Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Nokia Lumia Icon & Lumia 930 Review: Windows Phone, Premium

Nokia Lumia Icon & Lumia 930 Review: Windows Phone, Premium
By

We took Nokia's Lumia Icon for a month-long test to really experience life with the company's flagship Windows Phone 8-based platform. Some of the benchmark results from this Snapdragon 800-powered powerhouse may surprise you.

Microsoft has a history of tenaciously pursuing a market once it sets sights on a target. Take the 1990s browser wars, for example. Or the continuing Xbox versus PlayStation saga. Although it often enters as a latecomer and underdog, Microsoft accomplishes some impressive feats when its back is against the wall. That's a perfect description of the mobile market right now, as Android seems unstoppable and iOS commands a strong second place.

But did you know that Microsoft surpassed Blackberry's market share in 2013, and shipped more than 10 million devices in Q4 of last year? Or that Windows Phone doubled its global smartphone OS market share in Q3, to just under one-third of Apple's? Now that it owns Nokia, there's little reason to believe that Microsoft will not do everything in its power to continue this momentum. And if you doubt its conviction, the software giant recently announced that it will drop the Windows royalty fee for devices with screens below nine inches. Perhaps it's a bit early to crown Android the victor in the battle for smartphone supremacy.

While Windows Phone 8 took big strides in the budget sector on Nokia's Lumia 520 (a phone that offers fantastic value on a pay-as-you go basis), most of us wouldn't aspire to own one. Nokia has a cutting-edge phablet (phone/tablet) in the Lumia 1520, but that form factor isn't for everyone. Windows Phone needs a flagship to prove it can compete against the Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy, and HTC One. It needs something in the 5" display category. Its answer arrives in the Lumia Icon, also known as the Nokia Lumia 930 to non-Verizon customers.

Given a strong spec sheet, the Icon/930 earns a position in the same tier as other high-end Android-based devices. Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 at 2.2 GHz, check. Adreno 330 graphics engine, check. Two gigabytes of LPDDR3, check. LTE support, check. Five-inch AMOLED 1080p screen with an impressive 441 ppi, check. Forward-looking 802.11ac wireless support, check. Twenty-megapixel camera, check. And although you don't get microSD expansion, 32 GB of on-board storage is nothing to sneeze at.

If those specifications look familiar, that's because the Icon and 930 share almost all of them with Nokia's Lumia 1520, which differentiates itself with a larger 6" IPS LCD display and memory card support. But again, a 6" screen classifies the 1520 as a phablet. In reality, the Icon/930 is more of a successor to the Lumia 1020, which could be considered the previous flagship Windows Phone device.

Operating System
Lumia Icon: Microsoft Windows Phone 8
Lumia 930: Microsoft Windows Phone 8.1
SoC
Qualcomm Snapdragon 800
(MSM8974VV)
CPU Core
Qualcomm Krait 400 (4-core) @ 2.15 GHz
GPU Core
Qualcomm Adreno 330 @ 450 MHz
Memory
2 GB DDR3 @ 800 MHz
Display
5" AMOLED
1920x1080 (441 PPI)
Storage
Lumia Icon: 32 GB
Lumia 930: 16 or 32 GB
Battery
Li-Ion 2420 mAh
Camera/s
Primary: 20 MP
optical image stabilization,
auto-focus, Xenon flash
Secondary: 1.2 MP
Bands
LTE: 4/13;
 WCDMA: 850/900/1900/2100 MHz;
CDMA: BC0/BC1; 
GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz
Size
137 x 71 x 9.8 mm
(5.39 x 2.80 x 0.39 in)
Weight
167 g (5.89 oz)
Price
Lumia Icon (via Verizon):
$199.99: Two-year
$599.99: No contract

The Lumia Icon/930 improves upon its predecessor's specs in every way, except for imaging hardware. The Lumia 1020's xenon flash and 41 MP camera remain the tops optics in the smartphone industry, while the Icon employs a better-than-average 19.66 MP camera with a large 1/2.5" sensor and dual-LED flash. For what it's worth, that's also what you'll find in the Lumia 1520. And although the sensor doesn't sound as impressive as the Lumia 1020's, you also don't have to deal with a protruding bump on the Icon's chassis, either.

When you compare the Icon/930 to a contemporary device like Google's Nexus 5, the playing field narrows considerably. Both feature similar quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 SoCs, even if the Nexus' CPU cores operate at up to 100 MHz faster. The two phones similarly come equipped with Adreno 330 graphics, too. While both these phones have 5" 1920x1080 displays with 441 ppi pixel densities, the Nexus employs an IPS LCD compared to the Icon's AMOLED screen, giving Nokia an advantage in contrast levels and power usage.

