Nokia Lumia 920 Australian Review: Believe The Hype [Updated]

Nobody ever told Microsoft or Nokia that it was a bad idea to wage a war on more than one front at a time. In the last month, we've had Windows 8, Surface and now we've got Windows Phone 8 and the Lumia 920 — a device that's going for hearts and minds rather than out-and-out enemy casualties. So far, it's winning both my heart and my mind.

AU Editor's Note: This is an Australian review of the Lumia 920. If you want the earlier US review penned by Sam Biddle, you can find it here.

What Is It?


You haven't heard yet? The Nokia Lumia 920 is meant to be the great hope for Windows Phone. With a 4.5-inch IPS screen, dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and 4G-connectivity, the 920 is meant to user in a new era of prosperity for Microsoft and Nokia in the smartphone race for relevance.

It comes packed with a bunch of other goodies, including wireless charging capability, NFC connectivity, Windows Phone 8, an 8.7 megapixel camera and Optical Image Stabilisation. All this is meant to come together to make the best smartphone you've ever used, or at least that's the hype that's going round.

What's Good?

As I mentioned in my earlier hands-on, the design is amazing, and the screen is doubly-so. The 920 packs a 1280×760 pixel screen that squeezes in 332 pixels per inch. Colours are deep and vivid and it looks like every phone should when it’s at full brightness. The blacks are just as astonishing as they were on the Lumia 900.

Beneath the fantastic design lies a camera that slays the competition. Starting from the dedicated camera button (which all phones ought to have) and working down, the Lumia 920 performs admirably in well-lit situations, but it's really in low-light situations where this thing shines.

Note: these images are straight out of the camera. The only change was to the image size to make it web-friendly.

iPhone 5


Nokia Lumia 920


It captures detail that devices like the iPhone 5 miss, or inject grain into and the Xenon flash bulbs attached to the back aren't just there for show. On a side-note, though, try and keep flash use to a minimum here when taking portraits, it's seriously blinding when it's flashed right in your face.

Rather than have various camera apps for the device, the 920 takes apps from the Marketplace and installs them as various "lenses". It's nice to have a unified camera experience when shooting so that when you need to grab a panorama, you don't have to jump into a separate app anymore.

As far as video performance is concerned, Optical Image Stabilisation is really impressive in action. The below videos were shot while walking. While there's still a shake when the action takes place, it's less pronounced in the Lumia 920 footage.

iPhone 5 Video Test:


Nokia Lumia 920 Video Test:

The Lumia stabilises the image on the vertical axis well, but the horizontal axis still carries some shake. The Lumia lens is wider so images come out of the camera at a higher resolution but our video had an issue finding a focal point on the 920, meaning that everything looks like it's coming out of a 1.3-megapixel webcam. We'll do a few more tests to see if we can get a better result.

The app situation for Windows Phone is better now than it ever has been before, and hopefully it will only get better from here on out. There are a few notable omissions like Instagram, Path and a few others here and there, but the apps that are there look incredible.

The speakers on the Lumia 920 are plenty loud. You'll never miss your phone ringing during general day-to-day situations, but the headphones do leave a lot to be desired. We'll get to those.

The Lumia 920's 2000mAh battery — while not the largest on the market at the moment — manages around a day and a half before needing to be charged. That was tested under high use, with Wi-Fi on, NFC on, screen brightness at high with 4G connected, with music playing on and off. That's a pretty mean feat if you ask me.

The Lumia 920 comes with the added bonus of bespoke-Nokia apps built in-house for Lumia device. Panorama for wide-format images, Creative Studio for image editing and City Lens for location discovery are just a few of these apps, and they're all nifty little exclusives for you Lumia owners.

Another Lumia exclusive is something called Angry Birds: Roost, which gives you a pre-installed version of Angry Birds for free and some downloadable video, audio and imaging content. The idea is that any Angry Birds app you install will live here later on. I think this is Microsoft and Nokia's attempt to point out that app support at launch is much better than it was last time.

It's also worth calling out the wireless charging feature. It's amazing, especially if you're like me and hate cables clogging up your pretty bedside table at night. Syncing the Lumia 920 is super easy, it loves pretty much any file format you throw at it and cross-platform support is golden.

Finally, the animations on Windows Phone 8 are stunning. I spent an hour watching Live Tiles, menus and song titles scroll by. Between the hardware design and the operating system, this is arguably the most beautiful phone I have ever used.

