Nokia Lumia 928 is Verizon's best Windows Phone (Review)

Summary:The US Nokia Lumia flagship exclusivity deal is finally over so we are seeing flagship Windows Phone 8 devices come to Verizon and T-Mobile. The Lumia 928 is a steal at $99 and will please camera fanatics.

Nokia Lumia 928 is Verizon's best camera phone (Review)
Image: Nokia

It is great to see Nokia finally release flagship Windows Phones for carriers other than AT&T and the first to appear is the Nokia Lumia 928 on Verizon with the Lumia 925 coming soon to T-Mobile. I've spent a couple weeks with the 928 and while I am not ready to buy one and move away from my iPhone 5 (I will explain why below) the 928 is an excellent choice for many consumers.

Hardware

A couple people have held the Lumia 928 and made comments that the phone is a bit boxy and large. While it doesn't have as much curvature and flare as some other new smartphones, that front glass panel transitions well into the edges and it is very well constructed. The back also has some slight curvature as it goes out to the edges as well.

It is a bit slick with the glossy polycarbonate back (found on most 920 models) and I wish Nokia would have used their matte finish material (found on the black and cyan 920) on the back to help keep the device from slipping. The plastic is not like Samsung plastic though and the device feels like a much higher quality smartphone than something like the Samsung Galaxy S4.

I posted a specification comparison with the Lumia 920 and the 928 has everything you would expect from a Windows Phone 8 device. I am a huge fan of the wireless charging capability and the camera can't be beat.

I own a Nokia Lumia 920 on AT&T and as I previously wrote, the optical image stabilization was a major reason I purchased that device. The Lumia 928 has the same camera technology as the 920, which means it is the best camera phone available on Verizon and if optics are important to you then you should consider the 928.

While the camera is excellent, I was surprised that the Xenon flash didn't offer more of an advantage over the 920 as I thought it would. These high end Lumias perform extremely well in low light and I find that using the flash often introduces too much color saturation and less natural effects. That said, Xenon is great for low light action shots and if you can get it on a device this size then why not be pleased with the additional flash module.

While the Lumia 928 doesn't have front facing stereo speakers like the HTC One, the rear speaker is located on the curved part of the back and it performs very well for a smartphone speaker. There are multiple microphones on the 928 and audio quality captured during video recording is awesome.

The battery lasted me a typical full day, like most modern smartphones, and the wireless charging is very convenient. I never even used the top microUSB port to charge up the device with Qi charging plates at home and the office.

Software

The Nokia Lumia 928 runs the latest version of Windows Phone 8, but does not have the updated Nokia Lumia "Amber" update seen preloaded on the Lumia 925. Nokia has shown they are very good at updated their Lumia Windows Phone devices and stated that the 928 will get this update as well. The Amber update includes a unified camera experience (Nokia Smart Camera) with improvements in optical performance, double-tap to wake (something I love on my Nokia N9), screen color profile settings, and more.

Beyond the standard Windows Phone 8 software, Nokia offers the ultimate WP8 experience with value-added applications and services. You will find Nokia Music+ , HERE Maps suite of apps, and exclusive apps like Man of Steel, Play To (DLNA utility), and more.

Why I won't be moving from iPhone 5 to Lumia 928

Regular readers know I am a huge fan of Windows Phone and continue to enjoy using my Lumia 920. I am very pleased to see Nokia focusing its marketing efforts on their strengths in imaging and am pleased to see Windows Phone marketshare on the rise. However, I am integrating accessories like the Pebble smart watch and Jawbone UP into my daily life and finding them so useful that iOS and Android are my main platforms until support for devices like these appears on the Windows Phone 8 platform.

I use tablets, but I am primarily a smartphone guy and actually do rent and watch movies on my large display phones. Microsoft wasn't able to add that capability into Windows Phone 8 in time for launch and these new devices still have no offline movie capability.

We are seeing great apps appear for Windows Phone, but there are still enough apps I use on iOS and Android that I cannot yet fully move to Windows Phone. I enjoy following the Mariners (not so much yet this year though) on MLB Live, I like reading my feed in Flipboard, and even though HERE Maps is excellent I still prefer using Google Maps on iOS and Android. I know apps are not important to everyone, but for my personally there is still some work to do in Windows Phone before I can go all in with the platform.

That said, I am planning to purchase a T-Mobile Nokia Lumia 925 and sell my 920 because the optics are improved with a 6th lens and the 925 will have WiFi Calling support on T-Mobile. I also like the idea of a light, well designed device that gives me the option for wireless charging when I need it. I will continue to write more about Windows Phone with my 925 in hand, hopefully sometime in June.

Closing thoughts

The Nokia Lumia 928 is the best Windows Phone currently available in the US and for the majority of people the core apps and available 3rd party apps will be satisfactory. Nokia excels at imaging and if you want to replace a point and shoot with your smartphone then the 928 is an excellent choice. Call quality and LTE performance were outstanding on Verizon, the build quality of the 928 is top notch, and Windows Phone 8 is a refreshing and snappy operating system.

For just $99 with a two-year contract, the Nokia Lumia 928 is an outstanding value and Verizon customers can be pleased they have an amazing flagship Windows Phone to use on their preferred carrier.

Related Nokia Lumia 928 coverage

Topics: Mobility, Nokia, Reviews, Smartphones, Verizon, Windows Phone

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.