Hands-on with the Nokia Lumia 920 (video)

Daniel Bader

September 5, 2012 1:55 pm

Today’s launch of the Nokia Lumia 920, and to a lesser extent the 820, focuses on what Nokia does differently than its competitors. Within an ecosystem desperate for acknowledgement from the mainstream and an interface extremely easy to learn and master, Windows Phone 8 is poised to be the next giant in smartphone ecosystems. But it’s also clear how difficult it is to turn hype, desire and practice into market share. Windows Phone 8 is a streamlined, powerful and capable operating system, and despite the fact that we haven’t seen everything — Microsoft is saving that for a future launch announcement — what we saw today is a good indication of how improved the experience can be with true HD displays, multi-core processors and a dedicated image processing chip.

The Lumia 920 is the key device here — like the Lumia 710 last year, the 820 is being relegated to sideline mentions — with its 8.7MP PureView camera module, “better than” high-definition 1280×768 pixel PureMotion HD+ screen, built-in wireless charging and 2000mAh battery. There are key omissions, too: no microSD slot, for starters, which will irk those looking to expand beyond the standard 16-32GB storage; and the phone is actually a not-so-svelte 10.7mm. The phone comes standard with 32GB of storage, though, and that 2000mAh battery is rated for 10hrs of 3G talk time.

On the software front, Nokia is focusing on its Locations Suite, which includes Drive, Maps, Transit and now City Lens, its augmented reality app that allows you to find restaurants and other attractions using the phone’s camera and GPS. While these are really cool, and will no doubt appeal to travellers the world over, it’s the camera software that is garnering the most hype here in New York. With built-in “lenses,” each capable of capturing tons of information in real time, the photo-taking experience on the Lumia is likely going to have the most “Wow” factor.

The Cinemagraph and Smart Shoot capabilities of the phone, which are likely derived from the acquisition of Scalado earlier this year, are examples of the most fully-integrated camera experience on a smartphone. It’s quite amazing to watch people visibly erased from a series of photos using smart algorithms and prediction.

The 8.7MP PureView camera module has a wide f/2.0 aperture, which is 10% larger than most equivalent smartphone sensors. Nokia’s image stabilization is really, really good: they showed us a comparison of the Lumia 920 and Samsung Galaxy S III walking down a boardwalk on a sunny day, both devices capturing 1080p HD video. The Lumia was completely steady, even as the camera operator was walking; the Galaxy S III was choppy and distracting.

According to Nokia’s whitepaper on PureView, “Rather than a single lens element being shifted to compensate for camera shake, Nokia’s OIS system moves the entire optical assembly in perfect synchronisation with the camera movement, or to be more precise, unintended camera shake. The benefit of this approach is that the amount and form of camera movement that can be compensated for is much greater.”

The phone is compatible with LTE networks all over the world, and we’d expect it to be compliant when it comes to Canada next year. The curved glass display and revamped design looks way better than the 900, and is truly a marvel of the industry. Samsung should take some notes (but not too many!) Built-in NFC,  1080p HD video and 1.5Ghz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor round out the specs. There’s also 1GB RAM and a microSIM port.

Even at 4.5-inches, the Lumia 920 feels fantastic in the hand. Like many Android smartphones, it does appear a bit oversized, but there is little bezel to get in the way of the gorgeous screen. And the screen is stunning. Those black levels are absolute, and though we couldn’t confirm, Nokia claims that the PureMotion HD+ display (what a mouthful, seriously) is the brightest smartphone screen on the market. While LG would love to contend those claims — its True HD IPS displays put out some 600nits of brightness — we did indeed see maximum brightness levels far beyond any product we’re used to.

It will be interesting to see whether Nokia can contend with the iPhone 5 and its updated optics, as well as the latest Android phones coming out later this year. The Lumia 920 is a step in the right direction, and it is indeed a worthy successor to the 900, but based on what we’ve seen it will take a drastic shift in ecosystem dynamics — basically, developers will need to come to Windows Phone in droves — before the company can recover its huge market share. There is potential here: Windows Phone 8 shares a common kernel with Windows 8, meaning developers have access to the same core tools and drivers as the desktop version. But whether that means those builders will find a stable source of revenue is another story, and one we’re looking forward to exploring in greater detail in the coming months.

Learn more about the Nokia Lumia 920.

  • madeinmars

    I feel like a Toys R Us kid.

