Nokia Lumia 920 (vs iPhone 5) preview

Mark Hattersley
7 September, 2012
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Nokia Lumia 920 (vs iPhone 5)

Nokia, www.nokia.com/

Pros 

Nokia Lumia 920 has a large screen; good system innards

Cons 

Nokia Lumia 920 is huge, bulky, and heavy; lacks decent apps

TBC

Reviews

Nokia has attempted to pre-empt Apple with the announcement of its Nokia Lumia 920 mobile phone. While Apple has yet to reveal the iPhone 5, thanks to lots of iPhone 5 leaked images and specifications we seem to have a fairly good idea of what Apple is about to introduce: even so far as to seeing test units out in the wild.

Neither product has a price or official release date yet, although Apple is considered to be bringing the iPhone 5 to market first with an expected 21 September release date, while the Nokia Lumia 920 has been announced as ‘later in the year’.

Interest in both devices is running high, so we thought it’d be a good idea to do a square-off between the Nokia Lumia 920 and Apple iPhone 5. Both Apple and Nokia appear to be focussing on providing better displays for their devices, so let’s start with that.

The Nokia Lumia 920 display

The Nokia 920 has a 4.5in screen with a 15:9 aspect ratio. That’s pretty big and edges the device towards the smartphone meets tablet category (or Phablet as some people are describing it). Interest in bigger screens is pretty high, and many people seem to think the 3.5in display on the current iPhone 4S and iPod touch is looking a little small (we’re still of the opinion that there’s space for a smaller overall phone, but it seems the market is heading towards the bigger is better approach).

Nokia is touting its Puremotion HD+ WXGA IPS LCD touchscreen with Clearback technology as something of a breakthrough (not to mention a mouthful). It sports a resolution of 1280 x 768 pixels with a pixel density of 332ppi (putting it in the Retina display area).

How Nokia Lumia 920 Clearback display technology works

Nokia Lumia 920

According to Nokia, Clearback technology is designed to make the screen easier to view in bright sunlight, which will be worth testing when it comes out. Nokia states that “ClearBlack display uses a sequence of polarising layers to eliminate reflections.You have probably tried polarising sunglasses before now and so have a rough idea of how that works. If you look at a window or the surface of some water using polarising glasses, then they become more transparent – which is why they’re especially good for fishermen. The polariser cuts out reflected light.” That’s according to Nokia, mind, we’ll be interested to put it to the test.

The iPhone 5 display technology

On the flip side the iPhone 5 is expected to have a 4in Retina display with 1136 x 640 pixels, 325 ppi. The iPhone 5 will go from having a  3:2 aspect ratio to a 16:9 aspect ration, essentially the same as most widescreen movies.

The iPhone 4S already has IPS (in plane switching) so we expect the iPhone 5 to have the same, IPS provides a much better brighter and sharper image than the older non-IPS LCD displays, but there is some argument towards the Super-AMOLED technology found in the Samsung S3. Many people claim that AMOLED provides a better picture quality (it certainly produces higher contrast and solid blacks, but many people feel IPS is more natural). Apple may not have technology like Clearback, but we’re not really sure if the iPhone’s IPS display is particularly hard to see in bright sunlight, we’ve never found it a problem (unlike in devices like the PSP and earlier Nintendo handhelds).

The Nokia Lumia 820 had 4.3in display and it found it hard to compete against the iPhone 4S’ 3.5in display, so we’re not sure that everybody going up a gear will make much difference

The Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 dimensions

We hope you have big hands, and sturdy pockets: the Nokia Lumia 920 is 130.3 x 70.8 x 10.7 mm thick. That’s over a centimetre thick and it weighs in at 185g. This is by all accounts a serious slab of device to carry around.

The iPhone 5 dimensions aren’t currently known, but given Apple’s disposition towards ‘thinner devices it is likely to be substantially thinner than the 920 and perhaps thinner than the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S measures 115 x 58.6 x 9.3 mm and weighs 140g.

purported leak has shown the iPhone 5 to be perhaps slightly taller and thinner with dimensions of 124.46 x 58.58 x 7.41mm.

The iPhone has substantially rounder corners than the Nokia Lumia 920 (and we doubt Apple is ever going to introduce square corners) so the general impression we’re getting is that the iPhone 5 will be a sleeker, rounder, lighter device whereas the Nokia Lumia 920 is larger, squarer, and heavier; the proof will be in long term holding but ‘brick-like’ does seem to be the term coming to mind.

Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 technical specifications

Nokia has announced the specifications of the Nokia Lumia 920 so we have a good idea about what’s inside, if not how well this will translate to running the Windows 8 operating system. Apple, meanwhile, is typically reticent about the internal features of its devices even after they launch, so we have a much less clear idea about what the iPhone 5 specifications will be.

Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 system-on-chip

The Nokia Lumia 920 will be powered by a dual core MSM8960 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC (System-on-Chip). The Qualcomm S4 is pretty much state-of-the-art , perhaps only beaten than the quad-core S4 Pro. inside it runs the Arm A7 CPU, Adreno 225 WUXGA graphics (capable of 1080p output), and it’s 28nm process offers 30% better battery performance than the S3 processor.

Mind you, it’s also found in lots of other devices including the Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Razr M, HTC One, and so on: so it’s not exactly a breakthrough device.

Apple produces its own SoC devices branded with A monikers . We’re not sure whether Apple will go for the dual-core 1GHz Apple A5X processor with its quad-core graphics (as first found in the new iPad) or roll out a new A6 processor with a quad-core system or faster CPU cycle. The A5X has a slower CPU clock rate (between 800Mhz-1GHz) although it also sports an Arm A7 CPU; but it does have a quad-core Power VRSGX543MP4 GPU.

The Nokia Lumia 920 has 1GB RAM and the iPhone 5 may well match that, if it needs it. People have been predicting 1GB RAM on the iPhone forever, and one day they’re bound to be right.

It’s all about balancing battery life, with heat dissipation and form factor, along with enough power to power the display and run all the features correctly. Getting the balance right is really important while continuously improving each feature. Some reports have the Nokia Lumia 920 feeling really hot, and it’s undoubtedly quite large; it may be that the iPhone 5 has different specs to maintain battery life and keep the form factor down.

We’re also not 100% convinced that any of this matters beyond ensuring that the operating system, features, and programs designed have the space and power to work well. Which may be fine in both devices.

Tech-heads love to woo over specifications, but interface and feature implementation seem more important to customers. Not that one doesn’t lead to the other, but with such tightly controlled development. Putting both operating systems to the test is what counts.

Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 storage

The Nokia Lumia 920 comes with 32GB of storage as a single standard, along with 7GB of free SkyDrive Storage. The iPhone 4S is available in 16, 32, and 64GB models and offers 5GB of iCloud storage as standard.

Apple may drop the 16GB model from its line-up, although we think it’ll perhaps keep the 16, 32, and 64GB models as a good standard. We sincerely doubt that you’ll see a 128GB model in this update.

Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 Connectivity options

The Nokia Lumia 920 will be available in LTE and HSPA+ models and uses a Micro-SIM. The iPhone 5 is also expected to sport the 4G LTE/HSPA+ technology from the new iPad (third-generation). Contrary to earlier reports it will appear that Australia (Telstra, Optus and Virgin Mobile) will have LTE technology in place around the iPhone 5 launch, whether the iPhone will operate on the right frequency is yet to be confirmed.

Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 camera quality

The Nokia Lumia 920 has a 8.7 megapixel camera on the back and 1.2 megapixel on the front. Pretty good but it’s the inclusion of PureView that’s raising interest. PureView is a collection of Nokia technologies, including a floating lens for both still image and video stabalisation. It was first introduced in the Nokia 808 PureView with a oversized 41-megapixel sensor (the idea being that zooming would not degrade quality).

Whether PureView offers real advantages on the 8.7-megapixel camera is debatable though. Or at least it will be when the Nokia Lumia 920 comes out as Nokia’s demonstration did not include taking photographs.

The iPhone 4S also has a 8.7 megaplixel camera and Apple is thought to be introducing technology that improves image quality without going down the line of increasing the megapixel range of the sensor. What, exactly, this entails will possibly be revealed on 12 September.

Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 price and availability

Nokia have not announced any pricing for the Nokia Lumia 920, they have also not given an launch date beyond ‘later this year’. iPhone 5 pricing and availability is due to be announced at Apple’s event on 12 September, with our prediction of release date to be 21 September.

It’s a fair expectation to see the iPhone 5 as being around the $799 mark that is currently the price for a 16GB iPhone 4S. We would expect the Nokia Lumia 920 to be around the same price, although Nokia and Microsoft may take a hit in profit to try to gain a foothold in the market.

Windows 8 vs iOS 6

Windows Phone 8 software continues to be in the ‘surprisingly good’ category. Tiles are an effective alternative to app icons, and the Live Tiles are a neat alternative to Notifications.

