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We were given the chance of reviewing a device directly from Nokia Philippines. Though this is not the first Nokia Revolution device review, it’s my very first assignment. And I am delighted to review the Nokia Lumia 820.

While we are missing the goodies that are present to its more advanced and powerful brother (Nokia Lumia 920), the phone does still have a punch for being a smartphone that is running the latest mobile operating system from Microsoft, the Windows Phone 8.

The phone may not be the best pick for some, but given that it’s made by Nokia, we all sure do know that quality in design and hardware comes in to the equation and may be the best alternative for some who are in a budget that could not afford the flagship phone of Nokia.

DESIGN and DISPLAY

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The “Most Versatile Nokia Lumia” – dubbed by many due to its interchangeable back covers, the Nokia Lumia 820 struts its colors ranging from black to grey, white, yellow, red, cyan, and purple. Not to mention the additional back cover that enables the phone to be wirelessly charged via a wireless charging pad via QI standards. We have the option to change the polycarbonate back cover at our whim. While it is a delight to see back covers in glossy finish, matte backs are hard to find.

The screen is made of AMOLED which means that vibrant colors are popping out. Although screen readability under direct sunlight may vary, still in those days that I have the chance to use the device, I have no complains about its readability. With ClearBlack displays alongside the AMOLED screen, Nokia’s Lumia 820 remains true to its promise of making those black as deep as it can.

Although for some, the dimensions of the phone may not be appealing at 9.9mm thick by 68.5mm by 123.8mm, the feel of its build quality is apparent. With display at 4.3” and a WVGA 800 by 480 one may have hoped for a beefier display similar to its bigger brother (Nokia Lumia 920) so as to take advantage of AMOLED and the ClearBlack displays that may have silenced the critics of this said device.

[Updated] Many of you may have noticed, but yes the Nokia Lumia 820’s absence of Corning’s Gorilla Glass screen is a bit of a set back. Corning, mostly associated making tough glasses, isn’t the only company that produces such. The screen is also easy to have smudges so I will advise to have a cotton cloth wiper handy or a matte screen protector for an additional layer of protection from scratches and smudges – depends on your preference.

The dedicated buttons on the right side are made of ceramic plates that are known to be less prone to scratches as compared to the older version of Lumia. At the bottom of the phone we can find the Micro USB port (many Windows Phone 8 phone have the port at the bottom, some are located at the top – e.g., Nokia Lumia 928) and the speaker of the phone – the microphone is also found somewhere at the bottom of the screen. We can find the 3.5mm Audio port at the top.

The Nokia Lumia 820 also comes in with the Super Sensitive Touch technology which means, when enabled you can use the phone with gloves – perfect for those oh so cold weather but not practical (to wear gloves) here in the Philippines. Fingernail, and other pointed material that comes in contact with the screen will make its screen move or tapping a tile is also possible.

SOFTWARE

The Nokia Lumia 820 runs the latest mobile operating system by Microsoft, the Windows Phone 8. The latest mobile OS comes updated with the capability of resizing the tiles from small square tile, the regular/medium square tile, and the wide tile – the latter two capable of flipping for an update.

lumia82001App Gap? Although I strongly argue about the number of application on Windows Phone (do you guys really have to download all the apps? Or can you download all of them?) as compared to Android and iOS, Windows Phone 8 has the basic applications like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare. Heck, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and E-Mail applications are fully integrated into Windows Phone. And though official apps for Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, or other social apps are missing, there are some pretty good third-party applications that will serve your needs ready to be explored.

All of the games that you download on any Windows Phone is inside the Xbox Games Hub. You might find the games on Windows Phone a bit pricey, but most of the games that are available has Xbox title on it which means those who also have Xbox can see what games you are also playing. Surprisingly, games like Asphalt 7 Heat runs smoothly on Nokia Lumia 820 considering that the phone is only running in dual core. Lags and app crashes are not an issue, or should I say I have not experienced it. We do have a video sample on the video review. There are also exclusive games that are only found on Windows Phone, and they are running pretty good.

Like other Lumia phones, The Nokia Lumia 820 can also run exclusive apps from the company and one of which is a Lens App called Cinemagraph. Cinemagraph is an exclusive app from Nokia which takes still photographs and composting it into a seamless loop of sequential frames. The best part on this app is that if you are not satisfied with the result, you can easily edit the animated image by launching the app.

See our Cinemagraph example (you’d have to click the image to see the animation):

   Nokia Lumia 820 - Cinemagraph - MOA Eye

There’s also Here, the location-based mapping services. Powered by the superior and the best mapping service of NavTeq, Here is handy  when we are on the road wanting to know directions (Here Maps), on a vehicle mapping the road via a turn by turn voice navigation (Here Drive), or influence your live camera with augmented reality where you can find places where you can easily locate (Here City Lens).