Speaking of power, the Icon/930 has a slightly beefier 2420 mAh battery. And though the Lumia's 19.66 MP camera is a downgrade from the 1020, it certainly looks good on paper next to the Nexus 5's 8 MP sensor.

There's one technical difference between the Lumia Icon and 930: their on-board storage options. While the Lumia Icon comes with a mandatory 32 GB of space, the Lumia 930 has the option of 16 or 32 GB. Otherwise, available colors are all that separates them. More about that on the next page.

Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the Reviews comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

Display all 41 comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 0 Hide
    cleeve , April 27, 2014 11:00 PM
    We took Nokia's Lumia Icon for a month-long test to really experience life with the company's flagship Windows Phone 8-based platform. Some of the benchmark results from this Snapdragon 800-powered powerhouse may surprise you.

    Nokia Lumia Icon & Lumia 930 Review: Windows Phone, Premium : Read more
  • 0 Hide
    Amdlova , April 27, 2014 11:12 PM
    only problem on this phone is (verizon)... if you wanna spend 150us and a 1000 years contract. =) is right that numbers on benchies ? direct 3d working?
  • 0 Hide
    silverblue , April 28, 2014 12:24 AM
    Sorry for the possible double post, but this comments section is bugged to hell, so...

    I'm surprised by the bloat. My 1020 (with Windows Phone 8.1) has 32GB, of which 29 is available, after O2's (slight) footprint.
  • 1 Hide
    jasonelmore , April 28, 2014 5:31 AM
    why the hell does Verizon think they must put their logo on the phone? my god i would never buy a phone that had carrier branding on the front or back of the phone. Plus Verizon's logo is Fugly
  • -1 Hide
    vaughn2k , April 28, 2014 12:33 AM
    I have a Lumia 925. I will wait for the Windows Phone 8.1 update, that it seems promising... So the question if I will switch from IOS/Android to WP, then I guess I did, the 925 seems also a great phone, and the 'Store' has already a quite considerable amount of programs (or Apps)....
  • 2 Hide
    cknobman , April 28, 2014 7:21 AM
    My comment sucks. (Happy to edit out unnecessarily hostile sentiments for you. Keep it a little more pleasant or the comment will disappear entirely. :) 

    You did not even mention one of the coolest and most useful features that this phone offers that no other on the market does.

    The icon/930 comes with software that adapts every element on screen to the lighting conditions it is exposed to. Whether picture, text, or video it will analyze every pixel displayed and either lighten/darken/change contrast to make it perfectly view-able in any lighting condition.

    I saw this feature in person against my own GS4 and an iPhone 5s and it absolutely annihilates the other phones. I took a picture with my own GS4, sent it to the other phones (iphone, nokia) and then compared side by side. In shade the picture was visible. In bright light both the GS4 and iPhone 5S the picture was washed out and darker parts not visible. The 930 software detected the light, analyzed the picture, and dynamically adjusted the picture to make it look the exact same in bright light as it did in the shade.

    Hands down the coolest and most useful feature I have seen on a phone in the last couple of years.
  • 0 Hide
    aldaia , April 28, 2014 1:00 AM
    Wait, a "flagship Windows phone" powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. Intel push into the smartphone market is certainly doomed.
  • -1 Hide
    shaun_shaun , April 28, 2014 8:03 AM
    still Windows Phone has long way to go. windows apps store still needs lots of improvements with official app support from big developers, optimized apps and regular updates.
  • -1 Hide
    tomfreak , April 28, 2014 1:36 AM
    We just need Lumia 1020 sucessor = Lumia 1030 with snapdragon 800 to handle the 40MP picture. A 40MP Lumia 1030 with snapdragon 800 CPU + 2GB RAM + 32GB storage + SD card expansion + a 3000mah battery will be the killer phone that no one is able beat it. Photography takes a lot of battery drain, since thats how Lumia 1020 good at, I just hope Nokia/Microsoft put a much bigger battery inside for successor.
  • 1 Hide
    RedJaron , April 28, 2014 11:08 AM
    Quote:
    Wait, a "flagship Windows phone" powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. Intel push into the smartphone market is certainly doomed.

    Um, because Intel and MS are supposed to be attached at the hip? So, just because Intel isn't in the newest WP product, it's doomed? Surely that means nVidia is also screwed since their Tegra didn't make it into the 930.


    Quote:
    why the hell does Verizon think they must put their logo on the phone? my god i would never buy a phone that had carrier branding on the front or back of the phone. Plus Verizon's logo is Fugly

    Nearly every carrier puts it's logo on all its phones. Verizon is no different here.


