Nokia 928 review – confessions of an Android user

June 12, 2013

    nokia lumia 928 aa in my hand

    The newly launched Nokia Lumia 928 has received a lot of praise from consumers and media, and has even been called a contender to the title of best smartphone of the year.

    Sure, the still limited selection of apps for Windows Phone 8 is disappointing, but the Nokia Lumia 928 is still a great player through its hardware, design, and user experience. And, as Android lovers and mobile geeks, we’re always interested to see how the grass is on the other side. So let’s take a look at this bad boy, shall we?

    If you’re in a rush, jump to the bottom of the article for the video, otherwise, stick with us for an Android user’s review of the Nokia 928.

    Design and build quality

    Remember a few years ago when Nokia phones were considered virtually indestructible? Their build quality was out of this world, and we tend to make a lot of nostalgic jokes about it these days. It’s been a long time since I held a Nokia phone, but let me tell you, Nokia’s still got it.

    nokia lumia 928 aa front

    While the Nokia Lumia 928 is made entirely of glossy plastic, the device immediately feels very sturdy in the hand. High standards were set for the build quality of this device, that’s clear.

    The Lumia 928 features rigid corners and a nearly flat profile. It isn’t a heavy phone, but it does have a certain heft, and because of its relatively small 4.5-inch screen, the phone is very easy to handle with one hand.

    nokia lumia 928 aa in hand

    The front of the device is made up of the screen, a front facing camera, and the standard capacitive buttons at the bottom. Looking around the back, we see its white body and one black slit down the middle. This is the Carl Zeiss-powered camera next to the flash, and the speaker grill is at the bottom.

    nokia lumia 928 aa back

    Finally, the microUSB port and SIM card slot are located at the top, while all of the buttons are on the right. From top to bottom, those are the volume rockers, power button, and the two stage dedicated camera button. It’s a fairly thick device, we have to say, but not overly so.

    When it comes down to it, the Lumia 928 is an attractive device that is nice on the hand and on the eyes. While I didn’t do a dedicated drop test, the phone was dropped from about table height landing on concrete. Those jokes about Nokia phones? There’s more truth to them than you might think — despite falling on concrete there were only a few small scuffs around the corners, while some devices, in similar situations, would come out with a damaged screen.

    nokia lumia 928 aa dropped

    This is a great testament to Nokia’s high build quality standards.

    Display

    If you follow smartphone trends, you might be disappointed to learn that the Lumia 928 doesn’t have a 5-inch screen. While some of us may have gotten used to larger screens on smartphones, the lack of one shouldn’t be looked at as a downside — this is because the display on the Lumia 928 is actually very well put together.

    nokia lumia 928 aa display

    The AMOLED panel comes in at a 1,280 x 768 resolution and is rated at 332ppi. So, despite a smaller screen, you still get very nice saturated colors and good sharpness. Don’t be fooled by the simplistic style of Windows Phone 8 — the capabilities of this screen go way beyond the primary white and black colors. However, there are a few issues.

    Viewing angles are decent, but, at even a slight angle, you begin to see a bit of a blue hue, and you’ll have even more trouble with it in broad daylight, since the screen’s brightness is just not powerful enough.

    nokia lumia 928 aa viewing angles

    All in all, the AMOLED display is a great fit on the Nokia Lumia 928.

    Performance

    The Nokia Lumia 928 has a Snapdragon S4 Plus under the hood — not a Pro. This is basically the dual-core variant of the same processing package clocked in at 1.5GHz. It’s definitely not the fastest CPU around, but it still lets you smoothly fly through the 928 with little to no sluggishness.

    nokia lumia 928 aa performance

    Backed by the Adreno 225 GPU and 1GB of RAM, this phone gives you just what it needs for multitasking and optimal gaming. Of course, in the Android space, this might be considered a mid-range device, however, you have to keep in mind that Windows Phone 8 isn’t as demanding as Android, due to its more simplistic nature.

    Hardware

    The hardware under the hood of the Lumia 928 is fairly simple. We have 32GB of onboard storage without a microSD card slot. Being a Verizon exclusive phone, you’ll get the blazing fast LTE network. Additionally, there’s Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, and GPS available.

    nokia lumia 928 aa phone speaker

    Call quality is good, as the call speaker is very loud. Even having it cranked up at three quarter volume, there were no issues hearing the person on the other end of the line. However, if it is set loud enough, it can muffle out the details of the call.

    Finally, the rear-mounted speaker is loud as well, but it unfortunately lacks richness and detail.

    Battery and camera

    On the Nokia Lumia 928 we have a 2,000mAh battery. It can’t be removed, so that might be a downside for some, However, it will get you through the day with ease, but, as you might expect, nightly charging will still be required.

    nokia lumia 928 aa battery

    As for the camera, the 8.7-megapixel f/2.0 rear Carl Zeiss optics, while a mouthful to say, is a very, very good performer. You can activate the camera app by pressing down on the shutter button. You can do this at any time — even when the phone is locked. When it comes down to it, the app is pretty standard, but there are some options that let you adjust ISO and exposure, and extra modes are available via downloaded add-ons, or so-called lenses.

