The Sydney launch event for the new Nokia Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 went down last night and it was definitely an interesting affair. A far cry from the hype and huge media campaign we saw for the Lumia 900, this launch party was fairly low-key. It was more of a “come play with our new smartphones’ do, rather than a big event with a prepared speech about Nokia’s new direction and its future.
The thing is, this was actually pretty good. It meant more time playing with the Lumia 920, Lumia 820 and the various accessories, rather than listening to facts and numbers that we were already familiar with or uninterested in.
The Lumia 920: First Impressions
The Lumia 920, for those who might still be unfamiliar, is the new flagship Windows Phone 8 device from Nokia. Complete with a 4.5 inch 768×1280 display, 8.7MP PureView camera, 4G LTE connectivity, cordless charging and, of course, the new Windows Phone 8 UI, the Lumia 920 gave a great first impression for WP8 and the new Lumia lineup as a whole.
The Lumia 920 is very reminiscent of the 900 in its design and overall shape. The new colour scheme (yellow, red, white, black and grey) looks great, especially the vibrant red and yellow models but the look is offset somewhat by the sheer bulk of the device.
The 920 is even more chunky than we’d been expecting. It’s not particularly uncomfortable to hold and it’s surprisingly light for such a large device. But it’s a shame to see such a great approach to smartphone design be hampered by an issue like size.
That’s not to say the Lumia 920 is unusable; it’s actually a little bit smaller than the GS3 in height and width. But the 920’s screen is smaller than that of the Galaxy S3, meaning that there’s a lot more unused room around the edges of the display. The overall look is still great and stylish, but it would look fantastic with smaller bezels.
We immediately noticed how great the screen is on the Lumia 920. The great pixel density, super vibrant colours and dark, inky blacks work really well with the Windows Phone 8 UI. The new layout is also much easier to use. The ability to squeeze more tiles on to one screen makes the WP8 UI even more casually usable than ever. It’s refreshing to see that Microsoft is addressing its UI issues without conforming to the almost standard icon-grid layout we’ve all become so familiar with.
The UI was zippy and smooth. The browser loaded incredibly quickly, thanks in part to both the browser itself and to 4G LTE connectivity. Considering the underground nature of the event, the speed was even more impressive. Many of the guests had barely passable 3G reception.
Unfortunately we didn’t get too much time with the 920, but that’s unavoidable at these events. Our first impressions were definitely positive. Once again we would have liked to see the Lumia 920 receive a bit more of a streamlined design, but it didn’t really ruin the experience. We’re still really keen to try out the Lumia 920 with an in-depth review and can’t wait to see what Nokia and Microsoft have to offer with this new gen of phone.
The Lumia 820: First Impressions
Our initial impressions of the Lumia 820 were actually a bit better than the more powerful 920. This is totally due to its slimmer, sleeker external design. It was comfortable to hold, felt secure in the hand and the screen didn’t look small compared to the overall size of the device.
Surprisingly, we actually liked the general design style of the 820 better as well. The unassuming shape and construction worked well with the vibrant colour scheme to create a simple-yet-fun feel. It’s clear by how other manufacturers are starting to follow suit (HTC, for one) that Nokia’s attempt to bring colour back to the smartphone game is working. We love it and hope the trend only increases in future.
The charging shells for the 820 are also pretty great. While we would have liked a slightly glossy finish, the bright colours mean that you essentially have the option of switching from one to another, if you feel like a change. But, most importantly, the shells (cases, really) allow for wireless charging. Wireless charging isn’t exactly the most world-changing technology, as the phone still needs to be placed on a charging pad, but it’s still a cool way of getting that little bit of battery boost when you’re sitting at a desk or in front of the TV. The charging shells also offer moderate protection, although they only felt about as sturdy as a standard plastic case.
The 820’s display wasn’t quite as impressive as the 920’s. The size of 4.3 inches isn’t really an issue, as screen size is a fairly subjective area, but the 480×800 resolution is noticeably less crisp. 480×800 isn’t a terrible resolution for a screen this size, but it’s a far cry from the incredible 768×1280 of the flagship Lumia 920. Still, colours were vibrant and blacks were still darker than on most other phones in the market.
Overall we’re just as keen to try out the 820 as we are the 920. While it probably won’t be as solid an experience in terms of pure smartphone capabilities, we’d like to see how the smaller, cooler design ends up making an impact one us in comparison.
Both the Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 will be available in Australia from the end of November. The 920 will be coming to Telstra for $829 (RRP) in black, white, red and yellow from Telstra. The grey Lumia 920 will be available through retailers.
The Lumia 820 will be available through Optus and Vodafone in black, white, red and yellow for $649 (RRP). Both devices have 4G LTE support, although we’re currently uncertain if the 820 will work on Vodafone’s 3G+ network.
Overall we found both the Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 to be very promising devices. We unfortunately didn’t get to test them out in too much detail and we’re still chomping at the bits to check out the PureView camera on the 920, but we’ll just have to be patient for now.
We were also impressed by the cool accessories that were available for both devices. Nokia’s approach to funky NFC-enabled speakers is great. The larger speaker even offers wireless charging for that extra battery boost. Just plonk it down on top and the stereo will immediately begin playing, no docking required.
The headphones were also pretty good too. We’re not sure how many people will go for that bright a monochrome design for something as big as headphones, but we liked them.
Of course there were also the wireless chargers that came with colour-matching bags. Not only that, but the phone could actually charge through the bag. Very cool.
So far so good. Now all we need to see is how well each devices goes as a daily driver, rather than a short-term toy at launch event. Our predictions: optimistic.