As Leonardo would say, Nokia was the king of the world. As the second-largest handset maker for much of the last decade, it dominated by sheer scale on the back of a portfolio of high-, mid- and low-end phones. Then the iPhone came out. And then Android.
Failing to see the shift to smartphones, the company tried to compete, adding better cameras and improving audio. What little experimentation it did with operating systems was confined to the dead-end Symbian platform.
Sensing its do-or-die moment, CEO Stephen Elop went all-in with Windows, working with Microsoft, itself on the ropes, to build a new line of products. Enter the Lumia.
The first-generation products, the 800 and 900, for lack of a better word, flopped -- plagued by shoddy hardware and buggy software. So they went back to the drawing board. The second time around, the 920 fix past mistakes. Nokia does what it does best -- cameras. And the unbeatable 8.7-megapixel lens and top-tier display are one of the best. Period.
That doesn't mean Nokia's going to turn things around. No, while it has a great product, the name of the game is marketing. When you sell largely the same products -- just look at the rows of Android phones on store shelves -- branding your product line, whether its Samsung's Galaxy, HTC's One or Nokia's Lumia, is what sets the winners from the losers. For that, Nokia needs not one, but a string of successes.
Still, you have to start somewhere. And the 920 is a great kick-off to the comeback trail -- if you can make peace with Windows' bare-bones app ecosystem.
Designed in brilliant yellow, red and other Technicolor hues, the body is stylish, using an impressive mix of polycarbonate ceramic and glass. It's big, square and slippery to hold, not to mention one of the heavier devices at six and a half ounces. If the iPhone is understated elegance, the Lumia is fun splash of flash. It's hard to compare or contrast different tastes, you'll either love it at first sight or you won't.
The 4.5-inch IPS display is outstanding. Images are crystal-clear, with crisp text and high-definition details. It's even sharper than the iPhone's Retina display -- 332 pixels crammed into every inch, compared to 326. The brightness automatically adjusts, so colors are clear indoors and out. It's simply a wonderful canvas to watch movies and browse the Web on. And if it's cold outside, you can use it with gloves on. If you want to brag to Apple-loving friends, this is the phone to do it with.
Surprise. The 8.7-megapixel camera is even better. The f/2.0 Carl Zeiss lens manages to suck in five times more light than rivals for incredibly sharp and bright photos in low-light. It does it by using a really slow shutter and a heavy dose of noise filtering, and to prevent blur, a "floating lens" helps to stabilize the device. Think of it like a steady-cam that counterbalance movement. I actually had to try to take a blurry photo. If you hate how flash washes out the color in your face, the 920 consistently takes the best photos at night.
Oh, and you'll get three editing options, too: panorama for colorful landscapes, smart shoot to swap faces and remove unwanted objects and Cinemagraph, which lets you animate certain parts of a GIF -- think of those Harry Potter newspaper pictures.
As one of the first devices to runs on Windows 8, you can customize the homescreen with colorful "live" tiles, Microsoft's version of icons. The difference is, they're interactive. Rather than just sit there, they pull up Facebook and Twitter updates, weather reports, breaking news and more. They come in three sizes, each displaying varying amounts of information in a clean and simple layout. It makes Android look like a cluttered mess. If Windows 7 left a bad taste in your mouth, don't be worried -- it's much faster, more refined and easier to use.
But the bigger problem is the app ecosystem. Windows has about 100,000 apps in the online store, which trails Apple and Android, which have 800,000. You'll find major titles like Angry Birds, but a lot of popular ones like Instagram are still missing. Sometimes you'll find knock-offs, but they're pretty bad substitutes.
With the death of Zune, Microsoft uses a music store, called "Taps." And whether you buy songs online or put transfer them from a PC, the sound quality is loud and clear. One feature I really like: Data Sense, which crunches those bytes so you use less data and don't go over your allotted plan.
It runs on a blazing-fast 1.5-gigahertz dual-core chip with 1-gigabyte of RAM, and I didn't notice any hiccups or lag. It also connects to 4G LTE service for super-fast Internet in cities where it's available. The 2,000 mAh battery, meanwhile, is good. Even with 4G LTE on, I lasted through the day. You get a charger, but if you prefer to do it wireless, you can buy a special "pillow," sold separately.
