It’s one thing to admire Nokia for its design prowess but quite another to appreciate the aesthetics that go behind the design itself. Nokia’s Lumia 820 was only recently launched for the Indian market, and being at the launch venue itself gave me the opportunity to get a quick hands-on of the new Windows Phone 8 toting smartphone.
Design and build
The Lumia 820 has an appealing design form even if it does seem a little generic. It’s a simple rectangular, candy bar-styled handset in a nutshell. Keeping that in mind, it was initially rather disappointing at first sight as it gives you a whole different feeling when it’s in your hand. The rounded edges and width of the handset make it easy to hold and quite comfortable to access most parts of the display with ease.
Not a bad looker
The volume rocker is placed on the right side, followed by the power key and the camera shutter release/activation button at the bottom of the same side. It's always great to have a shutter release for mobile handsets as it makes it so much easier for capturing media. Sometimes, tapping on the virtual capture key can be quite cumbersome.
Colour options in matt and glossy finishes with the NFC/Wireless Charging antenna
Like the Nokias of old, the Lumia 820, in an attempt to live up to its heritage, has a removable rear panel that can be interchanged with alternate colour options. The device itself is all black, so it pairs easily with any and all colours. The panels themselves are available in a variety of types – matt, glossy and rugged (slightly rubberised). This will allow you to be colour coordinated with your device if that's what you're into. Sadly, you'll have to buy these yourself if you want a range of choices. So pick a colour you like upfront. The only options available for now are in Glossy tones. We noticed that the covers with wireless charging tends to sit very snugly on the back while the covers without this feature felt a tad loose.
Nokia's Clear Black Display technology makes sure viewing angles are optimised irrespective of the lighting conditions. The contrast ratio is vivid and the 4.3-inch display with its 480 x 800 pixel resolution really pops.
There's really not much one can say about the Windows Phone 8 UI that hasn't already been said. It's designed to work smoothly whether its on a Rs. 35,000 handset or one that's priced at significantly lower bracket. Thanks to Qualcomm's Snapdragon Krait dual-core processor running at 1.2GHz, all functionality seemed absolute and swift.
Angry Birds! Yay!
This kind of processing power also allows for seamless playback of full HD content, which was available to try. Needless to say, it was a fair experience. We also got the opportunity to test the audio on this handset and thanks to audio partner Dolby, with their Headphone Sound Enhancement, tone quality seemed pristine. But we'll have to test it in our labs and in outdoor conditions for a more detailed experience.
No hot-swap for the memory card
Getting rid of Zune's media transfer feature, like it is on the WP7 devices, Microsoft has made media lovers quite happy. The new added microSD card slot with support for up to 64GB was a welcome sight. Add to that the available 8GB of onboard storage and you've got more than enough space for your media and more. Nokia will also be providing up to 7GB of online cloud storage via SkyDrive. What the Lumia 820 could have certainly used is a hot swap memory card slot. Unfortunately, you're going to have to remove the battery should you require removing the card for any reason. I suggest getting a higher capacity card if you want to avoid this situation. Speaking of the battery, we noticed that it just tends to slip out while opening the rear cover so it's advisable to hold the phone face down and then open it.
A lot of extras such as a video and photo editor are part of the handset's software makeup. Nokia's Mapping (Nokia Drive) software with GLONASS support via GPS will be much appreciated, I'm sure. Other location-based apps – other than those for social networking – including Nokia's City lens and a few other apps will also prove to be handy for travellers.
NFC and wireless charging was also showcased for all the Lumia devices that were announced. Accessories were announced and will be available from next week onwards. Prices are yet to be disclosed.
As you may well know by now, the Lumia 820 sports an 8MP autofocus shooter with a dual LED flash. We'll put the camera to test when it gets to our labs. It's no PureView, but with Carl Zeiss backing Nokia for so long, there's very little to complain about the camera section. The various lenses included with the device will help make your images a little more 'entertaining', for lack of a better term.
The bottom Line
With an MRP of Rs. 27,599, Nokia might just have a real winner on its hands with the 820. However, it will need to seriously boost app capabilities—which is the only major issue with the platform. As far as the hardware goes, the Lumia 820 is right up there with the best in this range and could make a few loyalists, who can't afford the 920, very happy. But we did expect the price to be a little more competitive. So their catch phrase – Switch to Lumia – is more of a question, at least for most of the Android and Apple users.
Stay tuned for the full review and camera comparisons only on Tech2.com.