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Review: Nokia Lumia 822 for Verizon Wireless

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Dec 20, 2012, 5:17 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Lumia 822 from Nokia packs some mid-range punch for Verizon Wireless. Find out where this Windows Phone shines and where it comes off a little dull.

Form 

Is It Your Type?

The Nokia Lumia 822 fills the mid-range Windows Phone gap for Verizon Wireless. What this chunky handset lacks in panache, it makes up for in raw power. At just $50, there are plenty of reasons to like this smartphone from Nokia.

Because hardware makers aren't allowed to customize Windows Phone 8's basic behavior, and because the 822 is so similar to the 820 and 810, portions of this review were carried over from Phone Scoop's reviews of the Lumia 820 and Lumia 810. We paid special attention to the 822's potentially unique aspects, such as hardware, signal, call, and battery performance, as well as the camera and other network-dependent factors. Phone Scoop's full review of Windows Phone 8 can be found here.

Body

The Nokia Lumia 822 is a close cousin to the Lumia 820 and Lumia 810. It shares the compact form and Windows Phone platform, but Verizon's variation makes some drastic changes to the hardware.

Most importantly, the 822 loses the appealing interchangeable and colorful shells of the 820 and 810; it sports its own look that’s not designed to be customized. To be frank, this is exactly the sort of anti-customer behavior I've come to expect from Big Red. Not only does it lose the shells, but Verizon isn't offering it in any of the fun colors being sold by AT&T and T-Mobile USA. Instead, it's only available in white, gray, and black. Boo, Verizon Wireless. Hiss.

Ignoring the loss of the colorful shells, the 822 is a stout device. It is thick and weighty. The overall shape and design are fine on their own, and I don't have any problems with the way it looks. It manages to include Nokia's industrial design language, yet stands apart from its Lumia stablemates.

 

Body

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The matte polycarbonate feels good against the skin, but the overall footprint of the 822 is a bit awkward. Many devices have a front panel that's larger than the back panel. This design choice means there's a smaller amount of surface that needs to rest in the palm of your hand. The 822 uses the opposite design aesthetic. The back surface is large (mostly wider) than the front surface, and there's a hard angle that makes gripping the 822 tightly feel unpleasant. It easy to grip tightly, though. It'll still find its way easily into a pocket, but the corners and sheer magnitude of the hardware will constantly remind you that the phone is there.

The display, framed in a black bezel, consumes about 75% of the 822's front surface. There's a really thin lip that circles the display. This lip protects the display when it is placed face down on a flat surface. There are three capacitive buttons below the screen (Back, Start, Search) that are used to interact with the user interface. These buttons worked well.

As with other Lumias, all of the buttons are on the right edge of the 822. The volume toggle, screen lock, and dedicated camera button all have a shiny look that contrasts nicely with the dull, matte gray color of our review unit. The buttons are certainly easy to find, but the travel and feedback doesn't compare favorably to the 820 or 810. The 822's buttons feel stiff and make an awful "clacking" noise that sounds cheap. The camera button, in particular, is crummy. These buttons could be much better.

The microUSB port is on the bottom edge, and the headphone jack is on the top.

The 822 has what I would call a normal battery cover. Unlike the interchangeable shells of the 820 and 810, which wrap all the way around the device, the 822's battery cover is flat, and only covers the back surface. It comes off easily. The battery has to be removed to access both the microSD card and the SIM card.

For what the 822 is, it is an OK design. Knowing that Verizon stamped down the fun features of this chassis, however, makes it a bummer to me.

Performance 

Screen

The 822's display measures 4.3 inches across the diagonal and has 800 x 480 pixels. This stops well short of the higher-resolution display on the HTC 8X, (also sold by Verizon,) but it still manages to look good. It’s very bright and colorful, and all the on-screen elements are easy to read and see. You will notice individual pixels only if you hold it close to your eyes. As with other Lumia devices, the 822's display was easy to see and read outdoors.

Signal

The 822 did particularly well on Verizon's LTE network. It remained attached to 4G the entire time I tested it. The 822 never dipped down to Verizon's EVDO 3G network (for data). All the voice calls I made connected on the first attempt. The 822 didn't miss any calls and didn't drop any while I used it. With a constant LTE connection, the data speeds were always good, which meant browsing the web and updating web-connected apps was a good experience throughout.

