Nokia has introduced two smartphones running Windows Phone 8, the latest version of Microsoft’s OS. The Nokia Lumia 920 is the flagship and the Lumia 820 includes much of the same technology, with some significant design changes at a cheaper price. Let’s take a closer look.
Nokia Lumia 820: Design
At 160g, the Lumia 820 is lighter than the Lumia 920 (185g), making it more pocket-friendly and comfortable to hold, helped by the curved back and softly rounded edges. In common with other Nokia smartphones it's well built, reassuringly solid and pleasingly resistant to shocks.
Unlike the Nokia Lumia 920, which is made from a single piece of polycarbonate, the shell of the Lumia 820 is removable, providing access to the battery, microSIM and microSD card slots. Running along the side are volume rocker, power and shutter, for launching the camera, they’re all made from plastic so lack the premium feel of the Lumia 920 and on the bottom there’s a headphone jack and speaker.
The Lumia 820 comes in a wider range of colours than the Lumia 920, including: purple, grey, white, turquoise, red, yellow and black, colour selection is something we wish more manufacturers would provide.
Although the Lumia 820 lacks the finesse of the Lumia 920, its unique design with individual flourishes, ensures it doesn't feel like too much of a compromise.
Nokia Lumia 820: Screen
We've mixed feelings about the 4.3-inch screen, it's a good size for watching movies and browsing the web, AMOLED technology ensures blacks are exceptionally deep, blending in with the trim on the phone, while colours are vibrant and bold, rather than natural. Off-angle viewing is respectable, although you can see the blue sheen associated with AMOLED technology.
The 800x480 resolution is less than rivals the HTC One S (960x540) or HTC 8X (1280x720), zoom in closely on text and you can clearly see jagged edges, it's a shame the resolution isn't higher, although we are being uber critical here. Overall the screen is excellent - definitely one of the better smartphone screens we've seen - just not quite class leading.
Nokia Lumia 820: Connectivity and storage
On-board there’s around 8GB internal memory, which for the first time on a Nokia Lumia device can be expanded using a microSD card, bringing the total memory available to 40GB - an element of flexibility that will appeal to users who quickly fill up their storage with photos and music. The phone also includes a setting that enable you to preselect whether music (but not apps) is stored on the phone or card.
As a Windows Phone 8 handset, the Lumia 820 comes with 7GB free SkyDrive cloud storage, which can be use for keeping documents created in Office (which you can edit on the phone) and then accessing them from a computer. You can also upload photographs and movies directly from the phone to Sky Drive, selecting the quality, although for higher quality levels you'll need to be on WiFi.
The Nokia Lumia 820 is one of the most well-connected smartphones on the market, inside there’s an NFC chip for making contactless payments and it’s also compatible with a series of wireless charging accessories - such as the Nokia Wireless Charging Plate, Fatboy Wireless Charging Pillow and Wireless Charging Stand. Whether you use these accessories or a wall charger, it charges very quickly.
Nokia Lumia 820: User Interface
The Nokia Lumia 820 runs Windows Phone 8, you can read more about changes to the UI in our Nokia Lumia 920 review. The most significant change is the ability to change the size of the tiles between small, medium and large. This means you can have more tiles on the homescreen and reduce the size relating to importance - for example you may have your favourite contacts as small tiles each taking up a quarter of the space of a conventional tile.
Kids Corner lets you create an area on your phone specifically with apps, videos and games for your children. It’s accessible by swiping left from the lockscren and separate from your main phone features - like the browser and messages. It's a cool native feature and one we'd like to see in other operating systems.
One of our biggest complaints about Windows Phone 8 is the limited number of compatible apps. Although there are some fantastic individual apps (such as Xbox SmartGlass, which lets you control your Xbox using the phone), the choice is long way behind the other operating systems. Nokia has addressed to some extent this with some excellent apps such as turn by turn sat nab Nokia Drive, Nokia Maps and City Lens, a useful AR app.
Nokia Lumia 820: Camera and multimedia
On the back of the Nokia Lumia 820 is a 8-megapixel camera, complete with dual-LED flash and Carl Zeiss Tessar lens with bright f/2 aperture. Anyone expecting to find Nokia’s PureView technology here will be disappointed, without an optical image stabiliser low-light performance is very average.
In fact we are disappointed with the quality of photographs taken with the Lumia 820. It's not that they are bad - the phone handles noise pretty well and they are generally well exposed, but they are soft. Focus by tapping the screen or depressing the solid shutter half way, although the latter seems a little slow. Alongside pre-set Scene modes there are a smattering of adjustable features including ISO, White Balance and Exposure Compensation. It’s a shame these features aren't more extensive, as such there's no HDR mode, however some interesting ‘lenses’ adding extra functionality. Designed for portrait, Smart Shoot shoots a series of frames then enables you to go back and correct elements like red eye, while Cinemagraph turns still photos into live-action.
The Nokia Lumia 820 also captures full HD 1080p movies, which are fairly smooth, if lacking the clarity of movies taken using the Lumia 920.
Nokia Lumia 820: Performance
One of the headline features of Windows Phone 8 is its support for multiple cores, so the Lumia 820 has a dual-core Snapdragon 1.5GHz processor. In general use it feels tighter than previous phones like the Nokia Lumia 800, switching apps and functions sometimes stutters, but the superior hardware dramatically improves the user experience.
Nokia Lumia 820: Verdict
It’s easy to look at the Lumia 820 and think it’s a poor-man’s Nokia Lumia 920, but the Lumia 820 is a fantastic phone in it's own right. Windows Phone 8 is exceptionally easy to use, the screen is great and it's well built, without the bulk of the Lumia 920. Marry this with a lower price point, removable battery and microSD card support and it's actually a more accessible phone that deserves to be a success.