Lumia 920 first impressions

The Nokia Lumia 920 launched in Australia this week and I took the bait and switched from the iPhone. After spending a little over 30 hours with the phone...

Nokia Lumia 920

The Nokia Lumia 920 launched in Australia this week and I took the bait and switched from the iPhone. After spending a little over 30 hours with the phone it’s time to sit down and give you some first impressions ahead of a full review (coming soon).

As a base of comparison, I was upgrading from was the iPhone 4S and after recently selling that I’d been temporarily using the Lumia 800 to get a great comparison between WP7 and WP8. I’ve also been spending some time with Android 4.2 on the Galaxy Nexus.

Out of the box the size of the phone is confronting, it is big at 4.5”. As soon as you pick it up, you can understand why this phone is too much for some people. As a 6”3 guy a larger, heavier phone isn’t a problem, but if you’re a smaller handed person, you may want to look elsewhere. Get in-store and try them out for yourself, this is a very individual choice.

Lumia 920

Performance

This phone is fast, with its dual-core 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4 processor and 1GB RAM it’s not surprising. While there’s higher spec phones on the market, this is no doubt the snappiest I’ve used. I suspect a large part of that is to do with optimisations and performance improvements in WP8. It’s not possible to run WP7 on this hardware to test, but just know the Lumia 920 launches apps, switches between them and scrolls lists and grids incredibly fast.

Apps
Most of the services and functions I do regularly do have apps on Windows Phone 8 with a few notable exceptions.
The first is music streaming service Spotify that do have a WP7 app, but a search of the WP8 Marketplace yields no results. I love music so not having a solution to listening isn’t an option. I have already switched over to Xbox Music and will go month to month to see how I like it on WiP8, Windows 8 and Xbox. If you’re living in the MS ecosystem which I now am (ordered a Surface today) then this streaming service should work great.

The in-built Nokia apps are fantastic and should not be undersold. The free turn-by-turn Nokia Drive+ Beta is fantastic.

The Windows Phone ecosystem has come along way since WP7 launched, with a lot of the apps I used on iOS, now available on the platform. Many of those like Facebook are a much better experience with this release. Facebook now takes around 3 seconds to launch and refresh the stream compared to nearly 10 on WP7 and the Samsung Omnia 7. Even today the Facebook app got an update which increased the size of notification and message icons and touch points.

Sure there’s others missing like SONOS, but given the success of the 920 and 8X, I’m confident the consumer demand will force developer’s hands.

Captured with the Lumia 920

Camera
The 8.7 megapixels camera in the Lumia 920 does take some spectacular photos in low light as advertised. It is however still possible to take a bad photo with the phone. People tend to show off their best shots online which is fair enough, but be aware even the best camera in a smartphone won’t make you a great photographer.

The image above is an example of what’s possible at night. I have never taken a photo like this with any of the dozens of phones I’ve reviewed and owned. The contrasts in light are amazing and exposure of all elements accurately depict how the scene looked through the naked eye. This is what a camera should do, capture something in the way people see it, because ultimately we’ll be sharing it with people who weren’t there.

There’s plenty of Nokia photography apps available, the Panorama stiches impressively well, Smart Shoot fires off a bunch of shots to save your trigger finger. Cinemagraph allows part of the otherwise still image to be moving, but lacks anyway to get it out of the phone. The default camera app is ok when paired with the Nokia creative studio before using the long list of WP8’s sharing options.

As for video and stabilisation, I haven’t really had chance or reason to try this out, expect this in the full review.

TellMe
Well, TellMe is still TellMe. I have turned on voice commands that reads out text messages when they arrive and allow for hands-free replies that read back the result before sending. This will be great for driving, when accessories arrive. Of course when you say punctuation like ‘question mark’, it’s not smart enough to type a ? like the iPhone, it writes the full words.

Nokia Lumia 920

Audio
Audio is pretty decent from the phone, if you use the in-build speaker, it’s plenty loud. The weak part of audio are the headphones. The shape of the earbuds is strange and hurts my ears, while the sound quality was unimpressive. Fortunately almost everyone has there own earbuds or headphones by now. It’s just disappointing Nokia seemed to skimp on quality in this area.

Accessories
One of the most impressive new features (part of the reason I bought it) is the wireless charging, as yet, there are no accessories available in Australia. There’s money being left on the table here, discussing this issue with other Lumia 920 owners, we’ve got the finger of the buy button, but nowhere to tap.

We need accessories like bedside clocks, car mounts, speakers and more, so hardware partners, step up and deliver.. it’s Christmas and these would make great presents. Speaking of accessories, the JBL speaker that was offered as a Telstra online pre-order bonus has been delayed further and the phone shipped separately. The latest date is next week at best. Personally I’d love to get the JBL Speaker with wireless charging rather than the Xbox Music gift card as compensation.

Lumia 920 Battery Life

Battery Life
It’s far too early to sersiously test the 2000 mAh, I’m not even through the conditioning phase that occurs over the first few days of usage and charge cycles. The phone got moderate use today (installing apps, streaming TWiT over 4G, listening to music on WiFi, repeatedly checking texts and social apps, uploading some photos). 8 hours off the micro-USB charger, it had burnt through 55% of the battery and projected another 7 hours left.

Overall
I’m very happy with the Lumia 920 so far. The arrangement of tiles on the home screen continues as I settle into my new phone. The good news is I no longer feel like I’m using a device with one hand tied behind my back, this isn’t just playing in the market, in many ways, it’s leading it.

What I have been surprised by is people’s interest in it. I’m talking regular people who have heard of it, but haven’t gotten hands-on yet. Most are impressed by Nokia’s build quality and feel in the hand, while the seriously different tiled interface seems to be a hit.

Also shout out to 4G, it’s by no means the only device with these network speeds, but that certainly is now a must-have feature. I’ve done some preliminary sharing through NFC (aka Tap+Send) and send to Xbox and it’s those kind of experiences that put a smile on my face.

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This post is authored by techAU staffers. Used rarely and sparingly when the source decided to keep their identity secret, or a guest author who isn’t seeking credit.