First impressions: Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 smartphone

First impressions: Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 smartphone

Summary: The Nokia Lumia 920, one of the new Windows Phone 8 devices, delivers some innovative technologies, value-added software, and a camera that continues Nokia's focus on imaging excellence.

First impressions of the Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 smartphone

Earlier this week I posted some first impressions of the HTC 8X after posting details on Windows Phone 8. At the Monday Windows Phone 8 launch event I met with Chris Weber, Executive VP of Nokia Sales & Marketing, and left with a black Nokia Lumia 920 and white Fatboy charging pillow to test out. I'll be checking out both of these new Windows Phone 8 devices in the coming weeks, but wanted to offer up some thoughts on using the Lumia 920 for the last few days.

Check out my image gallery of the Nokia Lumia 920.

Out of the box impressions

Unlike the evaluation HTC 8X, the Lumia 920 came in the AT&T retail box that looks just like all the other unremarkable AT&T orange and white retail boxes. Inside you will find the Lumia 920, a microSIM card removal tool, USB A/C charger, USB cable, NFC demo tag, and some advertisements and basic instructions. There is no headset in the box and no other accessories. We may see AT&T and other retailers offering bundle specials since Nokia has some cool new accessories. (As you can read soon in a follow-up article, I think these accessories may have a major influence on Lumia 8xx and 920 sales.)

The Lumia 920 feels much the same as the Lumia 900, and I doubt many folks will notice much of a difference. This poses a problem for Microsoft since Windows Phone 8 is not much different than Windows Phone 7; yet something different has to be done to get consumers to buy Windows Phone 8 --  and the existing strategies haven't worked. You will find that the Lumia 920's glass screen curves more into the casing than does the Lumia 900's; the headset jack has been moved to the center of the top, and it has a bit more curvature to the back (maybe for the space needed to support wireless charging). The display resolution is better, and you can see the difference as soon as you turn on the Lumia 920. I love the polycarbonate designs of the Lumia line and Nokia continues it with the 920.

Specifications and walk around the hardware

You won't see many differences in the listed specifications between Windows Phone 8 devices, with the differentiation primarily seen in the physical hardware design and the additional technologies/services offered on the platforms. Specifications of the Nokia Lumia 920 include:

  • Windows Phone 8 OS
  • 4.5 inch IPS TFT capacitive display with 1280x768 pixels and awesome PureMotion HD+ technology with Corning Gorilla Glass 2. Pixel density is 332 ppi.
  • Quad-band GSM and LTE for AT&T
  • Qualcomm S4 1.5 GHz dual-core processor
  • Total integrated storage of 32GB (29.12GB available)
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8.7 megapixel camera with dual LED flash and F2.0 aperture, Carl Zeiss optics, and 1080p recording
  • 1.2 megapixel front facing camera
  • NFC, GPS, digital compass, proximity sensor, light sensor
  • 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • 3.5mm headphone jack with Dolby digital sound support
  • Non-removable 2,000 mAh Li-Ion polymer battery
  • Qi wireless charging capable
  • Dimensions of 130.3 x 70.8 x 10.7 mm and weight of 185 grams

The Lumia 920 is 2 mm shorter, 4.6 mm wider, 0.48 mm thicker and 55 grams heavier than the HTC Windows Phone 8X. I don't mind some heft to my phones (my primary T-Mobile line is the Galaxy Note II). And while the 8X has a lovely curved, pocketable design, the Lumia 920 feels excellent too; and I have the tendency to roll it over in my hand with the curved glass and rounded edges.

The front is dominated by the 4.5 inch PureMotion HD+ display. The display has a slightly higher resolution than the 8X (1280x768 compared to 1280x720) and colors are vibrant as well. The PureMotion HD+ technology is pretty amazing and I recommend you test it with your fingernail or glove on. You can toggle the sensitivity in the settings if you don't need it to be so sensitive, but as winter approaches and people put on gloves this is a great feature to launch with.

I tested with gloves I wear when walking around in the fall and winter, gloves I wear when I work outside, and also with thick ski gloves. Regular gloves work fine with no noticeable difference in performance. My leather work gloves (shown in my image gallery) work most of the time, unless I am touching the display with the very end of the glove fingertip that is about 1/4 inch above my extended finger. The ski gloves work when I press directly with my finger, but if I press in an area where the gloves are really thick then the display won't respond. If your gloves are so thick they don't work, you probably aren't going to want to pull out and use your phone in these environmental conditions.

The headset speaker is above the display with the front-facing camera to the right of the speaker. AT&T and Nokia branding is found on the upper left and right sides above the display. Below the display you will find the Back, Start, and Bing search buttons.

