IMG 1695 Nokia Lumia 820 Review

Nokia's mid range Windows Phone 8 offering – is it any good?

Introduction

Those of us who were teenagers in the late 1990s and early 2000s (yours truly included) would have had Nokia phones as our weapon of choice in communications. My very first cellphone was a Nokia 3310 with a yellow backlight, paid for out of my own pocket from a vacation job. That was considered the ‘typical’ standard among students back in 2001, and the BMOC (Big Man on Campus) was the one who carried a Nokia 8250 with a blue backlight.    

Nokia’s star has apparently faded over the years though, especially after smartphones made their debut and captured the hearts of many. Apple had their line of iPhones, while other manufacturers for the most part went with Android, with Samsung leading the way. Nokia chose to walk a completely different path with their own Symbian OS, which was eventually superseded by the Windows-enabled Lumia line starting in 2011. Their exclusivity with Microsoft, starting with the Windows 7-enabled Lumia 710 and 800 has had the effect of pushing the company to the sidelines.  A tech friend of mine once summed up the current mobile phone wars as such: ‘Samsung/Android on one side, Apple/iOS on the other, and Nokia/Microsoft getting caught in the crossfire.’

While this might be a gross oversimplification of the true scenario, it does contain a certain grain of truth. While everyone is swooning over the latest Galaxy Note II or the iPhone 5, Nokia gets short shrift. This review aims to shine the spotlight on one of Nokia’s first offerings with the Windows 8 mobile OS, the Lumia 820.

image001 Nokia Lumia 820 Review

The phone on the wireless charging stand (optional)

 

Initial Impressions: Size, Weight, and Build Quality

The phone does seem a little hefty in the hand, even though it only has a 4.3 inch screen. With dimensions of 123.8 x 68.5 x 9.9 mm and a mass of 160g, it does weigh quite heavily on the hand, and the thickness is considerable. By way of contrast, the Samsung Galaxy Note II is slightly thinner at 9.4 mm and is only 23 g heavier in spite of its much-larger 5.5-inch screen.

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Left Side view. There are no ports or buttons here.

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Right Side view. From left: Camera shutter button, power button, volume controls

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Bottom view. The ‘Back’, Windows and Search buttons on the screen can be seen. The bottom itself consists of the microUSB port and microphone.

 

While the back cover is made of cheap-looking glossy plastic, looks can be deceiving. The plastic appears to be strong and does not flex easily under manual pressure. The glossy texture lends itself to being susceptible to grime and fingerprints, however.

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Back view with the camera lens and flash.

 

Among the first things I did upon receiving this phone was to open the back cover so as to insert the micro SIM and micro SD cards. At least, I attempted to. A full five minutes of fumbling with the phone did not yield any hidden catches or buttons that could allow the back cover to be removed easily. A quick search of the manual revealed that the removal of the back cover could be done by sliding a thumbnail into the crack between the back cover and the main body. That took another five minutes to accomplish properly, even though my thumbnail was long (I had been planning to trim it later in the day, honest!). And I wasn’t the only person with this quirky problem, as a cursory web search of Lumia 820 reviews reveals.

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Sliding my thumbnail into the crack. If you had just trimmed your nails five minutes before, good luck to you.