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Nokia Lumia 920 & 820 Preview, Running Windows Phone 8

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 37 comments

Nokia demos the "first working Windows Phone 8 products" in New York City.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop cheekily labeled the new Lumia 920 and 820 smartphones  as the "first working Windows Phone 8 products" in New York -- a not so subtle dig at Samsung for merely talking rather than showing its W8 contender the Ativ S at IFA 2012 in Berlin last week.

Those are fighting words but then again Nokia is in the fight of its life to standout from other WP8 OEMs, and convince consumers to switch their allegiances to Micro-Nokia. Will a brand new camera lens design (PureView), unique apps (offline maps, free Nokia Music service, photo enhancement apps like Cinegraph) and the convenience of wireless charging, finally tip the scales in Nokia's favor?  

We've had a chance to see some of the new Lumia 920 and 820 apps and accessories up-close, so here is a preview of what to expect when they finally land on our shores, hopefully by this holiday. Nokia won't be releasing its rollout plan for select markets until the fourth quarter, so stay tuned for more.

Hardware: Lumia 920


As the successor to the Lumia 900, Nokia's new flagship the Lumia 920 takes after the Lumia 800 in looks -- polycarbonate unibody design with curved glass and back -- with an expanded display, a glossier coat of paint and upgraded innards. Its 4.5-inch WXGA IPS LCD display (higher resolution than 720p) with Synaptics ClearPad capacitive touchscreen sensing technology means we can use our gloved hands and even fingernails to scroll quickly through content. We were told the screen will also automatically adjust its brightness when outdoors but we obviously couldn't try this out at the indoor press event.

 

Powering the smooth display and Windows Phone 8 OS is the dual-core 1.5GHz S4 Snapdragon processor, along with a 2000mAh battery with built-in Qi wireless charging support, 1 GB RAM, NFC (near field communication), and 8.7-megapixel rear PureView camera with Carl Zeiss optics.

   

Now, the 920's PureView camera is not the same as the Nokia 808's massive 41-megapixel PureView: the Lumia 920 uses a new "floating lens" design that wraps the entire sensor in a spring to minimize blurry images and 1080p videos like a high-end camera. It also wants to give you the ability to take good shots in challenging lighting conditions without using flash, so the 920 has upped its aperture to f 2.0 to help you capture as much light as possible. The sample night shots of Helsinki taken with the 920 certainly show more detail than my Olympus PL-2 in auto mode.

Button placement is similar between the Lumia 900 and 920, the only difference being the microUSB port is now at the bottom in-between dual speakers, rather than at the top next to the microSIM bay and headphone jack on the 900. There is still a dedicated shutter button along the right side of the 920.

Hardware: Lumia 820


Designed as a mid-tier handset, the Lumia 820 looks more like a conventional smartphone with rounded corners and a flatter profile than the 920, but without the polycarbonate body of its Lumia relatives. To meet a lower price point for consumers on a budget, the 820 offers a smaller and lower-res 4.3-inch OLED WVGA (800x480) display, a non-PureView but still 8-megapixel rear camera with Carl Zeiss lens, and makes Qi wireless charging an option rather than standard. That said, at least it shares the same S4 Snapdragon brains, WP8 OS, sensitive touchscreen with gloved-finger recognition and NFC as the 920!

 

Out-of-box, the Lumia 820 has a basic shell (available in glossy white, blue, purple, yellow, grey, black and red) that can be replaced with one with a Qi-compatible chip built-in. Judging by the difficulty the Nokia staff had in snapping them in for journalists, these optional covers fit snug, and come in shiny red, yellow, white, light blue and black. As you can see in the photos, they are also major fingerprint magnets.

 

Under the case and the Lumia 820's 1650 mAh battery is where you can access the phone's microSD slot (expandable up to 32GB) to augment its 8GB internal storage and 7GB Skydrive storage.

 

Button and connector layout is similar to the 920, except the 820's microSIM slot is at the bottom of the phone, next to the microUSB port. In our opinion, it would be more convenient if the microSIM and microSD card slots could switch places so the memory card is accessible without removing the shell and battery.

Apps

 

Both the Lumia 920 and 820 will be getting a number of updated Nokia apps. They include an offline Nokia Maps that don't require a cellular signal, Nokia Drive that will advise on when to leave to get to work on-time, and Nokia Transit that can direct you between stops and inside transit terminals, as well as some neat new additions.

 

Using your rear camera, Nokia City Lens displays an augmented reality overlay of your immediate area on your phone so you can see where to eat, checkout reviews and even book a table, all without exiting the app. Of course, with the demo being held indoors, we couldn't put this app to the test.

 

Though both the Lumia 920 and 820 have different rear cameras, they will be preloaded with the same photography enhancement apps that make you look like you shoot with a high-end camera. There are lens apps like FxSuite that apply art filters to your photos, and Blink where the phone will take a series of shots and decide which best captures your face (like the Samsung Galaxy S III's Best Shot feature).

