 2 years now.
Maybe you're deliberately trying to obfuscate the issue, or maybe it's time to get your head out of your icloud and think before posting.

There, I managed that without swearing, gold star for me.

By nickallison on 8 Nov 2012

@BlackCoral

Like most people have said if the phone lasts a day then that's good enough for the bulk of average users, but it's stupid for Nokia to send phones out with a bug, somethings can be forgiven but battery life (especially when negative) is something people jump all over when reviewing phones, even if pre-release.

By Deano on 8 Nov 2012

Nobody who uses Outlook seriously must ever review phones...

... because if they did, they would point out the crazy situation with Windows Phone:

If you have Outlook on the desktop, you can't sync direct via USB (unless you have an Exhange Server in a drawer nearby...)

You are obliged to sync via 'the Cloud'. And even then, whereas with ye olde Windows Mobile the whole enchilada sync'd (Notes etc.) with WinPho7-8 it is only a partial sync.

Like many people who hae signed petitions etc. to Msft on this issue I am not willing to share my contacts etc. via a 3rd party cloud server (the work I do is sensitive anyway).

I have a trusty old WinMo6.5 HD2 and was holding out to see if WinMo8 finally allowed proper Outlook desktop sync.

It doesn't, so now it looks like I shall have to go Android.

By itastomatt on 8 Nov 2012

No weight problem - but a nasty contact sport

My Lumia 800 (Windows 7) with a thin rubber shield weighs 157grams. The Lumia 920 is less than a weightwatchers slice of bread more, so let's not come over all supermodel about size.
Yes battery life is poor but if you have to charge up every night, then it doesn't really matter whether it is 40% or 49% left at the end of day 1.
My experience of using the earlier Nokia is excellent; the phone is very good, Drive is better than good and the quality of music is fine. It is smooth and works well and it appears the Noklia 920 has improved on that. Lots of games? No thanks.
The real problem is as istomatt has described - you cannot properly synch a windows phone with a windows based computer system. I don't mind using the cloud - but I do mind having to jump through endless hoops to synch my contacts. It is hard to believe that MS don't have an evil goblin somewhere cackling over this. Like istomatt I also had the HD2 with Windows 6.5 and it was a truly horrible. Nokia get a bad press but I would highly recommend these phones. If Microsoft could make contact with its custmers who use Outlook, it would win some real advocates for the Win8/Nokia combination. I expect they left our number on their desktop and don't know who to call.

By PeterMcIntyre1 on 8 Nov 2012

sync issues

I have used WP7 more or less since launch and WM6.1 before that.
On upgrading to 7 I hqd trepidations about using the Live cloud services with Outlook 2007/2010. Yes, Hotmail connector is required for outlook, so corporate systems may not play nice (but wouldn't they be exchange server).
So for personal consumer email, it all works a lot better than it did with WM6 and a POP email account.
I do accept that for some, the cloud isn't the place for their sensitive data.

By nickallison on 8 Nov 2012

@BlackCoral

According to P4U (I phoned) and also their online sales website, they ARE flogging the 920 utterly Sim-free.

That is they WOULD be flogging it if they
a) Had some
b) could be bothered
c) if enough people ask
(Delete as you see fit)

What now seems like an eternity since the "launch" brouhaha has faded, not even we fanpersons can lay a hand on a NOKIA Lumia 920.

I guess this leaves yer average punter, (who Nokia\MS have to woo) sticking with the Galaxy \ iPhone in the hand rather than the 920 (wherever \ whatever they are).
SAD.....

By wittgenfrog on 9 Nov 2012

E55Mark

Take a look at the marketplace. Even apps like Kindle have very mixed reviews. The podcatching apps are all very poor. I would not consider Windows phone for at least 6 more months. Who needs early adopter problems when the alternatives have equally good hardware and mature ecosystems.

By Rollins on 9 Nov 2012

I agree about weight

This phone weighs more than the Samsung Galaxy Note II! That's a bit insane. But, i can get it on AT&T's 4GLTE network, which is what I need for my large graphic design files, sending from New York. Data speed is critical.

By TPuente on 25 Dec 2012

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