Mobile Phones Guide

Nokia Lumia 820 review

Nokia Lumia 820 - The Capable 'Little' Brother

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Launch SRP S$699

Overall rating 8.5/10
Design:
8
Features:
8.5
User-Friendliness:
8
Performance:
9
Value:
8.5
THE GOOD
Sturdy and ergonomic build
Nokia app additions and wireless charging accessories
Good camera performance
THE BAD
800 x 480 pixels resolution
WP8 platform lacking enough apps
More Awards:
Best Valued for Money


Battery Mileage & Conclusion

Multimedia & Imaging

The Lumia 820 comes with a standard 8-megapixel camera, which is definitely a notch ahead of HTC's equivalent device whose camera has a 5MP sensor. No doubt, it pales in comparison with its bigger and badder 920 sibling, it does retain a couple of things we liked on our photographic experience with the Lumia 820. Take for one, Lenses, a selection of photo apps that adds extra functionality to your photo-taking process on the Nokia WP8 device. You can add more apps via the Windows Phone marketplace, including Nokia's own Cinemagraph (creates GIF files), Panorama and Smart Shot apps. We also liked the inclusion of the Focus Assist Light which turns on the flash, meters, turns off the flash before taking the picture. To snap a photo, you either lightly tap on the touch screen on the area you want focused or press and release the shutter button located on the phone's right profile.

Based on photos taken of our indoor set-up, the Lumia 820 did a pretty good job. While colors appear to have a green tinge, details were crisp with little noise (for a smartphone).

The Lumia 820's 4.3-inch, 480 x 800 pixels AMOLED screen (217PPI) doesn't quite live up to the clarity of Lumia 920's PureMotion HD+ IPS, 1280 x 768 pixels screen (332PPI). Even so, it still managed to impress on its own as the display exhibited good color reproduction with deep blacks (though not as deep as the Nokia Lumia 920, we're happy with what we've observed). Ultimately, we were hoping for a screen with a higher resolution to provide users a better reading experience with more detail, crispness and more real estate while browsing the internet.

Nokia has also opted not to include Gorilla Glass on the Lumia 820, which might be a deterrent for those clumsy with their phones, but it seemed to hold up pretty well during our brief session with the device. Unless you are into extreme sports or anything more rigorous, we would say the 820 is sufficiently built for a regular day's usage.

Another thing to note is that while the Lumia 820 comes with a limited internal storage of 8GB, it does have the option to expand it affordably via microSD storage cards (which the Lumia 920 doesn't feature).

 

Battery Mileage

We put the Lumia 820 against other existing WP8 devices including the Nokia 920 and Windows Phone 8X by HTC. Using the same 480 x 800 pixels resolution video that we use across all our mobile device battery tests, we set the same test parameters which includes having the video looped under the following conditions:

  • Brightness and volume at 100%
     
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
     
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter
     
Test Phones Compared
Specifications/Device Nokia Lumia 820 Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone 8X by HTC
Processor
  • Dual-core 1.5GHz
  • Dual-core 1.5GHz
  • Dual-core 1.5GHz
Display Size
  • 4.3-inch
  • 4.5-inch
  • 4.3-inch
Display Type
  • AMOLED
  • IPS LCD
  • Super LCD 2
Display Resolution
  • 800 x 480 pixels
  • 1280 x 768 pixels
  • 1280 x 720 pixels
Dimensions
  • 123.8 x 68.5 x 9.9mm
  • 130.3 x 70.8 x 10.7mm
  • 132.35 x 66.2 x 10.2mm
Weight
  • 160g
  • 185g
  • 130g
Battery
  • 1650mAh
  • 2000mAh
  • 1800mAh

 

Windows Phone devices, both old and new, haven't managed to impress us with their battery mileage (as far as the models we've tested). Thankfully, the Lumia 820 didn't let us down like the others did.

While the Lumia 820's battery mileage isn't exactly fantastic, it managed to beat the other two Nokia devices by almost twice their up-time at 400 minutes. Of course, this isn't quite surprisingly when you compare their screen sizes, resolutions and the type of screen technologies. For starters, the Lumia 920 comes with a bigger 4.5-inch IPS LCD screen with a higher 1280 x 768 pixels resolution. Similarly, the Windows Phone 8X by HTC comes with a 4.3-inch screen, a high resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels resolution on an LCD panel. 

In comparison, the Lumia 820 comes with a 4.3-inch AMOLED screen with a lower WVGA resolution of 800 x 400 pixels. Traditionally, AMOLED displays are known to be more energy-efficient, which explains why the Lumia 820 fared so well despite a smaller battery capacity.

The results are likewise replicated in the portability index (battery to volume ratio). Given that the Lumia 820's AMOLED screen, superior battery time and mid-range dimensions, it is unsurprising that it came in first in this comparison.

Other than the above formal video-based battery test, we observed that the phone could last through a full day, with emails and Twitter feeds pushed constantly to it when using the phone in a casual manner for day-to-day needs. Other activities included occasional web surfing and phone calls. To conserve battery, do keep the brightness to a minimal level and switch off LTE when you find it unnecessary. We find that these few tips do help prolong the battery life by a substantial amount.

 

Conclusion

It's quite clear that the Lumia 820 is meant to be a more affordable companion to its Lumia 920 sibling. That doesn't mean that it is stripped off of whatever goodness that was found in the latter - in fact, there are areas where it actually did better. Take for instance, we actually preferred the handling experience on the 820. It is easier to wrap your hands around because of its rounded edges and smaller build. It comes with a removable battery and a microSD card slot. And of course, it did twice as well as the Lumia 920 did on our battery tests.

That's not forgetting that it is actually armed with the same Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz and 1GB RAM as its Lumia 920 sibling, along with the Windows Phone 8 OS and Nokia's suite of extra applications.

However, if you are looking for both superior screen and camera, the Lumia 920 is clearly the solution. However, if you are willing to forgo that little bit of incentive and prefer to shell out less from your wallet to enjoy the Windows Phone 8 experience, the Lumia 820 is your answer. Its 4.3-inch AMOLED screen is decent to say the least and the same can be said for its 8-megapixel camera. Its reduced internal storage capacity of just 8GB might seem too low, but thankfully it features a dedicated microSD slot for easy and affordable storage expansion.

In fact, we might actually recommend the Nokia Lumia 820 over the Windows Phone 8X by HTC if its price tag is right. And had the Lumia 820 shipped with a higher resolution display, it might have even been a better option than the Lumia 920 brother.

There's no local pricing at the moment but with a retail date fixed for early December, we expect it to be released soon. If you are open to other mid-range devices, you will be spoiled with choices by phones in the Android camp - the 4.3-inch Huawei Ascend P1 (S$648), the 4.55-inch Sony Xperia Ion ($798), the 4.3-inch HTC One S (S$748) and the 4.3-inch Motorola Razr Maxx ($749).