Those of you following me on Twitter already know that I had the chance to get a closer look at Nokia’s upcoming Windows Phone 8 handsets; the Nokia Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 earlier today during lunch with Nokia. First, I would like to point out that the three devices that was presented (two Lumia 920 and one 820) were prototype handsets running non-RTM builds of Windows Phone 8 and pre-release firmwares so any bugs or other weird things I encountered may not be representative of the final products.
Let’s first start with the mighty Nokia Lumia 920. As I expected the build quality was simply perfect from the nice curved gorilla glass screen down to the new ceramic hardware buttons and chromed out camera/logo strip on the back that is no longer prone to scratches. Many of you may be wondering if the Lumia 920 is a heavy devices and rightly so because of its massive 183g weight. Well, yes it definitely isn’t the lightest smartphone on the market but I personally think that it is comparable to how heavy the Lumia 800 was for its size. Generally speaking; weight isn’t going to be a problem because the Lumia 920 just “feels” right and is also thinner than the Lumia 800. The Wireless charging feature does come at a small price here as it should also be noted that the Lumia 820 wasn’t super light either (the one I was presented had the Wireless charging back cover IIRC).
Both devices had NFC enabled so I had a small demo of the native tap-to-share feature of Windows Phone 8 (I personally didn’t even know that this was built into WP8). Simply select a photo in Lumia 920 pictures hub and share it by taping on the Lumia 820. The picture will be sent via Bluetooth or WiFi if both handset are connected to the same WiFi network. Direct WiFi sharing (even if devices are not on the same network) will be enabled later on via WiFi channel bonding.
As I said earlier the handset weren’t running final code so I frankly didn’t bother to look out for new WP8 features (and didn’t have time for that anyway). I personally think that we shouldn’t expect any surprises and that what I had uncovered in the leaked SDK (many of which have yet to be officially discussed by Microsoft) are all of what will “announced/unveiled” next month.
I’m not going to really discuss the Lumia 920 PureMotion HD+ 4.5″ display today because the proto I played with seemed to have an unusually low brightness even when set to high (looked like there was some other auto setting kicking-in when I was on the start screen compared to when I was in apps or the camera viewfinder, either this or some driver issues in the non-final firmware). The touch screen did work even when the finger was cover with a tissue as advertised though. The Nokia Lumia 820′s 4.3″ Super-AMOLED Plus panel was IMO identical to the one found on the Lumia 900 and Samsung Galaxy SII. I personally thought that the higher PPI of the 920 really didn’t make a huge difference compared to the mores modest WVGA screen of the 820. But once again I will reserve final judgement once I have more time with both devices.
Now let’s talk about the 8.7mp PureView camera on the Lumia 920…Nokia isn’t lying. I played with it and did the same hand shaking test as you have already seen in many of the hands-on video across the web and hitting the hardware button to enabled the OIS system feels really weird..in a good way. The image displayed in the viewfinder is amazingly still compared to when the OIS is not in action. Remember that this is still non-final hardware and software so things will get better in time. Myriam from Endgaget who’s in Finland right now touring Nokia and testing the 920 has AFAIK devices running newer FW builds than the one the devices I handled today. Nokia’s Xavier Des Horts showed me some of the pictures and videos he shot with his own 920 prototype and most of them looked on par with what have seen from THe Verge’s hands-on test in NYC and today’s Engadget hands-on. It should really be point out that color reproduction and white balance in stills and videos is really good (natural) compared to any other phone on the market right now.
I also got a quick look at the Fatboy wireless charger which actually consist of the Nokia Wireless Charging Plate inside a Fatboy branded pillow. I also discovered that the charger doesn’t connect to a USB port but apparently uses a relatively big AC adapter. So this means that contrary to what I initially though the Wireless Charging Stand can’t be used as a dock to connect your handset to your PC ( remember that you can sync your Windows Phone via WiFi so this should be a big issue..). I also confirmed that the Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 will also feature Dolby Headphone support similar to previous Nokia high-end handsets like the Nokia N8, 808 (this feature was already mentioned in the official hardware specs sheet of both handsets).
The Nokia Lumia 920 should be hitting carriers and retail shelves in the first week of November (nothing has been officially announced yet but that my guess based on what I was told) same for the Lumia 820. So, that’s all for now folks. Don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you wanting the comments below and I will make sure to try to answer it the best I can now that I’m waiting for a review sample once Microsoft’s finally decides to officially launch Windows Phone 8!