May 2, 2013

The Nokia Lumia 920 Review, Part 2: Smartphone Superstar

Fortitude: The Software Talk

The verve that brings life to a mobilephone is the software, the quantum of its overall usability. It’s as equally as important as the hardware, only more lucrative.

The Nokia Lumia 920 breaths a Windows Phone 8 software that is no less the most unique and electrifying operating system in the smartphone space. Unique in a way that it offers the only tile system on top of the icon based mechanisms offered by iOS(iPhone) Android, Symbian, Meego, Blackberry, among others, and that it’s the only software that puts people at the heart of everything as opposed to the profit-focused iOS, the technically adept Android, and the highly reclusive Blackberry.

It’s electrifying in a way that Windows Phone is fast evolving as an ecosystem with more and more upgrade coming-up every now and then, and that it’s currently posting the fastest growth in terms of market share, developer’s support and application development while the rest regressing after achieving its peak state.

User Interface

Of all the Operating System in the market at the moment, Windows Phone 8 sets on top of the bunch in terms of user friendliness, savvy-ness and fluidity. Setting up the phone to perform its utmost best is as easy as ABC as oppose to the perky and arduous Android system where users need to learn technical stuffs to make the most of it. Windows Phone 8 is very simple to use focusing only on the essentials that users can adapt easily yet futuristic because of its side features, rich graphics and animations.

When it comes to fastness, smoothness and fluidness, Windows Phone is no less than the standard bearer among touch interfaces in the market; much way ahead actually compared to iOS, Android 4.1 or Blackberry with the later systems only acting closely similar because it’s being ramp by power hungry multicore processors. It could even run as smooth as the competitions even in low end devices with nominate processors; try to compare low end Android and Windows Phone devices, you will see the huge difference. Clearly, the touch mechanism of Windows Phone sets it far apart, the very feature that’s only within the wishful thinking of competing systems.

Customization is one of the key aspects of user interface. I personally believe the best interfaces are those that can be fully conformed to user’s preference banking on the natural fact that people in general were created distinctively. Being low in this aspect on Windows Phone 7.5, Microsoft made it sure this time that it had fairly addressed the issue on Windows Phone 8 by boasting more customization on the Menu tiles - from a two size tile set-up, it is now capable of creating smaller ones making it more manageable, by adding new accent colors to the tiles; more lock screen features where users could now add images from either the phone’s gallery, Facebook, CNN among the rest of the supported apps, from the Bing collections (my personal favorite); and by adding a support for personalize ringtone via applications like Nokia Ringtone Maker that could create one and have it assigned via phone Settings.

Still missing though was the software’s ability to add message alert tones; hopefully Microsoft or Nokia would tweak the system further to allow the use of personal message alert tones. This specific feature had been enjoyed by mobilephone users in other operating systems for decades now.

These among all the changes in personalization were quite remarkable, but overall, it still fell short to the customizable prowess of Android and Symbian.


If there is one thing that Nokia Lumia 920 reputes the most, it will be the phone’s cutting edge screen resolution and brightness that pulls it on top among the best to date. The phone uses an IPS LCD screen parlayed by Nokia engineered PureMotion HD+ and ClearBlack Display technology that created a bold, deep and vibrant result.

How good was it? Let’s just say that its only one among the few technologies I’ve seen up close that gives me a sense of happiness and fulfilment by just by gazing at it. The phones display even defies the obligate challenge of a harsh adversary, the sun.

People Hub and Me Tile

I’ve mentioned in my previous post that Windows Phone is people centered, well, the People Hub and Me Tile were the living proofs of it. In other operating systems, these features were just considered simple phonebook or contacts app, in Windows Phone, it is the device’s main backdraft where every application must adjusts and conform to. Through the Hub and Me tile, users gets a full view of everything around him/her like updates from people that matters must on Facebook or Twitter; emails from significant others; or events that will mark memories till eternity. It’s like a huge window of a user’s life, in a cosier, sleek and advance way.