    Carl Zeiss, 2.0 aperture, and PureView stabilization work together to make the quality of the pictures very good. It’s certainly good for portrait shots too, which is great to hear for those just graduating.

    The aperture brings depth of field while the Carl Zeiss optics bring some really good vibrancy and detail. Finally, PureView brings some stellar low light performance. Broad daylight and indoor shots looks great, and lower light shots will benefit a lot from the Xenon flash. All in all, this nifty camera will create some really great pictures, which is something Nokia is known for.

    Click to enlarge.

    Click to enlarge.

    nokia lumia 928 aa camera 3 full

    Click to enlarge.

    Software

    There’s a lot to like about Windows Phone 8 — until you get to the user interface, though, it looks much nicer in its Zune-ified design than previous renditions.

    What you get is a black or white background behind all of the elements in a color of your choice. The elements are customizable and simplistic. That’s not a bad thing though — the whole point of Windows Phone 8’s Live Tiles is to give you information you need in an easy way.

    Live Tiles are basically homescreen shortcuts to all of your apps, however, in Windows Phone 8, they do a bit more than that. When you resize any tile into a larger tile, that tile will give you more information. For example, the photo tile will give you more info by providing previews of your most recently taken pictures and the music title will show you what song is playing. It’s a nice way of getting previews of what is basically a combination of notifications and widgets.

    Swipe to the right and you’ll have your app tray. As you might have come to expect, yes, it is not as big as Android’s. Similarly to the BlackBerry Z10, it was hard getting a lot of the same experiences I get from Android to translate. Again, similar to the Z10, the solution was to use mobile HTML versions.

    What I did really like about Windows Phone 8 was the social media integration. The People app can use your Facebook account to display a built-in feed of your friends’ activity, which means you don’t need to get the dedicated Facebook app. As for messaging, you can use Facebook Chat straight from the messaging app.

    nokia lumia 928 aa in hand with ui

    Windows Phone 8 is appealing because of its grand ability to do the basics in a very clean, functional, and unique way. If you’re not big on apps, the Lumia 928 is a great device to get because all of the things you would generally need are baked into the OS. Many, including myself, like the same color motif of the user interface — it makes the experience seem unique while staying intuitive.

    If you’re okay with the “what you see is what you get” idea, Windows Phone will be a perfect fit for you.

    Video review

    Price and final thoughts

    To wrap up, the Lumia 928 is only available through Verizon Wireless for $99 on a new two-year contract with the mobile operator. Otherwise, you can purchase the device for $499 outright.

    While the hardware, screen, and price point may make the Lumia 928 look like a mid-range device in the Android space, it’s important to keep in mind that Windows Phone 8 is a different beast. It’s very stylish, unique, and sluggishness is barely there. Packed together, Windows Phone 8 coupled with the impressive Lumia 928 make a truly beautiful experience, despite the fact that the Windows Phone ecosystem has a long way to go before it catches up to Android and iOS.

    Regardless, if you’re looking to see what the other side of the pond looks like, the Lumia 928 is a great device to take for a spin.

    Brad Ward contributed to this review.

    Comments

    • http://thaswapfiles.com/ Faisal B. Ahmed

      Really great review! One word for it – EPIC! BTW it does have NFC

      • http://www.bfolkers.com Brian Folkers

        Yeah, it has NFC built in.

    • jbernardo

      Very stylish? Those fugly garish tiles? De gustibus non est disputandum…

    • Kwadwo Firempong-Boakye

      Great Review. Hey guys can anyone tell me if one can change the Colours of individual tiles on Windows Phone or are you stuck with a colour scheme sort of configuration?

      • http://thaswapfiles.com/ Faisal B. Ahmed

        those are ‘accent colors’, you can change it to any color you want. In case of individual tiles there are many color changer apps available on the marketplace

        • Kwadwo Firempong-Boakye

          Oh cool. Thanks =)

    • http://mynokiablog.com/ Michael Faro-Tusino

      Great review Josh! Glad to see an Android fan can appreciate a Nokia Lumia device – seems most of the US treat WP/Nokia Lumia unfairly

    • jpo234

      Two words: Walled Garden
      You can’t install alternative markets (think Amazon Apps or Humble Bundle). This means that this is a restriction of consumer freedom that nobody should support, not on a phone (WP) or a tablet (WinRT).

      • CiMO

        They just want to make money on the spot. They don’t encourage developers.You have to pay around 80-100 bucks a year to make apps for Windows phone (last time I checked a couple of years ago).

      • Azzras

        One word for android: malware
        benifits of the ‘walled garden’ is lack of virus and malware.

        • milksop held

          Lucky as its so open you can get antivirus

          • Azzras

            I bet you are the same type that bashes Windows because for viruses…
            Still kinda sad that it’s the ONLY mobile OS to have viruses and malware.
            Keep your ‘openness’ (so long as Google approves) if that’s where it leads.

