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A brilliant entry into Windows Phone 8
on 17 December 2012
Having owned a Lumia 820 for a while now I feel compelled to write this review, if not for anything else, at least to set the record straight about this phone as a lot of internet reviewers have maligned it; calling it bulky, too heavy with a limited app catalog.
I'm going to ignore the "limited app" thing because it's irrelevant compare with iOS/Android to take the drawbacks of WP in general and apply them to this phone specifically.
First off, this is a beautifully made phone with a great display.
I know the theoretical pixel-density isn't as high as other high end phones but I feel that's only on paper - unless you're looking at it from less than an inch away. In everyday usage, the AMOLED screen produces deep blacks, the viewing angles are very wide, and sunlight legibility is superb; summing up, a great display.
The clean design also blends well with WP's minimalist interface, and the phone itself is built like a tank with a solid, sturdy design - partly contributed to by the ridiculously tight back panel/shell.
And yes when you pick it up, you *will* notice the weight in your hands. For me it's a reassurance of the solid build and quality of the device. Frankly anyone who thinks a hundred and something grams is too much weight to carry around seriously has issues.
What I loved:
Wireless charging out of the box.
You still need the Qi charger, but the default back panel supports wireless charging.
Although the WP operating system is tightly closed for manufacturer customization, Nokia's partnership with Microsoft grants it a unique position, resulting in several useful apps such as Nokia Drive, Transport, Maps and City Lens - apps you wouldn't get on say a Samsung or HTC Windows Phone.
Replaceable battery and microSD card slot.
Two features that are just about extinct on most `flagships' and I always wonder why.
I'll probably never replace the battery (in the 10-12 phones I've had so far, I never needed to), but it's comforting knowing that I could if it ever came to that.
And who doesn't need expandable memory?
Colorful, soft-touch panel, also replaceable.
The last time I bought a phone with interchangeable back panels was in 2005. This may not sound like much of a feature, but I love this: it means I could have a sober black phone at my meeting tomorrow, and a cheerful yellow one at the weekend outing. It means I don't have to put on fat, ugly cases on my pretty phone, and yet not worry about it looking old.
There's nothing worse than an expensive phone that's full of nicks and dents in the first few months.
A couple of things that miss the mark:
The `Dolby Audio' sound
Frankly, I only heard a subtle change in audio quality when toggling this on / off, and I could never tell which was better.
Maybe it's just me (I'm not exactly an audiophile), but as a casual listener it's not so great. It's a so-so feature that's not going to win fans.
The "Carl Zeiss" optics.
I don't care where the lens comes from or how big the sensor is, as an end-user all I care about is the image quality. And while the 8MP photos are not bad, they are not incredibly awesome either. Maybe it could have been worse without a certified lens, but its certainly nothing to brag about.
A couple of things I didn't like:
There's no notification led to show missed calls/texts - I miss this from my old Symbian days. I like it when a phone blinks to let me know I missed something without me having to push a button.
The back panel, while contributing to its solid, almost unibody feel, is almost impossible to take off. Let me say this again - the shell is EXTREMELY hard to take off. So much so that Nokia has a dedicated page explaining how to take it off and advising to use only your nails. (I'm serious, look at this: [...])
All in all, this is a phone that's not without its drawbacks (especially if you're not sure about the whole apps thing), but if you're into WP devices I can wholeheartedly recommend this as an excellent phone.