I had a good three weeks to use the Nokia Lumia 928 as my daily driver. And it only took two weeks to determine that Windows Phone is a great alternative to the iPhone or any other Android powerhouse. The Lumia 928 actually made me “make the switch” to Windows Phone. Read on to find out why.
Build is Top Notch
Nokia’s hardware has always been stellar. The Lumia 928 is no exception and Nokia continues its tradition of beautiful and purposeful hardware. The Lumia 928′s light weight polycarbonate body feels great and doesn’t feel cheap at all. I love the look the of the Lumia 928 with nothing protruding except for the physical hardware buttons. The Lumia 928 sports it’s normal power button and volume rockers on the same side along with its physical shutter button which becomes really important on a device with a really good camera. The Lumia 928 is the best looking piece of hardware right next to the Lumia 920. Most Lumia fans are into the Lumia 925 design,but I prefer the Lumia 920 and 928. The lens is flush with the back and doesn’t protrude out making it a flat device so that it rest on it’s back. It’s a design detail that is mostly overlooked and largely why it is a great looking smartphone .
You definitely don’t want to drop the bad boy. If your a clumsy person then you should probably get a case. But if you’re a pretty careful person that doesn’t take out the device every minute of the day, then a good screen protector will do. You’ll take extra special care when holding the device just the way it feels in your hand due to its heftiness. In reality, the weight actually results in better handling. With smartphones becoming increasingly lighter and thinner, I think that actually makes us more careless about the expensive piece of hardware that we hold in our hands. I like the weight the Lumia 928 provides. It definitely gives the device some character. It reminds you what you’re holding, a premium piece of technology.
- 4.5″ 720p AMOLED PureMotion HD+ - ClearBlack display w/332 ppi pixel density
- Dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait Qualcomm Snapdragon processor – 1GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage
- Constructed out of lightweight polycarbonate material – Pure color throughout with no risk of color flaking or chipping
- CDMA/GSM capable w/ LTE and HSDPA support
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n dual band – Bluetooth 3.0 – DLNA – WiFi hotspot – A-GPS and GLONASS support
- 8MP Carl Zeiss optics rear camera – Pureiew technology – Optical Image Stabilization – Xenon and Led flash – 1080p @ 30fps video recording and stereo sound
- Non-removable Li-Ion 2000 mAh battery – Built in wireless charging – Battery endurance rating of 41 hours
Since the display is only 4.5″ on diagonal and measures around 5.24 x 2.71 x 0.44 inches, using the Lumia 928 primarily with one hand is very doable. The square nature of the Lumia 928 is a little off putting at first. But after a while, you tend to get used to it and it doesn’t hinder going one hand at all. Nowadays. I’m finding that this is very important. Especially with everyone moving on to displays of 5″ or more, using two hands every time to do something can be tiresome. Increased screen real estate is great but the reason behind owning a smartphone is to make it easier to communicate. Especially with one hand and not handicapping you to using two hands all the time.
Battery life was impressive on the Lumia 928. Windows Phone has been known to have great standby time. And when it comes to battery life and mobile devices, Nokia knows it’s stuff. Even with a measly Li-Ion 2000 mAh battery, the Lumia 928 lasted through the day. With a heavy user like me, I did have to charge the device every night. But battery life was something I wasn’t too concerned about on a Windows Phone like I am with an Android.
Lumia Specific Apps Highlights:
If you want a Windows Phone, you’ll want a Nokia Lumia. The amount of specific apps for Windows Phone created by Nokia is staggering. The apps work really well and you could see Nokia’s commitment to Windows Phone. You can instantly tell Nokia has been working on their apps to catch up with the times, and the hard work has paid off. Not only are they visually pleasing but functional as well.
- Here Maps and Here Drive – The navigation apps can compete with Google Maps and Navigation. With a Lumia phone, you won’t miss Google Maps.
- City Lens – Great little app that gives you a virtual reality type of feel. Just hold up the camera and businesses/attractions will populate your smartphone’s viewfinder. It work’s surprisingly well.
- Nokia Camera – Hands down the best camera app available on a smartphone today and years to come. Not even iOS’es barrage of photo apps can compete with what Nokia offers.
- Nokia Mix Radio – Better than expected music streaming service. User interface and ease of use makes it shine. You also get a good vaiety of “mixes” that even rivals Pandora.
- Nokia Refocus – A photographer’s tool that even a noob can handle. Take a picture (still subjects work best) and refocus anything shown on the screen after you take the photo.
- Nokia Cinemagraph – Take some photos and make it animated. Choose what you want in motion while keeping the rest of the image static. You can download the photos as gifs too.
- Nokia Creative Studio – Easy and fast photo editing tools. The basic tools are there like crop, rotate and auto fix. There are a variety of pre-made filters. If you want to get fancy you can also play with focus object, radial tilt + shift and color pop.
The camera hardware is great, but what really makes the difference with the Lumia 928 camera is the dual combination of a LED and Xenon flash. I can’t tell you enough how important it is to have both. It will flood the subject with enough light so that it is clear and you’re able to see the subject by using the LED flash to fill in light for focus, the Lumia 928 then uses the Xenon flash to take the shot. Another added benefit of having both, is when you record video. The LED serves as a powerful light while recording video.
I won’t go into detail with the Nokia Camera App but simply put, the app is awesome. You can make it simple and keep it on auto. Or even delve deeper into the app to a sea of settings that’s so vast that it has photographers all over the world taking advantage of Nokia’s camera technology. Either way, what you get are some great photos.