            • milksop held

              No? I do not bash windows for having viruses I use windows PCs and its easily the best desktop is
              iMO but windows phone is complete shit

    • Knobskin

      Excellent review, fair and spot on! I loved my 920 but missed some features on android, but Nokia and windows r doing a good job playing catch up compared to another company!!

    • CiMO

      Poor Nokia. Got old, struggles with cancer (Windows) and refuses to take medication (Android).

      • fandroid98

        I wouldn’t say that. Symbian was the cancer, and Windows was the treatment. Competition is a good thing. Not every phone has to run Android.

        • APai

          release th same phone with android, and they might sell 10x the numbers they are doing now

        • APai

          release th same phone with android, and they might sell 10x the numbers they are doing now

          • fandroid98

            True. They would be so much better off with android. Windows is a failure, but still a bit better than Symbian.

    • Trent Richards

      I love Nokia, but hate Windows Phone. The interface is just awful to me. As you noted your drop of the phone and how well it fared, I wanted to shed some light on another phone. People regularly slam the GS3(and now GS4) for its plastic build and claim it has poor build quality. I have dropped my GS3 3 times where I expected my screen to shatter. First was getting out of my SUV and it fell out of my lap onto pavement. It only got a scuff on the corner. Next it dropped from chest height, landed face down and slid about 4 feet across my slate floor in my kitchen. One minor scratch at the top of the glass is all it got. Most recently, it fell off a table and landed on a metal bar running under the table(those square bars that serve as the feet on desks). This time the plastic edging got a pretty noticeable scar but the glass that literally touches that rim still never broke. All that to say that the GS3 is a lot tougher than people give it credit for(I don’t use a case or screen protector). Just wanted to put that out there, I don’t argue that the Lumia build could be even better as Nokia has always had superior build quality. My friend has one and it definitely feels very solid and sturdy.

      • Anonymousfella

        This “plastic is ugly and feels cheap” criticism has been blown out of proportions.

      • APai

        people tend to over react when it comes to build quality. no doubt nokia has fantastic build quality, however, it doesnt mean others are bad. i have dropped my Xperia T a few times, a couple of times from 5 feet accidentally and it’s taken it pretty well. luckily it fell on its face and not on the sides (which damages the phone the most). it’s taken it all like a champ.

    • Ruzveh

      If someone pays me millions of dollars then even i can confess the same.. whatsay? lolzzz

    • SeraZR™

      gr8 review i must say!

      hope nokia finally realises that android is the way to go
      android+nokia= Lethal combination

      • Anonymousfella

        That would be awesome! :)
        And nokia needn’t spend further resources for some symbian or Meego -like looking skin.Pure vanilla android with nokia apps would do a great job!

    • http://www.ajuaonline.com/ Ruben Alamina

      As a Windows Phone user that just got an HTC One to use until the next gen of WP devices come out (I will decide if I switch again or not), it’s good to read an honest review from an Android user/site.

      I still think that WP8 is more well-thought and designed than Android, but that’s just a matter of taste. Android has many strengths too and it’s interface is really good as well. I’m happy with the One and I will wait until the next gen f WP devices to decide if I keep myself on Android or return to WP.

      People should always consider their needs and their taste.

      Good review!

      • Sugih Cah

        The last mobile “WindowsOS” I used was winmo in dopod 838 pro. never touched Windows or any other platform ever since. Only 2 reasons, ability to customize home screens and most importantly, one handed thumb swiping text input. I’m too used to those now.

        With Nokia having almost no chance of working together with Android, the only thing that will probably make me switch is when they implement the full 40+mp pureview on it.

        • Alan

          Any change in thought, since now they’ve done just that?

          • Sugih Cah

            Nah, it’s not available locally. Plus, I saw how slow it processed each shot. No go for me. I have Xperia z1 on my radar now.

    • john

      Very good review. Other reviewers of rival phones must learn and no only they must keep with the perpetual fame of phones that they were the best but nothing is forever.
      Nokia with Android would be very serious contender for Samsung.

      • fandroid98

        I don’t know about that. The HTC One is very Nokia like, and it is doing well, but not as well as the S4, because Samsung nearly spams us in ads…

        • fandroid98

          But all they have to say is it has android, and I hope people would buy it. Android is so much more capable and professional.

    • rodrigottr

      Sad is: people don’t want good cameras. People want instagram.

      • LifeHacks

        maybe you must try Instance for Windows Phone. That’s awesome Instagram client. You won’t paid for play instagram? just install Instance free version

    • Mac

      As an Android user for several years (OG Droid through Bionic) switching to the Lumina 928 and WP8 was not a hasty decision. The quality of 928 build along with the vision of a unified platform across multiple devices tipped the scale in favor of taking the plunge. I have not looked back. The Lumina 928 is an incredible device and WP8 just seems more robust and responsive than Android. I have found equivalents (and superiors) to most apps I used on Android, exceptions being a rooted hotspot app and a network file browser. I highly recommend the Lumina 928.

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