The 3.5mm audio jack is centered on the top, with the microSIM card slot off to the left side. The volume, power, and camera buttons are all on the right, nothing is on the left, and the microUSB port is on the bottom. The camera is centered on the upper back with the dual LED flash to the left of the camera lens (will be on top in landscape orientation).

Windows Phone 8 and Nokia software

I covered all the details of Windows Phone 8 in my other article so I won't go into all of those details here. Needless to say, it is better than Windows Phone 7 and I appreciate the differences, but it remains to be seen what the consumer will think.

This is an operator-branded device, so it comes with all of the lovely things you expect from AT&T. However, unlike Android devices, Microsoft gives you the ability to easily uninstall all the bloatware (you can later add it back in by visiting the AT&T section of the Windows Phone Store). Many of these services are provided directly in Windows Phone so they make little sense to even have, but I guess that is another way for AT&T to gouge the unknowing customer. These services were loaded on the 920:

  • AT&T Code Scanner
  • AT&T FamilyMap
  • AT&T Navigator
  • AT&T Radio
  • AT&T U-verse Live TV

One of the benefits of buying a Nokia Lumia is all of the value-added services they provide, along with many exclusives from other developers that end up first on Nokia Lumia devices. You will find the following on the Lumia 920:

  • Nokia City Lens: Augmented reality application
  • Nokia Drive: Voice guided GPS navigation only found on Lumia devices.
  • Nokia Maps: Included on all Windows Phone 8 devices and includes ability to download maps for offline navigation for FREE.
  • Nokia Music: Awesome free service that had me drop my Spotify subscription. It's a major benefit for the Lumia.

I use my phones for navigation, and having a client I can rely upon is important. I use Google Maps and Apple Maps and find them both to work well for me. Nokia Maps has always been a favorite and their voice-guided navigation is a real benefit for consumers.

Windows Phone provides a new "Lens" feature in the camera utility and Nokia provides a couple of these in the Lumia 920. The Cinemagraph utility lets you animate still photos and is lots of fun, while the Smart Shoot utility shoots five frames for each photo and then picks the best faces to create the "perfect" shot. Panorama allows you to capture wide shots with the Lumia 920. Nokia told me there will be even more camera utilities coming to Lumia, including the existing Lumia 900.

Fatboy charging pillow

When I first heard the news about a wireless charging accessory called the Fatboy I thought someone was pulling my leg. It is a wireless charging pad, powered by Qi technology, that fits into a fabric shell with a pillow inside. Yes, these wireless charging pads need to be plugged in to an outlet to get power that is passed on wirelessly, but the convenience of simply dropping the Nokia Lumia 920 on the Fatboy pillow is great. I have it sitting on my desk so when I am there the Lumia 920 is charging up which can lead to it being charged up more often.


I am continuing to use the HTC 8X and Lumia 920 and will offer a comparison early next week. I am also finishing up a camera comparison between the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy Note II/Galaxy S III, HTC 8X, and Lumia 920.

Sticking just with the Lumia 920 for this post, I have to say the sensitive display, wireless charging capability, Nokia Music service, Nokia Drive software, and camera performance have been great so far. I didn't realize that the Lumia 920 had some advanced audio settings, but when you plug in headphones and go into the Settings, you will find custom equalizer options. You can choose from several presets or customize the audio levels. There is also a toggle for Dolby headphones. I could definitely tell a difference with the Dolby toggle on and making changes in the equalizer.

It is easy to see that the Nokia Lumia 920 is an upgrade over the Lumia 900 and I continue to look at the yellow or cyan one for AT&T. There is definitely heft to the Lumia 920; it feels like a rock solid device. Windows Phone 8 has addressed several weaknesses in Windows Phone 7/7.5 and the Lumia 920 looks to set the bar for features, functions, and apps on this new platform.

I will be spending more time with both the Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC 8X and trying to decide between them for myself.  I recommend you visit your local store and get a feel for both when they become available. If you have any questions as I continue to test out the Lumia 920, please feel free to ask me in the comments or via Twitter.

Related ZDNet coverage

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft, Nokia, Reviews, Smartphones, AT&T

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  • Unlocked Phone

    We are a small business tied to verizon. I am seriously considering 920 but can not get it on Verizon. Would it be possible to get this phone unlocked and use it on Verizon network?

    Also, is it possible to turn this phone into a HotSpot?

    • Unfortunately...