Videos recorded on the Lumia 928 exceeded my expectations. Videos had great detail while maintaining the subjects in focus. The camera seemed very capable of keeping the subject in focus and rarely got out of focus during recording like you see with many smartphones. Playing back the videos on a PC looked great and the quality at what you see kind of surprises you. Recording video on the Lumia 928 makes it a hard to even think about buying a dedicated video camera.
- Xenon – The same type of flash used in point and shoot digital cameras. There is nothing better.
- Physical Shutter Button – It works really well. The two stage shutter button provides enough feedback so you can focus first and then take the shot.
- The Nokia Camera, Nokia Smart Cam, and Video camera apps are all now integrated into one app – This makes it easier to flip through the different modes to enable quicker decisions on what type of camera you need when the moment arises.
- Yes you still have to take multiple shots to get the right one. But I even do that on my DSLR.
People like to take photos in low light without a flash and determine whether or not the smartphone has a good camera. I think that’s ridiculous. If you’re not taking photos in good lighting be it in the day or night then you’re photo isn’t going to be good unless you are a professional photographer. Photos need light. This is why a Xenon flash is so important, especially in low light conditions. Some people want to replicate the moment and not have a flash ruin the photo. But in reality most people don’t care about that. If they can see the subject in the photo clearly, then people will say it’s a good photo. And that’s what most of us we really want with our smartphone cameras.
Sample Photos: [click on image to see full size]
Although the Windows Phone experience is mostly the same across all devices, there are some features worth mentioning since Windows Phone doesn’t get any love.
The Overall User Interface is Well Put Together
The Lumia line of phones and Windows Phone seem to have been built for each other. I know there’s HTC and their Windows Phone versions, but the Lumia series seem to be what people associate with Windows Phone. With the user interface, everything is well put together that it doesn’t feel “cartoony” like Android. The interface actually feels and looks like the hardware you are holding. It’s hard to put into words and is something you only know if your a Lumia Windows Phone user. You don’t get the amount of customization you would get with Android, but the Start Screen and Live Tiles give you a lot to work with. You’re actually organizing the tiles all the time until you get the perfect setup. If you install an app, then be prepared to redo the whole start screen! I actually prefer Live Tiles and consider widgets actually stupid.
Windows phone opts to use visual letter pop out with a distinct sound versus a virtual keyboard with vibration. This makes you focus more on what you’re typing. Instead of relying on feel, the keyboard frees up your mind by just looking at what you’re typing and confirming it with your eyes to make sure you type what you want. The sound that Windows Phone uses to let you know a letter was pressed is pretty cool. Even my wife noticed it and told me how much she liked it. There’s a little learning curve to be had with the predictive word suggestion and how you would normally do things like punctuation and copy/paste. But you get used to it. The keyboard is surprisingly well done.
Probably the best implementation of notifications on a mobile device. Microsoft is on to something here, with Windows Phone, Windows 8, and the Xbox One home screen, The live tiles work. There is a little skepticism at first, but once you start using it you start relying on it. Eventually you fall in love it.
The integration of Microsoft Office, Skydrive, One Note and your email apps are a force to be reckoned with on a Windows Phone. Everything is tied together, and Windows Phone does it well. Android and iOS has never been this good, and this is where Microsoft shines. Editing Office documents worked really well. Creating tasks/events and Calendar sync is top notch. Email’s are setup correctly and can be organized on the Start Screen with different live tiles. It’s Microsoft’s world and Android and iOS are just trying to get a nut.
Social Networking Integration
Simply put, Windows Phone has the best integration of Twitter and Facebook on any mobile device. The depth of the integration is good enough that you rarely use the separate apps actually made for Windows Phone. It’s everywhere on the phone, the Me section, the People hub, and even the Photo gallery.
- Internet Explorer – It’s Internet Explorer. Microsoft needs to do a better job at providing a web browsing experience compared to the iPhone and high end Android’s if it really wants to compete in this category
- Can’t Sync Google contacts automatically – You’ll have to export them on a PC and load the contacts onto your Microsoft account.
- No contact search when dialing – Kind of weak since about every phone out now can do it. Calling a contact requires an extra step you don’t normally call or text.
- Youtube – No official Youtube app. This is all Google’s fault however. Google blocked Microsoft’s latest app almost two months ago.
As you can tell, all of the negatives are on the software side. There isn’t anything negative I can say about the hardware side of the Lumia 928.
Apps are no longer a negative. The Windows Phone app ecosystem is growing. Growing enough for me to decide to make the switch. Since the original T-mobile G1 was released, I’ve been a hardcore Android fan. So making the switch was a big decision. I needed a smartphone that was more phone but with camera hardware I’ve been looking for since the Nokia N8. Windows Phone and the Lumia 928 covers both those needs.
Since the Lumia 928 has been out for quite some time, you can actually get it dirt cheap, especially on Craigslist. While everyone is after the latest iPhone and Android, you can find a Lumia 928 in the low $200 range and not be on a two year contract. And even though the Lumia 928 was a Verizon exclusive, it supports GSM networks and comes unlocked so you can use it on AT&T or T-Mobile. That’s pretty awesome.
Hands down, the form factor of the Lumia 928, camera technology and integrated Xenon flash is one of the best combos Windows Phone has to offer. Add in the integrated Nokia camera and map apps, the Lumia 928 is surprisingly a great smartphone to own. Even for the next couple of years.