It seems that Windows Phone handsets are always a step behind as far as specs are concerned, and at times it shows on the Lumia 928. When most smartphones had already made the jump to dual-core processors, the Windows Phone platform was still stuck toiling in the single-core generation due to Microsoft’s hardware restrictions. And now that all of this generation’s flagship handsets are sporting quad-core processors and generous amounts of RAM, the Lumia 928 is packing only a dual-core, 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and 1 GB of RAM.
It’s not a slow phone by any means, and as a quick WP Bench test showed, the Lumia 928 certainly blows the last generation of Windows Phone devices out of the water. But when compared to competition on other platforms, like the Samsung Galaxy S4, it simply isn’t as powerful. Loading times for apps weren’t painful, but they were noticeable at times, and I was surprised to see something as simple as the animation of my Xbox Live avatar chug at a disappointingly choppy framerate.
The one upside to the Lumia 928’s specs is that the phone is packed with a healthy 32 GB of storage, which is especially helpful given that, like the Lumia 920, its unibody design does not feature a microSD slot.
We’ve covered the Windows Phone 8 platform extensively on this site, and given that companies are not allowed to skin the interface — per Microsoft’s restrictions — the OS on the Lumia 928 is the same as always. It’s highly customizable, live tiles offer fast navigation and quick tidbits of information, the OS sips at the battery efficiently, and the app selection is mediocre (though I would argue the situation is not quite as drastic as some would claim).
As for the preloaded software, there are a number of “lenses” for the camera, which are essentially special shooting modes. They’re the same selection as what was found on the Lumia 920, including Cinemagraph (animated pictures), City Lens (AR app that uses the camera to show nearby POIs), Panorama, and Smart Shoot (creates an ideal picture from a series of shots). There are also some Nokia-branded apps, like HERE Drive+, Maps, and Transit apps, Nokia Music, and App Highlights.
Verizon’s contributions include VZ Navigator, NFL Mobile, My Verizon Mobile, and Data Sense (currently a carrier exclusive on the platform that tracks data usage). There are a few other preloaded apps like the Weather Channel and ESPN apps, but those aren’t carrier exclusives can be downloaded by any user in the Store.
Nokia is hedging its bets on beating out the competition with its camera technology on its phones, and for the most part, it shows on the Lumia 928. This is almost the same camera setup that was seen on the Lumia 920, including the 8.7 megapixel resolution with Nokia’s PureView imaging technology, 4x digital zoom, and Carl Zeiss Tessar lens. The only major difference is that the Lumia 928 has now been upgraded with a Xenon flash, which proves to be far more effective at producing natural-looking (read: not horribly blown-out) photos in dark environments than an LED flash.
Speaking of which, low-light shooting is where the Lumia 928 truly shines. HTC can say whatever it likes about its extra-large “UltraPixels” letting in more light, but The PureView is virtually peerless in the realm of low light shooting. What’s so impressive about the photos is how natural they look after they’ve been processed; rather than just washing out or artificially enhancing the brightness in an obviously doctored way, the PureView technology somehow just makes the pictures look like they were taken in perfect lighting. It’s like magic.
That being said, in situations in which you’re dealing with normal lighting, the Lumia 928 doesn’t trump the competition as easily. The photos are certainly still good, but the colors are a little flatter and the sharpness is lacking somewhat when compared to pictures taken by other flagships like the Samsung Galaxy S IV.
Battery life was probably the most disappointing aspect of the Lumia 928. Much like its predecessor, the longevity of the Lumia 928 is lacking to the point that heavy users will be lucky to squeeze a full day out of a single charge.
I don’t consider myself a heavy smartphone user by any means. In fact, as far as personal use goes, I’m the opposite in that I go out of my way to increase battery efficiency by keeping my location services, toast notifications, Wi-Fi, and email push all turned off (unless I’m trying to drain the battery). Yet, despite the extensive precautions, I could still only make it a few hours past a full day on one charge, even though I had only placed one phone call, exchanged a handful of texts, and played roughly 30 minutes worth of games.
Admittedly, I performed a couple of other slightly more intensive tasks during that time — namely, downloading half a dozen songs and checking my email periodically — but in the grand scheme of things, the battery life was still unacceptable. Though I want to blame the LTE connectivity for being a battery suck, the fact is that I have used many other LTE handsets that have provided much better battery life than the Lumia 928.