The real question remains apps: both in terms of quality and quantity Windows falls short, it falls shorter than Android let alone the iOS platform. There’s nothing close to the quality of the App Store and it’s hard to see how Microsoft is going to set about changing that situation. App Store apart, however, and Windows Phone 6.5 is a genuinely competent mobile operating system, and if Windows 8 manages to truly combine that sort of fluid interactivity with professional grade Microsoft business applications then it could start to make some headway. Even so, we’d let others do the legwork and wait until Microsoft really starts to deliver before making a large investment.

Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5: the market opinion

The business market seems to have written off the Nokia Lumia 920 before it even launches, Nokia’s announcement was followed by an immediate 10% drop in Nokia’s share price. Conventional wisdom seems to be is dictating that it’s a bit late for a third ecosystem to gain any traction. And Windows Phone frankly hasn’t gone anywhere so far, and this device isn’t likely to change that. We’re not 100% convinced that Windows is out of the game yet, but any noticable change in marketshare isn’t likely to take place in the short term.

It is unlikely that Apple will to see a 10% drop in its stock price following the iPhone 5 launch, it’s typically selling between 20 and 30 million iPhones in each quarter and each model is steadily showing an increase in sales and analysts predict that the iPhone 5 will be one of the biggest product launches of all time. While older models are being used to provide the market with cheaper options for those on a budget, making it easier to buy into the iPhone market, and the iOS ecosystem of apps and data make it harder than ever for customers to leave.

We’re not so bold as to claim both Microsoft and Nokia are out of the game, but convincing people to spend approximately $750 on a Windows phone instead of a iPhone, or Samsung S3 if you really must have an Android phone, doesn’t seem to be a viable option on a personal level. We wouldn’t do it ourselves, or recommend it to others. Okay, fair enough, we are Macworld, but even so: we’re finding it hard to find a compelling reason to move outside the iOS ecosystem (or even Android ecosystem) for slightly larger screen and arguably marginally better camera. We can’t see any killer feature on the Nokia Lumia 920 or Windows 8.

If all three devices were available today (including the iPhone 5 that we are imagining Apple is getting ready to launch) our cash would probably go on an iPhone 5, Samsung S3, and then Nokia 920 in that order. Mostly because we’ve bought into iOS and don’t want to swap to Android, and find switching to Windows unthinkable.

Macworld Australia‘s buying advice

For the time being you can’t buy either, so waiting for the iPhone 5 to be announced is probably a good first step. But the question becomes should you wait for the already announced Nokia Lumia 920 to go on sale after the iPhone 5 is launched? Probably not. We’ll update this article when more information about each device comes along.

16 Comments

16 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. Meincranbourne says:

    I have a windows HTC Mozart phone I use for work, and no matter how much i look at it I still can’t find anything interesting about the Windows mobile operating system so I expect it will be more of the same multiple clicking and sliding and yawning with this new phone but at least you’ll be bored quickly at least!

  2. Maddy says:

    You are already creating a bias by saying
    “But the question becomes should you wait for the already announced Nokia Lumia 920 to go on sale after the iPhone 5 is launched? Probably not.”

    Maybe some people like myself would, I have the Nokia 900 and coming from a iPhone 4s, I am more than happy!

  3. vineet says:

    Lumia 920 is a clear winner…try the windows phone once and you will feel the difference ..IOS and Android are all going to be obsolete..

  4. Brisboy says:

    What a load of biased nonsense, granted it is Macworld site, but come on, this is just fanbot drivel

  5. sum1 says:

    1. About the camera quality: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYYr1cG8hEY
    2. Lumia 920 has wireless charging, NFC but hey, no need to mention that because iPhone doesn’t have it
    3. As for the brilliant market comparison of yours, Apple shares fell when iPhone 4S was announced.

    Why worry about pesky things like facts especially when they get in the way of your partisan opinion.

  6. buckweed says:

    Seriously biased review, not even giving a chance to the phone. I would definitely put Windows Phone ahead of any OS on the mobile platforms at the minute, the 920 is definitely my next phone.

  7. Maheethan says:

    Waiting for Lumia 920 for sure! Can’t wait!

  8. Sibron says:

    that review was a lot less bias than i was expecting, nice work Mark.
    I still have a HTC HD2, am very happy with it, but i am keeping an eye out for a compelling reason to retire it.

    WP7, while looking good, had a few things that i did not like. I hope they have them sorted in WP8

  9. Herman van der Blom says:

    If you want to test “ClearBlack” you can do that already because the 800 and 900 have also the same technology. Thats why these displays where awarded the best Displays available for SmartPhone, even when the Samsung Displays where newer.

