Seven days with Nokia's Lumia 920: The bad

Seven days with Nokia's Lumia 920: The bad

Summary: For a week, I relied on Nokia's flagship Windows Phone 8 handset as my only phone. Here's where the Lumia 920 struggled to live up to its promise.

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As regulars will know, I'm a fan of Nokia's hardware design, and I've liked Microsoft's mobile OS ever since it hit 7.5 (Mango). So I decided to spend a week using the Lumia 920, Nokia's flagship Windows Phone 8 handset, as my main phone to see what the two of them could come up with.

READ PART 1: Seven days with the Nokia Lumia 920: The good

I've already taken a look at what I like about the smartphone. Now it's time for the bad.

Topping the list of complaints I've seen from others is the weight. At 186g (0.41lbs), the Lumia 920 is heavier than its rivals, as well as being fatter. For me, this isn't a big deal, whether it's in my pocket or in my hand — it's only about as hefty as a 200-page paperback book. I'm including this here, though, as some people simply won't tolerate that weight in a phone.

Nokia Lumia 920
What are the downsides to the Nokia Lumia 920? Image: Ben Woods

While the phone's call quality is good, other essential communication features such as email and SMS are hampered by a keyboard I just can't abide. There's no haptic feedback, for example, and the predictive text often seems to miss the mark.

What's particularly frustrating is that it is nigh on impossible — I suspect it is actually impossible (NOTE: see update below) — to select a letter in the middle of a word you've already typed. Plus, it's annoying that you have to go to a separate screen of letters if you want to use an apostrophe — something I need frequently — but I could just about live with that.

Overall, the input has progressed little from Windows Phone 7, where the same things annoyed me there too.

It's a shame the keyboard is frustrating, as the messaging applications themselves are perfectly good. Setting up a Gmail, Nokia or a Microsoft-based account is easy enough. While corporate Google Apps accounts are a little trickier, once you know which options you are supposed to choose, it can be done. (Hint: Don't select 'other account', select 'Google' instead. Then get a one-time password from your organisation's intranet, most likely at 'gpw.yourcompanydomain.com', and use that to set up sync for the first time.)

I'm also disappointed by the browser in Windows Phone 8; it lacks maturity, especially some of the advanced features taken for granted in Firefox Mobile or Chrome on Android.

On top of this, the browser deals with some redirects strangely. For instance, when you try to join a public or open Wi-Fi network that requires a splash-screen login, it sometimes leaves you unable to connect. On Virgin Media's London Underground Wi-Fi service, I've found that the phone just will not connect.

The other elephant in the room is the app store. There aren't many Windows Phone 8 apps knocking around right now, and whatever we heard on launch day about the likes of Skype, Pandora or features like Data Sense being available, they just aren't present on the platform or phone today; most are scheduled for release in early 2013.

Availability of apps really is one of the weakest points of Windows Phone 8, and everyone knows it. It's not about sheer volume of apps — the problem is there are so few of the ones that I use the most: Hailo or a decent dictaphone app, for example. The most frustrating thing is the knowledge that if you are looking for a specific app, chances are it won't be available yet.

There are other, more minor, disappointments. While the Lumia 920 has near-field communications (NFC) built in, you won't be able to use it for mobile payments unless your bank has made an app for Microsoft's OS.

The undecided

That's the bad, and I've previously covered the good: but there are a number of other features in the handset I'm still undecided on.

Nokia Maps, for example, is a mostly easy to use and feature-rich free mapping solution on the smartphone. However, whenever I needed to use it for public transport directions, I found myself wishing for Google's software. The Lumia 920 does in fact come with a separate app, Nokia Transit/Transport, for this — but why is that functionality not just built into Nokia Maps? On the other hand, Nokia Drive, particularly for its offline navigation, is a boon.

Availability of apps really is one of the weakest points of Windows Phone 8, and everyone knows it

The jury's also out on the City Lens augmented reality (AR) location tool and the phone's voice-recognition features. Both work well enough, but I'm not sure they have much application in the real world; in the last seven days, I've only used them for their novelty value.

Despite these complaints, I do like the Lumia 920 overall. I like the design of the handset itself, and the resizable, regularly refreshed live tiles on the home screen put Windows Phone 8 ahead in visual appeal. What's frustrating, though, is the things that I find annoying on the Lumia 920 were also irritations on the Lumia 900 — and there really isn't much of an excuse for that.

This has turned out to be like two separate reviews: one for the handset and one for Windows Phone 8. While I'm happy with Nokia's hardware and services, Microsoft's mobile OS has flaws that need rectifying before the handsets running it will truly be up to speed.

UPDATE: As several readers have pointed out in the comments below, you can in fact select a letter in the middle of the word by pushing down for about two seconds until a cursor appears, which you can then place in the desired position.

Topics: Smartphones, Microsoft, Mobility, Nokia, Reviews, Windows

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

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Talkback

128 comments
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  • Gotta love Microsoft's integration across devices!

    Picked up my Nokia Lumia 920 9:00 am EST this morning, entered my MS ID, and bam all my Music I uploaded via the Surface last week (32 GBs) showed up and streamed from the cloud no space taken on the phone. Impressive MS, I started to sync my music to the phone from the Surface, yes this works, but then remembered I was Cloud enabled with Xbox Music! Man my life just got so much better, load once works on my PC, Tablet, Xbox, and Phone for all my content and data. Man I am Giddy! And their are plenty of apps 120,000+ but some main ones are missing like Skype and MS owns Skype now its a wee bit frustrating but give it a few more months, in a year we won't even remember the app situation. By my next phone upgrade Apple and Android won't even be in my rear view mirror. Man I am glad to get off that iPhone with its decades old Xerox interface and their buggy and lack of function iTunes app.
    Falcon_CMH
    • Missing apps?