Cinegraph is a fun little video editing app that will definitely impress friends. It lets you to capture a 5-second clip of an event and animate or edit out a portion of it and turn it into an animated photo with just a few taps. For example, using an existing clip of two people smiling and waving, we were able to make the third person in the shot wave as well by swiping our finger over his hand and saving the change. Viola!

In addition, Nokia Music is finally available to Americans with all Lumia phones so you can stream over 150 curated playlists for free, online and off, without any registration or ads. Considering that other music services like Rdio charges a monthly fee for mobile music access, music fans might find this app alone to be a compelling reason to give these devices a try.

Accessories

 

With on-board NFC chips and support of wireless charging, there were a number of new accessories on display that work with the Lumia 920 and 820. There are Monster Purity Pro NFC headphones (they just need to be paired once with these phones; every subsequent taps of the devices will start playing music); JBL NFC speaker and PowerUp speaker/dock (while you stream music with the 920 or 820, it can also get powered up via wireless charging); Fatboy Qi charging pillow; as well as Nokia Qi charging plates and stands (in an assortment of colors). No pricing or availability for these accessories was announced but they will likely be sold separately from the handsets.

 

While wireless charging is built into the 920 and optional for the 820, both phones are packaged with wall chargers and USB adapters so they can juice up the wired way as well.

Windows Phone 8

Of course, we can't really see the Lumia 920 and 820 in action without mentioning how Windows Phone 8 and to an extent, Windows 8, work together. The main visual difference between WP7.5 Mango and WP8 is resizable live tiles. The Nokia staff was very eager to show us just how customizable those tiles are, so you can pack everything you need into neat rows on the home screen.

 

In terms of Windows 8 integration, it's all in the cloud. Whatever files you save from your WP8 phone to SkyDrive will automatically accessible from your other Windows 8 devices, as demoed on stage.  

What the Lumia 920 or 820 lack?

Although the Lumia 920 will come with 32GB of internal storage and 7GB of SkyDrive cloud storage, we were surprised it doesn't offer a SD Card slot like its competitor, the Samsung Ativ S, or even its budget brother the 820. For a flagship device that is capable of capturing 1080p HD videos, we think a HDMI port or adapter would make sense to package with the 920. We're most disappointed by the 820's WVGA 800x480 screen.

 

Final Thoughts

We've been fans of the Nokia N9 design and enjoyed using both the Lumia 800 and 900, but it's a competitive landscape. Without knowing what the next iPhone or even other competing WP8 phone will be like, it's hard to predict the success of the Lumia 920 in the marketplace (The 820 will probably be more popular for its more budget-friendly pricetag and up-to-date CPU). While PC users and businesses will be interested in using WP8 devices for work, and with more and more companies adopting the bring-your-own-device ethos these days, this could be a huge opportunity for Nokia.

 

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Top Comments
  • 13 Hide
    randomninjaatk , September 7, 2012 6:41 PM
    seelsIt would be so great to have a Windows Phone, but it's just not up to par with the hardware..especially with all my retina display iPad's, iPhone's, and retina MacBook Pro, it's screen resolutions are just sad and pathetic.


    The resolution on the screen is higher then your iPhone with retina and it's a larger screen....

    Nokia Lumia 920: 4.5" Display 332 PPI vs Apple iPhone 4S 3.5" Display 326 PPI

    So the Nokia Lumia 920 has the superior display!
Other Comments
  • -5 Hide
    booyaah , September 7, 2012 4:11 PM
    There's no mini HDMI port? sigh

    Also I could of swore I read in another article and on the Nokia spec sheet there was a slot for an external microSD card.
  • -5 Hide
    rebel1280 , September 7, 2012 4:23 PM
    I like the GUI (this is where Windows 8 GUI should be) but no HDMI or mSD i thought this was a competitive market, my bad. Interested to see how this would tie into a W8 tablet and "PC".
  • Display all 37 comments.
  • 7 Hide
    internetlad , September 7, 2012 4:28 PM
    I can't believe they didn't build in the pizza hydrator! what good is a phone if it won't hydrate me a pizza?! AARGH WHAT A TURD!
  • 1 Hide
    zak_mckraken , September 7, 2012 4:42 PM
    I WANT to want a WP8 phone, but those aren't the ones who will make me switch from Android.
  • 8 Hide
    ojas , September 7, 2012 4:46 PM
    I think you nailed it on the head, i have exactly the same issues with the phones. The higher end one doesn't have an microSD card slot, and the 820 has too low res a screen for a 4.3 inch display.
  • -2 Hide
    CaedenV , September 7, 2012 6:06 PM
    booyaahThere's no mini HDMI port? sigh Also I could of swore I read in another article and on the Nokia spec sheet there was a slot for an external microSD card.

    There is a mini HDMI port in existance... just not on this (or most) phone.
    No external SD slot for the 820, and no SD at all on the big phone. Seeing as the SD card was the #1 feature keeping me from getting a WP7.5 device, I find this extremely disappointing. I have a 20GB music collection, and I have most of my DVDs in digital format. I would love to have a 32-64GB card in there to store all that kind of stuff on. Skydrive is big enough for my documents though, which is handy.

