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

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.

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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

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66 comments
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  • put lip stick on a pig

    Its still the same phone from last year. Older dual core snapdragon. So basically its like dressing a pig up with lipstick, but its the same old pig.
    sgodsell
    • Except

      Except that it's now a crunchy delicious roasted pig. The important thing here is that it's delicious.
      imscythe
    • Well if the Pig is tasty why change the breed

      The Lumia is a high quality pig that makes for great barbq. As the author points out perhaps for some people the sides need a bit of tweaking. I have NEVER had any problem with the speed of 920. But do wish was on Verizon and might just switch as service in my area is much superior than ATT.
      brickengraver
      • Now May Be The Time To Switch From AT&T to Verison

        AT&T added a .61 service charge that rendered their 2-year contract invalid, if you act within 30 days of receiving your bill.

        http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/1ewszk/att_just_added_a_061_monthly_fee_to_postpaid/ca4s0bv
        Patrickgood1
    • The real question

      should be if it runs well with a dual core.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • forget about the cpu

      It's only android where it matters. My wife's lumia 900 is snappy fast with a single core. My htc one x is slow as shit with dual core.
      alderran
    • Are you talking about....

      ....iPhones? That is usually what they do. But it is usually 2 years before you really get anything different.
      toph36
    • Great Upgrade

      Can't wait for A model similar to this to come to AT&T... I have the Nokia 920 and it's a little laggy, the speakers aren't located in the right spot, the battery drains pretty fast and the camera could be better. So I feel that the Nokia 928 is awesome... better PPI by 2. Better Flash, Better Battery Life, thinner and lighter, speaker located on back not bottom!!!!

      It might not be the update everyone expected but for an everyday Lumia 920 user like me it's good enough. The only thing I would like is if they added a faster processor, fixed the lag and most importantly add micro sd card capabilities.... While keeping the 928 battery life span or making it a bit better...
      VigorosoPIMPJr
  • Kudos Nokia and Microsoft

    I'm still so pleased with my 920. The competition has a long way to go to catch up.
    toddbottom3
    • Have to Agree

      Got a 920 last Christmas and completely love it. Battery life could be a bit more predictable. Other than that, I'm very pleased, particularly as new apps roll out.
      dhugos@...
  • Wish the 925 was on AT&T...

    My contract is up in November, so I'll be looking for a new phone. I prefer the 925, but not sure I want to leave AT&T.
    newyorkcitymale
    • T mobile Bands

      I thought a Tmobile phone worked on AT&T. I have a 521 and the wifi calling feature is something every carrier should implement. I may get a 925 but not when it first comes out.
      calfee20
    • The 920 is Still Kick Ass

      One of the stand out features of the 920 is its spectacular display. Excellent resolution and contrast. But the best is how readable it is in sunlight. In contrast my previous phone's, a Galaxy S, AMOLED was unreadable in sunlight.

      920 display LCD
      925 display AMOLED

      I am not disappointed I have a 920 rather than 925.

      The 920 is a bit too heavy. While I like its substantial feel when held in my hand, it is too heavy for the shirt pocket. It makes the shirt pocket look and feel bad.

      Even so, I would not trade my 920 for any other phone out there. The 925 is a possible exception. I would have to see the 925 in daylight.

      The 920 is by far the most durably constructed smartphone ever. The chance of seeing a 920 with broken glass on the display is very unlikely. Cannot say that about the iPhone.

      If anyone has any doubt about the 920's durability see the YouTube videos posted by user PhoneBuff.

      The main reason I would not trade my 920 is, in its first 7 months of use it has NEVER crashed.

      My previous Galaxy S Android (2.1), crashed too often and basic phone functionality failed (e.g. Ring, and Answer). The phone before that was an iPhone 3G, It did not crash nearly as often as the Android, but the Galaxy S had a removable battery for quick recovery. I had one common iPhone Safari crash where the only way to recover was to click on a link in an email message.

      The only characteristic of the 925 I find of any importance to ME, as minor as it is, is the weight.

      An the other hand AT&T just SUCKS. When I purchased the 920 it was to come with a free wireless charger which was out of stock. I have yet to receive the charger. Last attempt took just under an hour before I could get through to someone that knew what to do. Send me the charger. I was told I would have it within a week. That did not happen.

      AT&T SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      By the way there is a rumor going around AT&T tacked on a .61 charge to users AT&T wireless bills invalidating the 2 year contract.
      http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/1ewszk/att_just_added_a_061_monthly_fee_to_postpaid/ca4s0bv

      Sounds like a good time to move to Verizon.

      Question for Verizon customers. Does Verizon's customer service personnel, speak comprehensible English? Only 2 out of the 6 AT&T reps were perceptible. When I could not understand what the AT&T reps were saying, I would just say "I want my free charger". And they would pass the buck.

      I always bash Google for their poor privacy policy. Microsoft is not much better. And the MS policy may be written more vaguely than Google's, and their policies may be as bad.

