Windows Phone 8 handset roundup: Nokia Lumia 920, HTC 8X, Samsung Ativ S and more

Windows Phone 8 handset roundup: Nokia Lumia 920, HTC 8X, Samsung Ativ S and more

On Monday, Microsoft formally unveiled its latest mobile operating system, with the new platform arousing considerable interest in both the US and the UK since it was announced back in June 2012. ITProPortal live blogged from Monday’s exclusive London Windows Phone 8 launch in case you want to relive all the main talking points as they happened, but now, it’s time to take a closer look at the vehicles responsible for driving Microsoft’s latest mobile OS forward. Without further ado, let’s meet the first wave of Windows Phone 8 handsets – and make sure to check out our review of Windows Phone 8 as well.

Nokia Lumia 920

Background

Windows Phone 8 has three flagship devices in all, and none is more important for all parties involved than the Lumia 920. The word ‘beleaguered’ is applied to Nokia and its financial struggles nearly as often as it is tacked onto introductions of RIM, while Microsoft needs blockbuster smartphones as it seeks to push Windows Phone adoption and set its on-the-go operating system on a path to one day competing with Android and iOS. As the only high-end WP8 handset currently on 4G, the Lumia 920 is the one that really matters for Microsoft’s new mobile OS – and, by connection, its radical new Window 8 ecosystem as a whole

Design and build

One of the criticisms frequently levelled at the Lumia 920 is that it’s a bit chunky. Weighing in at 185g and sizing up at 10.7mm thick, it isn’t exactly little black dress material, at least not by today’s standards of super-svelteness. For those keeping score, that’s more than 70g heavier and 3mm chubbier than the iPhone 5. The Lumia 920 utilises its girth to the full, packing a host of cool features (see below) as well as a powerhouse 2,000mAh battery delivering 10 hours of (claimed) 3G talktime. In other words, don’t let the current fetishisation of über-minimalist mobile designs put you off the 920 – a good phone is a good phone and it’s not like it won’t fit into your trouser pocket. For style-conscious consumers, the Lumia 920 is also noteworthy for coming in a range of fun, bold colours with both glossy and matte finishes available.

Display and processor

The screen measures 4.5in diagonally, making the Lumia 920 a halfway house between the 4in category currently led by the iPhone 5, and the 4.5-5in segment typified by the ultra-expansive Samsung Galaxy S3. Crucially, the Lumia 920 exploits its extra inches, boasting a high quality resolution of 1,280 x 768 pixels at a stunning 332 PPI. Behind the pretty screen, there’s a Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset running the show, comprising a dual-core Krait CPU clocked at 1.5GHz and an Adreno 225 GPU.

Features

What potentially sets the Lumia 920 apart from its WP8 rivals is the quality and scope of its additional features. At 8.7-megapixels and an aperture of f/2.0, its PureView-standard primary camera is just that little bit better than the competition, sporting Carl Zeiss optics complete with image stabilisation – a real rarity in the mobile arena. But most importantly, it’s the only Windows Phone 8 device currently lined up to run on the UK’s new 4G LTE spectrum, as being rolled out by EE this week. It’s also NFC-ready to power those futuristic sandwich purchases you’ve been dreaming about, though unfortunately there’s no microSD card slot, so you’re tied to 32GB of on-board storage. For added awesomeness, the Lumia 920 also supports wireless inductive charging – hardly essential stuff in 2012/13, but early adopters are no doubt salivating at the prospect of getting a cappuccino and a bit of mobile juice ahead of their peers.

Price and availability

By the UK’s (generally) open market standards, the Lumia 920 is a bit of a diva and will only be available on EE and via Phones 4u for the foreseeable future. Unofficial SIM-free pricing hints at an outright payment of around £470 for the 920 and a number of tariffs have already been revealed – though none are exactly a bargain.

A reasonable-sounding £50 down payment will get you a £41 a month, two-year contract with a 1GB data allowance, which is about twice what most heavy smartphone users ideally want to pay for their mobile fix. That said, 4G deals aren’t going to come cheaply, and variation by handset and network is likely to be minimal for the time being. 

All things considered, Nokia’s new flagship handset is probably the best-rounded, most attractive Windows Phone 8 device currently available – unlike its rivals, the Lumia 920 will arrive in the UK this week. Moreover, our initial hands-on flirtations with the 920 have revealed a phone that feels and operates every bit as smoothly as it should, given the impressive nature of its specifications. We think all of the new WP8 mobiles are worthy of serious consideration, but the Lumia 920 is probably the benchmark.

For more on Nokia’s flagship Windows 8 handset, see our Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 spec comparison.

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