Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 Review

Article Index

Summary and Conclusion

Nokia's Lumia 920 makes quite a few statements. For one, it's one of the most uniquely designed phones of 2012. The flat, pastel color options and the choice to use a unibody polycarbonate shell instead of the typical "cheap, black plastic" sets Nokia apart. The company's hardware design choices have been elegant for some time now, and the Lumia 920 is a quality piece in and of itself. The hardware feels smooth to the touch, sturdy and solid in the hand, and the camera optics here are truly best in class. That said, an excellent design, great camera, NFC and an LTE radio doesn't excuse the size and weight. At 6.5 ounces, this is amongst the heaviest phones on the market. And its unclear as to why it's so heavy. With a sealed 2000mAh battery, this phone also has relatively meger battery life. We could understand increased weight alongside increased battery life, but as it stands, you can grab a DROID RAZR MAXX HD with hugely improved battery life -- and that phone weighs significantly less.

On the software front, Windows Phone 8 offers plenty of reasons to give Microsoft's mobile OS another chance. Kid's Corner opens up guest accounts and provides security that isn't available on rival operating systems, and Nokia's exclusive suite of apps are world class. Nokia Drive, for example, offers the best offline guidance platform on any phone, bar none. But in our opinion, none of these points can overshadow some very real drawbacks. First off, it's nearly impossible for Google users to have a complete experience here. The integrated Mail app doesn't handle Gmail well, and you won't find native apps for Drive, Voice, Latitude, or any Google service outside of search. Microsoft's voice integration is also well behind Google's, and the Marketplace void cannot be overlooked. There are still too many flagship applications that cannot be found on Windows Phone, and the overall quality of apps in WP8 (compared to iOS, in particular) is lack luster. After some two years in the mobile world, it's really time for Windows Phone to have a better app store.

Would we recommend the Lumia 920?  It depends on your requirements. Despite being priced at $99.99 on a 2-year contract at AT&T, there are still too many holes in the Windows Phone ecosystem to recommend this phone to everyone. In the same price range you can easily acquire an iPhone 4S (or a refurbished iPhone 5), or one of literally dozens of outstanding Android phones, including the DROID RAZR M. When you mix in the phone's heft, poor battery life, and a lack-luster app selection, all of the positives don't make up for enough of the drawbacks.

It's a shame, but Windows Phone is not much more competitive in the current market than it was when we reviewed the Lumia 900 in April. The problem is bigger than Microsoft -- it's an ecosystem problem, and it's one we've covered before. At this point, most people who would be interested in a smartphone have already found themselves slotted into the iOS or Android ecosystem, and Windows Phone just doesn't offer a compelling reason yet to uproot and start anew with a phone like the Lumia 920.

That said, from a pure hardware standpoint, the Lumia 920 has a number of standout features, like its gorgeous, highly responsive 4.5 inch IPS display, arguably one of the best HD cameras on the market and a build quality that's second to none, even if it is a bit of a tank.  If that's enough to sway you into being an early adopter of Windows Phone 8 and Microsoft's latest effort to better penetrate the handset market, then perhaps you should go for it.
  • Innovative design
  • Brilliant screen
  • Great overall performance
  • NFC and LTE included
  • Weak battery life
  • Heaviest phone in its class
  • Windows Phone ecosystem is still lacking
  • Poor Google integration
  • Unavailable on any U.S. carrier besides AT&T

Related content