For the last three months, I have been using the Nokia Lumia 928 which was provided to us by Microsoft. Today, I’d like to elaborate on my experiences and overall impressions of the device in everyday use.
Although primarily a mobile phone, the Lumia’s low light camera performance is one of the main selling points. As such, I thought it would be prudent to discuss this feature first. Before I got it, I was skeptical about the performance since I like good photographs, and I rarely use my smartphone camera as a result – the quality is usually limited by the size of the sensor. More pixels on a small sensor can actually make peformance worse! However, with ever advancing technology and the very important feature of image stabilization, the Lumia camera really performed well, especially compared to the iPhone 5 and Samsung S3, which I tested extensively.
In the auto mode, the pictures where brighter and sharper than the competition. Personally, I would have liked to be able to make manual changes more easily rather than having to go through a menu, but it seems like Nokia made exactly this improvement to their new Lumia 1020 phone. Speaking of, the 1020 was released shortly after the Lumia 928. Equipped with a bigger sensor and bulkier lens, this new phone is even more optimized for photos, boasting a 41 megapixel sensor. While the picture quality of the 1020 is even better, you should also bear in mind that a single picture will be at around 15MB large, meaning it fills up either your phone memory or cloud storage rather quickly. The phone is distinctly bulkier and comes with an optional camera/battery grip extension that gives it the appearance of a point and shoot camera rather than a smartphone. Personally, I’d probably prefer the 1020 with even better photo performance, while my wife would go for the 928 because of its smartphone format.
We know that simply taking pictures isn’t enough anymore, and most people want to share them instantly via social media. For a long time, windows phones did not have the capability to share photos with certain services and if so, it was rather cumbersome and Instagram wasn’t available at all. However, just recently they introduced the app Hipstamtic Oggl, which enables you to take pictures with various lenses and then post them to all of your connected social channels – all from one app. Currently, the app still has a few bugs but I expect them to be resolved in a few weeks.
Compared to inexpensive point shoot cameras, it performs well in low light situations. However, compared to more advanced point-and-shoot cameras the pictures are less sharp and more noisy and the same is true for DSLRs. However, these devices are only meant to take pictures, and sometime video but you have to bring along an extra device and while that may seem fine when on vacation, most people simply won’t carry their cameras with them at all times.
So overall, the camera performance is outstanding for a smartphone and even stacks up to low-end point-and-shoot cameras. With the newly introduced sharing capabilities the Lumia is a front runner for people who like to take pictures and share them instantly, all with just their smartphone. See for yourself:
Video & Audio Performance
While the camera performance was exceptional compared to other smartphones, I liked the video capabilities even more. Full HD video, image stabilized with a great microphone left little to be desired, especially considering it’s an on-the-go device. Going forward, I will use it for interview recording when I am traveling, because it means I can travel lightly and still get good results! Again, compare for yourself:
Using the Phone
The Lumia operating system is intuitive, well thought through and it simply works. Over the period of three months, I had my screen freeze just 3 times on me and then I could just hit the lock/unlock button with my thumb twice and things were back to normal. No reason, to restart or anything – it just works.
Phone calls are easy to make, the sounds quality is good, as is the Verizon wireless network, so not complaints there. However, more than making phone calls, I was using the phone as a calendar, for email and internet purposes. Windows phones have their own services that you can use to connect to facebook, email, twitter etc. and it let’s you know whenever there is a status update on any of your channels in one central place, which I found very convenient. At the same time, connecting to facebook also imported all of my friends as contacts, which cluttered my address book with more contacts than I really needed, for phone purposes.
Email works well, just like outlook and it is fast as well as reliable. Of course, you can’t use certain features that are special to gmail, such as their latest segmented inbox, but I don’t mind that at all. It also has keyboards in different languages built in so it’s no problem to write in different languages. Everything syncs well, and it works smoothly and reliably. The same is true for the calendar function so overall, I was very happy.
The internet LTE service from Verizon was blazingly fast and the Lumia’s built in capabilities of internet sharing with 8 devices came in extremely handy, when I was on the go and wanted to work on my laptop. Then, the internet speeds seemed even faster, even if I had two or three devices connected to the Lumia hot spot. For example, I could easily stream a netflix movie in HD quality on my laptop. It also worked beautifully while we had an unexpected power outage at the office and so it saved me a day’s of work, which was amazing!
Surprisingly, the battery life (even when using it as a hotspot) is very good, and in everyday use, the battery always lasted. However, when we were traveling and using the phone heavily during the day, the phone would die at around 4pm. Overall, the battery was drained at the end of the day with even minimal use, but most people charge their phones daily as it is. By default, you can charge the phone with the included micro usb cable but alternatively you can use any Qi wireless charger, which is a really nice feature in my opinion.
When it came to Navigation, my impressions were mixed. On the one hand, the Nokia Here navigation alternative does not require an internet connection to work, which makes it superior in theory but in practice this only works if you actually know the specific address. Just the name of the store or restaurant won’t do it. In cities, where internet connection is no problem, it seemed google maps was easier to use and it could locate establishments by name better than Nokia Here. Ideally, I’d like to be able to use Google Maps and Nokia Here. Unfortunately a Google maps app is not available anymore for Windows phones, which is less than ideal in my opinion.
In regard to apps, it is true that there are fewer apps available for windows phones, relatively speaking. You still have more than 100,000 apps at your fingertips which should be sufficient, unless you work with special software, which likely only integrates with Android and iPhone. So, if you have special app needs, the Lumia may not be your best options.
Unlike most, I’ve never used a protective cover. That being said, the Lumia 928 phone has a very smooth plastic exterior, so it’s more likely to slip from pockets and bags than more textured phones. As such, the Lumia was dropped a number of times on hard and soft surfaces. While the corners show a little bit of wear, the phone itself is totally fine as is the screen. As such, it seems to be a solidly built device.
The built in speakers are relatively powerful and so I have been using it with an app for the seven minute workout.
It’s easy to open excel spreadsheets, word documents or pdfs and is generally probably one of the best business smartphones to get work done. But then again with the rise of tablets, I doubt there will be many people editing their spreadsheets on a phone. However, if you have just that one device, you can certainly rely on it with confidence.
The Lumia 928 is a handy smartphone that combines phone, internet, camera and video capabilities on a high level. With weaknesses in battery life, navigation and app availability, it is suited to people who like to take photos and videos to share without carrying the bulk of a point to shoot camera or camcorder. It also works perfectly as a wifi hotspot and to get work tasks done. Altogether, I will likely keep the phone although the Lumia 1020 seems even better suited to me with its increased photo capabilities, especially the option to quickly adjust manual settings. People who don’t shoot pictures manually though will be better off with the Lumia 928 because it has less bulk. Compared to Android and iPhone operating systems, I can say that the operating system works differently, but I find it very intuitive and user friendly. In terms of image quality, especially in low light, the Lumia tops current Android and iPhone devices.
So, should you buy one? That really depends on your needs and preferences. In any case, I’d suggest you take a close look because Nokia and Microsoft put together a solid device with noteworthy photo and video capabilities.
Note: all Lumia pictures were taken without any filters or apps and came straight from the phone.