Hands On: Nokia Lumia 920 and 820
Nokia debuted two new Lumia smartphones today and Phone Scoop had a change to take a close-up look at the new hardware, both of which are running Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 platform. Here are our initial impressions.
The Nokia Lumia 920 is the company's flagship device for the rest of 2012 and into early 2013. It is a significant update to the Lumia 900. While it carries forward many of the basic design principles, there are definite differences between the two.
The 920 is encased in a smooth polycarbonate (fancy plastic) shell. The design of the shell is smooth and pleasing to the touch. It's strong as hell. The torsional rigidity is ridiculous (you can't twist the phone at all). As much as I like the materials, the 920 is outrageously big. It is nearly 11mm thick, and the feel in the hand is weighty and large. Add in some of the splashy colors, and you have a very noticeable object in your hand. There's nothing subtle about it.
The display really looks fantastic. It measures 4.5 inches and includes 1280 x 768 pixels. The ClearBlack "PureView Motion" technology that Nokia spent so much time talking about boils down to an impressively quick display. It reacts instantly to input, and scrolling is incredible smooth and detailed. Add in the ability to activate it through clothing, such as gloves, and you have a really nice display.
The buttons and controls of the device are similar to the existing Lumia 900 and 800. The volume toggle, screen lock, and dedicated camera buttons are all on the right edge. They have a slippery feel to them and are easy enough to find and use. The SIM card tray is built into the top edge of the phone, and requires the use of a paperclip to eject the SIM card. The 3.5mm headset jack is next to it.
The user interface is Windows Phone 8, but Microsoft and Nokia were not allowing members of the press to dive into the new platform. Instead, they were demonstrating specific actions, such as the camera, the new lenses, how NFC pairing works, and how the inductive charging works. We weren't able to dig into the nitty gritty details.
What Nokia and Microsoft did show looked like typical Windows Phone applications. They ran smoothly, made good use of the display, and the multitasking tools worked very well.
In all, the Lumia 920 is a great addition to the Lumia line, but there are still plenty of unknowns about it. We don't know what network operators will sell it, how much it will cost, when it will be available, nor what wireless networks it will support. Though it is safe to assume AT&T will eventually offer it, Nokia hasn't said that yet.
The Lumia 820 is the lesser of the two devices revealed by Nokia today. Since it has a 4.3-inch display, it presents a smaller overall footprint. It's clearly a step down from the Lumia 920, not only in specs, but in appearance as well.
The 820 isn't made of the same, one-piece polycarbonate shell as the 800, 900, or 920. Instead, it is made of separate pieces and had a removable battery cover. This cover can be replaced, which is a feature Nokia talked about today like it never sold replaceable shells on its phones back in 2001.
What this boils down to is that the 820 has a seam around the edges, where the others don't. This breaks up the smooth, uninterrupted feel that I like so much about the 800, 900, and 920. It's certainly not bad, just different. It is still somewhat weighty and big, but it stops short of being too big.
This display is the same as that on the Lumia 900. It's 4.3 inches, uses ClearBlack technology, and offers the older 800 x 480 Windows Phone resolution spec. It's not as brilliant nor as sharp as the display on the 920, but it's not a shabby display by any measure. I though it was bright, easy to see, and offered sharp icons, text, and images.
The buttons are placed on the right edge the same as on the 920. As with the 920, they are easy to use and find, and don't cause any discomfort when holding the device in your palm.
The software features being sampled by Nokia and Microsoft on the 820 were the same ones we saw on the 920. Though wireless inductive charging is hardly new technology, I have to say that I like Nokia's approach. After all, who doesn't want to buy their phone a tiny little pillow that also charges the device?
As with the 920, there is a lot we don't know about the 820. Pricing, network support, availability, and more. WIll it sell well? Probably, as a smaller alternative to the 920, I am sure it will be popular with those consumers looking for something other than a ginorm-o-phone.