      One AT&T rep in an attempt to appease me offered me AT&T's Win8 App. I will not use any service on my phone that requires me to create an MS account. I was very displeased with MS's relentless attempts to get me to create an account. Very similar to Android and Apple. I could not use my iPad without first creating an Apple account. So now I have this email address, which I will never use, iTunesSucks.me

      I am a appalled at how may users these days who either do not read or understand the Privacy policies or Terms of Service and are willing to give up their right to privacy to use features of the product they paid for.

      The 920 costs $449. I pay $129 a month for service. And MS wants me to give up my privacy rights as in addition to my hard earned money, to use many of the features.

      I find it repugnant that I like my 920 so much for the sole reason it does not crash. Once upon a time that was all user's expectation of telecom products. since the Bell break up and the demise of Bell Lab's Bellcore quality control division, that is no longer the case.

      The world is going to Hell in a hand basket.
      Patrickgood1
      • $$$$

        $129/month for service - Ouch, that's a bit pricey.
        neil.postlethwaite
        • How many phones are on this plan?

          I wonder how many phones are on this plan. I pay less than $129/mo for two smartphones at AT&T and both phones are on contract so I got them for much much less than $449.
          Something does not add up in that long post.
          BTW I have lumia 920 and love the phone.
          paul2011
          • I Also Have Two GPRS Text Modems

            with unlimited text plans. Each modem adds $10 each, Unlimited Text $20 for first modem, $10 for second.
            920@$79 + $50 for 2 GPRS.

            $449 is the AT&T non-contract price for the 920.
            Patrickgood1
      • OLED

        Yup... while most don't, LCD has the potential at least to work better in bright sunlight. For a price.

        Basically, the only displays in common use on smartphones, LCD and OLED, compete against the sun by brute force -- overpowering it. Clearly this is a losing battle.. the sun ultimately wins. eBook readers use eInk displays which solve this problem the same way a real book does -- by cooperating with the sun.

        Anyway, the big advantage of OLED in general is that the display is actually the light. This means that there's nothing blocking some percentage of the light being generated, and only as much power as needed to illuminate a specific pixels is used. OLED displays are also 1000s' of times faster than LCD.

        Nokia does employ a few tricks on the 920. Since the LCD is a transmissive thing, a bigger, badder backlight results in a brighter display. It also results in more room needed for larger LEDs (the actual light source), and specifically, more power... particularly an issue given that in most phones, any display is the #1 sink for your battery power. I have not used the Lumia 920 outdoors, but Asus has long employed even brighter backlights in their tablets. I put my Transformer Infinity into IPS+ mode, it burns more power but it's suddenly visible in places that challenge most phones and tablets.

        You can't really boost the LEDs in an OLED display this way. For one, too much brightness per subpixel delivers too much heat, causing potentially premature death of an OLED display. Also -- the name kind of gives it away -- LEDs are DIODEs. They're pretty much either on or off. So when you vary the brightness of an OLED display or an LCD backlight, you not dimming the LEDs, you're shortening their duty cycle... lowering their duty cycle. Since OLED displays already use such modulation for level control on the display, they can start to suffer in quality as the display gets really dim, and the minimum on-time of different pixels starts to play out. If you made every LED much brighter, displays would get inconsistent like this at much brighter viewing levels.

        Nokia also found a trick to make their LCDs a little faster... they claim fast enough for 60p video (implying the iPhone is only good for half of that). This is also done by using more power... they put a high voltage spike at the beginning of certain control signals. Obviously not needed on OLEDs.
        Hazydave
        • The Fact Still Remains, Nokia's LCD Works Well in Sunlight

          And my question still remains, how viewable is the 925 and 928 OMLED in sunlight? I am guessing not too good.

          I do not disagree with what you say. You make a valid argument in favor of OMLED. I was making the same claim with my daughter comparing the Galaxy S display to the iPhone 4 display. Even though the iPhone display was LCD it had higher resolution and images looked much better especially under magnification. But that was a resolution issue not display technology.

          Nokia's LCD, introduced with the 701 in August 2011, is better than most if not all other LCD screens. Nokia claimed at that time their LCD is brighter (1000 nits) than OMLED. They also have their own touch layer (Clearback) that blocks less light than other touch screens.

          Common sense would dictate OMLED appears brighter in low light regardless of some technical spec (nits). So I discount Nokia's brightness claim.

          LCD uses reflected light which is the likely reason it is more viewable in sunlight.

          My comment is based on my own personal experience with old Galaxy S (OMLED) vs. the 920.

          At 30 frames / second or 33milliseeconds per video frame, and the human mind's limited ability to perceive ultra-fast resonse, the OMLED 10 microsecond response time is almost moot.

          OMLED is technically superior to LCD in low light. The perceptible difference is not significant enough to me to choose OMLED over Nokia's LCD to give up readability in bright ambient lighting.

          And I agree when Samsung moved the touch layer to LED layer that was a significant leap ahead in readability. And no matter how much Nokia improved the touch layer visibility it still has to block some light where the Samsung OMLED blocks zero.

