The first thing you'll notice about the Lumia 920 depends on how familiar you are with Nokia's recent devices. If you're aware of the Lumia 900, the company's flagship Windows Phone 7 device, you'll immediately recognize the lineage. The 920 is a direct successor to the 900. The same polycarbonate shell, pastel color choices and minimalistic frame are present here, but it's quite obvious that the 920 is more refined. Whereas the LCD protruded up and atop the shell on the Lumia 900, the screen is flush with the frame in the 920. The same "feel" of that rugged polycarbonate is here. It's tougher than shoe leather, as the saying goes, and it's one of the only smartphones on the market today where we'd feel comfortable carrying it without a case. The shell of this thing really is rugged. Good luck trying to take a chink out of this armor.
Now, for those who are only being introduced to the Lumia line with the 920, here's what you'll recognize: the girth. I handed the phone around to a few people who had never handled a Lumia before, but that had handled an iPhone 4S, an iPhone 5 and a wide range of Android phones (including an original Galaxy S). Their instant reaction? "Cool tiles, but wow, why is this phone so huge and heavy?" That's a serious issue for Nokia, and in turn, Microsoft. At 6.5 ounces, the phone easily dwarfs most competing phones, and it's nearly a full ounce heavier than the Lumia 900. Even the HTC Windows Phone 8X tips the scales at just 4.5 ounces. The iPhone 5 weighs 3.95 ounces. The DROID RAZR M weighs 4.4 ounces. Even the DROID RAZR MAXX HD, with its enormous battery, weighs just 5.5 ounces. These minute differences may not seem like a lot on paper, but in practice, they're significant.
I'm a believer that a good phone with outstanding battery life can get away with being a little heavier than average, but the ho hum 2,000mAh battery in the Lumia 920 means that you won't see significantly improved life here. Why is it so thick and heavy? Well, there are a lot of potent internal hardware, including an LTE radio, wireless charging and an NFC transponder, but most other companies have figured out a way to include similar without breaking the 6 ounce barrier. Is it a nuisance in practice? For me, no. But for shoppers with no allegiance, they are likely to be put off by the weight when they feel how much heavier the 920 is compared to everything else around it. And that's a shame, because most people won't ever look beyond the weight to see the other outstanding features on this phone.
Moving along, the pastel cyan shell is really a looker. In a world of "me too" phones with cheap, black plastic frames, this is one area where Nokia really innovates and sets itself apart. You'll never mistake this slab for anything other than a Nokia device. It looks great, and handles even better. The gentle slope around the back ensures that you know the front from the back when pulling it out of your pocket, while the 3.5mm headphone jack is planted squarely in the center of the top. Along the right edge, there's a volume up / down rocker, a power / sleep button and a dedicated camera shutter button. The rear of the phone features a slew of fine perforations for sound to emit from the internal speaker, with a standard microUSB port in the center. As for the left edge? It's perfectly smooth, and perfectly bare.
There's a 1.2MP front-facing camera (perfect for Skype video calling), as well as an 8MP backside-illuminated sensor with an enviable f/2.0 Carl Zeiss autofocus lens. It's a match made in photographic heaven, that's for sure, and Nokia's expertise in optics really shines through. The front of the phone is dominated by a 4.5-inch, high-contrast IPS touch panel, complete with a 1280x768 native resolution. It's one of the best panels we've seen on a mobile product. Blacks are insanely deep, and the colors of WP8's live tiles pop. You really need to see it to believe the color, sharpness and accuracy, even when tilted at extreme angles.
Internally, there's an LTE radio (at least with AT&T's model; there's a global variant that's also available), an NFC transponder, and support for Qi-based wireless charging. There's also a zippy 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, which is a potent SoC by any measure. Windows Phone has just recently been able to support such hardware, and the response times are noticeably quicker compared to the 1.4GHz single-core Lumia 900. It also ships with 1GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, which Nokia hopes is enough to satisfy every user; this is the most storage offered on the Lumia 920 and it cannot be expanded.