Just as a word of warning, this isn’t a comprehensive geeky, wordy review, this phone has been reviewed a lot elsewhere, it’s more a collection of my thoughts.
The lovely people at Nokia Connects sent me a Nokia 920 to play with for a few weeks, I must admit being mildly apprehensive about getting the handset. I’d previously been a complete Nokia Fan Boy, owning a string of Nokia Handsets, I fell out of love with them about 4 years ago when I switched to Android. I will admit to keeping half an eye on what Nokia have been doing, like a scorned partner stalking an ex’s online activity. The slow ditching of the Symbian operating system to Windows Phone has reignited my interest in their handsets, but I’d still not got round to playing with one.
Taking the phone out of the box, it felt beautiful, the unibody shell is wonderful in the hand, and it feels weighty and solid – not ‘brick like’ solid, but other handset manufacturers (I’m looking at you Samsung) could learn from Nokia! Firing it up the 4.5″ LCD screen springs into life, with lovely deep blacks, and punchy colours, the phone looks truly wonderful.
During the setup I was able to put in my Microsoft log in that I use on my Windows 8 computer, which hooks up Microsoft’s Sky Drive, xBox Live etc. I could also put in my Google Apps account details and it synced all my mail, contacts, and calendar beautifully. So far so good!
Navigating around Windows Phone 8 is a joy too, it’s all very easy, and tactile, and the Nokia 920 makes it fly, it’s all so swish, and fluid, no signs of lag or stutters. Again it feels more ‘iOS’ than ‘Android’ in this regard, moving around is so delightfully snappy. The ‘Live Tiles’ are identical to those found in Windows 8, these can easily be resized and moved around to your tastes, a quick swish to the left lists all your applications ready to dive in to.
While we’re on the subject of apps, this is an area where Nokia / Windows Phone don’t quite have the edge yet. I must admit to worrying I wouldn’t be able to ‘use’ the phone as a daily driver because the apps I use the most just wouldn’t be available. The situation wasn’t as dire as I imagined, WhatsApp is there, Natwest is there, Facebook is there, as is Twitter and Foursquare is sort of there – those are my ‘must haves’. So far so good. Instagram is a MASSIVE omission from the Windows Phone Store, especially as the 920 is meant to have a fabulous camera.
Moving on to the Camera, Nokia have always been the king of Smartphone Cameras, their partnership with Carl Zeiss for many years have created some of the best phone cameras ever. Nokia are also one of the few manufacturers who normally have a dedicated ‘Camera Shutter’ button. I was expecting big things of the 920, my Galaxy S3 camera is pretty good, I was looking forward to seeing how the 920 would compare. Honestly? It’s crap. It’s definitely worse than my S3 one. My little boy is on the move now, and I tried to take some photos of him toddling around, even with the flash, the results were blurry.
I was also a bit perplexed that even with turning the flash off, the focus assist light still fired up, normally turning the flash off would stop that! Not on this phone, there is another option to switch that particular light off. Annoying. It’s certainly not the worst camera I’ve seen on a phone, but it just seems to be a let down, this device has to fight hard to get a name in the market and I fear a ropey camera won’t help that fight.
Getting the pictures off the device was interesting, plugging the phone into Windows 8 worked seamlessly, it recognised the phone, and all the content was there ready to be accessed. Great! One thing I like to do is email the photos I take, in Android I can just share these to the GMail app and send them. Admittedly on the 920, it’s not too different, BUT, instead of sending the glorious 8MP image, it ‘helpfully’ compresses it for you. WTF?! I don’t want my stuff compressed! There was seemingly no way to change that. Similarly with the automatic uploading to SkyDrive, it will only upload a rubbish compressed version, thankfully you can change that!
The phone’s numerous connectivity options worked well for me, WiFi, Bluetooth, Mobile Data, NFC, Calls, Texts, all perfect, I just couldn’t fault it. It’s nice to have something that ‘just works’, no messing, or stress, everything was dandy! I must admit I found the ‘Settings’ to be a bit over the place, similar to ‘old’ Nokia. Navigating in there just presented a long string of options which seemed to have little flow or organisation.
Getting people to switch to Windows Phone is a big ask, many are firmly dug in to either iOS or Android, and people won’t switch if the app offering isn’t there (which it isn’t – quite!). It’s very much a ‘chicken and the egg’ scenario as developers won’t develop for Windows Phone unless the market is there (which it isn’t). I imagine things will improve in time, but will it be too little too late?
Ultimately, as ever, Nokia can build a beautiful phone with their eyes shut, but without ALL the big apps there, and a so-so camera, they are going to struggle.
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