Sound

Voice calls sounded very good, but were just short of excellent. The quality of the calls was nearly perfect. I noticed only a small amount of interference and noise from time to time. Calls never dipped or faded out. The earpiece is good for conversations held in somewhat quiet environments, but not so good when used outdoors or in a loud coffee shop. Even set all the way up, I strained to hear conversations when walking around a local mall during a busy lunch hour. The speakerphone loses some of the quality of the earpiece and some of the volume. It’s OK for quiet places, but noisy ones will drown it out. The ringers and alerts can be quite noisy, though, and the vibrate alert was good.

Battery

The 822's battery did well. It consistently provided power for an entire day, no matter how much it was used. Considering that it was always connected to LTE 4G, I'd say Nokia and Verizon got their power management features just right. Even after a day of extensive use, it still had more than 20% left in the battery. You'll need to charge every night, but shouldn't have to worry about keeping a charger handy during the day.

Basics 

Menus

The 822 runs Windows Phone 8 from Microsoft. Handset makers and carriers aren't allowed to adjust the user interface, so the experience on the 822 looks and feels just like it does on other WP8 devices.

The lock screen has customizable alerts that pop-up when the screen is locked. You can choose which alerts reach the lock screen and which don't, as well as pick which type of alerts are given priority.

The Start screen offers plenty of customization options. The Live Tiles can be resized in small, medium, and large variations, and of course the Tiles can be arranged however you want to place them. More apps support Live Tiles in WP8, which makes the Start screen even more lively.

Windows Phone supports multitasking, or quick-app switching, and will pick up right where you left off when you return to an open app.

The 822 has a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor. Windows Phone has always been a spritely operating system and the dual-core engine provides more than enough power to keep the 822 feeling spry and quick.

 

Messaging

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Calls and Contacts

The phone app is simple to use and offers a standard set of features, such as hold, mute, speakerphone, merge calls, and send to Bluetooth. It’s easy to text or call a number stored in the call log, as well as add it to a contact.

The People Hub ties in users' Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter profile data, as well as their email-based contact database. It's an extremely rich contact app and provides a near flood of updates about those in your various social networks.

 

Calls and Contacts

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Messaging

The 822 has the same Windows Phone messaging apps that other Microsoft-based smartphones do. The email app is excellent, though it stops short of being as awesome as Gmail on Android. Social networking - which is built into the People Hub - is quite useful.

The two features that really set Windows Phone 8 apart are Groups and Rooms. These are both subsections of the People Hub. They essentially let you manage, communicate with, share photos with, and coordinate calendars between small groups of people.

The text, video, Windows Live, and Facebook messaging functions are all tied together in one app. Microsoft's idea of keeping all short-form communications in one spot is a good one, and each conversation is threaded separately unto itself. This app doesn't support AIM, GTalk, or Yahoo IM, though. (Keep in mind that Skype is due to replace Windows Live messaging soon.)

Despite being supported in the People Hub, you need to download the full Facebook and Twitter apps if you really want to interact with your social networks in depth.

 

Messaging

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Extras 

Media

The 822, like all Windows Phone devices, uses Microsoft's XBox Hub and storefront for entertainment and media. The XBox Hub includes gaming, music, and video. It's a decent app to help score some entertainment, but you'll need to use desktop software to sync your music to the device.

 

XBox

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Nokia Music, which is exclusive to to Nokia's Windows Phones, is on board as well. Nokia Music is separate from XBox. It has its own store through which music can be purchased, and offers a wide variety of streamed radio stations, personalized recommendations, and the ability to browse through local concerts.

 

Nokia Music

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The 822 also includes Verizon's NFL mobile app, which lets owners watch football games, as well as get scores and news. YouTube is not included, but there are several YouTube apps in the Windows Phone Store.

I didn't have any trouble with these services at all. Music sounded good and videos looked good.

Camera

The camera launches with a long press of the dedicated button, even when the phone is locked. It’s dead-simple software that’s easy to master. The menus and controls are all self-explanatory and work well.

It is a bit on the slow side. It's definitely slower than the 820 and 810. Throw in the poor camera button and you have a bit of a problem. It's very hard to tell when the camera is going to actually open the shutter and capture the image. It takes forever to focus and there's a one-second pause between when it focuses and when it actually captures the image. It takes getting used to.