What's Bad?

Windows Phone 8 still doesn't really seem to have proper multi-tasking down pat. Yes, you can switch between your seven most recent apps — up from the five most recent in Windows Phone 7 — but for some reason the state that you left the app in isn't preserved.

That's super obnoxious, especially if you wander out of a login screen, for example to go and grab a password, or leave a search field to find a name. It takes a little while to switch back and forth between apps, too. It's better than it was before, but it still needs work.

The bundled in-box headphones are rubbish. They're well designed in that they slip into your ears nicely and sit there for hours without you noticing, but the low to mid performance of the headphones is shocking. So much treble. Throw a bass booster on them and they become barely passable, but I still got better performance from Apple Earpods. It's a shame too, because the headphones in the box will be the same sexy colour as your Lumia. Thankfully, Nokia has been working hard with JBL and other manufacturers to get decent headphones — some of them wireless — in the same design as the Lumia on the market.

Also on sound, the audio volume tops out at 30 notches, and I don't know about you lot, but there are a few tunes (you're welcome) that I have that deserve to be played loud, and I found this lacking a bit on the 920. It's probably to protect your delicate ears — as the device says when you turn it up beyond 15 notches — but still.

The Lumia 920 picks up fingerprints like James Bond picks up women. Easily, and often. A quick wipe on your jeans will fix it, but it's not ideal.

Speaking of jeans: this phone isn't one for hipsters. The Lumia 920 slides into a baggy pants pocket or a handbag with easy and you look awesome while doing it, but those who favour looking like a two-pin plug when they go out won't have as much luck.

Also, while we're nitpicking: I still don't like how Microsoft threads the email view in the Mail app. It was bad in Windows Phone 7 and it's back in Windows Phone 8. I get a lot of Google Alerts which are for some reason broken into a bunch of different threads, which means more clicks than should ever be necessary are required for me to get to inbox zero, which in itself is hard enough.

Finally, because of the curvature of the screen, the viewing angle isn't the best. It's still one of the better handsets I've ever used in terms of visibility in direct sunlight, but the image quickly diminishes when it's not being viewed on a straight angle, however.

This Is Weird...

I'm more than aware that all smartphones get hot. That much power in a tiny unit with no fan equals heat transference through to the case, that's basic thermodynamics. But even after just a short time of use, the Lumia 920 started getting warm. Not so much that it would concern you, but enough for you to notice it's there.

Should You Buy It?

The Lumia 900 with Windows Phone 7.5 didn't feel grown-up enough as either a handset, an operating system or an ecosystem. It was eventually a frustrating and disappointing handset to live with. Let's be clear now, though, Nokia has righted those wrongs with the 920.

It's taken all the good from the Lumia 900 — of which there was some — and built on it to make something more fluid, more beautiful and more fun to use. Microsoft has also put in the hard yards by making a customisable operating system that feels great in the hand. I never felt like I was without anything in terms of apps or file support, and it doesn't feel like a device that's going to be obsolete before a 2-year contract runs out.

Yes it's heavy, but it's something you get used to. Sam said that the phone is too heavy to even contemplate living with, and that's almost true. If you can get past the weight of the device, you're in for a treat. The weight is almost beneficial when it comes to taking photos, to be honest. It makes it easier to stabilise.

With this design, that camera and those specs? This is a phone finally worthy of its own hype. And for $829 outright from Telstra or an extra $5 per month on a $60 plan, this phone is priced just right, too. You can snag one for yourself at the end of November.

Update: Telstra has just opened pre-order registration for the Lumia 920, and it's offering those who pre-order a JBL speaker complete with NFC pairing capabilities. It comes in the colour of your Lumia, too, which is nice.

For those who aren't interested in pre-ordering, Telstra is offering you a discount on the wireless charging dock when you purchase in-store. Normally, it's $129, but if you buy it when you sign-up for your Lumia, you'll get it for $29. Not a bad deal at all.

Telstra has also dropped the price to $696 outright if you're not a fan of contracts.


Comments

    And it comes out down under when, where, and for how much? Also, can it be imported with no weird wavelength difficulties?

      +1 for when. It's been "late November" for a while.

        It's not 'late November' yet... so keep waiting. If you get impatient though - I know MobiCity started shipping them, but are selling out quick. A little bit more expensive than some other online retailers mentioned here, but cheaper than the quoted Telstra price.

