Nokia Lumia 920

Nokia's 920 is a good evolution of the Lumia brand, with a truly outstanding camera. Everyone could like this phone, but we see smartphone newbies enjoying its uncluttered design and ease of use most of all.


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CNET Editor

Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


If you've ever watched a poker match, you'll be familiar with the phrase "all in" — and holding the Lumia 920 in our hands, it feels like this is the message from Nokia. All in, everything we have, the best of our best. But is it enough?

Design

Nokia phones have always been easy for us to spot. The Finnish phone company, which was once king, has a knack for designing iconic handsets; phones that are easily recognised as Nokias from across a room. This is true for the Lumia 920, which looks a lot like the Lumia 900, which in turn looked like the Lumia 800 and the N9 before it.

Quick Specs

  • Screen: 4.5-inch
  • Processor: dual-core 1.5GHz
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Platform: Windows Phone 8
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Connectivity: 4G, Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC, Bluetooth, Qi wireless charging

The big difference here is that Nokia has opted for a glossy, smooth plastic finish for its polycarbonate chassis, rather than the rubber-like soft-touch finish we saw on the earlier models. For us, this is a minor misstep. The glossy finish looks great, but it feels really slippery, and although we haven't dropped our review unit, we wouldn't be surprised to hear many stories of dropped or smashed Lumias after launch.

It's also quite a heavy handset. At 185 grams, it is about 50 per cent heavier than the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 5, and you can definitely feel this weight when you hold it. But then, this might just be the price you pay for the outstanding, sturdy build quality, which includes a sapphire coating on all of the external buttons and the frame around the camera lens.

The real showstopper is the phone's 4.5-inch IPS LCD screen, which uses a display technology that Nokia is calling PureMotion HD+. This screen is a gem, with great colours, great off-axis viewing angles and sharp, crisp text and images, thanks to its 330 pixels per inch (ppi) resolution. It also does a great job of showing deep, rich blacks, so much so that it is difficult to tell where the screen ends and the glossy plastic bezel around the screen begins.

The rest of the phone's design is pretty standard. There is a headphone socket on the top of the phone, a micro-USB port on the base and three buttons down the side, covering volume control, power standby and the camera. There is a slot on the top for a micro SIM, but no microSD card-reader ports.

Windows Phone 8

A great phone design will mean very little if the software below the surface is poorly put together. The Lumia 920 has the honour of being the unofficial Windows Phone 8 flagship, the phone that most people will associate with the relaunch of the Microsoft mobile OS.

In many ways, Windows Phone 8 is a lot like Windows Phone 7. There have been major changes below the surface, namely around the kernel architecture that Windows Phone 8 has been built on, but on the surface it looks and feels like previous versions of the OS. The home screen is still a vertical list of Live Tiles parallel to a similar vertical list of all installed applications. The core features, like the People Hub, the Store, Xbox Games, email and the calendar, are all basically the same.

In some ways, this is a good thing. Windows Phone is one of the easiest systems to learn how to use, so it is perfect for people who are unfamiliar with smartphones. There are a few new elements, too, like a new Xbox Music app to replace Zune Music and Videos, and a Wallet app to digitally collate all of the rewards cards in your real-world wallet. There is a Kids Zone feature now, too, which lets you create a restricted playground of apps and tools, so that your kids can play with your phone without there being a risk that they will send garbled emails to your work colleagues. There's also a new Rooms section in People Hub that lets you create a collaborative messaging area for a selection of contacts, and internet sharing over Wi-Fi is now a standard feature.

To access Kid's Corner, you swipe the lock screen from right to left. Inside, only the apps you pre-select are available.
(Screenshot by CBSi)

Perhaps the most important improvement for us is the quality of the web browser. Surfing the web on Windows Phone 7 devices was a tedious chore, where web pages would load slowly and render poorly, if they loaded at all. Now, the browser is based on the same backbone as the Internet Explorer 10 browser in Windows 8 for PCs, so it is far more reliable and much faster.

