Recently I was given the opportunity to test drive Nokia’s flagship phone – the Nokia Lumia 920 (Engadget Readers Choice 2012) and I thought I would share some highlights from the user experience. My current phone is a HTC EVO 4G LTE which is quite similar in specs, but for many functions I found myself favoring the Windows 8 experience on the Nokia Lumia 920.
The first thing I noticed is that the Nokia Lumia 920 was solid – it was a bit thicker and heavier than the EVO but as I got used it, I found that I didn’t mind the added size (Nokia is now selling new models such as the 925 and 928 which are a bit lighter).
This page at Techcrunch shows detailed specs for both phones side by side. They are quite similar for CPU, but the Nokia has a slightly smaller screen (by .2 inches) but greater pixel density as a result. The Nokia has a “super brightness” capability which can make it readable even with sunglasses in bright sunlight – something I couldn’t do on my EVO. Each has their pros and cons, but I found myself willing to accept a .2” loss in screen size for the extra brightness.
As for the camera, The Nokia PureView lens is actually suspended in liquid to give it more protection from vibrations and movement. Both phones have an 8MP camera and can take rapid-fire shots where you select the best picture (for the Nokia this requires the “Blink” app). Both took excellent pictures and did not do any serious testing to the point I could tell the difference. Below is a picture I took with the Nokia at a circus but don’t rely on my photo skills — Nokia has an impressive collection of pictures taken by Nokia phone users here.
Another hardware innovation available on the Lumia 920 is wireless charging. My trial did not include a wireless charger, but the phone is ready for it out of the box. At present the wireless charger sells for just under $50 on Amazon.
Truth be told this was one of the fastest and most impressive user setups I’ve seen. I added the SIM card went through the setup and provided by Windows Live ID (my hotmail.com address — hey, I was an early adopter). Once I did so it immediately pulled in information from my email account as well as contacts, music and more. When setup was done the Microsoft Office app caught my eye and I launched it – it automatically connected to Skydrive and I was able to load the PowerPoint I had been working on that day – properly rendered – in a snap. Music I had purchased/streamed from Xbox Music was also right there ready to be streamed or downloaded. I think the process took a mere 2 minutes to get setup.
Here some of the value of the Microsoft ecosystem becomes clear. Skydrive, Office, Email, Music, XBOX and more working seamlessly across the PC and mobile worlds.
For me is where the Nokia shined – when I had both phones available I found myself preferring the Nokia for this reason. I created Windows 8 Live Tiles for the 4 email accounts I use the most. I could set different alerts (sound, vibrate, etc.) for each and with just a glance at my home screen I could see which accounts had how many emails, but more importantly, I could move between inboxes at the “speed of tap”. The email UI is fast and responsive such that I could quickly check multiple inboxes in seconds. Doing the same on HTC EVO (Android) just wasn’t as fast or as seamless an experience to me.
The Live Tile experience is nice with many apps as well. On my Android phone I have to launch various apps to see status, but with Live Tiles I can see updates from Skype, Box, The Weather Channel, Twitter and much more right on my home screen. With Box, I can instantly see on my home screen updates about new files, or files being accessed and modified. Also the Skydrive and Office applications give me about as good of an experiencing viewing and editing Office documents on a phone as I could imagine. For me the rich Office experience combined with Box and Skydrive and the rich email experience offer the most value in a work/productivity context.
The Lumia also came preloaded with many Nokia apps including Nokia Music, and the HERE series of apps (Maps, Transit, City Lens, and Drive). The HERE apps (which I liked) were really useful for a quick answer to “what’s around here for [dining/shopping/etc]” and the City Lens app gives you the option using the Lumina’s camera to overlay labels on the buildings around you.
Sometimes Windows phones get knocked for not having enough apps (as Android used to) but I wonder if they looked at the app store lately. Sure there’s not 16 different versions of “Cupcake Maker” but the apps I wanted were there ranging from Netflix, Twitter, Pandora, Skype and much more.
In summary the Nokia Lumia 920 worked so well for me that I quickly found myself favoring it over my Android powered HTC EVO 4G. One of biggest areas of utility for me was the rich and “speed of tap” email experience combined with Skydrive, Office and Box. The next time I find myself purchasing or upgrading a phone, I will definitely be seriously considering the Nokia Lumia offerings.