Nokia Lumia 820

With a great screen and solid user experience, the Lumia 820 is a good phone, but one that lives in the shadow of the bigger 920, especially in regards to photography.


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Design

Not to dwell on the past, but before we detail the look and feel of the new Lumia 820, let's begin with a reminder of the phone it is succeeding. The Lumia 800, while not the biggest or cheapest in the Lumia range, was the first to reintroduce Nokia to the smartphone game and to show the world how the Windows Phone platform would look inside a cool-looking handset. Nokia's unibody polycarbonate chassis stood out among the numerous plastic Android phones in the market at the time, and even compared favourable next to Apple's all-glass iPhone 4.

Sadly, the Lumia 820 doesn't reach these same heights in the aesthetics department. It's stiff-plastic casing may have the advantage of being removable (and replaceable), but it certainly feels cheaper in the hand than the rubbery soft-touch texture of the Lumia 800 and 900. It is also noticeably heavier than many of the other phones we've seen recently, weighing 160 grams, or about 30 per cent more than phones like the Samsung Galaxy S3.

The removable battery cover opens the door to colour-swapping battery covers, or to consider picking up an optional cover with Qi wireless battery charging built-in.
(Credit: Nokia)

These shortcomings are mostly forgotten when the phone is powered up though, with the colourful 4.3-inch AMOLED screen more than capable of stealing the show. The colours of the Live Tiles on the home screen pop against a rich black background, almost to the point of being slightly oversaturated. This helps mask the screen's lower resolution. At 800x480 pixels, the display has significantly fewer pixels per inch than the larger Lumia 920, but it is difficult to spot the difference with the way Microsoft's operating system is laid out. Text and the minimalist iconography all look crisp, so complaints about pixels are a moot point.

Getting the plastic battery cover off is a tad more difficult than it is on many other phones, but once removed, you'll have easy access to the micro SIM and microSD card slots below the battery. The phone is charged via a micro-USB port on the base of the handset, and physical controls give you quick access to volume and the on-board camera.

If you'd like to read more about our impressions of the Windows Phone 8 OS found on this phone, take a look at our review of the Lumia 920 for more detail.

Performance

Many will consider the Lumia 820 to be the kid-brother of the bigger Lumia 920, but with matching internal hardware, it is more accurate to think of the 820 as a smaller-sized handset for people who want something more compact. The same dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor found in the 920 powers the 820 too, so you can expect nearly identical performance when choosing either model. If you read our review of the Lumia 920, you'll know that this is a good thing. Operating all aspects of the Windows Phone platform on these phones is seamlessly responsive. The home screens slip and slide with a touch, and apps launch in a timely manner.

Network connectivity is another important aspect where Nokia hasn't scrimped in this downsized Lumia, with the 820 including 4G connectivity on compatible networks. This is great, especially considering that all Windows Phone 8 devices come with Internet Sharing built-in. We're also pleased that the operating system has an option in the settings to choose your "highest connection speed", letting you connect to 4G if you trust the battery life or dial it down to 3G or 2G if you need the battery to last longer.

Speaking of which, the 820's 1650mAh battery definitely could be larger. With most new phones pushing or exceeding 2000mAh battery capacity, we would like to have seen a bit more juice in this phone. The Lumia 820 lasted for about a day and a half with almost no use at all, but once we added a standard day's worth of calls, music and web browsing, this figure dropped to about 10-hours. This should be fine for light-to-moderate users, but it isn't recommended for business use.

Camera

Happily, a smaller, lower resolution screen doesn't mean a lower resolution camera. The Lumia 820 has a similar pixel-packing 8-megapixel image sensor as in the Lumia 920, though it lacks the optical stabilisation magic found in the more expensive model.

There is still Carl Zeiss glass in from of the lens, and our basic camera tests have all turned out quite well. Colours are usually well represented in shots, and the flash does a good job of filling in shadows on a close subject. Despite the shutter working extremely quickly, there was soft-focus across the majority of our photos. This isn't something you'll see when viewing the photos on the handset itself, but it is plain to see when they are blown up on a larger monitor.

(Credit: CBSi)

(Credit: CBSi)

App attack

As we mentioned in our Lumia 920 review, one of the more compelling parts of the newer Lumias is the excellent Nokia-developed software that comes preloaded on these models. We spoke about Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive, plus the awesome range of photography apps on offer — all of which are found on the Lumia 820. Then there is Nokia Music, which, while it competes with Xbox Music, stands out with its free-to-play Mix Radio function.

There is also a Nokia Care app built-in too, with user guides, tips and tricks, plus links to Nokia support pages.

Overall

With its bright, clear display, solid hardware and 4G connectivity, it's hard to consider the Lumia 820 to be a watered down version of the Lumia flagship, the 920. It offers the same power and performance, so there is no sacrifice in the everyday user experience for people who are looking for a smaller handset. You do miss out on the truly fantastic camera found in the 920 though, and we wish the battery here was larger, even if the 820 is a cheaper phone to buy. Plus, there is the same Windows Phone 8 quirks that annoyed us in the 920 here as well — and a lot of competition for your money in the AU$50 per month price bracket.