  • Vengefulspirit99

    sorry Nokia, not enough to make me switch… it’s a great phone but not great enough…

    • C. Carmine

      2,000 mAh battery?
      Wireless charging, STOCK?
      Speedy UI/UX?

      Nothing? What were you expecting?

    • EvanKr

      @C. Carmine

      It’s a great phone, but it bothers me a little that they omitted microSD, and oddly enough there’s no cyan model.. The other colours are great, but I really did love that cyan.

    • Alpha

      So, you want a slightly stretched version of a 6-year old design in your choice of black or white?

      That’s pretty boring.

  • Guest

    Unfortunately, it’s still a windows phone..

    Wireless charging? Not a selling point to me at all.

    Going to expect the iPhone 5 or the next HTC.

  • jaxxy

    Then get an iPhone

  • Rich

    No release date = instant fail.

  • MapleHamwich

    Very interesting. I’m thinking Windows Phone or BB for my next phone in 2 years. I’m excited to see where both platforms go!

    • man

      um, does this phone have a removable battery?

  • nathan

    Looks great, but I need a new phone real soon as mine is like 6 years old and even dumber than I am. If these aren’t coming out until 2012 some time… I’m not sure I’ll be able to wait that long. Definitely going to try…

    • migo

      If you ABSOLUTELY need to buy a new phone now, the Lumia 710 is hard to go wrong with, as it’s only $200, so if you’re buying a new one a year later it doesn’t sting (and you can keep it around as a backup), but really, there isn’t any currently available phone I’d recommend to anyone if they can wait.

  • GetwithIT

    is this bb10?

  • Albert

    That augmentated reality bit is neat. Except most people probably won’t use it when they’re travelling because of absurd data charges.

  • GetwithIT

    i think the hot chick in the background of the first video is more interesting.

  • Steve

    I switched from an iPhone 4 to a Galaxy Nexus several months ago, and I’m definitely happy with my decision. But this intrigues me. I have programming/development experience and portability is so very important on a platform. I have a strong feeling that WP8 is seriously going to grow substantially, and in time, could be a top competitor with iOS and Android.

    The truth is, almost everyone has a windows machine. And that could be a big pull for people now that the hardware and software has been vastly improved. Even possibly on an enterprise level.

    Thoughts?

    • P

      If it were that much of a pull, wouldn’t most have switched to a windows phone already? It’s not like they weren’t trying to convince people it WP was so great with 7 and 7.5

      I just really don’t see this being Nokia or Windows’ savior

  • jon-o-vision

    just waiting for windows rt now… still deciding if id get s3 and nexus 7 or lumia 920 and surface rt….

    • Randy – 1

      A big factor will be, how quickly do you want it? You can have the Android pair right now. I wouldn’t expect this phone to hit Canada until well into 2013.

  • Jason

    No 41 MP Pureview, No SD slot will not save Nokia depending on the price $299 no contract is OK $0 on a two year is better.

  • Steve

    I think when Win7 / 7.5 was out the reason it wasn’t adopted as quickly is because the phones simply weren’t competitive with what else was out there.

    With WP8, I think they’ve finally reached the point where they are on even footing. But we’ll see, I hope they succeed cause more competition makes for better stuff!

  • Michael

    There are some pretty impressive new features. I like the charging pad and the Windows 8 OS looks really nice.

  • RIP RIM

    No SD card? LOL!

    Oh yeah… RIP RIM.

  • andy c

    No sd slot and non removable battery are not affecting iPhone sales.

    The 920 comes with 32 GB. more then enough for non geeks.

    • Drone

      Uh.. yes they are; sd-card support as well as a removable battery are one of the many reasons why people are switching to Android and in turn the Android market share is ever rising. If Windows Phone 8 wants to compete with Android, they have to have those two crucial features.

  • hbomb

    I think this phone looks fantastic. Hardware is now at least as good as any Android phone out there, and I agree with the sentiment that WP8 has the greatest growth potential of any mobile OS simply because of the number of people already tied to MS, especially in the enterprise sector. Deal breaker for me unfortunately is that a lot of the medical software I need on my phone is not available on the WP ecosystem. Otherwise I’d leave my galaxy nexus for this, especially after my negative experience with Samsucks warranty policies. I have a feeling the iPhone 5 launch is going to be real letdown if the rumors about its expected features are accurate.

  • RIP RIM

    nokias shares just went down. lol. google it.

