Nokia Lumia 920: A near- phablet for photography freaks

The recently  concluded Mobile World Congress saw Nokia launching  more handsets in its Lumia series of  Windows 8 phones – but  while they  take on the market  with affordability ( I’m thinking of the Lumia 720 and 520)  it is clear, the company has no plans to  unseat or update  the flagship Lumia phone – the 920 – that has been around  in India from January this year….which is our excuse for this detailed look at the phone at this point in time.


The Lumia 920 is handfull – literally --  and saying it comes with a 4.5 inch screen doesn’t quite convey its overall size which is  130.3 x 70.8 x 99 mm or 5.13 x 2.79 x 0.42 inches, making for a weight of 185 g or 6.53 oz.

This is a l-a-r-g-e  and chunky phone, and clearly a cross over product,  aimed at those who want something larger  than a phone but smaller than a tablet.


While the  generous on-board  storage – 32 GB—and memory – 1 GB--  are clearly aimed at those who want to do more with their phones than talk, chat, message and surf,  the specs of the two on-board cameras are what will , I think, clinch any decision to buy this product rather a similar-sized alternative.  The primary camera  comes with 8.7  MegaPixels, 3264 x 2448 pixels, Carl Zeiss optics, optical image stabilization, autofocus and  dual-LED flash may be the single USP of this phone…. And if taking good pictures under bad conditions is what you  need to do, often, then  this is clearly the camera for you.   The wide ( F 2.0) aperture   lets you snap under low  light conditions which would defeat most other camera phones.  What I found particularly impressive is the  camera’s  immunity to a lot of shake and shudder – typical when you try to shoot from a moving vehicle that is crossing rough terrain.  This is also true when you shoot full HD ( 1080p) video with the camera.  The only comparable experience I have had of rock-steady  video capture  from camera held by  a shaky hand, is a dedicated video camera like the legendary Flip.  Clearly the Lumia 920  uses some special image stabilization which  buyers will value  only when that rare photo opp. occurs --  shooting animals from a  safari vehicle jolting over  hilly terrain for example, or from a  small boat navigating a choppy sea. These are chances that never  typically occur again – and the 920 may make the difference between just acceptable and great video.  I also found that  the  multiple shooting modes  included what is possibly the widest angle  capability in camera phones that I have tried --  great if you shoot a lot of outdoor panorama or want to create a 360 degree view by stitching together a minimum of separate stills.


The second camera is OK:  1.3 MP,  shooting video at  the lower end of HD -- 720p@30fps.


I’m not going to be boring you with a lot of detail on the  connectivity aspects – which cover the gamut of HSDPA/HSPA/LTE   which we in India can exploit fully when networks are more universally 4G rather in a few city-specific patches as of today. The WiFi covers a,b.g and n which means the fastest hotspots if you can  get them. The 920 is  Near Field Communications or NFC-ready which means if and  when   merchants are ready to roll out tap-n-pay phone   options to the credit card, you are ready and willing to oblige!


The phone comes with a micro USB 2.0 slot and the appropriate cable which can be used with the charging plug provided. But  the 920 also offers a wireless charging option  which means you can place it on one of the  new wireless charging  devices ( not provided)  without having to connect the phone to a mains socket. ( I have never found this to be the great  breakthrough it is hyped to be because the  wireless charger is anyway connected to the mains or to an USB socket so where’s the saving in wires?!)


Indian buyers also need to know  that the Lumia 920 only takes the new  generation micro SIM and not the standard sized SIM that is what Indian service providers overwhelmingly provide.  I do realize that  you can order a micro SIM  when a new connection, but what happens to a customer who buys the Lumia 920 but  wants to migrate from an existing phone and SIM?  There is no easy solution other than ordering  a duplicate  microSIM.. I strongly advise against trying to use a SIM cutter to downsize your SIM…. Indian SIMs do not come with the ready to cut perforation. 


I wish phone makers like Nokia had the sensitivity to  appreciate and  solve  such region-specific problems before launching their  international phones in India.  A small note on how to get a micro SIM;   an adapter for the UK- type charging plug they have thoughtlessly provided, so that it will  fit Indian 5Amp-3 pin sockets….. would it cost Nokia so much to localize  the product  particularly when the customer is paying an asking price that is around Rs 38,000?


The Lumia 920 is a one of its kind phone –  with superior  image  capturing ( still and moving) capability.  I have heard it said that the Windows 8 OS is a limitation of sorts since the apps  ecosystem is not so well populated as say, Android or iOS. I disagree: Once a buyer decides to go for a phone as large as this, I think we may safely assume  her or she would like to  exploit the large screen for as close a tablet / PC  experience as possible. And  a Windows environment will make that experience as painless and comfortable as one can get  with a  small screen  especially if one has been a Windows PC user.


If that is indeed  your rationale for looking at the Lumia 920, you are on the right track.  A small; PS: shop around the  third party web stores: the 920 is being offered for a few thousand rupees less than the MRP of Rs 38,262 these days.

More company  details here

Anand Parthasarathy/March 12 2013