However, there's a number of frustrations that are still present in Windows Phone 8. For starters, you still can't change the volume for specific tasks, like turning down the volume on a video or games without affecting the ringtone volume for calls and notifications. Also, changing the status of wireless connections, like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, means that you have to dig around in the settings every time you want to make an adjustment. Luckily, there are apps to help with this second gripe. Perhaps the most annoying oversight is that large downloads can't continue as background tasks for some apps. In Nokia Maps, for example, you have the ability to download map packs for all of Australia in a single 250-megabyte file, but you will have to sit with this download and make sure the screen doesn't time out, or else the download will automatically pause.

Overall, the feeling we are left with after using Windows Phone 8 is that it is a reliable and impressively fast system. There are dozens of apps that we would love to see available, like Dropbox, Flipboard, Instagram and Spotify, but it seems unfair to judge a system too harshly for the decisions made by third parties.

Camera

If you've heard anything about the Lumia 920, it's probably about the new features that Nokia has built in to this impressive shooter — and about the company faking the use of these features in its advertising. Marketing meltdowns aside, this is one truly fantastic smartphone camera; among the best, if not the best, camera we've seen packed into a phone.

Central to this camera's success is a new optical image-stabilisation mechanic, which has the lens "floating" on tiny springs that move the lens ever so slightly to counteract the shaking in the photographer's hands. The results speak for themselves, with 90 per cent or more of the photos we've taken turning out in sharp focus. This is truly a huge step forward for mobile photography.

(Credit: CBSi)

(Credit: CBSi)

(Credit: CBSi)

Photo buffs will also love the new "Lens" feature built in to the Windows Phone camera app. This tool collects all the apps you have installed that can manipulate an image as you take the shot. Nokia's panorama app is a great example, as is third-party app CamWow, which adds funky photo filters before you take your pics. More on Nokia's photography apps in a moment.

The Lens feature UI is easily accessible in the camera app.
(Credit: CBSi)

Nokia apps

A special mention needs to go to some of the great apps that are available by Nokia exclusively for people who buy Lumia phones. Differentiating Windows Phones needs to come down to who has the bigger screen and better handset colours, and Nokia has done a great job, so far, of giving its customers a little bit extra.

Nokia Maps and Nokia Drive are the standouts, giving great maps and turn-by-turn directions to Windows Phone 8 users. The maps are great, too, with full offline functionality via regional map downloads, decent point-of-interest searching and a great, clear visual layout. Nokia also offers a maps app called City Lens, which is an augmented-reality (AR) tool, but it seems a bit unnecessary when the standard maps searching is so good.

Mapping apps are a dime a dozen these days; in fact, you don't even need a dime in most cases. What sets Nokia Maps apart from the competition in smartphones is the ability to download the maps for entire countries or regions, so that you can use them for directions even when you don't have access to data.

There are also four Nokia-made photography apps, which plug in to the new "lens" feature of the Windows Phone 8 camera app — an option that lets you use the features of a third-party photography app without leaving the standard camera tool. Nokia has a panorama tool for stitching together pics, and another called Smart Shoot, which takes a burst of photos and then lets you select the best one for each person in the photo, so that the end result could be photo number three with faces from photos one, four and five.

Without a doubt, the Cinemagraph app is the most fun. If you're not familiar with the concept, a cinemagraph is a photo with moving parts. This is achieved by shooting a few seconds of video, and then giving the user a "brush" to select which elements of the photo will move and which will remain still. It seems like such a simple tool, but the result is an addictive photography experience. When you are done making your moving masterpiece, you save the file as a .GIF file, which you can send to friends or post online.

Who's a pretty boy?
(Credit: CBSi)

Battery life

Unlike many of the 4G phones we've reviewed so far this year, the battery life in the Lumia 920 is surprisingly good. It's not better than the battery life in 3G-only phones, necessarily, but it managed to hold enough charge to see us through busy work days with plenty to spare.

Your mileage is likely to differ, though, and if you find that the 4G connection is sucking through your power more quickly than you'd like, you can actually turn it off. In Settings, under the Mobile Networks menu, you'll find a drop-down box with the title "Fastest connection speed". Here, you can dial back your network speeds from 4G to 3G, or even back to 2G.

