If there was ever any hope that the underdog will rise again, this had to be it. The responsibility of reviving the slowdown of a company, which for the longest time had been the world’s largest vendor of mobile phones, lies on the comparatively small bulk of the new Nokia Lumia 920.

There had been a lot of talk about it before, during and after the official unveiling of the product. A quick search on the web will get you a million views regarding Nokia’s flagship smartphone and these range from being extremely adulatory to utterly abusive. The truth, we think, lies somewhere in between as we were to find out after experiencing the Nokia Lumia 920 over a week.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

The first time you’d pick it up, the Lumia 920 strikes you as bulky. And compared to most other high-end handsets across brands, this definitely tops the weighing scale. It’s not heavy enough to be a bother, but in the ‘who-gets-to-size-zero-first’ smartphone race, Nokia is definitely not ahead of the pack. Personally, I got used to the bulk which always reassured me the Lumia 920 was still in my pocket or purse and I hadn’t dropped it somewhere by mistake!

The Lumia 920’s body looks gorgeous with its predominant 4.5-inch screen stretched across most of the fascia. The unit doesn’t have a removable back panel so there’s an external SIM card slot at the top of the handset. The volume rocker, lock and a dedicated camera button are the only hardware controls, all lined up on the right side of the handset for easy access. A bright glossy red panel was the highlight of our handset. Still a minority in India, matte finish options are also available in black and cyan on the Lumia 920.

Three backlit soft buttons – Return, Search and the Windows logo indicating ‘Home’ are all you have to take you through the Lumia 920 experience. In case you haven’t used a Windows phone before, you’ll either absolutely love or hate the home screen at first sight. If you like some variety and lots of colour splashed across your screen, then Windows is the one for you. The home screen is entirely customisable. A long press on any of the preset icons lets you either resize and reposition it or unpin it from the screen altogether.

Unlike, iOS or Android, this phone doesn’t have you swiping across three to seven screens to access or view your apps. One swipe from the home screen take you to a long list of all application download on to the smartphone.

Widgets and Apps

Some Windows widgets already present on your screen sync across your email or social networking service. For example, the calendar shows me a ‘Baker’s Showcase’ event from Facebook and the People widget keeps displaying my contacts’ snapshots from across social networking sites.

Apart from this integration on the ‘People’ widget, it also allows you either to create ‘Groups’ or create a ‘Room’. For example, the default one on the handset is a Family Room where you can chat with your family members, browse through their pics and even sync calendars to see who’s doing what this week!

The only catch is you that any person you add to this, needs to be using a phone with a Windows Phone 8 platform. And people like that are still kind of hard to find.

The much-advertised Nokia City Lens app comes pre-installed on the Lumia 920 and works fine most of the time. But it still has some learning to do ‘cos when we looked for ‘Fun’ spots in the vicinity, it showed us among other things the City Corporation office as well!

Microsoft had announced that the Windows Phone Store already has more than 1.25 lakh apps. But, somehow once you get onto the Store, you spend quite a bit of time looking for the otherwise familiar apps. For example, there’s no Instagram on the Windows Store. I download something called Lomogram instead, which turned out to have a better variety of effects than Instagram itself.

Unlike on the desktop, my first reaction to the Internet Explorer mobile browser was not to shorn it. It actually matches up with competitors thanks to decent loading speeds and ease of use.

Camera

The Nokia Lumia 920 sports a 8.7-megger at the rear. Shutterbugs will be glad to know this is not a regular Carl Zeiss lens but the one that the PureView sports. This lies bang in the middle of the phone and comes with a blindingly-bright dual-LED flash alongside. Although there’s a dedicated camera shutter button, a light tap on the screen will also do the job for you. Even when you have the flash turned off, the flash on the camera lights up the frame right before capturing it. Once you tap the screen, the lens automatically knows its time to focus on the object framed. In a lot of indoor but well-lit shots, the camera gave us decent results. There were times when both the colour and exposure were slightly off but it didn’t necessarily result in images vastly different from the original.

The display on the Nokia Lumia 920 is excellent for reading e-books and articles on the internet. As far as watching media is concerned the PureMotion HD+ display doesn’t disappoint either delivering pretty wide viewing angles. The external speakers on the Nokia Lumia were pretty impressive – lot of clarity without being too loud.

What’s packed in?

The Lumia 920 is powered by a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor and comes with 1GB of RAM. This helps keep most functions on the smartphone smooth. But with some of the apps download, there was always a “loading time” indicated every time I launched the app. Once loaded, there’s barely a lag but these slowdowns appear at times when you wouldn’t expect them to, especially compared to other high-end Android handsets.

Nokia Lumia 920 comes with an internal storage capacity of 32 GB. Although Windows Phone 8 supports storage expansion using microSD cards, Lumia 920 does not support them.

The battery levels on the Lumia 920 were also decent. The 2,000 mAh saw me through a day of at least 10-15 phone calls, lots of Facebook activity and intermittent messaging.

Lumia’s lil’ quirks

There are some things about the Lumia 920 that keeps it from being a perfectly streamlined experience. For example, when you tap the middle of a typed word to enter or delete a letter, the software is deigned to ‘Select All’ instead of just placing the cursor there for editing. You’ll have to double tap to get the cursor to point where you want it to.

When you tap on a contact in your call log, it doesn’t immediately call them back. Instead, it then asks you to choose between the option of either texting or calling the contact. This two-step process is the direct opposite of what Android and iOS-based phones ask you to do.

On certain apps which require you to wipe from one screen to another – for example, the in-built Facebook app – the handset sometimes tends to confuse a scroll for a swipe. Hence, when you just wanted to browse down the page, you’d be taken to the next or previous screen instead.

While on a call, there were times when the proximity sensor didn’t kick in on time and a slight touch of the face would end up disconnecting the call I was on. There were, at times, complaints about the voice quality over a phone call but we aren’t sure whether it was to do with the handset or the service provider.

Our verdict

If nothing else, Nokia has, overall, packaged the Nokia Lumia 920 really well. With its bold vibrant colours, ample screen space and the vivid Windows interface, Nokia has made sure the Lumia 920 is a hybrid too distinctive to be emulated at the moment.

Rs 38,199

Love – Sturdy, attractive design, vivid display

Hate – Average battery life, sensitive touch inputs, no induction charge included

mahananda.bohidar@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 5, 2013)
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