          Mobicity are doing parallel imports, you are relying upon a Mobicity warranty, not a 2 year Australian warranty with Nokia. That said, I have mine on order from Hardly Normal at $699 :)

        I may, or may not have insider information for a November 27th availability...

        as to the where: it's a Telstra exclusive phone, (although Kogan has them available unlocked for just under $800... available now)

          Bad news. The release for the Lumia through Telstra has been pushed back to December, to line up with the HTC 8X release. Very disappointing.

            Where did you get that info from. The preorder page even says available from 27th November

              A staff meeting on Monday, actually. But they have a tendency to chop and change the dates. I hope that I'm wrong.

      15/11 and $750 for AUS local stock apparently,

      http://www.mobileciti.com.au/catalogsearch/result/?q=lumia+920&order=price&dir=desc

    You HAVE the pricing.

    $829 outright

    or

    $65 a month minimum.

      Seriously $829? WTF, thats like iPhone 5 pricing...

      Nokia obviously hasn't woken to the fact that there is far better value out there like the Nexus 4 - which is half the price and and has far better useability...

        Well, iPhone pricing seems about right, considering that it's an iPhone rival, and a pretty damn serious one too. Writing from Europe, I can say that in my country, it'll be on sale November 29th at about the price of the cheapest iPhone 5 - honestly, I can't see why anyone would be in doubt as to which phone to get!?!

          The Nokia 920? Who in their right mind would get the iPhone? Especially when an updated 5s is already being rumored for early 2013. The iPhone 5 is the beginning of the end for Apple. Too many mistakes in the software and still has one of the smallest screens of most smartphones.

      Don't know how legit this is but its here:
      http://www.whistleout.com.au/MobilePhones/Phones/Nokia/Nokia-Lumia-920

    Gizmodo has redeemed itself, a decent review Luke! they would be smart to fire Sam and let you take his wage as well after his awful reviews.

      While I wouldn't go so far as to get someone sacked I definitely appreciate what comes across as a very balanced review.

      I have to say that Luke's apparent honesty, humour (also laughing at himself) and involvement in the community by reading/responding to comments on GizAU makes his re/views something that I respect.

        What's the point of it all if you can't laugh at yourself. I figured that everyone else was doing it and they seemed to be having fun.

        + 1 to this, and to Luke's response below. It is nice not having to read something that is essentially anti-everything-but-apple

          Ugh, Apple

          Microsoft Phone, Microsoft Surface RT Tablet

          Microsoft on the computer

          Apple is not allowed in my house.

    The apps not going back to where they were left off using the Multitasking selector is not Microsoft's fault, it's the developers. The developer should code their application properly to deal with being suspended and resumed.

    Some applications probably haven't even been updated from WP7.0 to WP7.5 to take advantage of fast resume.

      Pretty much this, I notice some newer apps do it, particularily newer first party games, but older ones do not, because originally 7 had no multi-tasking (on my w7p)

      Last edited 12/11/12 11:28 am

      In wp8 apps can resume where they were left straight from the home screen, if the developer has enabled it...

      Exactly true, they have an event to detect the program being left, and an event to detect when it's resumed. It's completely up to the developer to save state in memory and reload it once it becomes active again... I think most windows developers probably expected the desktop windows experience, where an app will naturally hold state as long as the PC is running.

    Nice review. I like the look of the gloss but if it continually begs for cleaning then I might get one of the matt-finished colors. Also I already have some decent headphones that will work in this phone with inline controls so I'm happy there.

      Just one correction. The flashes on the back aren't Xenon, they are high powered short pulse LED's. Glad you think they are so bright that they are Xenon!

        Was gonna point out exactly the same. Dual LED's are not even close to xenon; I have an 808, so I should know! :)

    Much more objective than the US Gizmodo review, which was full of factual errors and read like it was written by a rabid -insert competitor here- fanboy. Thanks!

    For those that want details, there's heaps of 920 info available at the Whirlpool forum wiki - https://whirlpool.net.au/wiki/nokia_lumia920, including where you can buy it.

    Can't wait to get mine!

      Well put @talicca - agree about the US review, and totally agree about this review. Thanks for the link too!

    If you get past the weight, not passed. ;)

    $739 at Kogan

      I second that!
      http://www.kogan.com/au/shop/phones/nokia/

    I want a direct comparision with the HTC 8x! (Could also do the 8s v 820)

      The 8X is really much closer to the Lumia820 than 920. The 8S is well below them all (unfortunately, as that's the one I prefer the look of).

