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Nokia Lumia 920 PureView Review

Nokia Lumia 920 is the World's first camera phone with optical image stabilisation, find out how this new camera phone from Nokia performs.

| Nokia Lumia 920 in Camera Phones

Nokia Lumia 920 PureView Review: Nokia Lumia 920 Red (2)

Recently Nokia released the large sensor 41 megapixel Nokia PureView 808, one of the last Nokia phones based on the Symbian O/S, with promises that the PureView Imaging technology would make its way to Nokia's Windows Phones. The Nokia Lumia 920 is the first Windows Phone (WP) from Nokia with PureView built in, and while it was rumoured that the first WP with PureView might feature a larger sensor, this phone has just an 8.7 megapixel sensor and its highlight feature is built in optical image stabilisation - the first mobile phone ever to feature OIS.

Nokia Lumia 920 Features

Nokia Lumia 920 PureView Review: Nokia Lumia 920 Red (5)

As Nokia's flagship phone it has a wealth of high end features, such as a large 4.5inch touch-screen, with 1280x720 resolution, 32gb memory built in, Carl Zeiss lens, Wireless charging (with optional charging base), physical shutter release, Dual-core 1.5GHz SnapDragon S4 processor, all packed into a 10.7mm thick phone available in a number of colours.

Nokia Lumia 920 PureView Review: Nokia Lumia 920 Red (9)

Key Features

  • 8.7 megapixel 16:9 BSI sensor
  • 26mm f/2.0 Carl Zeiss Tessar AF lens
  • Camera Flash Type: Short pulse high power dual LED
  • Optical image stabilisation (OIS)
  • 4.5inch touch screen, 1280x720 resolution
  • Corning® Gorilla® Glass
  • Pixel density 332 ppi, Luminance 600 nits, Aspect ratio 15:9
  • Dual-core 1.5GHz, SnapDragon S4
  • 2000 mAh battery (built-in)
  • 1GB RAM, 32GB Storage
  • Full HD, 1920x1080, 30fps video, 4x zoom
  • ISO100 - 800
  • Available in yellow, red, white, grey, black

Nokia Lumia 920 Handling

Nokia Lumia 920 PureView Review: Nokia Lumia 920 Red (5)

Handling - The phone feels larger and thicker than the 10.7mm specifications suggest, and while the phone has a 4.5inch screen, it feels larger than other phones with a 4.7inch screen such as the Samsung Galaxy S3. It's also noticeably heavier than an iPhone 5, which weighs 112g compared to the Nokia Lumia 920's 185g. The dedicated buttons on the side (from left to right) for shutter, lock, volume are a nice touch, with the shutter release having a two-stage release, where you half-press to focus and then press fully to take the photo. When the phone is locked you can "quickly" enter the camera mode by holding the shutter release button for roughly 8 seconds, although it would be quicker to get to it by placing a shortcut on the homescreen and unlocking it the normal way. The phone screen is made of Gorilla Glass so shouldn't scratch easily, however small scratches can be seen in this review phone, so a cover is recommended, and the rear body is made of plastic and appears to pickup scratches easily so a cover is also recommended to protect this.

Nokia Lumia 920 PureView Review: Nokia Lumia 920 Red (11)

Menus – The phones operating system is quick and responsive in use, featuring large tiles that can be customised for the home page. The design and style of the operating system is carried over into each application you use, making it quite easy to navigate the system. Photo options in the main camera application are a little limited, with a small handful of scene modes, as well as flash, ISO, white balance, exposure (EV +/- 2.0), aspect ratio and focus assist light options.

Nokia Lumia 920 PureView Review: Nokia Lumia 920 Screenshot Wp Ss 20121205 0004 | Nokia Lumia 920 PureView Review: Nokia Lumia 920 Screenshot Wp Ss 20121205 0002 |

To add additional features, such as Panoramic shooting, or photo editing you can get additional apps from the Windows Market Place, which is quite well stocked with a number of recent and new applications (compared to Nokia's Symbian App store for example), however it isn't as full of as Android or iOS, and lacks instagram, and hipstamatic for example.