  • Keith

    From reading other sites, the Pureview camera in this thing is a game changer. But how long is it going to take to get one in Canada.

  • JeanD

    Wow! This phone is great! Love the new features, love the OS sharpness. Camera features are amazing. To me, it looks very promising.

  • john

    ….wait what?!? no USB port??? That is a dealbreaker for me

    • Blas

      On the bottom

  • Tom

    The phone looks/sounds great.

    The idea that it might not be available here until 2012 is crazy.

    By then, Android 5 will be out and it will be a whole new playing field.

    Seems like Nokia is taking from the RIM playbook, and iPhone and Android don’t stand still.

  • Ultimate!

    The 2000mh battery alone is making me consider the Lumia as a 3GS replacement.

    • robinottawa

      Yes, but I’ also wondering how much power that super-bright screen is going to use.

  • BS

    How does it compare to AMOLED+, True HD IPS, and Super LCD2 (brightness and contrast wise)? I’m sure it doesn’t beat either at their best (tough to beat OLED at contrast, afterall), but is it at least comparable? The screen is my only hesitation on loving this thing!

  • Spader

    Doesn’t Windows Phone already have ScanSearch that does the same thing as City Lens? I love the upcoming releases, but I thought we had this already?

  • Dalex

    Looks like an exciting product, but Q4 in select markets? Do they want to fail? You mean I have to wait for 2013 to buy this device? Super fail on this launch.

    If one company needs to pounce on this, its HTC… Seriously hope their devices on September 19th are spectacular and are coming to market the moment WP8 is available (late October). They need to not let Samsung start dominating WP8 as well, because the Ativ S does look really nice.

  • Mike

    I’m intrigued.

  • Blas

    So very, VERY tempting. That camera and the design ALMOST seal the deal.
    The lack of expandable storage is really an issue for me though.
    I’ll wait and see what the Samsung ATIV is bringing to the table.
    Damnit Nokia.

  • montrealer

    Nokia again is doing the same mistake as the past Lumia line. They announce the phone and it comes out months and months after, when competition has had time to introduce something more interesting.
    I would be very disappointed if it doesn’t come out before December in Canada.

  • sinkiller

    Was impressed by the Samsung, but this is much nicer. Cant wait. Hoping Bell picks it up. I cant switch to Rogers or Telus

  • XS

    And let’s not forget that it has HSPA+ version. That is also very important for a lot of Canadians(Wind, Mobilicity…).
    UI is incredible not to mention camera.

  • Devon

    This is a beautiful looking phone, I hate how everything looks like an iphone (I own an pos iphone) I was thinking of going andriod but I really like the clean windows UI

  • scott

    man i hope bell smartens up and gets these two great phone on there line up! i like them!

  • migo

    I’m not a photography buff, I liked the E62 not having a camera, so I won’t be getting it. overall i do like what they’re doing, particularly ditching amoled for HD resolution. I’m very disappointed that the screen isn’t symmetrically aligned. they had an excuse for the lumia 800, but they fixed it with the 900.

  • shogun

    i hope it comes to all carriers in Canada and us, more specifically wind mobile, mobilicity t mobile usa id love to get this phone on aslong as it is compatible with aws.

  • Wahid18

    Not gonna lie, those are some really nice pictures.

  • Mad Man

    Why oh Why are they not giving us micro SD slot..

    and trusting the slow, data eating cloud is foolish and crazy..

    I’m honestly looking for the first decently built win 8 phone with a micro sd slot.

    whats all this talk about 1080p video, high res photos blah blah.. all this media takes space..

    why are the bottle necking the whole device due to storage restraints.. and everyone knows the ports on these phones are notoriously slow when transferring over cable. no usb3 connectivity yet?

    but atleast with an micro sd slot you can load up your phone with 32gbs of your favorite tunes. or drop in a diff card with some media to keep you entertained while your away on the road or flying. easily swap files and photos with laptops with a micro sd to sd card adpater. or use it as an encrypted container storage.

    is it that difficult to have an easily accessible slot?

    end rant.

    yes people are starving in other parts of the country. maybe even across the street from me.. and im ranting about he lack of an sd card slot on all these fancy media devices.

    but i don’t think it’s something enough of us b***h about.. if they are going to make the phones any ways. and we the consumers pay for them making the whole circle possible, shouldnt they give us what we want??..

    or am i all alone in this?