By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
An evolution of the Lumia 800 and 900, the Nokia Lumia 920 is big and hardy and quite possibly the most solid smartphone I've held in a long time. In terms of Windows Phone devices, the Lumia 920 is a strong entry for the flagship device in terms of features and performance and even transcends this as one of the most compelling smartphones on any mobile OS today.
It has taken Nokia one year to iterate their flagship Windows Phone device and while the norm in the smartphone industry is to go slimmer and lighter with each successive version, Nokia has gone the complete opposite direction.
Design and Construction
The Lumia 920 is larger and heavier than its predecessors, it is a jumbo-sized smartphone one that weighs more than the Samsung Galaxy Tab II, which looks like a much larger device.
The large size and increased weight is a matter of preference, some users may go for it and other just wont. I certainly would. The reason for the Lumia 920’s heft and substance is a larger 4.5-inch screen, better PureView camera and the required LTE radios (plus an equally hefty 2000mAh battery).
This is a unibody design with sealed in construction which means no room for expansion via microSD and no removable battery, same as previous flagship Lumia devices.
Encased in solid polycarbonate with a generous helping of Gorilla Glass, the Lumia 920’s tank-like case can withstand incredible stress and the kind of abuse that would snap lesser smartphones in two.
Picking up other smartphones after using the Lumia 920, like the LG Optimus G which is my main phone feels like picking up a slice of bread. The iPhone 5 feels as light as a Graham cracker by comparison.
The Lumia 920’s size and weight has the obvious benefit of incredible strength. It has even been used to hammer a nail through wood and has been bashed by a mallet online with little evidence of damage.
Nokia has even improved the material used to protect the Carl Zeiss lens and the buttons. It is now a Ceramic-Zirconia finish which looks like aluminum but can survive hard scratching. Credit Nokia for working on an idea and iterating it, shedding the aspects that don’t work and improving on the ones that do.
Comparing the Lumia 920 to competing handsets from HTC and Samsung shows a large discrepancy not just in size but in weight. The result is the HTC Windows Phone 8X and the Samsung ATIV S smartphones feel rather delicate (the Samsung more so than the HTC) while the Lumia feels rock solid.
I’ve been using the Lumia 920 heavily for the past three weeks (after grudgingly paying Rogers $50 to get it unlocked so I could use it with my carrier, Telus) and while I wouldn’t advise carrying it in a shirt pocket, it settles nicely into most pants or jacket pockets. Unlike many of today's wafer-thin smartphones today, you will notice if you've left your Lumia 920 behind or if it has fallen out of your pocket.
Day-to-day use has revealed it to be a very reliable smartphone. Now that the temperatures are getting colder, I appreciate being able to use the device despite wearing leather gloves (something no other smartphone today can do). Battery life even with LTE and WiFi was above average and it can survive a day’s use with a full-night’s charge.
One thing about unlocking the Rogers Lumia 920 to work on other networks, while it will support 4G-LTE connectivity, the Wireless Sharing (mobile hotspot) feature is disabled. A little digging around shows that this is because the ROM or firmware Rogers uses disables the feature on any other carrier, which is unfortunate, inconvenient and quite simply unnaceptable.
Another caveat is a glitch that occurs when you reset the Lumia 920 which essentially bricks the phone. This happened to my Lumia 920 even after I had installed the Porrtico update. I reset the device so someone else could use it and I was dismayed when it got stuck on a gears screen. It was like that for over a day!
I have since brought the Lumia 920 to Rogers who sent it to Nokia under warranty repair where they will likely reinstall the OS. It is staggering that this glitch exists and hasn't even been patched months after the Lumia 920 released.
Specs and Features
The Lumia 920 is really the best Nokia can offer in terms of features and functionality. While the dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor is standard across all Windows Phone 8 devices, the 8.7 Megapixel PuereView Camera with a floating lens, the TrueBlack HD display and the rich selection of apps (navigation, camera, transport) are all signature Nokia features which you won’t get anywhere else.
Above is an assortment of photos taken with the Lumia 920 which shows the range and detail that this smartphone's camera is capable of capturing. The alleyway grafitti shots were shot in very dark lighting, my eyes could not make out the detail at all.
Above is a very brief video taken at dusk and shows the detail, clarity and stabilization function of the Lumia 902 for video.
The large 4.5-inch screen is gorgeous and is one of the best we’ve seen on any device. Inductive charging makes sense and isn’t painful (4-hours for a full charge) plus you simply can’t beat the calling and phone functions offered by the Lumia 920.
Nokia adds to the Windows Phone experience by bringing its own suite of apps and curated apps. Of note are Nokia Lens (augmented reality app) and Nokia Drive which remains as one of the best hands down turn-by-turn navigation apps on a smartphone.
I really feel that the Lumia 920 is too good a smartphone to be limited to one Canadian carrier (and while we’re at it, to be limited to one colour!). The Lumia 920 deserves to be considered among the best smartphones in market today. Here is a well designed, sturdy and completely capable smartphone that makes using Windows Phone 8 a delight. It is a Pentaband device to boot, a true world phone that should be sold unlocked.
Speaking of Windows Phone 8, it has really come into its own as a fresh and unique smartphone experience that’s tailored around the user.
The camera is stellar, specially for low-light photography where it whips various standalone point-and-shoot models and even DSLR’s who don’t have the software smarts to parse dark scenes into something usable. Camera speed is comparable to competing smartphones and the dedicated camera button is a big plus.
While the size and weight may not be for everyone, I believe anyone that decides to accept Windows Phone 8 and the Lumia 920 into their lives will not be disappointed.
The hardware is everything one would expect and more, the addition of NFC and inductive charging is useful and LTE connectivity is something that no modern smartphone should be without.
The Lumia 920 is one of the most impressive smartphones we've seen this year and does a great job representing the potential of Windows Phone 8 as a competitive and exciting new mobile operating system.
Rating: 4 out of 5