      "And their are plenty of apps 120,000+ but some main ones are missing like Skype"

      I'll agree, many apps are missing but Skype isn't one of them. Skype has been available for months now, I'm running it on my old HD7.
      untitled86
      • Missing apps?

        Ilium Software eWallet (there is nothing as good as it)
        TotalControl IP Camera monitor and control

        I agree that we don't need the 100 000 apps but we need the good ones and not the free one's that have very limited aplication.
        joaoandradetavares
        • Bad things?

          As you have used it for 7 days and encountered some problems, why didn't you consult technical support to ask for advices? Are you really serious about solving the problems, or just try to find problems so that you can organize a seemingly "fair" story?
          valenok
      • Skype for WP8 is not released yet

        Yes, Skype is there on WP7, but I don't believe Skype for WP8 is in the store yet. Should be any day now, though, I would think.
        FDanconia
      • Re: but Skype isn't one of them.

        Skype only works on Windows Phone 7, not Windows Phone 8. We were promised that Windows Phone 7 apps would work just fine on Windows Phone 8, turns out that is a BUNCH OF LIES.
        ldo17
        • Re: but Skype isn't one of them.

          MS did come out with a statement more than a month ago that WP7 apps wont work on WP8. Because WP9 is altogether a different OS.
          dearrohit
          • I think you are wrong

            The only apps that wouldn't work are the ones that have native code hooks in WP7 and those won't run because they are not talking at Silverlight layer rather they are talking to the core and that differs between the platform. The apps like Skype would use the Core and needs a rebuild.
            Ram U
          • Where did you get your WP9 Info?

            I think you are making claims without any info.
            rmark@...
        • Why would you want the WP7 Skype

          when it is going to be remade to take full advantage of WP8?
          Michael Alan Goff
        • Nope....

          MS said that Windows 7 Phone apps would work on Windows Phone 8. And Windows RT, and Windows 8. But zero downward compatibility. Clearly, they should have been more specific.

          Same issue now with Windows 8... do Phone apps work on RT? RT apps on Phone? Did they copy Apple's bad ideas and not allow tablet apps on the Phone,, or follow Android's lead of just one binary for all targets? And what about Windows 8 up/down to RT or Phone?
          Hazydave
          • Not true

            Where did Microsoft ever say that Windows Phone Apps would Work on Windows 8 and Windows RT?
            They have never said that. Please provide evidence of your false statements!

            Nonetheless I can totally agree that Windows Phone 8 apps should be made to run in some form on Windows8. Maybe a feature for the 2013 uppdate to Windows 8?
            brhorv
          • They never said WP7 apps would work on RT however...

            ...they did say WP7 apps should (note that's should, not will absolutely) work on WP8. That said, they're rewriting Skype to be native code to take advantage of functionality in WP8 that WP7 apps cannot access.
            PollyProteus
          • you asked for where they said it

            here'a a link to a you-tube video where microsoft clearly say that windows phonne 7 app will run on wp8. Look at exactly the 1:30:00 point in the video.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=royJee1SQlY&feature=related


            As well, here is a quote from Mary Jo Foley and a link to that article

            Microsoft execs have said repeatedly that existing Windows Phone 7 apps will run on Windows Phone 8. The two phone platforms are binary compatible, Sullivan reiterated.

            http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/microsofts-windows-phone-8-finally-gets-a-real-windows-core/12975
            normcf
      • Skype IS available

        You guys must not read any other tech blogs. Skype was made available for WP8 yesterday. Head over to WPCenterl.com for info.
        NickA55
    • Impressive?

      So, you are impressed that the thing actually works? What kind of smartphone were you using until now?
      danbi
      • Pay attention

        He said: an iPhone.
        the.rendle
    • Troll alert...

      Seems very funny how this post is so finely tuned to both kick dirt to the iPhone and Android and then focus on the integration of two recently released devices.

      I'm not sure it's possible for one to have both a Surface and a Lumia 920, since they both have been recently released.

      Finally the Xerox bit, is just hilarious as the iOS API has nothing to do with neither the Alto nor the Star interface. Only Windows and Mac OS X look similar. Ironically, Silverlight for Windows Embedded (which is used by WP8 Start Screen) uses calls to the Win32 API, which does have it roots on Windows.
      cosuna
      • Out of curiosity

        You say: "I'm not sure it's possible for one to have both a Surface and a Lumia 920, since they both have been recently released." How would this be an impossibility? Both devices are out in the wild - the OP could have preordered them or just walked into a store and bought them.

        However the same cloud functionality the OP revels in on the WP8 platform is also present in the iOS platform and the Android platform - IMHO the OP is a die hard Microsoftie who refuses to see the good in any other platform.
        athynz
    • Skype will be integrated

      Skype for Windows 8 won't be an app like on Windows 7. Instead it will be integrated and "always on" without draining your battery. I'm really interested in seeing how well they've implemented this. It should be as seamless as possible. Skype voice quality can be ultra-high def. Bet the phone companies are going to hate it though since it won't use voice minutes.
      newBgeek