  10. Collin says:

    >>>
    According to Nokia, Clearback technology is designed to make the screen easier to view in bright sunlight, which will be worth testing when it comes out.
    <<<

    What are you waiting for? ClearBlack displays have been out for ages. I own a Lumia 800 which also has a ClearBlack display. As the former owner of an iPhone 4S I can attest that Nokia's Lumia 800 display actually is easier to read in bright sunlight. The difference isn't huge, because the 4S also has a good display, but it is still very noticeable.

  11. martos says:

    WP8 is a far better OS than its rivals. Making live tiles interactive leads to a better user interface. Applications aren’t the be all and end all of a smart phone. Most people only use a handful of them anyway.

    If Apple had have come up with the idea of live tiles, every male wearing Doc Martin’s and a beard would be singing the praise of a “Metro” interface.

  12. David says:

    Hey Mark,
    Sorry you writing this article/review/preview is a fully disingenous act. You are “reviewing” two phones that are not even available yet, and you have never used. Please label this as as a ‘preview’ editorial at best.

    Any respect I had for ‘Macworld’ has been lost.

    Regards,
    David

  13. Collin says:

    For some reason my previous posts were mangled. I hope this one goes through correctly. My previous posts may be deleted.

    According to Nokia, Clearback technology is designed to make the screen easier to view in bright sunlight, which will be worth testing when it comes out.

    What are you waiting for? ClearBlack displays have been out for ages. I own a Lumia 800 which also has a ClearBlack display. As the former owner of an iPhone 4S I can attest that Nokia’s Lumia 800 display actually is easier to read in bright sunlight. The difference isn’t huge, because the 4S also has a good display, but it is still very noticeable.

    [quote]
    Nokia Lumia 920 is 130.3 x 70.8 x 10.7 mm thick. That’s over a centimetre thick and it weighs in at 185g. This is by all accounts a serious slab of device to carry around.
    [/quote]

    I have not yet held a Lumia 920 in my hands, but it is thinner than my Lumia 800 which doesn’t feel thick to me at all (and which nobody complained about)! I’m sure this has to do with the curved glass display, which both the Lumia 800 and the 920 have. The curved glass display adds a lot to the devices overall thickness, but I love this so much that it has become a MUST HAVE feature for me going forward, as it also improves display readability, particularly under bright neon office lighting.

    [quote]
    so the general impression we’re getting is that the iPhone 5 will be a sleeker, rounder, lighter device whereas the Nokia Lumia 920 is larger, squarer, and heavier;
    [/quote]

    In the interest of fairness, shouldn’t you have held the device before jumping to such conclusions? The iPhone has rounded corners, but is otherwise just flat and box-like (all sides are exactly parallel). As a result, when you hold the iPhone 4S, you inevitably notice the device’s entire thickness. The Lumia 920 is tapered toward the edges (just like the 800) and the left and right sides are very round (not flat like the 4S). As a result, the Lumia’s feels much thinner than they actually are. Assuming the iPhone 5 maintains the same box-like design, it would need to be at least 5 mm thinner to feel equally thin in your hand.

    Ultimately, design is a very subjective thing. I liked the iPhone 4S at one time, but compared to the Lumia series I now just find them boring generic slabs. I’m hoping the iPhone 5 will be more stylish.

    [quote]
    Whether PureView offers real advantages on the 8.7-megapixel camera is debatable though. Or at least it will be when the Nokia Lumia 920 comes out as Nokia’s demonstration did not include taking photographs.
    [/quote]

    As a consequence of the whole “nokia used fake marketing images” hubub, the verge did their own testing. I would say the night shots taken with the 920′s camera are actually too bright, but otherwise they blow the competition away, including the iPhone 4S. I don’t know what the iPhone 5 will bring, but I doubt Apple will be delivering anything this good. Take a look at the comparison shots done be the verge:

    http://www.theverge.com/2012/9/7/3299784/nokia-lumia-920-pureview-camera-hi-res-photos

    [quote]The business market seems to have written off the Nokia Lumia 920 before it even launches, Nokia’s announcement was followed by an immediate 10% drop in Nokia’s share price. [/quote]

    I find this a very dubious statement. First of all, you should be referring to the stock market, not the business market, which are different things.

    In this case, even the stock brokers are baffled as to why the stock price fell that much (actually 16%, not just 10%). Most say it is simply the result of the “buy on the rumor, sell on the news” mentality, which also affects Apple. Most agree that Nokia would also have had to state price and availability which they failed to do.

    Anyway, the business market will love WP8 devices. Large enterprises can remotely manage WP8 devices with the same security and management solutions they use for their Windows clients. WP8 supports secure boot and data encryption via BitLocker. WP8 will also allow customers to set up their own app stores to distribute and update proprietary apps used by their mobile work force. I don’t think this will change much for iPhone carrying executives, but those still locked into the RIM ecosystem due to security concerns will get their first real alternative.

