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  • Reviews - Written by on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 14:04 - 28 Comments

    Nokia Lumia 920: Preview

    preview The Nokia Lumia 920 is the Finnish manufacturer’s first stab at a smartphone running Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 8 operating system, and it supports Australia’s growing clutch of 4G mobile networks to boot. But can this big, bold and beautiful challenger take on the current reigning champions of the smartphone world? Read on to find out.

    If you thought Nokia’s previous Lumia line could best be described as ‘fluoro’, you would have been right. In a smartphone market dominated by muted grey and matte black tones, the Lumia brand has come to mean vibrancy and colour. With the 920 and its sister phone, the 820, Nokia has turned this factor up to maximum, with the Lumia 920 being available in a variety of eye-watering colours ranging from yellow to red, white, grey and matte black. We can’t say we’re the biggest fans of the bright yellow and red models – they’re a little too vibrant for our tastes – but we’re sure some people will welcome them.

    In addition, it’s not just the polycarbonate shell of the Lumia 920 that has been affected by Nokia’s colour focus. By default, the icons on Windows Phone 8’s home screen will use the same colour scheme as the phone’s physical exterior. This is a striking design choice, and we’re sure the 920 will get a lot of attention when you pull it out in a crowded space.

    Apart from the radical colour overhaul, the Lumia 920 appears to feature many of the same design features as Nokia’s previous Lumia 900 models. It’s got the same volume rocker, on/off switch and camera button on the right-hand side, the same large touchscreen with Windows Phone buttons beneath it on its front, and the same lovely colourful polycarbonate shell covering its back.
    It looks like the unit’s microUSB connection for synching and charging is on its bottom, and its 3.5mm headphone jack is on top. The camera is conspicuously located on the back as well.

    The Lumia 920 is 13cm tall, 7.08cm wide and 1.07cm thick, weighing 185g. This makes it significantly heavier, thicker and larger than some of the competition – the iPhone 5 is 112g, and 0.76mm thick – but we don’t think it will be a huge deal.

    To our mind, it’s great that Nokia has kept this design consistency between its top Windows Phone 7 and Windows Phone 8 models. Frankly, the Lumia 900 and other models in that generation of Lumia smartphones were some of the most lovely smartphones of any type which we’ve seen – both to look at and in the hand – and really do advance smartphone design and build quality into the stratosphere. Don’t get us wrong – we really like what Apple, HTC and Samsung are doing as well at the moment, but Nokia’s Lumia line is just simply stunning, and it looks like the 920 will continue this trend (but we won’t personally be picking up the bright yellow model).

    Wow. If there is a feature which the Lumia 920 lacks, we can’t find it. This model is absolutely packed to the gills with virtually everything you’d want from a smartphone. This is truly the definition of “high end”.

    The Lumia 920’s touchscreen is a 4.5” model running at Windows Phone 8’s new top resolution – 1280×768. This is a touch smaller than the 4.7” and 4.8” models which Samsung and HTC are currently headlining their roster with, but we like the 4.5” size. It’s bigger than Apple’s top-end 4” model, the iPhone 5, but it doesn’t look like it’s big enough to be too large for those with small to medium-sized hands, as the 4.7” and 4.8” models can be occasionally. The resolution upsize is a huge welcome to those who have previously been feeling cramped by Windows Phone 7’s poor 800×480 resolution. This works out at 332 pixels per inch, which is very decent.

    The 920’s beating heart is a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 model running at 1.5GHz, which is more than enough to fuel the smartphone’s functions, and it comes with 32GB of storage space, but has no microSD card capability. 1GB of RAM comes on-board.

    The rear camera is a 8.7 megapixel model which can shoot video at 1080p, and also incorporates Nokia’s ‘PureView’ technology, which the manufacturer says boosts its cameras above others on the market. Certainly in our experience, Nokia’s cameras on its smartphones are stellar, and we’re expecting similar quality from the Lumia 920, especially considering its Carl Zeiss lens. The front camera is a 1.2 megapixel model which can shoot video at 720p.

    One of the biggest features which we’re looking forward to it’s the 920’s support for 4G speeds. Both Optus and Telstra use the 1800MHz frequency for their 4G networks, and the 920 supports that frequency, although it’s launching initially only through Telstra. This means theoretical download speeds of up to 100Mbps and upload of 50Mbps, but in practice you probably won’t be able to download faster than between 30Mbps and 40Mbps when you’re in a Telstra 4G zone. Optus’ 4G network is typically a little slower but can peak at up to 60Mbps. And of course when you’re outside these areas, the Lumia 920 supports the other HSPA family of mobile standards which is the next best possible.

    NFC for mobile payments (in theory) is here, as is Bluetooth, and the battery is a 2000mAh model which Nokia says is good for 400 hours of standby, or maximum video playback time of 6 hours, music playback of 67 hours or 3G talk time of 10 hours. One other notable feature is the Lumia 920’s ability to charge its processor through so-called ‘inductive’ charging – which requires the unit to be placed on a charging pad, rather than attached to a charging cord. A number of US cafe chains and airlines have announced plans to deploy charging stations in their facilities.