It comes with 32-gigabytes of storage, which is enough for most users, and 7-gigabytes more via SkyDrive online. There's no microSD slot, though, so you'll have to offload files. With NFC, you can literally "tap" two phones together to share data.
The Lumia 920 and HTC 8X are the strongest Windows devices. But the 920 beats out the 8X. The battery life lasts longer, the storage is larger and the screen is more sensitive -- and it's also cheaper. The 920 is simply a gorgeous phone. And the outstanding display and phenomenal camera put it over the top. If you want innovation, look no further. The only question is, are you willing to try Windows?
If you want to see how Microsoft pans out, I can't blame you. And there are safer options. The obvious choice, the iPhone, aside, give HTC's One X and Samsung's Galaxy S3 a look -- they're the best of the Android bunch. And if the 920 is a bit out of your budget, the 820 for AT&T, 810 for T-Mobile and 822 for Verizon are excellent mid-range options as well.
HTC also released the 8X and 8S. But you're better off sticking to the 920 and 820 -- they're just better devices. If you're willing to give Microsoft a shot, the 920 is the best out there. ♦
Other Reviews From Around the Web
Battery Life, Great Unique Design, Very Fast and User Friendly, Takes great pics.
The Nokia Lumia 920 is a really awesome phone, but don't take my word for it. Amazon has the best reviews from people who actually bought the phone. Here's a list of the best reviews and discounts for the Nokia Lumia and it's accessories: amzn.to/18vTebm. Done all the research for you. Hope this helps.
The phone is a bit pricey as all smartphones are, but this is well worth the money. Awesome job Microsoft.Was this review helpful to you?
I'm on Rogers, so I was able to pick up the Lumia 920. Coming from the Lumia 900, the 920 definitely has a few cosmetic differences. First, it's much bigger -- it has 4.5-inches over 4.3-inches so that's where the size comes in. There's also more of a curve on the back. The size of the black bezel is larger too and the top is thinner. Overall, it has a very nice feel to it.
The camera really shines. It's crisper than the 900. And when you shake the phone while taking a photo, the image stabilization just kicks in and smooths everything out -- it's just phenomenal. Once you focus the lens, shaking the phone barely moves the frame. You can definitely see a difference and photos come out really sharp. I can't rave about it enough.
In addition, you can install "lenses," which are program add-ons, such as Panorama, Smart Shoot and Cinemagraph for different effects. Photos can also be uploaded to SkyDrive, so they're accessible online.
The screen is very smooth too. You'll definitely notice it if you've used the Lumia 900. Apps are very quick to launch. You can pin them to the home screen. Other than that, if you're a Windows user, you won't find much else that's different.
One gripe I had with Windows is it won't resume apps when you re-launch them. It's kind of annoying to have to launch it again, rather than resuming.Was this review helpful to you?
I have the best experience with the Lumia 920. Great picture quality (day and night), lovely GUI with the live-tiles instead of static icons, fast response touch-screen and great integration to social networks. Once you switch off background tasks and NFC, battery lasts for a full day at heavy media use. Battery charges fast even on the wireless pad (like from 25% to 100% in about 90 min.). As a designer I love the typography (emails render beautifully), layout and consistent feel. Opening an attached PDF or MS Office document -- no problem. I am not an application addict so I don't care of not having as many apps as other platforms since all the 'bread and butter' apps are available. Love Nokia maps, virtual city lens and the navigator too. No regrets.
What bothers me: simple things like setting up song playlists are impossible to do, not intuitive at all, and in order to organize phone contacts you need to know to disable e.g., facebook contacts if many people should not appear in the 'people hub'. I wished there was a separate, good-old phone list.
The volume for alarm and music are linked, not so good if you need a loud song to make you wake up.Was this review helpful to you?
I've been waiting for this since seeing the videos of its camera. My initial impressions are that it's gorgeous. The phone itself is a little bit on the heavy side. But the polycarbonate body is solid. It'll take the bruises of everyday use.
The PureMotion display is just awesome. One of the best touch screens I've ever used. The 8-megapixel camera is a joy to use as well. It takes crystal clear pictures every time. With SkyDrive, your photos, songs and files will be synced -- sort of like the iPhone.
