I have been using a Nokia Lumia 920 for three months and have enjoyed the experience. Nokia’s marketing communication about the device is missing the mark about what makes this phone worthy. Nokia has stuck to its traditional imagery based marketing approach, which stopped working for mobile phones the moment Steve jobs walked onto the stage with an iPhone in hand to give a live product demo. I am sharing my own usage experience here and why I think Nokia Lumia 920 it is a better designed device than what the marketing communication around it seems to be able to convey.
PRICE: If I hadn’t got it as a free gift from my sister I would have been sceptical of shelling out so much money on any Nokia phone. My first choice would have been a Samsung Galaxy/ Note or an Apple – well maybe not an apple since it charges a ridiculous brand premium for its products. It is only after having used Lumia that I think it is worthy of its price. Nokia basically hasn’t done enough to win back the consumer trust to demand any premium for the Nokia brand. Even though this phone is loaded with features and Nokia and Microsoft have gone to great lengths to make the experience good, I still feel that it would be on the consideration set of lot more people if it was about 15% cheaper.
USER INTERFACE: The user interface is designed around tiles with each tile representing a separate app. The tiles are alive, they display updates from the respective apps and move around fluidly. They give a dynamic, fluid feel to the phone than is lacking in the iPhone and android. The fact that they are live probably consumes a bit extra power too but they look beautiful. You have a choice of colors for the tiles and selecting various themes can give your phone a fresh vibrant look. You can customize the layout of the screen by resizing the tiles and moving them around, all of which is fun to do.
RESOLUTION: The screen resolution is the sharper than iPhone 5. The screen is ultra responsive to touch and that makes the glass screen somehow feel soft as even a hovering finger gets the screen to respond. I wrote a 100 page essay almost entirely on the phone. Being a two finger typist I found it faster to type on the phone than on a laptop (or even a tablet) as my thumbs had to travel much lesser distance to write and the words flew really fast with the auto correct feature working reasonably well. The phone being handy and accessible at moments of inspiration made me reach out for the phone more often than the laptop. I am lying comfortable on my couch and typing this post on the phone, which I can’t do with my laptop or even a tablet. I will however need to give this the final touch on a laptop.
CAMERA: The photographs taken by this phone in low light are far better than what I can get even with my Nikon 5100D. The photographs are crisp, have no shakes, have no low-light noise, and capture good colors. Due to the camera being mounted on some sort of a spring mechanism, the images are remarkable shake free and far superior to any digital camera. The normal daylight photographs are ok, nothing exceptional there. The Carl Zeiss lens at the back works well but like most other camera phones, it catches finger smudges all the time and has to be wiped before taking the picture. Some sort of a lens shutter would have been great to have. There are two photo editors in the phone- one that that comes preloaded, and another which was later made available by Nokia store as free download with more features called creative studio. You get to choose which of these do you want to edit your image by. Both are powerful, though would have been nice to keep both as a single app.
MAPS: Nokia Drive, Nokia’s own map application is extraordinary. The phone has a built-in GPS chip that can work without any mobile data usage. There is an option to download the entire map of any country into the phone for free, and after that you can work in the offline mode using the maps. So even if you are on international roaming, you can use the map feature to find your way around without the costly data download, or even having a Sim-card in it (I think). I did a 2000 km drive through Rajasthan relying on the Nokia drive with its offline map navigation and was impressed by its accuracy. A female British voice was alerting me the specific exit I need to take on a roundabout in Ajmer, Rajasthan. It was uncanny in its accuracy and its sense of timing. The map itself is a sort of 3D view of the city that feels more real than the traditional view that most maps have. This mapping feature is more powerful than even the professional car GPS systems that I have seen.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Social media integration is one of the core features of the phone. Once you have linked your social media logins into the phone settings, you can can post updates/ links/ photos/ videos across Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin through a very simple and intuitive interface. The contact list makes use of the social media integration very powerfully too. It prompts you to link the telephone numbers with social media IDs of your contacts. Once you go though it the magic begins. For every contact in your phone, along with the phonecalls and SMS history, the phone also pulls in all their social media updates, all of their photographs ever posted on FB, personal details in their social media profiles. It is so beautifully done that is almost feels like invasion of someone privacy even though it is accessing only the shared information of that person. I have had incoming calls that displayed peoples faces and names as caller id’s even though I did not have their contact numbers in my phone. The phone somehow just picked it up from my social media list and made a little magical connection for me.
APP STORE: The appstore has most of what you need, but there are gaps – no instagram, no economist app, only a partial tunein app, no Vine – Just some of the Apps that I would want to have, but are missing. The store however did have some of the exotic ones that I didnt expect – Baconit (reddit), Google Analytics, Specialised timers. Others apps will soon come for sure as windows gets widely adopted across HTC, Samsung and other device manufacturers. The interface of all windows apps are similar, based on swiping across screen and all have better aesthetics than apple or android apps. The apps feel a lot more stable than most of the android apps too.
SKYDRIVE: Skydrive backup is useful as it is integrated into the phone deeply. All the photographs and documents can be saved into the phone or into the Skydrive. This makes it easy to switch between devices – my phone and my laptop, and also online – it is as good as dropbox but with better integration. The synchronization works well, though I did get errors at times when the document could not load onto SkyDrive in poor connectivity, and then even when I would moved to good connectivity the synchronization would not happen. Had to manually switch copies into the SkyDrive on more than one occasion. Overall I found it very helpful especially when I had to use the editor feature of the phone.
I havent used the Xbox features on the phone since I own a PS3, but I have heard good things about how the phone integrates with Xbox console too.
Too many logins – There is one part of the phone which is pretty messy and I hope Nokia fixes it. There are a large number of logins – windows id, Nokia id, Xune id, xbox id, Skype id, music store, OVI store, Skydrive. The windows id themselves can get confusing as it can be msn/ hotmail/ outlook/ live. Hotmail and msn are about to be discontinued so that adds a bit to the confusion. It could all have been done through one login. It feels like each of Nokia’s different silo of operation are showing up in the user experience too, and take away from the coherence of the device. Clearly there is a scope of improvement in this area.
Music Services: Nokia has a great music services which allows unlimited downloads of almost any music. This offer beats what iTunes offers and I have always wondered why this service never became as popular as iTunes. Unfortunately I am unable gain access to it on my Lumia 920. I had my piece imported into India and the default setting seems to be UK music store (with UK prices). Nothing on their website guides me about how to fix it to point to Indian store. There are enough people who have posted this question in various online forums, about having imported their phones and being unable to access the music store, but there is no official answer anywhere.
Workmanship: Overall the phone is beautifully crafted and is a conversation starter. But something is knocking inside my phone when I shake it. A few more people have shared experience of the same issue with their phones too in various online forums, to which Nokia guys seem to have responded saying that it is nothing to worry about. Well, the knocking is a bit irritating, but I am not irritated enough to goto a Nokia repair/ service centre to get it fixed. This is a bit unexpected for a phone, and that too when you are paying top money for it.
So am I Recommending this phone? Yes. I think it is a brilliant device. Each part of Nokia Lumia 920 is well designed. Once you get all the logins out of the way as a one time exercise, it all seems to work well. The Specs of the phone are very good for the price that it is available at. If only Nokia could put out a sharper marketing communication around the phone, engaged better with the social and online chatter about its phones, the price point would probably become more convincing for the buyer to pay.