Some of the built in apps provided by Nokia add additional features:
  • Cinemagraph - Animates a section of the photo
  • Creative Studio - Adds digital filters to photos
  • Nokia City Lens - Augmented reality GPS
  • Panorama - Sweep to create panoramic photos
  • Smart Shoot - Lets you take a number of photos and choose the best, as well as choose the best face or remove objects

Nokia Lumia 920 PureView Review: Nokia Lumia 920 Red (4)

Battery life - Battery life should be reasonable, with a 2000 mAh battery, however, as the phone has a large high resolution screen, it is likely the phone will need charging daily when in regular use. This is what we found in use, and is fairly typical for smartphones like this.

Nokia Lumia 920 PureView Review: Nokia Lumia 920 Red (6)

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

  Nokia Lumia 920 Sony RX100
Shutter Response 0.05 0.0
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.1 0.3
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response N/A 0.3
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 37.0 2.2
Shot to Shot without Flash 1.2 0.9
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.3 2.1
Continuous Shooting
(shots before slow down)
N/A 7fps (speed priority mode, 15 shots)
Continuous Shooting - Flash N/A 1.6s

Focus is very quick, as well as shutter response. Shot to shot is reasonable, with good performance when using the flash, although there is no continuous shooting mode, unless you use the Smart Shoot app.

Nokia Lumia 920 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Nokia Lumia 920 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - The twin LED flash does a fairly decent job lighting subjects that are close to the camera, however it can't compete with a real Xenon flash, producing blurred images in some situations (a night out for example), and nearly every eye suffers the dreaded red-eye.

Nokia Lumia 920 Lens test images

Lens Performance - Purple fringing is noticeable in the shot of the trees, however, it wasn't too much of a problem in other shots. Shooting into the sun didn't cause any noticeable problems, and lens flare was quite low. With a 16:9 / Multi-aspect sensor the camera records more detail at the left and right edges of the photo in 16:9 mode, and more detail in the top and bottom of the photo in 4:3 apect mode.

Detail in photos is quite low, and while colour is bright and saturated, it's the lack of detail that disappoints when viewing full size image. Here are two shots taken at the same time, both set to 8 megapixels 4:3 aspect, with default settings, with the Lumia 920 on the left and the Nokia PureView 808 on the right:

Nokia Lumia 920 PureView Review: 4:3 | 1/2075 sec | f/2.0 | ISO 100 Nokia Lumia 920 PureView Review: 8mp | 1/108 sec | f/2.4 | 8.0 mm | ISO 64
4:3 | 1/2075 sec | f/2.0 | ISO 100 8mp | 1/108 sec | f/2.4 | 8.0 mm | ISO 64 | ND Filter

Detail in images was also disappointing when compared to other 8 megapixel camera phones such as the iPhone 5.

Nokia Lumia 920 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Noise is quite low at ISO100 and ISO200, with a slight increase at ISO400. At ISO800 there is the highest level of noise, although the camera applies quite strong noise reduction, so results should look reasonable when shared on the web.

Nokia Lumia 920 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto white balance (AWB) performs well under tungsten lighting, with a slight green tint, with the tungsten preset giving almost identical results. AWB does an excellent job under fluorescent lighting, and the fluorescent preset performs just as well.

Nokia Lumia 920 PureView Review: Panorama

Panorama mode - The panoramic app on the phone lets you take a photo and then guides you to the next position for the next shot, it will then stitch them together when it has enough photos. It has produced quite a high resolution photo, this one is roughly 19 megapixels.

Nokia Lumia 920 Digital filters

Digital Filters - The built in camera app doesn't feature any digital filters as such, although in playback it does have crop, rotate and auto-fix. To add additional filters, you can use the Creative Studio app that comes with the phone. Creative Studio comes with a number of presets, such as Silver, Ivory, Seashell, Quartz, Original, Jade, Aquamarine, Amber, and Opal. Each of these have additional options where you can set the colour balance, brightness, clarity and vibrance (these have been increased in the last photo using the "Opal" filter). There aren't any HDR modes built in, except for a backlighting scene mode.

Video - Video options let you set the white balance, continuous focus, and video quality (720p or 1080p), there is also the option to have to video light on or off - this uses the twin LEDs and is very bright. The optical image stabilisation does a good job stabilising this handheld video.