From the primary contacts page, a swipe to the left will show the Tweets and Facebook updates from contacts, another swipe to the left shows recent activities of saved contacts in live tile form, another swipe to the left were the Rooms and Group contacts. These Rooms could be use to cluster contacts by invitation where users can chat privately or share calendars, photos, videos, notes, among others. Groups then are clusters of contacts that can be freely created to track each and everyone’s social network updates or message into one view. It doesn’t need invitations but users cannot share private stuffs with members unlike the Rooms. Both of course could be pin in the Menu for easy access. I love both of these features a lot.

Contact Page

Me tile on the other hand is an app that is a personalized windows to users world both real and virtual. In the tile; chats from messengers, tweets, mentions, replies, direct messages, shoutouts, likes, messages, etc., could be access all at ones. Users can even send message to Facebook and Twitter all the same time.

Call and Messaging

The Nokia Lumia 920’s telephone feature was great offering loud and clear voice calls but the ringer was quite average posing a problem in actuality specially in messaging since most of the provided message alert tones were short and faint making me miss a few important ones. Nokia should have put a bigger speaker to it to make use of its thick size, or maybe tweak something a bit to boast the speaker further.

Messaging on the other hand was connected and covered well enough on the Windows Phone 8, the intelligent input mechanism, the conversations view, the Facebook chat integrations, manageable virtual keypad, among others.

Perhaps another proof why I consider Windows Phone a user focused system was its constant and intelligent adaption to people’s communication behavior. I never had a problem conforming the phone to my local dialect as it save words continuously, and then applying it perceptively to my writing style via autocorrect; a mechanism far better compared to Androids or iOS.

Virtual keypad is more convenient on the phone due primarily to its width but it also made one hand used more challenging. It would really help in a huge way if SWYPE will be ported to Windows Phone 8 because the app would address the issue on one hand used at the same time offering a fast and convenient text input to users like no other yet.

There was another way though to send text or message easily via Speech Recognition Service, but there is a catch, it only supports limited language and that user’s needs to be constantly connected to Wi-Fi or Data before it could work perfectly. The service also allows users to hear received messages, reply to it or call the sender without touching the phone. I’m a huge fan of this feature specially when I’m walking or riding a bus or jeepney because I don’t need to take my phone off my pocket when someone text or when I need to reply to it, my voice does all the working via an attached headphone.

Memory: External and Internal

The phone has no external memory but has the least had a 1GB of RAM, a 32GB internal memory plus a Sky Drive cloud storage of 7GB. Regular users will never run out of memory space with the phone unless of course they unnecessarily have more than 40 movie files to save.

Cloud base file manager is very in today, its a virtual storage space where users can save documents, images, music, movies, among the rest of every possible files, and access them in any other Windows phone devices or PC’s eliminating the need to download and transfer files using external memory drives. This feature though is not unique for Windows Phone, iOS and Android have their own cloud systems.


Conforming to its interface, the Photo gallery on the Nokia Lumia 920 was nevertheless outstanding. It has all of the following perks; smooth interface, graphics and animation found on other apps, as well as connectivity to social networks, but most importantly SkyDrive access that downloads and back-up image files automatically to the cloud. Word of advice though, though automatic syncing of files to the cloud is very helpful but if you don’t have an unlimited data, it will cost you a fortune.

Gallery’s primary page shows camera roll, albums, dates and people upon opening, then a swipe to the left will show favorites, another swipe to the left shows what’s new from the people on Facebook and Twitter page and the final left swipe shows all apps related to photography. Another top notch features here that only Windows Phone can deliver.

Email and Web

Lumia 920 users in here can enjoy free mail services via a pre-installed email client. The client supports Nokia Mail, Google Mail, YahooMail , Microsoft’s very own Hotmail, among the rest of the email providers that uses POP and IMAP. Among its side features were Microsoft Exchange or Office 365 email account support; its ability to linked several inbox's into one unified view and pinch to zoom on opened emails.

The phones web browser on the other hand is Internet Explorer 9 that sports a WAP 2.0/xHTML, HTML5 and RSS feeds. The browser renders a smooth and fast interface making mobile web browsing more fun. Among the browsers noticeable features were the pinch to zoom, double tap to zoom, the rendering of full page implementation, etc.

