After a month of waiting and struggling to get our hands on a Nokia Lumia 920, we did get it for reviewing. We made sure not to read a Lumia 920 review on the internet before doing this. So, this is just our take on the monster of a phone that Nokia’s semen and Microsoft’s software expertise have put together. In 5 days of total use, we have experienced the highs and the lows and the mids. We got the yellow one. We won’t be talking about specs here because we believe specs don’t matter in day-to-day use of a normal person (Well, unless you are an Android user).
At the first unboxing, we knew that we were going to see a huge block of brick come out. I was expecting a non elegant, very un-Apple elegant thing. I mean come on, the standards set by Apple can’t be beat, right? Wrong. This phone was approved by Rashed, the biggest Apple fan that ever is which pretty much sums up that it’s not bad at all. The phone feels like your girlfriend/boyfriend as you get in an instant relationship with it’s large sturdy body. Once switched on, it feels intuitive at first few hours but if you can’t take the lack of icons, you will be bored (or get out of that boring icony life that you have). The live tiles work like a charm in inbuilt apps such as Calendar, photos, Messages, people.
Hardware: The hardware feels sturdy and heavy and the screen is a curved glass. The best thing about the whole feel is that it’s a monocoque shell that’s designed to support your hand. The phone has few hard buttons, fewer than the iPhone, 3 in total. A volume rocker, A dedicated camera button and a lock/power button. There are three capacitive touch buttons at the bottom, Windows button in the center, a back button and a search button. There’s a Micro USB connector/charging port at the bottom along with the stereo speakers. A micro-sim card slot and the headphone jack at the top, which I prefer. There are problems though, the phone which we got was in shiny yellow color and during our first days, we noticed some tiny scratches in the back. If you are a person who doesn’t like scratches, a cover is a must but the phone is so large and heavy that a cover will definitely spoil the experience. there is also a complaint about it being heavy, I personally prefer heavy stuff.
Software: Windows Phone 8 has come a long way from Microsoft’s vision in the past. It looks like they have learned alot from Apple in particular and their mistakes with Windows Mobile. I used WP7 Mango once before but was not impressed because it felt incomplete but with WP8 they have done a much better job. The UI is intuitive, everything settles on a customisable home screen. The tiles are awesome when they are live, each app does it’s own thing on the home screen. WP8 has a learning curve though, specially for users from other platforms. To perform simple switching such as wi-fi, bluetooth, Data connection, one has to go the settings manually unlike the Notification bar in Android. Once you get into the bandwagon, you can easily continue on with any other WP device in the future, whether it comes from Samsung or HTC. Everything else works flawlessly on the software side. You can easily make this phone take over your digital life if you setup everything properly with the calendar, People, emails and SkyDrive.
The bad thing is that you always need internet to use this phone properly. All the apps and live tiles as well as most of the syncing require an internet connection.
Once you register the phone with your Microsoft account, you get 7GB of Skydrive which can come in handy if you have got no space left or if you want to transer some files to your computer.
Touch and Screen: The touch works like a charm, no specific complaint about that. The best thing about touch was that I comes up to its promise of working with gloves and surprisingly it does it very well. The Full HD Screen which is made of curved gorilla glass is beautiful to look at.
Apps: The phone comes with exclusive apps from Nokia which makes it stand out from WP devices from its rivals. The following apps were preloaded on the phone:
- Nokia Drive: This a free GPS, turn by turn navigation app offered by Nokia, and guess what, it works without a network connection.
- Nokia Maps: nothing much to say about it here but you have to download the maps for a particular country before using it, which we found weird as most of the map apps instantly download the data from the internet.
- Nokia City Lens: This is an app which detects your location and tells you the location of nearby Restaurants, Hotels, entertainment hubs, etc. The app can come pretty handy if a good database is created for Kuwait by the crowd. we can also say that this i s an answer to 4square.
- Angry Birds Rooster: Useless, if you are not an Angry Birds fan. I thought they had a game pre-installed but no, it was just a bunch of Angry Birds wallpapers and ringtones to download.
- Facebook: OK, this has to be my favorite Facebook app for any platform. It is designed to work like a WP app, everything is smooth as the OS and the UI is exactly what should be on a WP.
- XBOX: Well, Microsoft has named all its entertainment services as XBOX. So, all the Music, Videos and Games come under the Xbox name. There is a special hub for games. you can connect your Microsoft account aka Xbox live Id if you have one. Some of the games use XBOX features such as ‘Achievements’ if mentioned. It could be Microsoft’s answer to rival Sony and Nintendo’s portables.
- World of RedBull: Just another bloatware app form Redbull which works on the internet with Redbull videos, photos and news.
- Camera apps; smart Shoot, Creative Studio, Cinemagraph: We will talk about the camera and the apps in the next section.
- AlJazeera Sport: Just like RedBull, this is a bloatware app for the Middle East version of the phone. I wonder how much did AlJazeera pay to put this app in. this app can come handy if you are an AlJazeera sport subscriber with all the timing
- Office: Microsoft has done a great job by including it’s Office brand in Windows Phone. It’s presentable and you can edit your docs in the phone but this certainly is not a replacement for the full desktop app.
- OneNote: Originally a part of Office, OneNote here is a standalone app. It really came in Handy for me while taking down notes for the review. It also records sound files or take pictures in-app while taking notes.
This has to be the worst problem of any WP based device out now, the lack of apps. Not every developer wants to design apps for a platform which has a tiny fraction of the marketspace and it has become really easy for android and iOS developers the last few years. Some basic and famous apps such as instagram, 4square and kik are not present. Most of the games available are paid or are worthless. Angry Birds for example costs 350 fils whereas on Android it costs nothing. The WP appstore has a special section for Nokia apps and the best thing about it is that all the prices are displayed in Kuwaiti Dinars. We have to wait and see how many developers develop quality apps for it before it can even think of competing with Android or iOS.
If you want a smartphone with the best camera, you’ve got to buy the Lumia 920 if you can’t buy the 808 Pureview from Nokia. Nokia has put in some real magic in the PureView Camera tech. It looks like Nokia has worked really hard with it’s software and hardware in the Camera section. Night time shots are arguably the best compared to any other top end smartphone in the market. the cinemagraph app let’s you make and share animated GIFs. There are other apps such as Smart Shoot, Panorama, Creative Studio and Photobeamer all supporting the camera. The 8 Mega pixels are good enough for any serious smartphone photography.
Close Up (yummm):
Battery Life: The battery life didn’t disturb us anytime. the phone stays on for more than 24 hours with mild usage. We will write about the battery usage later on.
Availability and Price: The phone is available in most of the major electronics store. Nokia told us that the prices are 190 for the Lumia 920 and 145 KD for the Lumia 820. We are not sure if it’s available at any networks on a contract, we will update this post as soon as we get to know that.
Verdict: It’s something fresh and new. If you want to escape the iOS or the Android bandwagon, this is something for you. the hardware is sturdy and attractive. The software requires a learning curve but once known, it is pretty fluid experience. the minuses are that our the phone is very wieghty which some people may not like. The software won’t attract people used to the rival OSs. The phone is a fingerprint magnet and you can’t afford to put it in a cover with all this heftyness. It also requires internet all the time for a full solid experience and the apps lacking is a huge disappointment. I will definitely buy this phone for the camera it offers and the OS despite being an Open Source and Android fan. Final choice is of the person who buys this. the phone has more positives than negatives.
Note: Rashed will write his verdict soon in a separate post plus we will discuss any good apps in store. We will also discuss about the camera in a separate post with high quality photography around Kuwait. If you have any questions, ask us in the comments and we will be more than happy to answer you.