A few weeks back, the good folks at Nokia Connects got in touch with me, and offered to send me a Lumia 920 for 2 weeks for testing purposes. Being a dedicated lover of all things photographic and technical, I jumped at the chance, and soon had this technical marvel in my hands.
As an iPhone 5 owner, (and previous iPhone 4, and iPhone 3), I have to admit, it felt a bit odd to have a non Apple product floating around in my pocket. As I use my iPhone more as a mobile computer rather than phone, I chose to keep the SIM card in my iPhone, and use the Nokia primarily as a wifi device and camera. I simply have way too many contacts and info floating around on my iPhone to make a dedicated switch for a limited, two week period. However, this didn’t stop me from fully enjoying and utilizing the 920. Once connected to a wifi network, the device is a multi-tasking powerhouse. The Windows Phone interface took a bit of getting used to, but I found the menus and interaction to be intuitive, and I’d quickly customized the home screen to my preferences. The flat interface was also a bit troubling, but I guess that’s the direction we’re headed.
Speed and processing power are no joke on the 920, and the PureMotion HD+ display is bright, clean, and very sharp. And while it’s only an extra half and inch, framing and composing shots with this large 4.5″ screen is quite a step up from the iPhone 5. The retina display of the 5 is crystal clear, but there’s something about the Lumia 920 screen that I enjoyed a bit better.
And the camera. This is were things really start to get interesting. Professionally, I rely on my DSLRs to capture the magic, and generally rely on my phone camera for quick instagram/facebook uploads to document where I am and what I’m doing. However, the processing power in the 920 in combination with the Carl Zeiss lens really take mobile phone photography to a new level. I was most impressed with the Lumia 920’s ability to focus and capture action even in super low light conditions. As a general rule of thumb, I always set a mobile device’s flash to off, and did the same with the 920. Again, the Zeiss optics and a nice low f/2.0 aperture helped capture moving objects in low light – sometimes to my chagrin, as I specifically wanted to create light trails.
As you can imagine, I also went a bit nuts in the Windows Phone store and loaded the 920 up with a ton of photo based apps – you know, all those fun options you don’t get in a DSLR. Sadly, and this statement blankets my main disappointment with the Windows Phone ecosystem – the lack of apps is astonishing. What I found quite shocking was that there’s no instagram app for Windows Phone. And it looks like there won’t be one any time soon. Again, as I primarily use a mobile phone camera for instagram and facebook image sharing, this is a killer for me. And this is a real shame, as the Nokia Lumia 920 is truly a technical powerhouse. The Windows Phone OS has a lot of potential, but if apps makers aren’t joining the party, the end consumer experience is a bit hollow.
Of the limited photo based apps I found in the Windows Store, the one that I enjoyed the most was Lomogram. Clocking in at the rock-bottom price of “free”, this app offers a ton of filters, features, and framing options, that, to be honest, Instagram themselves could take a lesson or two from. The image post-processing within this app is mind blowing, and fuels some seriously creative juices!
All in all, I was generally impressed with the Nokia Lumia 920. The hardware is truly stellar, and the camera and optics are fantastic. The Windows Phone OS was ok, but again, the lack of apps was a major drawback for me. Not sure I’d be 100% willing to make the switch and make the device my main device, but this is only a reflection upon the OS, and not the hardware. Nokia – impressive.