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Here City Lens Screenshot

Kid’s Corner is a feature of Windows Phone 8 that lets your kids or friends explore your phone without worrying of them reading some sensitive data or information that you may not be willing to share or make a purchase without you as the owner giving an authorization to buy the app, game, item, or song. You just have to activate it on the phone’s setting to see it in action.

Office programs or applications like Excel, Word, OneNote, and Powerpoint are also found on any Windows Phone but Lumias that are on Windows Phone 8 runs the latest which is Office 2013. So you can create, edit, and save any of those Office apps anytime on the go on your Nokia Lumia 820. Best thing is you can choose to save the file on the phone or save it on the cloud via SkyDrive. It’s a pretty nifty feature that I for myself is using it often.

HARDWARE

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While other phones boasts it lightness, the Nokia Lumia 820 weighs in at 160gms. Though still heavier than those on the competing OEMs, One would feel the build quality has not been sacrificed. I personally have no complains on its weight but the tag of being heavier is noticeable when holding other phones running Android.

Although the phone is running on Dual Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 clocking in at 1.5GHz, lags and performance issues are at minimum. Comparing it to it competing platforms which runs dual-core… to quad-core… to octa-core… it is still an issue to them, but on this device it’s not. Or maybe because that is an issue with the operating system. I do recall myself owning Lumia 900 but crashes are not evident or just at minimum.

The phone is not Dual SIM capable but the phone is using Micro SIM. Nokia Lumia 820 is also capable of receiving LTE signals from your local wireless telecommunications company but they still need to turn the switch on to make it compatible on this device and enjoy speeds higher than 3G despite the 1308 firmware update. The phone is capable of NFC transactions. USB supports version 2.0.

The Nokia Lumia 820 is the first Windows Phone from Nokia to support an external memory via Micro SD card. It is also quite noting that some Micro SD cards are not compatible, so I advise to talk to your Local Nokia Store Sales Representative about this. The phone supports Micro SD cards up to 64GB. Considering if one has the grandfathered storage from SkyDrive which is at 25GB, that’s is a good additional storage because the phone has an internal memory of 8GB only – else, new SkyDrive users only get an extra 7GB.

CAMERA

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Finally the favorite part in any review. The Nokia Lumia 820 packs in an 8.7MP rear shooter with an Aperture of f/2.2 and is complemented with Short Pulse High Powered Dual LED flash whenever needed. The camera is also equipped with Carl Zeiss Tessar lens that makes the viewing angle wider than other phones. Pinch to zoom is one of the new features that can be used in snapping images.

While I have all the praises to all Nokia phones, the images produced on this device is a bit disappointing coming from owning the flagship device from Nokia. The image produce is a bit washed out. But don’t get me wrong here, the device still can shoot breath-taking images that will depend heavily on the owner’s hand. You might also want to wipe the camera portion at the back to avoid snapping blurry images.

See our sample images (Click to enlarge)

The front facing camera is a VGA camera with an Aperture of f/2.4 and capable of snapping images and recording videos.

The rear camera is also capable of recording videos at 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second minus the OIS from Nokia Lumia 920. See our video recording sample below.

Select 1080p for HD playback. Unfortunately YouTube disabled the function to auto play it in HD.

BATTERY LIFE, TELEPHONY and CONNECTIVITY

[Updated] Battery life in Nokia Lumia 820 is expected. It may not have the highest power on its Nokia BP-5T at 1,650 mAh as compared to Lumia 920, it compensates on the type of screen this device has. Nokia promises the phone will last at 8hrs of 3G talk time, with 360 hours of standby time. On a personal note, the average time the phone is up considering my heavy use of the internet, music playbacks, and taking calls is at about 8 to 10 hours. As we all do know, the more advance tech you use in your phone, the battery drains faster –  6 to 8 hours when my officemates asks me to turn on my internet sharing

There is also an option to every Windows Phone to conserve your battery. By switching the Battery Saver mode on, we can extend the battery life further. There is also an option to wirelessly charge your phone but the availability of the wireless charging pad are nowhere to be found as of yet.

Call Quality is good. My friends, workmates, and my family have no problems hearing me in different locations. Loudspeakers are at an acceptable level just right for switching a call to speakerphone. I have not tested the LTE capabilities of the phone because at the time that we have the phone the 1308 update was not yet available, but HSPA+ is good in areas supported.

Watch the Unboxing and Hands On Video

CONCLUSION

The Nokia Lumia 820 has a different approach in design as compared to other Lumias. With the available interchangeable back covers, plus the option of wireless charging enabled back cover, we can choose our own color that fits our taste.

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The Nokia Lumia 820 is currently priced at PhP 18,990 SRP (US$ 452) as of 30 April 2013. The phone will delight individuals that are short of getting the flagship phone and is the best alternative for that matter. The phone is dependable, the build quality is evident, and the best part – it’s made by Nokia where the phones hardware is still the best around

All packed in this most versatile Lumia phone, the Nokia Lumia 820 is truly a Power Phone at an Affordable Price.

Full Specifications of Nokia Lumia 820: Click Here