          The Nokia touch may be superior to Samsung's OMLED touch. Which makes logical sense, with OMLED's greater distance between the touch layer and display surface.
          Patrickgood1
          • Yup, but some corrections

            Yes, the Nokia LCDs are good in sunlight. They claim 600nits (though some testers found it lower), while my Asus tablet in IPS+ mode goes to 750nits.. and it's very visible outdoors in most lighting conditions. Apple went to a new type of LCD in the iPhone 5, so they're claiming 569nits, and they also seem to be viewable outdoors. The older iPhones were more like 450nits... and these are all peak values. Some of lower resolution Nokias actually went brighter -- pixel density has a critical effect on light transmission.

            And that's what LCDs are doing here... transmitting light, from the LED backlight. There do exist reflective LCDs as well -- basically, you put a mirror behind an LCD panel, polarize it just so, and it's sunlight readable. But to light that, you have to use front rather than back illumination, which doesn't look very good. So no, sunlight is not helping the LCD versus the OLED... it's simply that for LCD, the light source and the display are decoupled. So you can pretty much keep adding brighter backlights, but that does eat away at the power.

            Far as OLEDs go, I've heard it claimed that my Galaxy Nexus, one of the first devices with a 1280x720 OLED panel, only does about 200nits. It's definitely not an outdoor device, I have to shade it to read it. Nokia has a normal peak of 300nits on the 928, but they also have a special high brightness mode up to 500bits. Could be there's some built-in protection against overheating, or a time limit, for that mode, to prevent damaging the display. Despite going to a 1920x1080 resolution, the Galaxy S4 tests out at 404 nits (GSM Arena); I did not find a spec from Samsung on this, but that's very good for an OLED as well. There's also some indication that you can only go this bright in automatic mode; could be they're also doing some temperature management to ensure the display doesn't overheat.

            Where OLEDs excel is in normal indoor viewing... it's not brightness but contract ratio -- the ratio of white to black in terms of brightness. LCDs, of course, block light, they don't create it, and so even a black pixel is letting light through. Typical smartphones have been around 800:1 ratio. The Nokia 920 is about 1000:1, the iPhone 5 is about 1300:1, and the HTC One is about 1500:1. By contrast (sic), a good CRT picture tube will be about 15,000:1. You'll see big claims for LCD televisions, but they do that by modulating the LED backlights in cooperation with the LCD for zones of pixels ... this is one reason the markets dub them "LED" televisions. OLEDs, on the other hand, offer a real contrast ration of 1,000,000:1 or better. So they look pretty stunning when not in overly bright light.

            Older OLEDs have a reputation for garish color, mainly because they simply weren't well calibrated. No reason you couldn't, they just didn't. None of these displays produce accurate color without some kind of calibration. Apple always does this on iPhones in the factory, and apparently Samsung's now calibrating the OLED on the S4 before it ships -- it's finally doing well in color tests against the iPhone 5. Since I do photography and video, I calibrate the color of my home PC monitors every two weeks or so. No idea what Nokia's doing, in this respect, but their LCDs have been pretty good, color-wise.
            Hazydave
      • OLED

        Yup... while most don't, LCD has the potential at least to work better in bright sunlight. For a price.

        Basically, the only displays in common use on smartphones, LCD and OLED, compete against the sun by brute force -- overpowering it. Clearly this is a losing battle.. the sun ultimately wins. eBook readers use eInk displays which solve this problem the same way a real book does -- by cooperating with the sun.

        Anyway, the big advantage of OLED in general is that the display is actually the light. This means that there's nothing blocking some percentage of the light being generated, and only as much power as needed to illuminate a specific pixels is used. OLED displays are also 1000s' of times faster than LCD.

        Nokia does employ a few tricks on the 920. Since the LCD is a transmissive thing, a bigger, badder backlight results in a brighter display. It also results in more room needed for larger LEDs (the actual light source), and specifically, more power... particularly an issue given that in most phones, any display is the #1 sink for your battery power. I have not used the Lumia 920 outdoors, but Asus has long employed even brighter backlights in their tablets. I put my Transformer Infinity into IPS+ mode, it burns more power but it's suddenly visible in places that challenge most phones and tablets.

        You can't really boost the LEDs in an OLED display this way. For one, too much brightness per subpixel delivers too much heat, causing potentially premature death of an OLED display. Also -- the name kind of gives it away -- LEDs are DIODEs. They're pretty much either on or off. So when you vary the brightness of an OLED display or an LCD backlight, you not dimming the LEDs, you're shortening their duty cycle... lowering their duty cycle. Since OLED displays already use such modulation for level control on the display, they can start to suffer in quality as the display gets really dim, and the minimum on-time of different pixels starts to play out. If you made every LED much brighter, displays would get inconsistent like this at much brighter viewing levels.

        Nokia also found a trick to make their LCDs a little faster... they claim fast enough for 60p video (implying the iPhone is only good for half of that). This is also done by using more power... they put a high voltage spike at the beginning of certain control signals. Obviously not needed on OLEDs.
        Hazydave