    Good review, Luke. I've been considering this phone for quite a while now, it just sucks that the price here is so much more than the price in North America. Hopefully I can find an unlocked one over there in the next few weeks.

      North American phones are locked to ATT, hence why they're half the price. No commitment doesn't mean unlocked.

      The prices is the US are subsidized by the carriers. You should be comparing your price to that of Europe. The mobile experience here works very differently. If a phone OEM does not have the support of carriers they won't be able to do business. That's why Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 are exclusive to AT&T. Lumia 822 is exclusive to Verizon and Lumia 810 is exclusive to T-Mobile... You won't even find Lumia 822 and 810 in any other country. In China, China Mobile exclusively has Nokia Lumia 920T and Nokia Lumia 830 that can't be found anywhere else.

    What about the weight? This is the one thing US Gizmodo seemed to bang on about relentlessly. They even said "Great phone but don't buy it because it's too heavy" - and AU Gizmodo hardly even mentions it, just a passing comment at the end.

    Is the weight really a non-issue, and US Giz was just talking rubbish?

      My hands-on was choc-full of weight references. Having lived with it though, the weight becomes less of an issue over time. You forget how light other phones are when you're using the Lumia in a vacuum, and it feels like a premium product. The weight is also nice at times for when you need to steady your hand.

      I have an 808, and it's slightly lighter than the 920. It's heavy for a phone, but having said that, I had an iPhone 5 in one hand and my 808 in the other a few days ago; I could hardly tell the difference. It's 60 grams, so unless you're a 5 year old... The only place I can really feel the difference is if I have my phone in my front shirt pocket, which is hardly ever.
      I'd say what you pay for in weight, you get in sturdiness and camera quality, and that's a pretty good deal...

      Heavy weight facts:
      Lumia 920 – 185 g / 6.5 ounces
      Galaxy Note II – 183 g / 6.46 ounces
      iPhone5 with Otterbox Defender cover - 226 g

      Note II amazing, outrageous 2 (yes: two) grams (0.002kgs) lighter! Right. As per some reviews (luckily not this one!) that clearly makes 920 a hulk and all the rest of it.. completely out of the league.

      And as we all know Nokia Lumia 920 will not need any additional covers thanks to its solid build and unscractchable screen.

        The Note II is significantly larger than the Lumia 920 though, so you'd expect the weight somewhat.

    737 at harvery norman instore

      Really? I see $829 - which HN is this?

      http://www.harveynorman.com.au/nokia-lumia-920-windows-8-phone-yellow.html

        on the website its 829 or whatever, but when i went instore, they are having a pre order promo selling it at 737 (or something like that.
        this was in springvale, melb

    "Let’s be clear now, though, Nokia has written those wrongs with the 920."
    *righted those wrongs

    So Luke, do you like it enough to switch it to your daily phone? Or just like it.

    it's 768 px wide not 760.

    Are those video's mixed up? The iphone video appears to be much more stable than the lumia...

      I reckon so too.

    My next phone. It's bigger and heavier than I prefer, and I may have to wait while the Australia Tax gets nullified by pricedrops, but sooner or later this will be mine!

    ... but Nokia plz. Cyan. Noka Y u no do dis?

      Looks as if AT&T has Cyan, possibly the only ones who do :(

      I'm also hoping that Cyan becomes available else where

    Argh....
    you forgot Nokia Drive/walk off-line maps for all of au and any other country (110 total) for free!
    with 80% cell coverage of our land mass. offline maps is great for Aussies. (no data charges!)
    And its arguably the best mapping product avaiable. and definitely the best free mapping on any
    smartphone!

    Hoepfully the daytime picture issues are addressed in a firmware update. The samples show the Lumia craps on the iPhone inside buildings, but that outdoors photo is definitely sharper on the iPhone.

    Realistically though, I'm more likely to have a camera with me outside in daylight, and less likely indoors or in the evening, so low light is more important on a phone to me.

      I believe this is being addressed - it's a post-processing issue softening things up.

      Yeah I saw something in the nokia site which said they are currently tweaking
      the camera SW so it will be superb everywhere soon.

    In regarding the weight. How is the weight any different to those people who put cases on the iPhones? Seriously, most people who have an iPhone , also have a case on it.
    I remember when Nokia used to make some of the smallest, lightest phones in the market and everyone hated it because you didn't know if it was in your pocket or not.

