Nokia Lumia 820 Review: A Windows Phone for the Masses
Want to check out Windows 8 without dropping a lot of money? The cheaper Lumia 820 is similar to its big brother, the 920, but it does skimp where the other splurges, so if you want a premium device, this isn't it. Still, if the price helps you overlook its drawbacks, the 820 has its share of charming features.
The design, unfortunately, isn't one of them. I do like the color -- you can choose from vibrant neon yellows and bright rich red, among other eye-popping hues -- and it's an antidote to staid chrome and black gadgets, but it doesn't mask how cheap the materials are -- the same problem its T-Mobile cousin, the 810, suffers from. That's a marked contrast to the stunning 920.
Design-wise, the only thing the 820 shares with the 920 is a bright, polycarbonate body and glossy finish. Both attract fingerprints and smudges, but the stiff plastic of the 820 looks cheaper than the matte finish on earlier Lumia models. And despite the lightweight plastic, it's somehow still heavier than the 920. The 820 isn't enclosed in a unibody frame, so it's a little less sturdy too, but you can swap colorful back covers, remove the battery and add a microSD card, which you can't do on the 920. You can improve the feel by choosing a ruggedized back cover, but it will cost a little more since you have to buy it separately.
A 4.3-inch screen dominates the front. But the AMOLED display is a far cry from the 920's impressive IPS display. And at 800-by-480 pixels, the resolution is very mediocre. "Clear Black" technology helps to reduce glare, giving dark tones added depth, and Gorilla Glass protects the front, which is substantially sturdier than the frame.
Nokia clearly compromised on the screen to keep the cost down. Still, for the price, I won't complain -- text and images are clear, movies come through without blur or lag and Web browsing is comfortable. If you have to consider the price, I think it's a reasonable compromise for a mid-tier phone to make. And if you want eye-popping definition, you'll have to pay for it.
The 8-megapixel camera shows signs of compromise too, but it takes better-than-average photos. What it lacks are the bells and whistles -- so no PureView image stabilization, which the 920 rocks. But it does come with Carl Zeiss optics and an LED flash. Carl Zeiss is well-known in photography and the lens is far better than most on the market -- pictures look nice, well-lit and vibrant, but you can't really edit or add artistic filters to them. If you want to fiddle with saturation, for example, you'd better boot up Photoshop on a PC.
The 820 runs on the same easy-to-use software as the 920: Microsoft's Windows 8. The software looks great. The streamline interface uses "live tiles" that you can customize to organize apps. Just resize and rearrange them to suit your needs -- one of three sizes lets you show more data or take up less space. If you think Android feels clogged-up with complicated widgets, the simplicity and aesthetic cleanliness of Windows will fill your heart with joy. One cool feature: you can customize your lock screen, so you can learn about Groupon deals or pull social media updates without even unlocking it. Of course, you get read and edit all your favorite Microsoft apps -- like Hotmail, Office, Windows Live and Maps. If you work on the road, that feature alone will be invaluable.
There's also an app called Tap + Send, which uses NFC to send data to others. I didn't find it very useful since Android's version lets you actually just bump phones together to send. Tap + Send, instead, makes you open the app on each phone before it works. Frankly, it's not as robust or quick to exchange data, but you can share websites and some other data with non-Windows NFC-enabled phones.
If you aren't sold on Windows 8, wait before committing to the 820. There are far fewer apps on the platform than on iOS and Android. Windows is expected to surpass BlackBerry as the number three platform, but the distance to Apple and Google is huge. You'll find the a few favorites, but lesser known ones will be missing from the marketplace -- at least until Windows attracts more developers. If you have children, "Kids Corner" will be a hit. The program restricts apps to child-friendly options and it disables the browser and dialer, so it's they won't view something they shouldn't be viewing. Kid-magnet games like "Angry Birds" are available, but unfortunately, since Windows is new, you'll miss out on the Next Big App, since they're often released on iOS and Android before trickling elsewhere.
The 820 might not have the apps, but it has impressive hardware. It runs on a 1.5-megahertz dual-core chip, the same as the 920, so everything is silky smooth -- with no lag. Programs open and close like butter. And the 820 comes equipped with 8-gigabytes of memory, paired with 7-gigabytes of online storage via SkyDrive. But if you should need more, you can add microSD cards up to 32-gigabytes. The battery is slightly less impressive, smaller than the 920 at 1,650 mAh, but it still stays juiced for a decent stretch of time, about a day, and you can push it to a day and a half with minimal use. In addition, you can buy a wireless charging pad, which somehow makes it slightly cooler, but if you do that, save the money and buy a more expensive and better phone.
