Nokia Lumia 920 Review: It's big, it's beautiful and probably the most advanced smartphone on the market

David Phelan reviews the best of the recent crop of mobile phones

Nokia’s flagship phone is a big but handsome beast that’s stuffed to bursting with features. In the current vogue for slimmer, smaller phones, it stands out. There are bigger models out there, like the Samsung Galaxy Note II with its 5.55in display, which makes it more like a small tablet than a big phone. But the Lumia 920 has a 4.5in screen, so it’s a surprise that it weighs 2g more than the Note II.

Never mind, once you’ve got past the size and the weight, the Lumia 920 has a lot going on. The display, for a start, is gorgeous. It’s a higher resolution even than the iPhone’s Retina display, managing 332 pixels per inch. In real terms this means a screen that makes text look as sharp as a printed page. And because this is what Nokia calls a Clear Black Display, it’s exceptionally colourful and vivid, into the bargain. This is a tremendous screen and, since it’s what you’ll be looking at most, this is important.

Nokia is known for outstanding build quality, and that’s evident here. Chunky it may be, but it is still a good fit in the hand, thanks to its butter-smooth curved edges. The screen joins to the case so snugly the phone is as pleasing to roll through your fingers as a worry stone. And the fact that it’s made of polycarbonate (that’s plastic to you and me) instead of glass or metal, means it’s more welcoming, even warmer, to the touch.

The design is really just a gentle tweak on the one launched in the Nokia Lumia 800 this time last year, but it works well. This one’s bigger, obviously, and comes in more colours, including eye-catching yellow and red gloss versions.

So anyway, about all those features it’s stuffed with. For a start, you will rarely need to plug this phone in. The battery is big and long-lasting, but additionally this phone comes with wireless charging. You need an optional extra for this, but it’s very satisfying. Just plonk the phone on a suitable pad and it’ll start charging immediately.

The Lumia also has NFC (near field communication), the wireless data connection, so you can play music through NFC-enabled speakers, for instance. With some gadgets you’ll be able to do both at the same time. This is where NFC takes off. Though it was billed as the new technology that will turn our phones into virtual wallets, it’s been slow in reaching any traction. But build it into a set of speakers (like the JBL Powerup Wireless Charging Speaker) and NFC suddenly makes sense. The JBL even has lights which turn on as it senses the phone is nearby, like landing lights to show you where to put the handset.

Then there’s another feature which, every time I use it at this time of year, seems why-doesn’t-everyone-do-this brilliant. You can use the touchscreen with gloves on: handy on skiing holidays or in a British cold snap. It works like this (if you know how capacitive screens work, skip a paragraph: this is Touchscreens 101).

There are two main kinds of touchscreen technologies, resistive and capacitive. Resistive is the pressure-sensitive kind found on many satnavs, Nintendo handheld gaming devices and so on. Resistive is cheaper and responds to pressure from any kind of touch, so gloved hands would work here. But these screens don’t look as sharp.

Capacitive screens are pricier but look much, much better. However, they work in a different way. Capacitive screens have a weak electrical field across them. To register an input you have to interrupt that field with another, ie a human finger. That’s why it doesn’t react to most styluses.

What Nokia has done is to dial up the touchscreen sensitivity so that it can spot your finger at a greater distance, that is, a glove-thickness away. It’s very useful, though if you find it just too responsive, you can dial it down again.

The Lumia 920’s camera is exceptionally good. At 8.7 megapixels it’s slightly higher resolution than most and the extra 0.7 megapixels seems to make all the difference. It uses something called a floating sensor which means that the phone has greater optical image stabilisation. This in turn means that the shutter can stay open longer. All this results in photos that look very sharp and dramatic, even in low light situations – traditionally the Achilles’ heel for smartphone snappers.

There are also special photo effects. Often these are pretty naff but here it includes a cinemagraph effect which mixes still photo and video to create an image where part of the picture is moving. Neat.

Nokia has always had a bunch of keen apps for its Windows Phone handsets and that continues here, including a new augmented reality app (where the image seen by the phone’s camera is supplemented with data overlaid on top). City Lens, it’s called, and it floats details of nearby hotels, restaurants and pubs on the screen.

Nokia has long had downloadable maps on its handsets. That’s here in Nokia Drive which offers turn-by-turn information so your phone becomes a satnav. Even better, because the maps are on the phone, you don’t need a data connection so won’t run into expensive roaming charges overseas. Unless you opt for extra features like traffic information.

And Nokia Music is a free music streaming app. You have to choose from Nokia’s music selection, though, this is pretty good, and there are restrictions on how many tracks you can skip or repeat and so on. But if you like a song, you can buy it with a couple of clicks.

No wonder this phone is so big, there’s a lot in it. Some hands really will find it too big or too heavy, but it offers a tremendous user experience. This is arguably the best smartphone Nokia has built, and probably the most advanced phone available. It mixes solid reliability with moments of surprise and delight.

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Darrell Banks’s ‘Open The Door To Your Heart’
music
News
Detective Tam Bui works for the Toronto Police force
news
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

    Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

    £50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

    Ashdown Group: Part time Network Support Analyst / Windows Systems Administrat

    £30 per hour: Ashdown Group: An industry leading and well established business...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'