    With all the law suits against Android devices lately I am really hoping that maybe someone else will come up with a kick-ass high end WP8 phone that will have that glorious SD slot... and maybe 2GB of Ram (though I suppose 1GB is enough... it is just hard to think of 1GB being enough when the home computer has 16GB).
  • 4 Hide
    mesab66 , September 7, 2012 6:17 PM
    "no HDMI or mSD"....."no retina display"....."it's screen resolutions are just sad and pathetic."

    Damn it's tough out there!

    ----------------

    no "pizza hydrator" :)  yup, agreed......that would do it for me as well.
  • 2 Hide
    Bloob , September 7, 2012 6:24 PM
    You forgot to mention the first ever 60Hz display on a mobile ( with improved ClearBlack ). Otherwise pretty good coverage.
  • -1 Hide
    Bloob , September 7, 2012 6:26 PM
    ojasI think you nailed it on the head, i have exactly the same issues with the phones. The higher end one doesn't have an microSD card slot, and the 820 has too low res a screen for a 4.3 inch display.

    Seems like a choice between low-res and PenTile. Price point determines all, S2 was praised for it's similar resolution display.
  • 1 Hide
    Old_Fogie_Late_Bloomer , September 7, 2012 6:39 PM
    Together, the 920 and 820 are the perfect phone. If you take all the features of the former and add the removable battery and SD expansion of the latter, you'd have a virtually guaranteed day-one purchase by me.
  • 13 Hide
    randomninjaatk , September 7, 2012 6:41 PM
    seelsIt would be so great to have a Windows Phone, but it's just not up to par with the hardware..especially with all my retina display iPad's, iPhone's, and retina MacBook Pro, it's screen resolutions are just sad and pathetic.


    The resolution on the screen is higher then your iPhone with retina and it's a larger screen....

    Nokia Lumia 920: 4.5" Display 332 PPI vs Apple iPhone 4S 3.5" Display 326 PPI

    So the Nokia Lumia 920 has the superior display!
  • 0 Hide
    vkg1 , September 7, 2012 6:43 PM
    I have to say that this is the first phone in years that really grabs my attention as something I would want to bye out of something more than just necessity.
  • 0 Hide
    AstroTC , September 7, 2012 6:46 PM
    Is the Samsung Focus the only WP7 device that has a SD slot? I like the 920, I do not fancy the screen quality on the 820 also I wont be purchasing until I see what other companies bring to the table
  • 0 Hide
    newyorkcitymale , September 7, 2012 7:50 PM
    The 820's look cheap with the shiny finish, and the 920's lack of a micro SD slot is a non-starter. This is truly disappointing.

    It's time for Microsoft to release a Surface Phone and show its hardware partners how it's done.
  • 0 Hide
    falchard , September 7, 2012 8:25 PM
    Don't really want a Nokia. But do want a Windows 8 device. There is 1 thing I am really excited about with this device. You can use it with a glove on. No more smear marks if you were gloves all the time. Might make you look a little wierd though.
  • 1 Hide
    RedJaron , September 7, 2012 10:36 PM
    I know a lot of people are turned off by the lack of an SD slot, and I'm a little disappointed, but it's not a huge deal breaker for me. The improved display, camera, and Nokia apps are enough for me.

    The Ativ S looks good too. I hope Verizon picks up at least one of them ( though really they should grab both. )
  • 2 Hide
    back_by_demand , September 7, 2012 10:49 PM
    If this thing records 1080p and has 32gb storage then that's over 4 hours of recording
    ...
    I don't need an SD card, as far as music goes I don't need to store them on the phone as there are Apps that let you play your Skydrive music and I am one of the lucky ones that got the free upgrade to 25gb, same applies to photos so anything I take on the camera is synced automatically with the cloud but also with my home file server
    ...
    That said, HDMI-out of some kind would have been nice, also even though they are trying to differenciate with the garish colour schemes I would still want to buy the plain black version
  • 0 Hide
    universal remonster , September 7, 2012 10:51 PM
    Quote:
    Is the Samsung Focus the only WP7 device that has a SD slot? I like the 920, I do not fancy the screen quality on the 820 also I wont be purchasing until I see what other companies bring to the table


    I got the Samsung Focus on WP7 launch day, and while it does have an internal mini SD slot, it is not supported by the Win7 or 7.5 OS. There are some who have had luck with certain cards working, but alot of people had a problem where the phone would only recognize 15MB of its internal memory after trying to install the SD card, and had to be sent off in order to have it fixed. I bought one with my phone and held off putting it in (it does require a complete reformat of the internal memory as well to install) and hoped that Mango would have added compatibility but it didn't. Some manufacturer REALLY needs to add this support even if it is an internal only slot.
  • 1 Hide
    Vladislaus , September 7, 2012 11:03 PM
    seelsIt would be so great to have a Windows Phone, but it's just not up to par with the hardware..especially with all my retina display iPad's, iPhone's, and retina MacBook Pro, it's screen resolutions are just sad and pathetic.

    Then you're with luck, you can buy a Nokia 920 because it has retina display. Just because no one market their phones as having a screen that is a "retina display" that doesn't mean that they don't exist.
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