Ease of Learning: 4 / 5
Ease of Use: 4 / 5
Enjoyment: 2.5 / 5
Design: 3 / 5
Value for Money: 2 / 5
Almost immediately after the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft and Nokia announced the new range of Lumia smartphones with the new Windows Phone 8 OS. The two devices that were launched at the time was the flagship Nokia Lumia 920, and the Nokia Lumia 820. As with the previous generation Lumia smartphones, the 820 is overshadowed somewhat by its big brother, 920, but at the same time is designed for those who are unable to stretch their finances as far as the asking price of the 920. Despite the lack of a title, does the Lumia 820 deserve to be in the shadows of the Lumia 920?
When unboxing the Lumia 820 for the first time, it has a noticeable difference to other Lumia smartphones in the family; it’s missing the standard unibody we’ve come to expect. Nokia has opted instead for a removable back cover (known as ‘shells’) and battery, which makes for an interesting and pleasant change. In addition, this detachability allows for a host of colour changes to your smartphone, if you so wish. And based on a quick search, there’s a sufficiently abundance of shells ranging from glossy to non-glossy, wireless chargeable and even outdoors. These colours can obviously be matched with the colour schemes of your live tiles. Although the smartphone doesn’t have the same premium look as the 920, these additional features are a bonus.
Another interesting fact about the Lumia 820 is that it’s currently the only Lumia device that includes an SD card slot, which is essential since there’s a limited 7GB of user storage space available. The device also doesn’t have the same pronounced edges as others in the family, with a squarer look.
What can you expect to find under the hood of the Lumia 820? As mentioned earlier, the smartphone has a removable battery, which provides 1650mAh. In terms of processing, the 820 sports a decent Dual-Core 1.5GHz Krait Snapdragon S4 CPU, and a slightly outdated Adreno 225 (which is now two generations behind), while packing 1GB RAM. Surprisingly, these CPU, GPU and RAM specs match that of the 920, leaving us with some head-scratching to do. This, however, is where the similarities in processing specs end, as the 820 is fitted with a smaller 4.3” OLED screen, which has a measly 480×800 resolution at 217ppi.
There are some more resemblances, though, in other departments, the first of which is the rear camera. Both smartphones are fitted with Carl Zeiss lens 8MP with 3264x2448px resolution, autofocus and dual-LED. It has to be added, however, that the 920 has additional camera features, which isn’t present on the 820 allowing you to eek out a little more in performance. The 820 also offers the same data connectivity, NFC capabilities, sound, Bluetooth, and not forgetting the Windows Phone 8 OS.
As stated previously, the Lumia 820 run on Microsoft’s latest Windows Phone 8 OS. Although the look is still quite a lot different to that of iOS and Android, there’s isn’t a significant change in UI over the previous generation Windows Phone 7. The colourful live tiles are here to stay, which fits in with Microsoft’s look and feel in the greater scheme of things. The animations and 3D effects are still pleasing to the eye, which also makes it easier to use. I was, however, expecting more in the way of improvement, even if just on fluidity, over the Windows Phone 7 look and feel apart from the resizable tiles. Other changes to note in Windows Phone 8 is the inclusion of NFC, Wallet Hub, Skype (with VoIP), Siri-like voice control, OTA transfers, Kid’s Corner and Business Hub (Bloomberg app), with improvements to many already existing features such as multi-tasking, UI navigation and the People Hub, to name just a few. As with other Windows Phone smartphones, it also has the standard apps such as IE10 and MS Office.
There are also a number of Nokia-only apps included with the Lumia 820, which you won’t find on other non-Nokia Windows Phone 8 smartphones. Although there has always been a tendency to add somewhat useless and bulky OEM-specific apps, the Nokia apps are more than useful. These apps include Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive (which offers turn-by-turn, voice-guided navigation), Nokia Music and Nokia City Lens.
Something also worth noting is that if you’re running a copy of Windows 8 on your PC, it will automatically install a Windows Phone app for your smartphone, which allows you to transfer and convert files for your Lumia smartphone. The app features much the same functionality as Zune, only a lot better integrated with an improved UI.
As always, there are some shortcomings with most devices. The Lumia 820 has quite a number of such shortcomings stacked against it. The biggest, and most annoying, is the already mentioned lack of resolution with its 4.3” screen. This means that users won’t be able to experience any HD-like viewing. In addition, the device also feels heavier than most smartphones available today, weighing in at 160g, although it’s still lighter than the 920. An issue that has been plaguing Lumia devices for some time now is the lack of battery life. Despite the low screen performance, the battery just barely makes the day when charge fully the night before.
In the end, there’s a lot to take in when considering whether to purchase a Nokia Lumia 820. There are some aspects that make the smartphone stand out from the crowd, and then a few obvious downfalls that spoil the party. The biggest determining factor, then, comes down to the price. This is another issue for the Lumia 820, in that it isn’t the cheapest phone around, despite being cheaper than the 920. Deals from operators start at around R300pm, which creeps too close to the Samsung Galaxy SIII territory for my liking. With a cash price of around R6000, you won’t want to be opening up your wallet too eagerly. The Lumia 820 is by no means a bad phone, and only falls short of mark with some obvious ‘downgrades’.
You can find the full specifications here.