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Nokia Lumia 820 review


Nokia’s more modest Windows Phone 8 device is a well-balanced, powerful and affordable handset

Review Date: 4 Jan 2013

Reviewed By: Mike Jennings

Price when reviewed: SIM-free: 8GB, £316 (£380 inc VAT); from free on a £21/mth, 24mth contract

Buy it now for: £295
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

4 stars out of 6

Nokia made a big splash with its first Windows Phone 8 device, but despite its many talents, the Lumia 920 was bulky, heavy on the battery and too expensive to recommend. Nokia has addressed those concerns with its Lumia 820, a mid-range phone that’s trimmer and lighter – and much better for it.

The downsizing doesn’t bring Nokia’s new baby into line with the 131g Samsung Galaxy S III, but the 820’s 9.9mm girth and 160g weight are far more manageable than the 10.7mm, 185g Lumia 920. It isn’t the chore to hold or cram into a pocket that the 920 is, and the hard, matte finish and rounded corners lends it a comfortable yet premium feel.

Nokia Lumia 820

The latest Lumia beats its stablemate for versatility, too. While the 920 was milled from a single block of polycarbonate with no internal access, the entire casing (including buttons) of the Lumia 820 is removable, granting access to the battery and both micro-SIM and microSD card slots.

That “shell” is also replaceable, with six different colours available, prices at around £20 each and each one including a patch that allows the phone to be charged wirelessly via Nokia’s inductive charging plate (£50). Nokia says a rugged shell will be available later this year.


The 820 is as sturdy and attractive as its bigger brother, then, but it’s clearly a mid-range handset. The display is a 4.3in unit and resolution is a mere 480 x 800 pixels; it feels outdated beside the Lumia 920’s 4.5in, 768 x 1,280 screen, with app icons, text and images lacking the sharpness we’ve become used to on recent high-end phones.

Nokia Lumia 820

Nokia has also used a different panel technology for the 820, and the difference is obvious when you line it up next to the 920, which uses an IPS panel. The 820’s highly saturated colours give it the edge for eye-popping games, but the larger Lumia’s more muted, realistic tones are better for viewing photographs and video. And, while the 820’s panel has perfect black levels, it tends to crush darker colours together. The Lumia 920 does a better job of handling subtle tones at the extremes of the colour spectrum.

There’s no change in the internal hardware, though, and the 820’s components don’t disappoint. The 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, Adreno 225 graphics chip and 1GB of RAM helped the phone score 906ms in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, not surprisingly in the same ball park as the 920ms scored by the Lumia 920. Both results are the fastest we’ve seen from any phone.

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User comments

Voice recognition

I have seen comments that the voice recognition actually works. Is this true?

By tirons1 on 4 Jan 2013


It works quite well for me on my 920.

By AlphaGeeK on 4 Jan 2013

Nice phone

A shame Nokia don't make an Android version.

By Alfresco on 5 Jan 2013


I had an android phone and just recently bought a Nokia Lumia 920. I don't regret it for one second. The interface is slick, the camera is excellent and the integration with Microsoft services superb. The additional Nokia apps are also great value.

By ish44 on 5 Jan 2013

Value for money

So the Lumia 820 costing £0 on a £21/ month contract gets the same value for money rating as the iPhone 5 costing £159, on a £31.00 per month...

Do I need to comment further?

By bronven on 5 Jan 2013

There is Spotify for Windows Phone

There is an app for Spotify. Might want to change the review. Here's the link:

By henry20012 on 7 Jan 2013


The clue is in the word "Value"

By dg2puk on 7 Jan 2013

Damning with faint praise.....again

I don't understand what you want from a battery, but my 920 lasts a full day easily - involving phone, browsing and newsreading, along with sundry apps.

The 'dearth' of Apps for WP8 hasn't bothered me that much. The NOKIA provided ones offer substantial added-value.
The Mapping & turn-by-turn Navigation(for instance) is far better than Apple's pathetic excuse for an Application.

Of course I'm a lot older than many and so I tend to live in the Real World, delving into the Virtual one only when it offers utility in Reality.... From a cursory glance at the WP8 App Store they seem to have plenty, and all the major ones....

By wittgenfrog on 7 Jan 2013


Apparently the new windows 8 (portico?) update improves the battery life, along with some tweaks to the camera. I guess some people won't be happy unless the update reduces the size, the weight and changes the OS though ;)

By ish44 on 7 Jan 2013


Although mentioned in passing when listing what's exposed by removing the back cover, it's odd that more is not made of the micro-sd slot.

I've had an 820 for a month-or-so now and have more music on the card than there is space for on the phone. Pictures & videos taken get stored there by default if wanted, as does music downloaded via the WP8 music app. It appears as a seperate drive to the main phone memory when plugged into USB.

A current limitation is that neither apps nor their data can be off-loaded on the card - I don't see that changing any-time soon either.

By alynsparkes on 7 Jan 2013


To quote your article on the benchmark results: "Both results are the fastest we’ve seen from any phone."

And yet it only gets 4 out of 6 (ie just above average) on performance rating? I'm guessing anything above 4 stars is reserved exclusively for apple products?

By drslothy on 10 Jan 2013

I find the windows phone useful as a phone however I am unable to install several programs which I would find useful in work since the winbdows phone will not allow me to install an "executable" program, eg firefox since this is my preferred browser, I believe the surface tablet has the same drawback

By iains2007 on 10 Jan 2013

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