Overall

If I'm honest, I wasn't expecting to like Windows Phone 8, and the Lumia 920 by proxy. It seemed to be more of the same, and I was expecting much more from Microsoft this time around. But the truth is, the longer I use the Lumia 920, the more I like it. The basic phone functionality is rock solid, like calling, messaging and email. The browser is much better than before, and it's hard not to make use of the excellent People Hub for catching up on what your friends are saying and doing. That Nokia's hardware is so solid is a bonus on top of this great software, and the PureView camera is the cherry on top.

Is it better than buying an iPhone or one of the big-name Androids? This is a much more difficult question to answer. Features wise, WP8 is on par with much of what we've seen from the big players this year, and the Lumia 920 supports the best of it with 4G connectivity, near-field communication (NFC) and fast processing hardware. There are still big gaps in the apps market for Windows Phone, and it is impossible to tell when these gaps will be filled, if ever. That said, there is often a serviceable alternative to most of the apps we've been missing. There's no Spotify, but there is the Xbox Music Pass, for example; no Instagram, but there is a dozen image editors to choose from. You won't find some of the most popular iOS games for Windows, but, conversely, there are dozens of games on this platform that you won't get anywhere else, and some of them are very good.

If we can make one recommendation with confidence, it's that Windows Phone is very easy to use, and would suit someone who wants a smartphone but is a little technology shy. Big, clearly labelled buttons make navigation easy for first timers, and the settings menus are well laid out. Not that experienced users wouldn't like it, but we would point smartphone newbies toward Windows Phone as easily as we would point them in the direction of a new iPhone.



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BudaP Facebook
9
Rating
 

"solid and featured"

BudaP posted a review   

The Good:camera

The Bad:battery

Phone is great, very solid, good quality and I really love it! However, after 3 months of usage my Nokia 920 stopped working properly(battery issue) so I reported the seller DutyFreeCentral regarding this issue and asked for replacement.
I was prompted to sent it back to the seller and since then I was waiting weeks after weeks with no luck till now...
From time to time Customer service replied to my messages stating that they're working on it, sometimes they just ignore my requests to send the status update.

On the one hand hardware issues like this one cannot be managed by reseller, but on the other hand my phone is on warranty so it's still seller responsibility to provide replacement or get it fixed in reasonable time.

I would not recomment DutyFreeCentral to anyone because they don't take care about their clients.
If you're looking for a service with reasonable resolution time then you shoul not go with DutyFreeCentral.com.... Service Desk from this company is useless, they don't meet customers expectations.

Company rating (especially support) is very poor, but on the other hands they sell cheap/inexpensive products online with good prices.
Overall feedback is negative, I wish to have it changed to the positive one but company does not communicate with me. They do not reply even when they get prompted that I have to open a case in ACCC.

Cheers
DutyFreeCentral.com case ##127720##

 

PujaG posted a comment   

Fix to "Unable to Dial ##3282 after Phone Update" Nokia Lumia
Watch solution to ##3282 field test problem in the following youtube video:
http://youtu.be/Feh6ch7qeJc

AndrewC15 Facebook
6
Rating
 

"GreatPhone Great Camera BUT the Nokia After Sales Service needs an improvement"

AndrewC15 posted a review   

The Good:Solid well built phone, Great Camera, Easy to set up and to use software

The Bad:Nokia Care almost useless Software doesnt always flow Inbuilt battery

I've always had a Nokia to be truthful the phone has ben up to Nokia Standards solid well built phone great camera with more and more apps available from my stand point all the apps I wanted were available. The software being Microsoft Windows Phone 8 easy to use flows freely most of the time NOT always, when I purchased the first Lumia 920 there was an issue with the phone continually rebooting after a lot of online research, calling the Nokia Care centre, checking the sim card, confirming that I had the most up to date software I finally took the phone back and got a new Lumia 920 again the phone kept rebooting having realised the Nokia Care Centre was no help in fact they offered to give me my money back so I could buy a competitors phone, So I wrote to the Australian Nokia Managing Director BUT before I received a reply I discovered a forum that had the answer - From the Home Screen swipe left, Click on Settings, then Mobile Network, change the Highest Connection Speed to 3G from 4G, then change the Network Selection to your service provider then return to the Home Screen and that should fix the problem of the phone rebooting. The phone is worth an easy 8 BUT the Nokia after service is worth 1.

