One thing the Icon can control is its camera. The Lumia family has developed a reputation for having high-quality shooters, and this one is no exception. The main attraction is billed as a 20-megapixel unit, with a 1/2.5-inch sensor, f/2.4 aperture lens, and dual-LED flash. The 20-megapixel number is a tad misleading, though — images are actually processed at 5 megapixels, but the Icon always takes a 16-megapixel 16:9 shot at the same time, allowing you to oversample the higher-res image for improved detail. You can set pics to a 4:3 ratio too, which equates them to a 19-megapixel resolution.
All you really need to know is that the Icon’s camera is above-average. It isn’t as consistently excellent as the iPhone 5s or Galaxy S5’s shooters, but it’s outstanding in low-light settings, and most of the time its shots come out crisp and detailed. It’s slow to focus, and it isn’t particularly adept at taking close-ups, but when everything comes together its images are sharp and bright.
Nokia says there’s a 2-megapixel camera on the front of the Icon, but again, that’s misleading — it’s really a 1.2-MP unit, which only bumps up to 2-MP (and 720p video) during video chats. Either way, it isn’t sharp. Video quality on the rear shooter, however, is reliable enough, and lets you capture up to 1080p quality at 30 frames per second.
The real hook here is Nokia’s army of photo editing software, which is packed onto the Icon by default. The excellent Nokia Camera app lets you tinker with things like ISO, shutter speed, white balance and exposure, for instance, while Nokia Creative Studio gives you about a million ways to play with your shots after they’re taken. Nokia Cinemagraph is an amusing GIF maker, and Nokia Storyteller is a nifty tool that automatically organizes your photos into albums. There’s really no need for three separate photo taking apps to be here, however.
The Lumia Icon includes a 2420 mAh battery, and like most recent flagships, it’s strong enough to last from sunup to sundown. It’d be nice to see more flagships shoot for multi-day power, but for now the 15 or so hours you can typically squeeze from the Icon is more than sufficient. The battery is unfortunately non-removable, however, which may become an issue after several months of use.
If you’re on good terms with Verizon, and you’re ready to jump to Windows Phone, the Lumia Icon is the phone to buy. It’s stylish, powerful, and fitted with one of the best smartphone displays in recent memory. Its camera has much of the usual Nokia polish, and its carrier has largely kept its hands off of it. It is an honest-to-goodness flagship that Microsoft and Nokia can hold high.
It’s also a story we’ve been told before, and a fitting end to this chapter of Nokia’s legacy. Windows Phone’s limitations inherently hold the Icon back from having the utility of an iPhone or high-end Android device, just like it has with most Lumias before it. Things are improving, but any prospective Icon buyer needs to make sure they’re okay with what Microsoft’s OS can and cannot provide before pulling the trigger. If it checks out, then by all means, enjoy Nokia’s last great Lumia.
- Vivid, engrossing display
- Stylish, well-crafted build
- Fast and powerful
- Windows Phone is still maturing
- Thick and heavy
- Camera is good, but not on the level of past Lumias