Value For Money

The Nokia Lumia 920 is available sim free for £459, alternatives include the iPhone 5 (16GB), available for £415 sim free, the Nokia PureView 808, available for £429 sim free, the Samsung Galaxy S3, available for £399 sim free and the HTC One X, available for £379 sim free. The Nokia Lumia 920 is also available for free on contract.

Nokia Lumia 920 Verdict

Photo fans who were expecting a phone with exceptional imaging performance, such as the Nokia PureView 808 may be a little disappointed to find a more standard sized mobile phone sensor and LED flash, instead of the larger sensor and xenon flash on the previous PureView model. However, saying that, the Nokia Lumia 920 has an emphasis on imaging features in a mobile phone not much bigger than the competition, with a 16:9 multi-aspect sensor and built in optical image stabilisation, which gives slightly better low-light performance than competitors. Adding a larger sensor and xenon flash would have caused the phone to be much larger, and in a market where size matters this would not have been particularly popular.

For those who put image quality before everything else the Nokia PureView 808 is the ideal choice, however if you want a phone with a contract, a modern O/S, and an active and growing marketplace, the Nokia Lumia 920 makes a reasonable choice - the optically stabilised video may be of particular interest to some.

Features are good with full HD video, reasonable macro performance, optical image stabilisation, wide-angle f/2.0 lens, and sharing straight to the popular social network site such as Facebook and Twitter. Colour is decent, and having a bright f/2.0 lens with optical image stabilisation is certainly a unique feature, however image quality is generally quite low as images are quite soft, and lacking detail, which is a shame as OIS sounded like a killer feature. Sharing images to social websites should be fine, but for anything beyond this images were quite disappointing.

Nokia Lumia 920 Pros

Excellent 4.5inch screen
f/2.0 Carl Zeiss Tessar lens
16:9 sensor
Stylish and unique design
2 year warranty
Excellent Sat-Nav built in
Optical image stabilisation
OIS works in videos

Nokia Lumia 920 Cons

Lacks larger than normal sensor
Lacks Xenon flash
Red-eye in all shots with flash
Lacks self-timer
Quite heavy


Nokia Lumia 920 Specifications

Front Camera
PixelsNo Data
Max ApertureNo Data
Smartphone Cameras
Smartphone Cameras
    Additional CamerasNo Data
    Max Aperturef/2
    35mm equivalent26mm
    Optical ZoomNo Data
    Image Sensor
    Pixels8.7Mp (Megapixels)
    Pixels (W)3552
    Pixels (H)2448
    Sensor TypeBack-lit CMOS (B.S.I.)
    Sensor Size1/3 inch
    Sensor Size (width)No Data
    Sensor Size (height)No Data
    Aspect Ratio
    • 4:3
    • 16:9
    LCD Monitor
    LCD Monitor4.5in
    Screen resolutionHD+ WXGA (1280x768)
    Touch ScreenYes
    Focusing modes
    • Autofocus
    • Touch AF
    Exposure Control
    Shutter speeds shortestNo Data
    Shutter speeds longestNo Data
    ISO sensitivity100 - 800
    Movie modeYes
    Video Resolution
    • 1920x1080 FullHD
    • 1280x720 HD 720p
    Video FPS30
    Stereo SoundYes
    Other Features
    Image StabilisationYes
    USBUSB 2
    Internal Memory32000MB
    Power Source
    Battery Type2000mAh
    Box Contents
    Box ContentsNokia Lumia 920, Nokia Fast USB Charger AC-16, Nokia Charging and Data Cable CA-190CD, Nokia Headset WH-208, Quick guide, SIM Door Key

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    Photographs taken using the Nokia Lumia 920

    Cornish surfBlue CustardShip sets saleOtterShellX1DSpanish BluebellsMood IndigoUntitledUntitledUntitledUnregarded detail 20Unregarded detail 18A moment of respite for granddadOld Bridge.... Carr Bridge

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    MyPhotoSchool Avatar
    12 Dec 2012 4:32PM
    Great review guys! Smart phones are now one of the most popular forms of camera so lets see more of these.

    We would love to see a comparison test between the Samsung Galaxy S3, the iPhone 5, the HTC One X and the Nokia 920....How about it?

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