    Not a single mention of HSPA/LTE specs/performance.

    WTF.

    Apparently core connectivity details of devices aren't important!

      Nokia has always been great on networks. Out of almost every mobile phone manufacturer on the market, Nokia has been in the game longer, they'd know how to process those signals inside out by now.

    Excuse my ignorance but why would you buy it outright? You are still going to have to sign up to a plan and over 24 months it is most likely going to cost you more than $65 a month on Telstra or there abouts. Am i missing something?
    $65 a month for 24 mths ($1560) seems like a better deal than $739 at Kogan outright and then around $50 a month for a plan with any download at all.
    Is it the locked in to 24 months that people don't like?

      You do not necessarily have to sign up to a plan. You can buy pre-paid or get a SIM from someone like Amaysim. With a bit of research you can easily recoup your up-front cots through ridiculously low monthly plans. e.g. For $40 you get unlimited calls (including to 1300 and 1800 numbers) and 4Gb of data with Amaysim. With Telstra you need a $130 plan to get unlimited calls and even then you only get 3Gb of data, which is an extra $90 a month. So that's $90 x 24months = $2160 more than you need to spend. Subtract the cost of the handset outright and you're saving around $1400 over two years, which is better than $50 a month. Optus isn't as bad but you are still better off buying a phone outright and using Amaysim.

      Even if you aren't doing it to save money, not every carrier will offer every phone, so if you want a particular handset, you may have to buy it outright.

      Last edited 12/11/12 1:51 pm

      Not at all. What if you have an existing plan that you're happy with, and offers potentially better value with what is currently available?

      Why would you change? You'd be going backwards.

      Yeah okay, thanks. I guess it is just my own personal situation where buying outright just doesn't seem to make sense. I'm finished with my current plan, very much looking forward to leaving Virgin and Optus' crappy speeds. I'm keen to give Telstra's network a crack and very very rarely do i use more than a Gb a month let alone the call value. $65 a month gets me ahead of the buying outright alternative.

        Check out TPG's deals. for $18 a month, no contract, you get the value of most carriers $49 plans... And you use the Optus network!

          TPG is hopeless. I am on it at the moment, and once my house settles I am back to telstra.

        I'd be careful about plans ... the price war is over, and the plans aren't carrying quite the same subsidies as 12 months ago. I know this is off topic, but the radical online pricing of the Nexus 4 should make the hidden cost of plans very clear. Fingers crossed that competitors follow suit.

        I'm grandfathered to a 60-dollar/Month plan on telstra, with 5GB of data.

        the 50 dollar a month plan (65 with the phone) only provides 1GB, which, considering the speed of the LTE network, is woefully inadequate. To get even CLOSE to what I'm getting now, I'd have to buy a 3GB data pack, worth 40 dollars, bringing my monthly bill to over a hundred.

        Until a cheaper company like Amaysim offer 4G plans at reasonable prices (high data), I'm sticking to my grandfathered plan and buying my phones outright. I save a lot of money in the long run.

      That only applies if your going with Telstra. There are 2 other mobile providers in this country that provide reasonable speed for most people, especially as this device supports DC-HSPA.

      $739 + $11 vaya plan = more data, slightly less calls for a total cost of $1003

      To meet your minimum cost sums, $1560 - $739 = $821 / 24 = 34/month. At that price it's possible to get 5Gb + unlimited calls & text from several providers (dodo, redbull, plus others) and still have change for a coffee every month.

        Incorrect.
        There are three Mobile Networks, Vodafone (Who use Optus Network in areas without coverage), Optus and Telstra. 70% of third parties are on the Optus Wholesale Network.
        All data allowance will be reduced by the of the year. e.g. where it is currently 1.5GB included, it will be 1GB at a higher price.

    Um... are those videos right? Because the one that's marked as being the Lumia is HEAPS shakier than the one marked as the iPhone 5. Also I noticed that in the shaky one there is a purple lens flare to it, which I remember people mentioning about the iPhone 5 somewhere. There's one in the less-shaky vid, but it's less pronounced and more blue.

      The vids definitely look backwards

        I assure you, they aren't. I'll be doing additional testing to figure out what's going on with the Lumia.

          Any updates on the further testing? Could be a deal breaker for me.

    Ahh, a review that doesn't bog itself down with how much the phone weighs

    Superb

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now