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TMCNet:  Nokia Lumia 920 - a Comprehensive Review

[February 21, 2013]

Nokia Lumia 920 - a Comprehensive Review

(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Some things make a bold statement, be it due to their sheer size, or their colourful nature. The Nokia Lumia 920 is one of such devices, with a choice of five colours,ranging from the bold red and yellow to a white, grey or black. For those who feel adventurous with colours, the phone's interface accepts theme colours from a range of 20 colours.


Design and build At about 7 centimetres across and and 13 centimetres in height, the phone fits into most of my palm, eclipsing my pinky finger and with only my thumb to spare across my palm. With such a size and the amount of technology packed in the phone, the weight comes at 185 grams, enough to feel in your pocket, but one that you easily get used to. Yes, even with that weight, that doesn't stop you from having mini heart attacks as you feel whether your phone is still in your pocket. With such a large size, it can be quite easy to slip out of your pocket.

The 920's body is curved out of a block of aluminium, resulting in a unibody with no seams, other than slots to allow for keys, camera and other functionality. The 4.5 inch display on the phone curves outwards making it easy to operate the phone. The gigantic screen is also quite hardy, and sensitive. Out of the many devices I have had, the Lumia 920 is among the few that I haven't managed to scratch the screen, and the only device I have felt comfortable carrying around with my coins, keys and other objects. Input sensitivity is quite high,meaning the phone responds quite fast to touch commands. Nokia guarantees that you can use the phone comfortably with gloves on.

The display is quite sharp, making use of "IPS" technology and is touted to support up to 16 million colours. The bottom of the display has three "touch" keys. A back key, main menu key and a search key.

On the exterior, the phone has a Micro SIM slot on the top and a standard earphone jack. Sadly, though, I found the supplied earphone to have poor sound quality, despite being of good design. The right side carries three keys. A double volume up and down key at the top, the unlock key slightly below it and a dedicated camera button at the bottom. The design ensures there are no keys on the left side, which I've found usually leads to you accidentally pressing keys on the opposite side.

Camera and video The bottom spots two stereo speakers and a Micro USB port which doubles up as a charging spot and a data port. Also at the bottom are two screws, the only way to open up the phone, if you ever plan to. The sound through the speakers is quite good and loud making a good music phone.

The back spots an 8.7 megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss Tessar lens , and a dual LED flash. The battery is not removable by users, in a bid to save on size and weight and in what is becoming an industry standard. The camera is among the top features on the device, with quite vivid and clear photos.

The camera is also quite responsive, coming up quite fast when the camera button is pressed and also taking photos fast too, even with autofocus enabled. This will contrast with a number of smartphone cameras that tend to be quite sluggish, especially with autofocus. However, it seems that there is no way to take a photo when the phone is locked, meaning no accidental camera activation, but it may also take a while before unlocking and taking a photo. A dedicated camera key though makes it faster to access the camera. Another feature on the camera is automatic light adjustment and balancing, ensuring your photos don't end up over exposed when taking images against a light source. This is quite handy for amateur photographers.

The camera is also able to take quite clear high definition videos. In contrast, I found that photos taken from a distance tend to have a lot of digital noise (grain). Though the camera takes close shots quite well in low light, with or without the flash, shots from a distance remained a problem. This is attributed to the size of the camera, which leads to interference from other electronic as it struggles to take a low light photo. So far, this is my best camera experience on a phone.

There's a front camera on the display coming in at one megapixel. With the camera, I was able to conduct a Skype call with the person on the other side thinking all through that i was on a PC.

General features and feel The phone runs on the latest version of the Windows Phone operating system, Windows Phone 8. Windows Phone distinctly varies from other smartphone operating systems through its design which rather than being the familiar grid of icons, features a matrix of squares and rectangles to resemble a tile. It's also referred to as a tile interface, with "live" animated titles which can be used to display information such as photos or notifications such as unread items.

The tiles take up the colour of your theme or that of an application,where the application has a distinct colour. You can rearrange the tiles and resize them from a rectangle the width of your screen, a square half the width of your screen or four small squares in place of the previous square.

Swiping right brings up your whole menu, which lists all your applications. For easier access, you can pin or unpin them from the main menu.

When locked, there are a number of applications that can be configured to display notifications on your lock screen. I have configured my Google calendar to show my schedule as the main lock screen notification and a number of other apps to show icons with counters, such as my email and my reader feed.

You will however be disappointed that you can not lock the orientation of your display to either landscape or portrait, quite an inconvenience when using the device when lying down.