    To sum up, I find this a very poor post. It seems the author looked at some of the Lumia 920′s specs and pictures and then set out to write this article without actually knowing anything about Nokia, their Lumia Series or WP8.

    Don’t get me wrong. I still love the iPhone OS and hardware. But WP has caught up and surpassed the iPhone in many places. The apps are the iPhones only remaining trump card. For me this wasn’t an issue, as I am not a big apps guy. I’ve never installed more than 40 apps on any of my phones, most of which are very well known apps which you can find on all platforms. If you aren’t an apps addict, I would recommend you keep an open mind and give WP a shot for a week or two. You just might fall in love with a new smart phone all over again. I certainly did.

  14. Macworld Australia Staff says:

    Really interesting reading the comments about our bias, when we cop just as much flack for saying that other products are better than Apple’s – see http://www.macworld.com.au/67719 for example.

    Either way, our reviewers/writers are allowed their own opinions – we never direct them to take a certain standpoint.

    Cheers
    Dave Bullard

  15. Collin says:

    [quote]
    Really interesting reading the comments about our bias, when we cop just as much flack for saying that other products are better than Apple’s
    [/quote]

    Hey Dave.

    Yes, you guys are between a rock and a hard place. No matter what position your reviewers take, some group will always be ready to pounce. However, this article really does have it’s weaknesses:

    a)
    it just isn’t researched well enough
    b)
    it consistently downplays ALL of the Lumia 920′s strengths and emphasizes ALL of it’s weaknesses. No device is perfect, but in this case it is all too obvious that the reviewer was reluctant to pay credit where credit was due.

    Unfortunately, this is a problem on most tech-review-sites, and although I would expect macworld to be more biased than others, it is by far not the worst. Still, as this article demonstrates, there is room for improvement. This is how I would suggest going about that:

    What reviewers everywhere finally need to realize, is that EVERY engineering decision represents a trade-off between two or more properties. That means, in general, if one aspect/spec of a device is inferior to another device’s, then the consumer should be getting something else for it in return. If the trade-off wasn’t made between technical aspects, then the consumer should at least be getting a better price. Only if none of these apply, is critique justified.

    It should be the reviewers job to think LONG and HARD about what these trade-offs are and explain them to the reader. Rule of thumb: if you think an engineering decision had exclusively positive or exclusively negative consequences then, 99% of the time, you’ve simply failed to understand the engineering decision in its entirety. This trade-offs analysis is what makes a review valuable, and it is infinitely superior to simple spec-sheet comparisons which even a monkey is up to.

    This is an example of what I mean:

    In this article, the Lumia 920 is heavily criticized for being too heavy. These are the problems involved:

    a)
    Yes, the Lumia 920 is certainly one of the heaviest smartphones out there. However, that doesn’t instantly make it an objectively worse device. Some people couldn’t care less about those extra 60 grams and others actually prefer devices with some heft. I have even read reviews of the iPhone 5, where the reviewer complained that the device is too light.

    Instead of “bitching”, the reviewer should simply have advised those who are uncertain about that extra weight, to check out the Lumia 920 in person before ordering. There is no such thing as a perfect weight… different people will have different preferences and it isn’t the reviewers job to impose his own preferences on the reader.

    b)
    There was no explanation as to where that extra weight comes from or what the owner is getting in return. Firstly, there is the bigger display. However, I agree that this is neither good nor bad, as the perfect display size again just comes down to personal preference. However, the second main contributing factor is not subjective at all: ruggedness. The Lumia 920 is built like a tank! Nokia explicitly states that Lumia devices are not meant to be carried in protective covers. On the flip side, the staff in most Apple stores will strongly recommend taking out insurance or buying a protective cover. I owned an OtterBox, which didn’t just make my iPhone thicker and heaver (thicker than the Lumia 920), but also a lot uglier.

    Some people may prefer the case approach, but I feel more comfortable knowing my phone can take a beating without breaking, flaking paint or cracking glass… after dropping my Lumia 800 over a dozen times onto concrete, it still works perfectly and looks amazingly good, so I know it is possible.

    To sum up… the majority of any device review shouldn’t be about better or worse, but about choices and trade-offs. I would suggest the author of this article take that to heart.

  16. Akash says:

    Typical biased review. Lost all respect for macworld. Lumia is next big thing in the Smart Phone market. It will definitely not flush out cheap-quality android phones or iPhone, but it will put up a good challenge for sure.
    Windows 8 is awesome and it feels great. When app-addicted people will get bored of the Android, they will turn to Windows platform

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