Another pre-installed browser on the Lumia 920 is Nokia’s very own, the Nokia Xpress browser. The browser focuses more on data compression to control data usage thus saving user’s money and battery charge in return. Also, the browser renders pages faster than the other making me use it more, has a Magazine feature that renders web pages in a stylish magazine format and the Xpress Home that provides shortcuts to favourite sites.


The phone offers two separate music player, the proprietor Windows Phones audio player and Nokia Music. The later dominates the other by offering more relevant sub features like the Nokia Mixed Radio that automatically creates playlist base on 3 artists that users provided, then save and listen to it for free online or offline. Users can also choose preset information’s like Best of 2012, Top Sellers, etc.

Noticeable changes of the Windows Phone 8 on the music player was the added option to adjust equalizers, balance settings, presets, etc., though cannot be access directly to the music other than the phone’s settings menu under audio. Well, Nokia or Microsoft could have at least provided a shortcut in the music player page; it would have been a lot better. Also the proprietor audio player of Microsoft can now create a playlist but editing them directly on the phone cannot be done. This option to create a playlist in Nokia Music app is missing but it can access all save playlist. Also the music play page of Nokia Music is underutilized, Nokia could have use more of the play page space for bigger album cover or support information’s perhaps for the artist.

I’m also glad to find out that Zune software was finally dropped by Microsoft as the main gateway in transferring music and video files being too arduous and heavy to use. It was replace by a lighter Windows Phone App with Microsoft also allowing users to access phones file folder. Transferring of files other than music from PC to phone or vice versa is now as easy as cut or paste. Music file though in order for users to create and manage playlist must be done using Windows Media Player. The created/edited playlist is automatically detected by the Windows Phone App for syncing to the phone.

Zune music store feature was also replaced with Xbox Music where users can buy singles and albums of choice.

Video Player

In terms of video player, Windows Phone now recognizes multiple codecs like DivX, Xvid, H.264, H.263, RV, 3GPP, MP4, FLV, etc. Also the Dolby Surround sound feature of the Lumia 920 boasts video watching to the extreme replicating a cinema like sound. Gallery for videos could be found on the Music + Video tiles.


The gaming platform of Windows Phone is the best in its class with Xbox Live. It offers a clean and cool graphic-rich interface, great games, secure payment system, easy online gaming connectivity, etc., aside from the fact of course that it’s interconnected to the Xbox community adding social flare to it. The phone handles game graphics very well with its Qualcomm Snapdragon Dual-core Krait CPU and Adreno 225 GPU. It can handle very well, all existing heavy games in the market without graphic distortion or lags.

I have also noticed that the phone doesn’t have a pre-installed games on it, weren’t the gaming features of Nokia phones before made it so attractive to consumers? Free games made by Nokia could be downloaded on Windows Phone Store under Nokia Collections like Nokia Climate Mission, Word With Friends and Draw Something, they could have at least downloaded them out of the box. Then there’s also free Xbox games made by Microsoft Studios like Minesweeper, Shuffle Party, Wordament, etc., and free games from other developers like Temple Run and Bug Village. I specifically mentioned pre-download here because not everyone had Wi-Fi connectivity or unlimited data, it would definitely cost users much if they have to download this games individually.

I also find the games on Windows Phone Store a bit expensive compared to other systems. Maybe because it was Xbox customized but it would have been so much better if Microsoft would bring down these prices a bit.

Windows Phone Store

It cannot be denied that the application store is picking up a fast growth lately. The store had now passed the 130,000 mark of application count due to the solid support of both Microsoft and Nokia to developers and the invigorating sales of Nokia Lumia line-up. The store had several good applications on the list but still not quite on par yet with the current leaders. Microsoft still needs to entice more developers to support the system, help them sell the apps and must importantly, continuously provide an easy payment scheme for these applications by tapping credit card systems, banks, telecom companies or if possible, local business establishments like MLhuiller to provide paymeny system for far reached suburbs.

