Moving on from the candy-coated goodness of Android Jelly Bean, we now have a brand spanking new Windows 8 phone under the GR microscope. The good folks at Verizon have fired off a Nokia Lumia 928, which is proving to be quite the accomplishment from the company and Windows phone hopefuls alike. While the Lumia is heralded as one of the best Windows phones around it’s still a bit surprising to me that the spec shows some serious lack of luster in a few key areas including screen size, display resolution and a bold departure from the slim designs of which the mounting competition seems to adhere.
That said, there is a lot to love about the Lumia 928. The phone improves on a the few shortcomings found with 920 while retaining most of the same tech and hardware. That’s not an easy task for some manufactures. Moreover, Nokia has not succumbed to the 1080p peer pressure which seems to be “trending” right now. I’ve only had the phone for a couple days. A review is still a ways off. But for now let’s talk about my 7 most notable impressions 2-days in with the Nokia Lumia 928.
The Lumia 928 is a very nice looking phone despite it’s rather bulky initial feel. But my first impression, after the Galaxy S4 and HTC One, was that the Lumia is unnecessarily large–as large as both the aforementioned devices with a smaller display than both at 4.5-inches. The Lumia 928 is visibly thicker than either of those devices too with a slightly rounded back. It’s lighter than its predecessor the 920 by nearly a full ounce and now weighs in at 5.71 ounces. But I really like the weight and hefty feel. I have a known aversion to light airy devices and the Lumia is a welcome change from the flimsy GS4, despite its use of plastics.
There are three physical buttons. You have a volume rocker, power button and camera button (access camera + clicker) on the right side. At the top we have a microUSB slot for charging/syncing, SIM card slot and 3.5mm headphone jack. I prefer the power up at the top or somewhere other than among the other most used buttons. I have accidentally pressed it several times while trying to lower the volume.
Under the hood, the 928 is powered by a slightly older Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor clocked at 1.5 and sports a lofty 32Gb of storage capacity. Yet pushing Windows 8, the processor responds just as quickly as the newer more capable Snapdragon 600 CPU found on the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S4.
There is a trick to this one. The display on the Lumia 928 is a AMOLED display type behind Corning Gorilla Glass 2. Aspect ratio is 15:9. Static images look great and captured video playback is almost equally as nice. But AMOLED is best at the static and stationary image. One of reasons the display comes off with such elegance is the “ClearBlack” technology used. It’s supposed to provide better viewing angles and deeper–richer blacks. It does, But that ain’t it! There a couple filters within to reduce the ambient light by changing its direction before it’s reflected off the display behind. The light is then trapped upon traveling back. The end product is one of the coolest tricks for a mobile device… I can’t tell where the screen ends and the bezel begins. It serves up the illusion that the display extends across the entire face of the phone–especially when looking at the Windows 8 Live Tiles.
UI + Live Tiles
The ClearBlack tech also makes the UI looks incredible. It’s a very different, very Spartan look. It will take Android and iOS stalwarts a relative short bit of time to learn the UI ins and outs. But the biggest hurdle is accepting how much simpler it is to navigate around the Windows 8 ecosystem than it is with some Android rekins and even iOS. Live Tiles are not as interesting or as dynamic as BlinkFeed on the HTC One. But they make for a very clean UI that is easy to decipher and navigate. A simple swipe to left takes you to a nice clean single-file list of all the apps found on the device.
Nokia has enjoyed much renown for its camera tech and the Lumia 928 is no different. The phone has a 8.7mp camera with the Xenon flash and Carl Zeiss lens in its PureView camera. Low light shots still need some testing, although these are supposedly the devices “bread and butter”. But simple point-and-shoot pics during the day, while indoors and out look great. But they are not quite accurate. There is a slight exaggeration in color saturation. Again the shots look great but the HTC One and GS4 are more accurate. The closest rival is the Galaxy S4 as the Lumia 928 easily beats out the iPhone 4s and iPhone 5 indoor and outdoor pics. The internal optical image stabilizer helps tremendously when taking quick point and click shots, even with a single hand.
Note: I have only mucked around with these next few peripherally.
But I like the Xbox integration. It’s not all that new for Windows phones but we haven’t said much… With the included app bundle you can take control of your Xbox dashboard with the Xbox Smartglass app. If you have a membership you can, navigate through your Xbox, browse the internet, use the Lumia 928’s keyboard to type access media content and more.
It’s just as the title suggests. To own the promising new Windows 8 prodigy one must bend the knee to either house AT&T or pledge a similar 2-yr allegiance to Verizon. To thrive Win 8 phones require mass accessibility. That is, unless you believe in the Maven theory of marketing and “tipping points”.
We’ll be doing our usual series of pieces on the Lumia. Expect a comparison here and there and a subsequent review to tie it all together. That’s it for now, the Lumia 928 at glance.
Shawn loves gadgets, literature, history and games. For 10yrs+ he's straddled both the comic book & video game industries, as a writer, editor, marketing officer & producer. Shawn got his start in tech & games as an editor & Hardware Director for GameRevolution.com. More notable accomplishments include Executive Producer on mobile games Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved & The Shroud.