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Huang JingZ Facebook
3
Rating
 

"TOFU PHONE"

Huang JingZ posted a review   
Australia

The Good:camera

The Bad:Tofu phone

newly purchased phone, about three weeks. it is a tofu phone: just drop once from 2 and half feet, totally break.

SophieH85
6
Rating
 

"Nice phone, poor batter life."

SophieH85 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Camera is good, and the Nokia Maps are good.

The Bad:Very bad battery life - I am a light user and need to recharge at least once a day.

I previously had a Samsung Galaxy and had no trouble adapting to the Microsoft operating system.

It's an easy phone to use and the camera is pretty good,

The battery life however is terrible - I am a very light user (mainly just texting) but still have to recharge it at least once a day. Considering it's still fairly new I hate to think about how bad it will be in a years time...

LiamD2 Facebook
5
Rating
 

"Nokia Lumia 820"

LiamD2 posted a review   

The Good:windows phone 8, skydrive sync

The Bad:hard user interface to get around

I have been playing around with the Lumia 820 for some time now. When the 920 was released in 2012, I thought that they wouldn't release any more Lumia windows 8 phones. But, they did. I love the fact that if you have a computer with windows 8 and skydrive, and a windows 8 phone, you could sync all of your skydrive documents and pictures from your computer to your phone, and vice versa.
Something I don't like about the phone is how plain some of the apps look. (Such as the call app and the messaging app.) They look so plain with just white text and a black background.
I have never found the windows phone marketplace (app store) to have a lot of apps to download. If I was to buy a new phone, I would probably buy a iphone 5.

RochelleP Facebook
2
Rating
 

"one small crack and the phone doesn't work"

RochelleP posted a review   
Australia

The Good:lots of great extras, great screen

The Bad:cracked screen makes the phone unusable

I bought the Nokia Lumia 820 and the day after I had the screen broken, it had a crack along the right hand corner, not a big crack like the cracks on my kids Iphones.The problem is the Nokia phone doesn't work with a crack in the screen, so I took it back to the retailer who sent it back to Nokia nad they said I had to pay $153 to fix the screen. I wouldn't have bothered about the crack as it was so small the problem was the phone wouldn't work. It's no good to me if one small crack is going to disable the whole phone. I wouldn't recommend this phone to anyone who might drop it, which would be everyone I know.

 

GarryB posted a comment   

left an iphone 4 for a nokia 820 and LOVE it, no more itunes interface thereby no more pain, with nokia, screen is great for videos and pictures, customised tiles make home screen very user friendly with whatever shortcuts you want there, can use extra SD card for more memory and moving files from computer to phone and vice versa is so easy, also ability to view office documents on phone for me is great,

 

CindyJ1 posted a comment   

Love my new Nokia Lumia 820. If your over the apple set up and want something a bit more techy.. This phone is great!! Great size and feels light. You can change the back of the shell if you get bored of the one that came with it. If your into photo editing etc, the nokia App Store has amazing apps! Your always discovering something new with this phone everytime you play with it!!

WilliamB3 Facebook
9
Rating
 

"Great cheaper alternative to the 920 with great camera and apps"

WilliamB3 posted a review   

The Good:camera, nokia aps, screen, 4g, internet sharing and good keyboard

The Bad:battery life

had this phone for a month now with virgin and the phone is great, definitely a great cheaper alternative to the 920 and the screen is great. Also the camera is quite good i have used it heaps and it has taken great photos. I also love the nokia apps they are great.

Highly reccomended phone and he 4g speed is great

 

mjyoungman posted a comment   
Australia

I think one of the other things people need to take into consideration is the size of these units. I've held the 920 and the 820, and the 820 is a great size...the 920 is just too big! With the 'back' button at the bottom left, you need to dislocate your thumb to reach it... I wish these phone manufacturers would think more about ergonomics than 'bigger is better'.

 

MotorMouth posted a comment   
Australia

Obviously these reviews don't take price into consideration because this handset matches the 920 in every meaningful way for a couple of hundred less. Having seen how good the 820 is, you'd have to have rocks in your head to take a 920 over it, unless you can get it for nothing on a plan. For me, that would mean spening an extra $20 a month, which is another $480 over the life of the contract. Mind you, the same is true for this over the HTC 8S, which is why I went for that.




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User Reviews / Comments  Nokia Lumia 820

  • Huang JingZ

    Huang JingZ

    Rating3

    "newly purchased phone, about three weeks. it is a tofu phone: just drop once from 2 and half feet, totally break."

  • SophieH85

    SophieH85

    Rating6

    "I previously had a Samsung Galaxy and had no trouble adapting to the Microsoft operating system.

    It's an easy phone to use and the camera is pretty good,

    The battery lif..."

  • LiamD2

    LiamD2

    Rating5

    "I have been playing around with the Lumia 820 for some time now. When the 920 was released in 2012, I thought that they wouldn't release any more Lumia windows 8 phones. But, they did. I love the f..."

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