reveleus
1
Rating
 

"5 Lumia's in 5 months. I am done!!!"

reveleus posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Great Camera

The Bad:Oh where do I start? Always owned Nokias and have loved them. This phone is just the biggest heap of crud. The first one died the first night, they replaced it. That one worked for about 5 weeks then just died. They replaced it, this one lasted about 6 weeks then the screen started shaking then flipping pages all on it's own accord, couldn't get a full text out before it flipped back then lost all that you'd typed. They replaced it, this one lasted maybe 4 weeks, switched itself off and never came back. They replaced it, this one won't hook up to internet, drops signal and is just crap crap crap. They are now getting me in a Sony Xperia Z to replace it. Nokia had me convinced I was the only one having problems with it. Thought I must have been the unluckiest person alive, but then you come on places like this and find that all the problems I've had are very very common. Heap of crap. Save your money and go with something else.

Oh where do I start? Always owned Nokias and have loved them. This phone is just the biggest heap of crud. The first one died the first night, they replaced it. That one worked for about 5 weeks then just died. They replaced it, this one lasted about 6 weeks then the screen started shaking then flipping pages all on it's own accord, couldn't get a full text out before it flipped back then lost all that you'd typed. They replaced it, this one lasted maybe 4 weeks, switched itself off and never came back. They replaced it, this one won't hook up to internet, drops signal and is just crap crap crap. They are now getting me in a Sony Xperia Z to replace it. Nokia had me convinced I was the only one having problems with it. Thought I must have been the unluckiest person alive, but then you come on places like this and find that all the problems I've had are very very common. Heap of crap. Save your money and go with something else.

Mug3043
3
Rating
 

"10x Lumia's .. all returned within 4 months."

Mug3043 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Really nice design, Great Camera, Great build quality, Easy to use, 4G

The Bad:Phones are sold with hardware fault that causes them to stop working after a few months

I'm not sure if it's a Australia problem or global but having moved to using 920s every single one of the phones I've ordered have been returned for repair in the last 5 months due to the same hardware fault with the battery module causing it to die and not respond to being reset, hard reset, charged, plugged into a computer or anything else.

Word from our local Telstra dealer is that almost all of the 920s they have seen have been returned with the same fault.

It's a pity because otherwise it's a really good handset that is worthy of the high price tag. Sadly having to return every one of them for repair is a major disappointment.

 

icspl1 posted a comment   
Australia

Nt bad, and improvement on previous Windows phones.

However there are too many applications where two or more button presses are required when one would do.

eg answering the phone, swipe downand then answer,

or setting the unit to meetings, need to go to ringones and then turn of sound.

Mablott1
2
Rating
 

"To Many Issues"

Mablott1 posted a review   

The Good:Easy to use when it works.

The Bad:All the problems. Why was it released?

Cannot send a SMS over 180 characters without it ‘becoming’ MMS. I have read there is a supposed fix but it has not worked for me on either of the two 920s I have had (read on).
Within first 8 days the original phone turned itself off twice, both times with over 80% charge. Caused me to sleep in on one occasion. Had to soft reboot to get it started again as the power key had no effect. Last Saturday it just froze, this time it did not respond to any of the reported reboot methods. A trip to Telstra confirmed a faulty unit so now have a replacement that still cannot send a SMS over 180 characters.
I am not comfortable with this phone and so wish I could get a refund and buy a different brand.
Despite comments regarding ‘should have checked the specs’ I cannot believe there is one volume for all sounds (I don’t count the 1 – 10 scale for microphone sound as separate as that is irrelevant in regard to alarms, music and ring volume).
Took a chance with Nokia and will never make that mistake again.
Interesting to note Nokia ‘threads’ worldwide are reporting numerous issues with the 920. Also interesting to note Nokia are very silent about the complaints on their own website.
Media reports a few months ago were indicating Microsoft would make this phone their Windows 8 flagship. That honour was bestowed on HTC, What did Microsoft know???

 

Reg Orwell posted a reply   
Australia

So you have a good working unit now but you can't stand it because you refuse to MMS or email your sagas, and you refuse to adjust the volume up/down buttons. I find that attitude capricious and irrational considering what you can do on this phone. This is petty nit picking.