    In addition, as with previous Lumia handsets, Nokia is planning to include its own specialised applications with the Lumia 920 – for example, its excellent mapping application, as well as its Music Store, and so on. These applications do add some value and help differentiate the company’s handsets from other Windows Phone rivals.

    The other major new feature which the Lumia 920 introduces – and one of its key selling points – will be Windows Phone 8, which has not yet been released by Microsoft. Microsoft’s new mobile operating system features a slew of new and long-awaited features, ranging from multi-core CPU support, to a resolution bump (1280×768 or 1280×720), the ability to support microSD cards, NFC chip support, Internet Explorer 10, a Wallet feature for storing debit/credit cards, coupons and boarding passes and better maps and directions (through integration of Nokia’s maps feature). Most of these features were already available through Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms, and Windows Phone users have been waiting them for a long time for the Microsoft platform. We’re very glad to see them arrive.

    At this point it’s very hard to know how the Lumia 920 will perform, and there’s also the tricky need to separate the performance of Windows Phone 8 from the whole package. If Windows Phone 8 is a dog, then the 920 will doubtless also be a dog, although we doubt that this will be the case. No doubt there will be a few bugs for Microsoft to polish after the new operating system launches, but we’re sure in general WP8 will be a vast improvement over WP7.

    However, our tests of the Lumia 900, the direct predecessor to the 920, were very strong, with the smartphone delivering strong battery life, camera functionality and overall build quality. If the 920 performs similarly to the 900, but with the addition of 4G speeds and the massively improved functionality and resolution which WP8 will bring, then the 920 should be a contender to the throne of Australia’s best smartphone, alongside the Apple iPhone 5, the 4G Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC’s One XL. Given the fact that Windows Phone has less third-party developer support than iOS or Android, we wouldn’t expect the Lumia 920 to win that battle – but it would definitely be a contender.

    One factor we will be examining carefully will be how the Lumia 920’s battery performs when subjected to 4G speeds – a notorious battery drainer.

    We’re really quite excited about the Lumia 920. From 4G support to a much-needed resolution boost and all the benefits that come with Windows Phone 8, this model is like a massively improved Lumia 900 – and as our review makes clear, we really liked the 900 to start with. The Lumia 920 will launch initially through Telstra and a number of third-party retailers – with pricing and availability to be announced at the end of October 2012.

    Image credit: Nokia

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    1. James
      Posted 03/10/2012 at 2:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I’m liking the amount of competition coming into the market at the moment, consumers always end up winning when good competition exists.

    2. casey
      Posted 03/10/2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink | Reply

      and yet sales for the device will be equally as disappointing for this as other recent Nokia releases..

      Which seems a shame, as they seem to be making some good devices now, but they are coming from so far behind..

      • Posted 03/10/2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I actually think it’s likely the 920 will do quite well, sales-wide. Especially in enterprises, where Android is not as strong as in consumer-land. Nokia and Windows Phone have a gathering momentum at the moment.

    3. Grey Wind
      Posted 03/10/2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I want this device so badly. I plan on buying it outright. all the specs are awesome and i am happy with the screen size. a truly innovative smartphone. cant wait.

      • Grey Wind
        Posted 03/10/2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Just FYI Renai, the shell is not interchangable on the lumia 920 as the article suggests – it is however interchangable on the Lumia 820.

        “The shell design is interchangeable”

    4. Marcus
      Posted 03/10/2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I really think you’re stretching credibility naming these articles “Previews”, and splitting off sections you couldn’t possibly write Authoritively about such as “Performance”.

      • Posted 03/10/2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink | Reply

        hey Marcus,

        I started doing preview articles because there’s reader demand — and we know almost all of the relevant information about these products before review units are available. I always note in the ‘performance’ section that we can’t completely judge the models yet — and sometimes I change my opinion when I do actually do a full review. At the end of the day, these are useful articles — and if you don’t want to read them, you don’t have to.

        • Marcus
          Posted 03/10/2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Its not a demand to pull it down, just an observation that they have the appearance of being a real world review. Which they’re not.

          Having said that I cant for the life of me think of a name better than Preview. Just the Preview seems very wrong.

          • Posted 03/10/2012 at 3:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Hmm. I see what you mean. Perhaps I will add a disclaimer into preview articles making it clear that we haven’t gotten our hands on the actual devices yet. Thanks for the criticism!

            • Nacimota
              Posted 03/10/2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Indeed, I was rather excited when I saw this article in my RSS feeds because the 920 has recently piqued my interest and it wasn’t until I was well into the article that I realized you guys weren’t doing an actual hands-on preview, which was a bit of a disappointment.