Despite the convenient tile interface, I found the settings to be quite a bother, with quite a number of settings buried in the settings application. By default, you can only pin the main settings application to the main menu, though there are apps such as "Connectivity Tiles" which enable you to pin stuff such as Bluetooth, WiFi on the main menu. The SIM toolkit which features M-Pesa is particularly difficult to locate.

A kids corner enables you to set the phone to be used by children, with the ability to control what features and apps they have access to.

Content: Apps, Games, Music and purchase Applications are downloadable from the Microsoft Store. The number of Windows Phone applications has increased and it is now easy to find an app to fit your needs. However, for those coming from Android and iOS, you will have to settle for a new set of app publishers, with different apps from what you are used to. In addition, I found that I would often need to buy an app to get a quality app, as the free ones weren't to my liking in a number of cases. I also had to do without a number of apps, with apps from publishers such as rival Google (YouTube, Docs, Gmail) being absent on the platform.

Notable apps include the Amazon Kindle app for book reading, Nokia Maps, Skydrive cloud storage with seven GB free, Skype, Twitter, Whatsapp, Facebook and Internet Explorer 10. Enterprise apps include an SAP app and Resco CRM for Microsoft Dynamics. There's also Truecaller for those looking to identify their callers, though functionality is limited compared to the Android app.

Notably, you will find the phone includes a free full function Microsoft Office suite inclusive of Office, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote for note taking. OneNote also takes in your photos and voice recordings.

Also notable is the free Nokia Maps app, which includes turn by turn navigation, inside maps of venues such as airports and 3D structural models. Nokia Maps for a certain region can be downloaded and saved in the phone for use in poor connectivity, faster loading, or to save on data costs (roaming).

Windows Phone however has a "trial" feature for all purchases, where apps and games can be tried for about 15 to 30 days before purchasing them. you can also try out music before buying by listening to 30 second snippets.

A dedicated game centre features a number of games, downloadable from the store such as Angry Birds, Words With Friends, Fruit Ninja, Asphalt Racing and the Need for Speed franchise. again, you may find yourself needing to purchase games that are free on Android.

More on the content side comes in the form of a music app and a music store, where you can purchase songs at about $ 0.99 (KSh. 85). Alternatively, you can choose a streaming option, Music Pass, where you can stream as many songs as you want for a fixed monthly fee. The quality is quite high and the selection is good, though short for Kenyan and African tracks. A number of notable West and Central African songs are however available.

Setting up a streaming account is however difficult as the service is officially available in 22 countries. It's easy to log in to your Microsoft Account ( the account tied to the device) and searching for Music Pass. Make sure to set your account's region to the United States since this charges Ksh. 880 a months or Ksh. 8,800 annually for unlimited streaming, compared to the default United Kingdom which charges Ksh. 1,250 per month or Ksh. 12,500 annually for unlimited streaming. The process isn't that easy. You can change your region to any of the 22 once every 3 months.

The free Vevo app from the store has a collection of western pop videos.

Enterprise features and Security Enterprise features include support for an enterprise account which supports enterprise application loading, remote security policy enforcement including device encryption, remote wipe and device tracking. Applications are also sandboxed to prevent rogue applications knowingly accessing data from another application.

General security features also include a device PIN on boot, a lock screen password, remote wipe for lost phones and tracking of your phone from other devices.

The Lumia 920 features a wallet where you can store your credit and debit cards and use them for app, games and music purchases. The wallet also supports purchasing of "local deals" , where you can locate and purchase offers near to you, but I don't think that is supported in Kenya.

Battery With all features on the phone, the battery packs quite enough charge to last from 12 hours when using the camera heavily to more than 24 hours under "normal" usage and music playback. This is enough to use the phone through a day without worrying about charge. Nokia rates the Lumia 920's talk time as 10 hours of a continuous call before you can drain your battery. A power saving feature enables you to stretch your battery when close to empty.

Two hours of charging should see your battery charged more than halfway, while about four hours should have a fully charged battery.

The Lumia 920 can also be charged wirelessly by placing it on a special plate, or by placing it on custom speakers that will play music wirelessly and may also charge your phone while at it, wirelessly.

Performance and connectivity With a top of the range 1.5 Gigahertz Dual Core Snapdragon S4 processor, the phone was quite snappy at tasks, with no hanging or slow down. The mobile connectivity too is fast with support of up to 42 Megabits per second of 3G where supported by your network and 100 Mbps of 4G LTE, which is in the planning stages of being deployed in Kenya.

Verdict At a cost of Ksh. 55,000, the overall verdict is that the Nokia Lumia 920 is quite impressive. It could be better with hoping that more apps will become available over the year, and that Nokia will support feature Operating System updates on the phone, something they have been poor at.

Copyright CIO East Africa. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

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