Your last statement is misleading; MS are actively promoting the 920 in advertising for WP8. I am yet to see one featuring the HTC, no doubt as it has inferior specs by comparison. The MS WP8 site features both phones and more.

You could have whinged that WP8 doesn't include DLNA support, but guess what? There's an excellent app for that and I am enjoying streaming Game of Thrones from a network media player on to this very watchable screen, second only to the Galaxy Note in size. I used to do that with a tablet but this is better. I recommend the tradie tough covers with a kick stand.

 

SimS posted a reply   
Australia

hi
how much time did it take for you to get a replacement.. i had the same issues and telstra took my phone away today..

 

SimS posted a reply   
Australia

how much time did it take to get a replacement phone? i had the same issues and telstra took my phone away for repair today..

 

MotorMouth posted a comment   
Australia

What I find consistently annoying with WinPhone reviews is that all the reviewers are looking at it from a biased perspective. e.g. If you come from another platform, you want a Dropbox app but if you are a Windows user, you will more than likely already have Skydrive set-up. Someone signed me up for Dropbox a few years ago, so they could get their own storage increased, and I have never so much as looked at it. Same with Spotify - you might need it on an Android or iOS phone but WP8 offers you a free subscription to X-Box's streaming music service, which I believe has more songs available than Spotify anyway.

At the end of the day, all the functionality offered by those companies is also available in WinPhone and I think it is grossly unfair to mark WinPhone down because it doesn't happen to be supported by those particular 3rd parties. i.e. That should be a black mark against Spotify and Dropbox, not against WinPhone. Furthermore, if you wrote it up like that, it might encourage those companies ot get off their butts and do something about it. By making it look like MS's fault (which is always fun) you allow them to get away with restricting your choices.

It goes further than that, of course, because you don't know what else to look for. e.g. You would never discover that the absolute best weather app available on any platform is Weather & Surf Australia, which is exclusive to WinPhone, because you only go looking for apps you already have.

 

BrosefW posted a comment   

Just got the 920 this week and I'm very impressed. I like a smartphone to be an all in one device and this one certainly is. The camera is stunning in low light, automatically adjusting the brightness while maintaining sharpness.
A lot of reviewers overlook the included Office apps, but this is the most mobile of genuine Office software there is.
My blokey large fingers had trouble typing accurately on the previous generation of smaller screens but the 920's is just right for texting.
I still remember the older non touch screen handsets with batteries that lasted a week, but was pleasantly surprised with this machine's battery life considering all it does, and comparing to my older HTC and the mrs' iPhone.
Horses for courses, it doesn't suit everyone, and that fellow who was bitterly disappointed with it as it wasn't the same as an Android has more money than sense.

Nokiaman
10
Rating
 

"Perfect"

Nokiaman posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Everything

The Bad:No play via radio

Easily best phone out there right now. Call quality amazing, camera amazing, everthing amazing I will give a list on what I have at home and which one I enjoy rhe most:
SGSIII - Gave it away did not excite me at all.
HTC ONE X- Screen broke sits in drawer
Iphone4s- Too restrictive ( connect through Itunes only) sits in drawer
Lumia 800- Have to connect to Zune gave to friend
808Pureview- Symbian Belle no more support use as camera and music player
Lumia 920- Yet to find fault as I can just drag and drop from computer to phone without any special programs oh I really miss play via radio because anyone who has had this feature before will know what I mean


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User Reviews / Comments  Nokia Lumia 920

  • BudaP

    BudaP

    Rating9

    "Phone is great, very solid, good quality and I really love it! However, after 3 months of usage my Nokia 920 stopped working properly(battery issue) so I reported the seller DutyFreeCentral regard..."

  • PujaG

    PujaG

    "Fix to "Unable to Dial ##3282 after Phone Update" Nokia Lumia
    Watch solution to ##3282 field test problem in the following youtube video:
    http://youtu.be/Feh6ch7qeJc"

  • AndrewC15

    AndrewC15

    Rating6

    "I've always had a Nokia to be truthful the phone has ben up to Nokia Standards solid well built phone great camera with more and more apps available from my stand point all the apps I wanted were a..."

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