    Quote:
    You did not even mention one of the coolest and most useful features that this phone offers that no other on the market does.

    The icon/930 comes with software that adapts every element on screen to the lighting conditions it is exposed to. Whether picture, text, or video it will analyze every pixel displayed and either lighten/darken/change contrast to make it perfectly view-able in any lighting condition.

    This has been in most Lumia phones, and I'm a fan of it. The auto-brightness setting works very well regardless of the lighting situation you're in. My 925 is perfectly legible in just about any conditions.
  • 0 Hide
    megamanxtreme , April 28, 2014 2:28 AM
    All is well, I still got my Lumia 1520, and it still reigns the king. 920/930 with bigger screen, for the win.
  • 0 Hide
    silverblue , April 28, 2014 11:26 AM
    Quote:
    Yeah, nice toys. About what the reviewer wanted, by the looks of it. But using these things as tools rather than toys for consuming media and maybe reading mail? No way.

    (I had been using Lumia 920 before I returned to 808 PureView. I still have it for testing purposes)

    Quote:
    I'm surprised by the bloat. My 1020 (with Windows Phone 8.1) has 32GB, of which 29 is available, after O2's (slight) footprint.


    Most of that is the OS itself.


    My original post was wrong; on my 1020, there's 29 of the 32 available to start with, of which 2.82GB is taken up by the system. Assuming a couple of gigs of apps and data, that still seems a bit better than what you get on the Icon. I suppose the lack of O2 bloat on my phone is because I didn't get it directly from them, though had I done so, it would've been the 64GB version... :|
  • 0 Hide
    cknobman , April 28, 2014 1:26 PM
    Quote:
    This has been in most Lumia phones, and I'm a fan of it. The auto-brightness setting works very well regardless of the lighting situation you're in. My 925 is perfectly legible in just about any conditions.


    You are in for a treat then because they have enhanced it and it is even better for the 930.

    They had a 920 and 925 on display there as well and while they did a decent job of auto adjusting it was 10x better on the 930. The representative said they reworked the software's algorithms to do a better job.
  • -1 Hide
    Aoyagi , April 28, 2014 3:02 AM
    Yeah, nice toys. About what the reviewer wanted, by the looks of it. But using these things as tools rather than toys for consuming media and maybe reading mail? No way.

    (I had been using Lumia 920 before I returned to 808 PureView. I still have it for testing purposes)

    Quote:
    I'm surprised by the bloat. My 1020 (with Windows Phone 8.1) has 32GB, of which 29 is available, after O2's (slight) footprint.


    Most of that is the OS itself.
  • 0 Hide
    BranFlake5 , April 28, 2014 2:08 PM
    What's the appeal of a windows phone over an android counter part?
  • 0 Hide
    satish12321 , April 28, 2014 3:59 AM
    Dude, how could you forget LIVE TILES. This single handedly put Lumia ahead of its competitors. Especially the new updates that will make it more informative.
    Android and iOs are like a graveyard of dead icons. If they font adapt, their fingerprint sensor, eye recognition and waterproofing wont be able to protect it.
  • 0 Hide
    Cryio , April 28, 2014 3:08 PM
    Quote:
    What's the appeal of a windows phone over an android counter part?


    In the case of this device: Perfectly smooth performance no matter what you do. You can forge the phone all the time and with how many apps you want, this thing will not slow down, compared to Android. Plus the scrolling is butter smooth. Flawless 100% of the time.

    It's also easier and in my opinion more fun to use.

    Also, like iOS, you can't screw you device installing/running too many apps.
  • 1 Hide
    Au_equus , April 28, 2014 5:21 AM
    Don, the specs listed in the table (first page) do not match the description given in the article.
  • -1 Hide
    shaun_shaun , April 28, 2014 3:38 PM
    too many Windows fanboys talking nonsense about Android. just try a custom ROM like CyanogenMod without bloatware if you think Android is slowing down in mulch-tasking. I'm sure Win Phone 8.1's notification center and other improvements will bring much more improvement in the near future. but as I said before you cant deny the fact that windows phone store still lags far behind compared to the competition. yes there are some good apps but overall its like a deserted island.
  • 0 Hide
    KungMagnus , April 28, 2014 4:02 PM
    Very sad about this review. Was looking for a reason to replace my 4s which I was never very happy with, not yet I guess.
  • -1 Hide
    nebun , April 28, 2014 4:13 PM
    this phone has so much junk on it...this is one reason why i love my iphone 5s, clean and junk free
Display more comments