Among my app wish list were Gravity, Flipboard, SWYPE, Talking Clock, Tong-its Tournament, GetGlue and a dedicated app for

Maps and Navigation

When it comes to maps and navigation, the Nokia Lumia 920 is bundled with the best software unmatched to date. The Here Maps, Here Drive, Here Transit and Here City Lens were top of the line navigation softwares offered free for Lumia users. With Nokia City Lens, users could explore hotels, restaurants, hangouts, sight and museum, among the rest of the essential spots within the vicinity. I love the idea of this app but it’s not very much helpful yet locally with only limited establishments being shown on the map. Perhaps Nokia could find a way for users to add information’s on the system so vital establishments could be recorded. Foursquare is doing this that is why it grew big as a social network, though mostly they have inaccurate location and informations.

Here Transit on the other hand shows all vital details on public transportations available within the vicinity. It could even compute and compare routes, departure and arrival times of each route, more likely helpful for travellers and adventurers who were new in a place.

Here Drive of course is an offline, turn-by-turn voice navigation optimized for drivers. User’s gets a voice-guided direction that helps them get to their destinations safely even without a data connection. I actually love to use the app specially when travelling to places I haven’t been to. It makes me feel secure along the way.

Here Maps doesn’t need any introduction, it is no less than the most capable maps software in the world.

Camera and Video Camcorder

The Nokia Lumia 920 boasts the following innovative camera specs to brag, 8MP Carl Zeiss optics with PureView technology, 26mm wide-angle lens, Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), f/2.0 aperture, a dual-LED flash and the rest of its exclusive image enhancing suites that resulted to producing good daylight and outstanding low light images making it the current king of the bunch.

In general, daylight images were good ditching my Nokia N8 to dust but it’s not consistent. In one shoot you got a perfect realistic image then on others it becomes noisy and over saturated, but even so, almost all images I took edges all of those taken from my Nokia N8, a clear proof if its superiority.

Low light images on the other hand sits in the pedestal as the best there is for mobilephones. It produces crisp and clear images by conforming and balancing all lights in the background. Just look at this sample images I took with a direct comparison to Nokia N8.

Among the aforementioned exclusive image enhancing suites includes Smart Shoot that lets users choose the best faces from each frame, remove people and objects and the app automatically creates the best picture from the 5 frames. It’s a great app to use but most of the time I forgot that it exists specially in unexpected events. Maybe Nokia could create a camera setting that could make the app the primary camera application of use.

Cinemagraph is also an interesting image enhancing app but my problem with it was that it’s not easy to use. I have the phone with me for more than 2 weeks but I couldn’t figure exactly how it works. I did try once with the sample below but after that, I didn’t attempt to do another. It’s just not dumb friendly.

Then there’s the Creative Studious, Panorama, SophieLens for Nokia, Nokia Glam Me and the rest of the enhancement apps available for download free over Windows Phone Store.

Video recorder on the other hand is as well, the best there is among mobilephones with its video stabilization technology; 1080p capability; enhanced audio pick-up; etc., The video capture shows the best video results for mobilephones with a little problem on scenario adjustments where the phone tends to saturate in some part of the frame to conform to the other, most probably due to a bug or delay in processing caused by the processor’s clock speed.

Then finally the big differentiator of course is the video stabilization caused by the floating lens where all aspects of the camera adjust to the movement.

Concluding Thoughts

The Nokia Lumia 920 is the most powerful by-product of Nokia and Microsoft partnership so far, two technology heavyweights duking it out to give the best of what they have, the most innovative hardware for Nokia and the most unique and electrifying software for Microsoft.

Though there are still a lot of improvements to be done from both sides, but by comparison to other current crops of smartphones offered by competing brands, the Nokia Lumia 920 edge them all fair and square in a lots of areas, like the camera feature, first and foremost, being unparalleled; secondly, design and construction being very solid distinct as oppose to the plastic quality and monotonous design of others; third, Windows Phone offering the truest, fast and fluid interface like no other; fourth, several outstanding Nokia exclusive side applications; and best of all its price, imagine an award winning phone gaining so much accolades from technology experts being price a third below other flagship devices of competitors, it’s a real value for the money that’s only dumb people could resist.

They say Nokia had a long shot back on top of the smartphone race, well, the Nokia Lumia 920 was a leap of faith for the company, that the phone proves once and for all that they still have the acumen to stage a comeback. All they need to do is focus on one important task and that is to connect to people in a most innovative way possible.

To read Nokia Lumia 920 review article Part 1, CLICK HERE!

Comments welcome!


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