    5. stoffs
      Posted 03/10/2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Did a quick read through – did you mention inductive charging ? :) http://conversations.nokia.com/2012/10/01/wireless-charging-explained/

      I’m so sick of itunes that i can’t wait to get off the apple ecosystem

      • James
        Posted 03/10/2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Yep, it was mentioned =)

        “One other notable feature is the Lumia 920’s ability to charge its processor through so-called ‘inductive’ charging – which requires the unit to be placed on a charging pad, rather than attached to a charging cord. A number of US cafe chains and airlines have announced plans to deploy charging stations in their facilities.”

        • stoffs
          Posted 03/10/2012 at 4:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

          I would have deleted it if i could have :P

          teach me to multitask and not read through properly..

          • James
            Posted 04/10/2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink | Reply

            And this should teach *me* to read further down in the comments before replying.
            You had already noted that inductive charging was in there an hour before I posted. lol

    6. stoffs
      Posted 03/10/2012 at 2:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

      ignore the inductive post :P comprehension ftw

    7. Paul Thompson
      Posted 04/10/2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink | Reply

      I really like the look of this phone. I hope it lives up to the hype. Not only do I like to see Nokia coming up with the goods, but it is nice to see a challenge to the dominant apple-esque designs. Vibrant colours FTW!

      I am hopeful for a future where the Surface tablet, phones like the Lumia 920 and desktops running win 7 can be a really strong combination.

    8. stoffs
      Posted 04/10/2012 at 11:14 am | Permalink | Reply

      i was a nokia only type of person until my old one was dying, and my old creative labs mp3 player (32 meg version!) was dying …. so thought it was a good time to try the iphone..

      loaded tonnes of mp3’s on when i got it .. and then tried to figure out how to use one as a ring tone – and it wouldn’t let you .

      I’m hoping win 8 allows this …

      • Andrew Mitchell
        Posted 04/10/2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink | Reply


        You can do this but its a bit of a process. Check out http://www.demogeek.com/2009/07/31/how-to-add-custom-ringtones-to-your-iphone/ or google it yourself “custom ringtones iphone”.

        Good luck.

        • stoffs
          Posted 05/10/2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink | Reply

          I worked around it long ago – just found it strange that a company would design a phone + mp3 player in one… and not allow you to select a song as a ring tone..

          Obviously a design choice – to force you to buy ringtones.

          • Tony Healy
            Posted 05/10/2012 at 1:14 pm | Permalink | Reply

            You just have to set the type of the song to “Ringtone” in Zune, before you move it to the Windows Phone. You can use anything you like.

    9. Simon Reidy
      Posted 04/10/2012 at 4:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I genuinely want to see Windows Phone 8 succeed in the marketplace, but I’m a little concerned by all the delays and teething problems adapting to the new Win8 kernel. It has a lot of developers up in arms. Let’s hope Microsoft can stick to the October schedule and release a relatively bug-free OS at launch.

      “The rear camera is a 8.7 megapixel model which can shoot video at 1080p, and also incorporates Nokia’s ‘PureView’ technology, which the manufacturer says boosts its cameras above others on the market. Certainly in our experience, Nokia’s cameras on its smartphones are stellar, and we’re expecting similar quality from the Lumia 920, especially considering its Carl Zeiss lens”

      A Carl Zeiss lens helps, but Nokia feature phones have always had those. Its the optical image stabilisation and superb low light performance, which will more than likely make the 920 king of smartphone cameras (for now). Lets just hope they stick to actual footage of the 920 when advertising it from now on :)

      • Tony Healy
        Posted 05/10/2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I think Windows Phone 7 has just been a bit of a market test, to be honest. Windows Phone 8 has some features that will, I think, fairly strongly boost its market share. And I’m staggered at where I hear people talking about Lumias.

        • Simon Reidy
          Posted 05/10/2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Absolutely. It’s great they are moving to a superior kernel and far superior minimum hardware specs, but obviously that means no backwards compatibility for existing Windows Phone 7 owners who now have dead end phones. In fact you can still purchase Windows Phone 7 handset today, even though they have no upgrade life beyond WP 7.8. That’s in rather stark contrast to iOS which will always give you two years worth of OS updates and new features for any new iDevice. Howevever in the long run I think the transition to Win8 will be nothing more than a roadbump that hopefully people will quickly forgive and forget.

          Once Windows 8 launches for desktops, laptops, hyrbrids and tablets, it’s going to tie in very naturally with a WP8 device, so it’s fairly safe to assume this will introduce a lot of new customers to the platform. Hopefully that’s when developers really get behind it and we start to see the ecosystem thrive.,

        • Posted 05/10/2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Pretty expensive market test!

          • Simon Reidy
            Posted 05/10/2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

            LOL +1!

    10. Posted 19/10/2012 at 2:33 am | Permalink | Reply

      I don’t think Nokia has the power, or the time to choose which carrier/s would be preferable to its business interests.
      Nokia can only wait, and hope for the best.

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