Let’s say you’re looking to buy a new high-end smartphone in the US and, for who knows what reasons, Android just isn’t your thing. Or you already have an Android handset, and want to try something new. What else is there? Well, we’ve got Apple’s iPhone, and Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Sure, there’s also BlackBerry, but I’m going to talk about touchscreen-only smartphones here, so RIM is out of the equation until BlackBerry 10 comes out (in 2013).
Windows Phone has reached version 8 this year, and handsets based on it are about to hit shelves around the world starting the next few weeks. Among them, the Nokia Lumia 920 has received the highest amount of attention from the media, as well as from consumers.
So the Lumia 920 and the new iPhone 5 should be among your top choices if you don’t want to step into the realm of Android. Specs-wise, these two aren’t too different, although the Lumia is 3mm thicker, and more massive overall, sporting a 4.5 inch screen, versus the iPhone 5’s 4-inch display.
The iPhone 5’s screen, with its unusual 1136 x 640 resolution, is undoubtedly one of the best out there. But gone are the days when Apple’s Retina Display was unrivalled. The Lumia 920, despite having a larger screen, offers a higher pixel density (332 ppi vs. 326 ppi), thanks to its 1280 x 768 resolution. That’s 48 more vertical pixels than what you’re getting with a regular HD screen (1280 x 720).
The Lumia 920 and the iPhone 5 offer the latest tech, including LTE connectivity (up to 100Mbps), speedy dual-core processors, and 1GB of RAM. Both iOS and Windows Phone are closed, well-controlled platforms. Windows Phone 8 has a fresher look, though, as iOS (now at version 6) hasn’t changed too much lately.
Unlike Apple, Nokia views “imaging as a core area for differentiation in the smartphone space.” And even if you hate or pity the Finnish company, you have to hand it to them: the photography capabilities of the Lumia 920 are fantastic.
As Engadget has proved it, the Lumia 920 is simply better, photography-wise, than the iPhone 5, especially in low-light settings. The 8.7MP camera found on the back of the 920 features Carl Zeiss optics, plus Nokia’s PureView technology that first impressed us on the Symbian-based PureView 808. Android flagships like Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X can’t match its performances, either – and the LG Optimus G (which has a 13MP camera) doesn’t do better.
Engadget also proves that the 920 – which features optical image stabilization – bests the iPhone 5 when it comes to video recording, too.
Nokia seems to be making a big fuss out of the fact that the Lumia 920 will come in five color versions. Just watch the video below, which suggests the handset can set you free from a nightmarish world where the iPhone 5 is colorless.
Yes, the 920 can be yellow or red, while the iPhone 5 can’t. But you can just slap a case on the latter (at a small extra cost), and make it any color your like.
Moving on, maps on iOS 6 are disastrous. Apple’s Tim Cook himself acknowledged this, and apologized for the problem, suggesting users to try alternatives – including Nokia Maps – until all issues are fixed. So if you heavily depend on your smartphone for maps and navigation, the 920 seems to be a better choice – at least for now.
Regarding gaming – there are, of course, many more titles available for iOS than for Windows Phone 8. But Microsoft is seriously trying to make things better by allowing developers to easily port PC games to Windows Phone, and by partnering with companies like Gameloft and Havok. See this video at MSNBC for further details.
At the moment, there’s no way of telling how much the 2,000 mAh Li-Ion battery on the Lumia 920 actually lasts. The official numbers say: up to 10 hours of talking time, up to 67 hours of music playback, and up to 400 hours of stand-by time. According to Apple, the iPhone 5’s 1,450 Li-Po battery is capable of providing up to 8 hours of talk time, 40 hours of music playback, or 255 hours of stand-by time. Reviews indicate that Apple’s claims are accurate. However, on paper, the Lumia 920 has a better battery.
Unfortunately for Nokia and Microsoft, the iPhone 5 is already available for purchase, and has been since September 21, with sales reaching 5 million units in the first week-end. The Nokia Lumia 920 will only be released starting early November. And AT&T will be the only carrier to offer it in the US – at least for the beginning. It’s not clear how much the Lumia 920 will cost at AT&T. Best Buy briefly listed the 920 as costing $149.99 on contract. That would be a very good price, considering the fact that an iPhone 5 16GB goes for $199.99 on contract.
In Europe, where more customers are likely to buy smartphones unlocked than in the US, the Lumia 920 definitely has a price advantage – albeit not significant – over the iPhone 5. SIM-free, the 16GB version of Apple’s new handset costs €679. The Lumia 920 will cost €649, offering double the storage space – 32GB. Since neither the iPhone, nor the new Lumia has MicroSD card slot, the winner here is Nokia’s smartphone.
As a conclusion, I think that those who already have an iPhone (model 4S or older) will not want to consider anything else than an iPhone 5 as their next handset. They already have their favorite apps and services on iOS, they’re more than familiar with the ecosystem, and most probably praise Apple enough just not to switch to the competition, even though possibly better handsets are out there. So the Nokia Lumia 920 remains a smartphone for those that aren’t Apple fans already. Is that enough for it to become a commercial success? We’ll find out in the first quarter of 2013, after Nokia unveils its financial results for Q4 2012.