This is where the Lumia 920 makes up for its predecessors. The 900 was criticized for being a little pokey. With the 920, everything is doubled: we went from a single core 1.4GHz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm to a dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon, and from 512MB of execution memory to 1GB of memory.
The result? Very little waiting. Most apps load instantly. Only games, like the hefty Angry Birds or Battleship take a few seconds to load. Thanks to plunging flash memory prices, you now get 32GB for your $99 phone, whereas the 900 had 16GB for the same price.
Microsoft has already pushed out a fix to Windows Phone 8 in December, which were delivered over the air. The update includes a promised fix for random reboots, an always-connected WiFi capability and some new SMS-focused capabilities, such as select all, draft saving and call rejection.
Four years ago, I was the proud owner of an iPhone 3G but never got to use the 3G because AT&T’s coverage was so bad, I actually turned it off and got better performance on the 2.5 Edge network.
History repeats itself. AT&T’s 3G network has gotten much better. With my iPhone 4S, I could get decent indoor 3G reception. AT&T calls its HSPA+ network 4G, as does AT&T, but for my money, 4G is LTE. Anyway, it didn’t matter if I was in Best Buy, the supermarket, Costco or any other store, the iPhone would pick up 3G and get something resembling a signal.
Fat chance on both the Lumia 920. Its indoor performance is just atrocious. It repeatedly fails to pick up a signal, and it doesn’t fall back to 3G very well, either.
My fix was to to disable LTE. Dial ##3282 to access the Field Test menu. Hit the three periods at the bottom right and tap Settings. Under the menu for Network Type, select “3G Only” and then toggle ENS Off, and restart. That will keep you on AT&T’s 3G network, which has better coverage than its LTE network. I’ve gotten a signal in places where the 4G was useless.
Another cool discovery: the Lumia 920’s texting feature works with my Toyota Camry’s Bluetooth phone. Both my iPhone and the Lumia supported the 2012 Camry’s hands-free phone system, which displays your contacts on a screen in the dash and lets you make and receive calls using a microphone in the car and the stereo speakers.
But in addition to calls, the Lumia 920 will actually read text messages to you. So if you are driving and a SMS message comes in, it will be read aloud for you and you can respond.
The Lumia 920 builds on the Windows application features from the 900. In addition to Microsoft Office and OneNote integration, you now have SkyDrive integration, so you can access files on the go.
Adding email clients is a snap, but it is silly to have two separate mail applications, one for my Exchange server and one for Gmail. The iPhone’s integrated mail client was a step ahead in that regard.
Nokia’s City Compass is a nice utility. As you rotate in place 360 degrees, it will show you on screen stores and businesses in the direction you are facing, and how far. So if you want a bite to eat, as you spin, it will find all the places to eat and tell you how far.
Likewise, there’s Nokia Drive+ Beta, a free navigation application based on maps from Navteq, which Nokia owns, the same maps you probably have in your car GPS. Select the maps you need — in my case, I selected just California maps to save space — and you can mount the phone in your car as a GPS. Because it’s Navteq, it’s quite thorough and accurate and the Lumia is a lot faster than the sluggish, pokey GPSs on the market.
Not so great is Internet Explorer 10. It doesn’t have multiple tabs like Safari on the iPhone nor does it have Safari’s neat feature where you tap at the top of it and it jumps to the top of the page. Its SunSpider benchmark was terrible — 935 vs. 1835 for iPhone 4S — but Microsoft and Java have never meshed well.
Despite a 2,000mAh battery, battery life on the 920 just stinks. You can kill this thing with just a short round of gaming. And it retains the dumbest trait of Windows Phone: you can’t leave it connected to a power cable when the phone is powered off. If you do, the phone will restart.
I have powered the phone down at night on a full charge, only to awaken, power it on and see the battery is down by about 10 percent. That takes me back to the good old days of early phone batteries. As it is, part of my motivation to move to 3G-only was to save power on LTE, since I wasn’t getting an LTE connection anyway.
Just playing iHeartRadio for one hour drained the battery by 8%. A half hour of “Where’s My Water?” resulted in a 20% drain. That’s just not acceptable for a modern phone.