Overall, the Lumia 820 is a decent mid-range phone. If you want to try Windows 8 without depleting your bank account, it's a fine choice. You won't get the choice of apps you would with iOS and Android, but you'll get a highly customizable interface backed up by sturdy internal components, and a nice camera to boot. ♦
AMOLED (Polarization Filter / Light Time-Out / Ambient Light Sensor)
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November 19, 2012
Good But Not Perfect
I switched to the Lumia 820 after getting tired of the iPhone. Apple hasn't really done much to improve iOS since the passing of Steve Jobs, and Windows 8 looked like a refreshing change.
So I took a leap of faith and took a chance with the Lumia. Wow. Microsoft did a fantastic job with the software -- the layout is simple to use and the features are easy to customize, thanks to tiles.
The camera takes great photos -- the quality is excellent for both pictures and videos. Sure, it doesn't have the innovative features on the 920, but for a mid-level device, you definitely get more than what you paid for.
The apps are a bit lacking for Windows -- compared to iOS and Android -- but Nokia makes up for it with Nokia Drive, a great navigation tool, and Music. Microsoft also adds some great programs with Office, so you can open and edit documents in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and more. You can also store your files in the cloud via SkyDrive.
The voice recognition is splendid too. It's often a small, and overlooked feature, but nonetheless important. You can even have text conversations without using your hands -- it's pretty useful.
If you're worried about Windows 8, don't be. I really enjoy the Lumia 820. And I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a good mid-tier phone.
If I had to nitpick, the battery life is subpar. The drain is pretty variable, depending on your usage habits. Sometimes I'll make it through the whole day on one charge. Other times, I won't make it past five hours. You can tweak some settings to prolong the power -- for example, turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you don't need it, and close apps that run in the background. But I just bought a car charger. It's a simple solution to get me through the day.Was this review helpful to you?
47 out of 50 people found this review helpful.
December 02, 2012
Give Windows a Chance
I picked up the Lumia 820 after being intrigued by Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system. I'd previously owned an iPhone and an Android, as well as an iPad, so I'm pretty familiar with what's out there.
From the outside, the 820 is a nicely-designed device. It's well-built from solid materials, and the clean curves and good size make it easy to fit in any pocket or purse -- not too big, not too small, just right.
The display is vivid and sharp. It's not the best out there, but you're not paying top-dollar either. You definitely get a good bang for the buck in the touch screen department, and the viewing angle is fantastic -- you can see it from nearly all directions.
Now for the platform. Windows is definitely a different experience from Android and iOS. And it's very easy to learn to use. If you're intimidated by Google or Apple, Windows is the least difficult to pick up of the three. The OS is speedy and smooth, and the interface is simple to setup and use.
And Nokia and Microsoft added some great apps, especially for music. With Pandora, you'll be able to download songs for offline enjoyment as well as online. Podcasts are also easy to keep tabs on. Just subscribe and you'll get the latest episodes. There are a lot of games to choose from as well.
Overall, it's a good phone at a great price. And I'd recommend it to anyone. Give Windows a chance.Was this review helpful to you?
36 out of 41 people found this review helpful.
January 13, 2013
Social Butterfly/ Cell Phone Addact
ease of access
not much that I like about it
lock button on the side not the top
the battery dies in like 3 hours
sort of confusing at first
no goood apps such as:
emjoes or however you spell it
i seriosly cant get over the battery life
3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.
December 10, 2012
overall its a capable phone
but after a few weeks with it theres some shortcomings
some with windows 8, some with Nokia
otherwise the phone and windows 8 is pretty good, for web, videos, music, messaging etc, they just seemed to forget that we still make phone calls with phones still!
so overall I am not all that impressed, I am going to keep it for a while but I think I may switch to an Android
heres some things that bug me
cant block calls, no app,
you can block 5 numbers for free for 90 days at a time on verizon, or pay $5 a month to block 20 permantly
cant save you voicemail log in, so you have to do it manually, or pay $3 a month for visual voicemail
cant set you text msg and voice mail alerts to vibrate, only ringtones
cant set contacts to ring even if phone is on silent, so I either leave the phone on when I sleep or I cant get any emergency calls from work, of my elderly mom, etc, I do have a work around, download a silent ringtone and set it as the default ringer when you go to bed, thus only custom set ringtones will ring!, not perfect, but works
the clock on the phone is miniscule, cant make it larger,
you battery, signal strength and wifi icons do not stay on screen, you have to tap it to see them and they disappear after 3 seconds
overall the phone is too large, it could stand to be a wee bit smaller,
I am 6' 270 and I wish it were say 15% smaller
theres no good carry case, theres the otter box with a freakin huge belt clip, I used the case, threw out the clip and used my industrial clip from my blackberry case, 10 times better
the live tiles flipping around I find to be a nuisance and a distraction, so I make all tiles small and then they dont do anything other than display basic info
cant really setup speed dial, got an app to put my favorites contacts in, but what happened to 1 button speed dialing?
theres a few other little details that irk me that I wont go into but these are the biggest!Was this review helpful to you?
1 out of 10 people found this review helpful.
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