      The Lumia 920 does not have any CDMA bands built into them to use on Verizon or Sprint. So even if you were to get it unlocked, the thing would literally be a brick if you tried using it on Verizon.

      There have been strong rumors that around March or February, there might be news of a Lumia 9XX for Verizon coming out. Not sure if you want to wait that long, but something to look forward too if you do.
      Mustafa Moon
    • unlocked phones in general

      usually will not work on verizon or sprint. unlocked phones are almost always GSM, not CDMA
      • Lumia 920 standards

        Lumia 920 sold in Europe (unlocked, as is) has the following:
        GSM/ GPRS/ EDGE: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
        WCDMA: 850 / 900 / 1900/ 2100 MHz
        LTE 700 MHz Class 17 / 1700 / 2100 /2600
    • Hardware is capable of CDMA but it is not enabled

      The Qualcomm chipset on board the Lumia 920 allows for CDMA as well as all other services. However, the phone was calibrated and tested for AT&T service bands. The software on the phone would not allow for CDMA service, and if it did it would be spotty at best. There is going to be a Verizon version out soon, but in the mean time a different model (822) will be released within a month.
  • Looking Forward to your Comparision between the HTC 8X and the Nokia 920

    I'm on Verizon, and want a top of the line phone. If the HTC 8X had 32GB of memory it would be a simple decision for me. I really want to see the comparisons between the 8X and the Nokia 920 to see if jumping carriers is worth the trouble.

    Thanks Matt.
  • Lumia 920

    Thanks for the fair review. I really look forward to your camera comparison because a lot of websites are reporting that the 920 produces poor photos during the day. I hope that it's just human error. Either way I'm still leaving apple for my Nokia 920 so AT&T lets get the ball rolling!
  • First impressions: Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8 smartphone

    Add me to the list of people that want to see your comparison of the 8X and the 920.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Actually...

      I read this last night on CNet which is an exhaustive comparison of the cameras on the 920, 8x and iPhone 5. Very thorough and well written I thought.
    • sigh

      do you think the author has nothing better to do than review niche phones ???

      WP is a dead platform, developers are abandoning it in droves and I suggest you do the same

      Thanks to Elop adopting exclusively WP, Nokia are now on a burning platform
      • Microsft MS-DOS was a nitch product for years

        Apple was all the rage in the early 80's. Its competition was Amega. But companies selected Microsoft and that's why it won. Amega isn't even around anymore.
        A Gray
        • Revisionist, a bit?

          Nobody selected Microsoft. Enterprises selected IBM. Simply because IBM was all over the enterprises and whatever IBM said was "PC" so it was.
          Microsoft actually abused the fact that IBM selected them to provide the software kit for their PC, so that IBM can compete with Apple and the others. That other company name was actually Amiga.
      • Disagree.

        hi gary...A couple of things. I do not think WP is a dead platform. They are just getting started. Keep watching, you will see.
        • Amiga, not Amega.

          Amiga was created by Commodore. Recently they started bringing back some of the old models like the C-64, you remember those? They were before the Amiga. Now they are making C-64 styled with modern PC components inside. If you interested here is the link:

          Maybe they should make a WP8 phone and tablet instead of these? Still would be very cool to have since I loved my C-64 back in the day.
      • Developers are abandoning it in droves ?

        Odd, everything I have read says otherwise.

        Are you sure you are not getting your information from and a Google employee?
        John Zern
  • T-Mobile ?

    Will this work with T-Mobile 3G data plan?
    • May, but I can't test theory

      I read that the device may have the frequencies needed for T-Mobile and know they do for the 1900 MHz rollout that allows people to use iPhones on T-Mobile with 3G. However, I tried to unlock the device via AT&T and was told it was an exclusive so I wasn't able to. I will try again when it is publicly available because maybe they just didn't have access to the IMEI unlock database or something.
      palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
      • Internation Unlocked Version

        I hope Nokia has international unlocked version that will work on T-Mobile 3G data.
      • maybe from rogers in canada

        There was a link somewhere in the conversations yesterday. I forgot where but I do have the link:
      • Lumia 920 carrier support

        I got a 920 a few days at the MS Build conference. It was described as an unlocked North American model (more specifically, a Nokia rep said they were originally destined for Canada). I saw it pick up AT&T and T-Mobile networks while I was using it.

        I'm Canadian, so for the other Canadians, i want to let you know that this phone was confirmed to work on Rogers, Bell, Telus, and SaskTel - including the LTE locations. Won't work on CDMA (which is legacy and overlaid with HSPA in Canada). But, it won't work with Verizon because it's only CDMA.

        Amazing picture quality!
        achilles heal