The 822, like all WP8 phones, supports “Lenses”. Lenses for the camera are third-party plug-in apps that perform specific actions with the camera. Nokia offers several of its own lenses, which are not available to other WP8 devices. Oddly, the 822 doesn't ship with any Lenses preinstalled. You have to download them from the Windows Phone Store. The ones developed by Nokia include Smart Shot, Cinemagraph, and Panorama.

Using any of the Lenses requires a few extra steps, but that's not unlike other devices that offer special shooting modes.

The camera allows users to adjust scenes, ISO, white balance, and aspect ratio, but not resolution. It's stuck at 8 megapixels. This is kind of odd.

 

Camera

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Photos

The 822 has an 8-megapixel imager and it does a fairly good job. The biggest problem I saw was inconsistent white balance (see the sit and spin below, that background is supposed to be a neutral gray). Focus was mostly accurate, as was exposure. Indoor shots showed some grain, and reds captured outdoors tended to blow out the sensor. The majority of the shots I took were usable, however, and I found myself only tossing a few.

 

Photos

Click a thumbnail above for a larger view.

Video

The 1080p HD video I captured with the 822 also looked good. White balance was more consistent, and focus and exposure were accurate. Motion was somewhat jerky, but that could be mitigated by holding still.

Picture Hub

The Windows Phone Pictures Hub is a central repository for all the photos in your life. It pulls in all the photos from your social networks and stores them in one spot for perusing and sharing. I found it quite easy to shuffle my images between folders, as well as post them to social networks or send them up to SkyDrive for safe keeping.

The People Hub lets you crop and rotate images, but Nokia's Creative Studio takes things a little bit further. The Creative Studio app is sort of like Instagram in that it lets users apply various filters and effects to change the tone/appearance of their photos.

 

Gallery

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Apps

The Lumia 822 has the fewest Verizon apps on any handset I've ever reviewed. It ships with a data app (measures monthly data usage), MyVerizon, NFL, and Univision. That's it. Everything else is either stock Windows Phone or made by Nokia. Any of the apps can be deleted, and there's plenty of storage space available for downloads from the Windows Phone Store.

Bluetooth

I didn't have any trouble with the 822's Bluetooth radio. It worked well across the board. I made a few calls from my car's hands-free system and they were of decent quality. My car's speakers were able to make up for the 822's quiet speaker. Music streamed to stereo Bluetooth headsets sound good, but the sound dropped in and out from time to time.

Browser

Thanks to the solid performance of the 822's LTE data radio, browsing the internet was always a good experience on the 822. Internet Explorer 10 and LTE go together well, and the 822 does a fine job of making web sites look spiffy on the bright display.

 

Browser

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Clock

The 822 has a nice digital clock on the lock screen. It also displays the day of the week and the date. I wish the clock were bigger. It’s easy to see outdoors, though.

 

Clock

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GPS

The GPS radio of the 822 itself performs flawlessly. It pinpointed me quickly and accurately no matter where I was. The phone comes only with Nokia Maps and its related apps. Verizon's navigation app is nowhere to be found.

Nokia Maps (which is being rebranded as “Here”) offers a wealth of features that go head-to-head with the best that Google Maps offers on Android handsets and the iPhone. It helps users manage locations, share points of interest, and route directions. Some of the others include Nokia Drive and Nokia Transit. These are individual apps that perform specific functions. Nokia Drive plots point-to-point driving directions, while Nokia Transit helps manage mass transit route planning.

Nokia City Lens

Nokia City Lens is an augmented reality application for finding nearby points of interest. It works in concert with the camera. You pan the camera around and the app shows you what's in the vicinity. It is easy to pick one of the shops or restaurants it finds to pull up more information and/or details about it.

Wrap-Up 

The Nokia Lumia 822 does a masterful job at most tasks. Windows Phone, and Nokia's line of 8xx smartphones, have been consistent across the board in terms of features and performance. The 822 loses the best feature of its companion devices with its lack of customizable shells. The hardware is mostly good, but crummy buttons and the awkward shape are a bit of a let down.

The user interface, applications, and other services all work just as they should. I didn't have problems with anything. Aside from the lost shells, the camera's slightly inconsistent performance is about the only real mark against the Lumia 822. Network performance, call quality, and battery life offset these, though, and make the 822 a worthy choice if $50 is your budget for a new smartphone.

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Voice Phone Riot_Act Dec 20, 2012, 7:28 PM
 
 
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