The wireless charging is great. I just lay it on the pillow when I go to bed. And if feels like we're going to sleep at the same time. The call quality is decent too.
I found Windows 8 to be a little more difficult to use than Android, but it's nothing that takes away from the innovation of his phone. Overall, I'm very satisfied and highly-recommend it to anyone who values a great screen, camera and design.Was this review helpful to you?
Fast Internet access
very responsive touch screen
Got the iPhone 5 (work issued) and the 920 within days of each other so I had no particular bias for either.
This unit flat out rocks and compares favorably to the iPhone. And its half the cost of an iPhone at the ATT store which is a real plus.
The anti-MS crowd will state that this is no good and fawn over the iPhone but I see them as pretty darn equal except for the 920 having a bigger, badder screen.
Get it... you will not regret it.
A bit heavy -- not for a shirt pocketWas this review helpful to you?
- Nokia apps
All in all a great handset and probably the best you can get on the market today.
The issue with weight is a non-issue. I've got a iPhone 4s. With a bumper it's about 190 grams and that for sure is no problem.Was this review helpful to you?
Few words about resuming the app. I previous user didn't do his homework otherwise he wouldknow that wwhen you press back key you will resume app and when you click on tile you restart it
SameWas this review helpful to you?
I picked up a Lumia 920 a few weeks ago. For the most part I'm happy with it. Windows isn't bad, but I think it still has a ways to go to catch up to Android.
The most annoying thing is that the body isn't fitted properly. When I lightly press on the case -- between the camera and power keys -- the phone squeaks. Since it's not fitted right, dust gets inside the phone too -- in front of the camera and the earpiece -- which makes the proximity sensor malfunction. Argh. The screen goes black and the speakerphone won't work during calls. I can't even hang up on a call now.
Now the somewhat annoying part. I can't send a photo through Bluetooth unless I turn it on right before sending. That's a pain in the butt. I want to be able to share stuff without having to go to connection settings every time -- for each and every photo. I miss Android's pull-down menu.Was this review helpful to you?
I have used this mobile phone 2 weeks, its the best phone ever.. I had Iphone 4S before and this phone is SUBERB!
I strongly suggest you buy it!
There was no SD-card slot but 32GB + 8 GB at cloud should be enoughWas this review helpful to you?
- Feels solid
- Blazing fast interface
- Easy to use
- Windows 8 on the phone makes sense
- A little bulky at times when using as a traditional phone, but this really isn't a con as the feel of the phone is still a solid well-built feeling.Was this review helpful to you?
Excellent camera, plenty of storage slick and innovative Windows Phone 8 OS, fast.
That fanboys won't give this sleeper a chance and it will slip under the radar.Was this review helpful to you?
Love everything about the phone. The tiles and photo storage. I liked how every worked with each other. all social flowed together. Liked links and screen was the bomb. Liked everything it did. UNTIL
I have had my 920 for four days. Tonight 5/20/13 I put in the power charger and ate watched tv. went to check phone before I went to bed. It was dead. Black screen will not power up. Can't remove to power up battery nothing. Son needs to call for ride from air port. phone is my business life line. I have never had a phone do that. so back to LG tomorrow. I just Can't afford this. I love the phone. was about to convert all six business phones. Not now. we need phones that work. Sorry love the phone while it worked...Was this review helpful to you?
Its Specs in general sounded ok earlier but its useless.
Lumia 920 is the worst phone from 1. Compromised GPS. 2. Poor hanging Navigation. 3. No search in favorites- POIS. 4. Cannot attach files to email 5. Very Low volume. 6. No Player, Cannot rewind/FF when a video or audio is running. 7. Cam does not have optical zoom, pinch zoom is bad. 8. You can't access the sys folder. 9. Can't open password Protected file. 10. Translate cam has very limited translations possible. 11. NO player. 12. Very less apps. 13. NO SIP. 14. Mobile VOIP not working.Was this review helpful to you?
I have a Lumia 920. I love the apps, the photographs, the Calendar, the new Facebook app, and the ruggedness of the phone. I don't need no stinkin' carrying case for it.
Can't get alternate routes on DRIVE to work, and frankly not sure I trust it yet. And I must say I do wish it would get Instagram just so I can see if all the fuss is baloney or appropriate.Was this review helpful to you?