PHOENIX - Nokia was once king of the cell phone world in the U.S. In the mid-90's the Nokia candybar phones (with the game Snake, of course) were everywhere. Their swappable faceplates were all the rage. That changed when the Blackberry, Palm Treos and eventually iPhones and Android phones took over. Now, Nokia is trying to make a comeback alongside the Microsoft Windows Phone operating system. Their "latest and greatest" smartphone is the Nokia Lumia 920 on AT&T wireless .
The 920 is a monster. It has a beautiful 4.5" screen on the front. The polycarbonate body is available in black, white, red, blue or yellow. I love that there are some cool color options. The yellow model that AT&T loaned me is LOUD. In a good way. It's a fun bold color. It's good to see Nokia giving consumers some serious options when it comes to color. Why not, right?
Inside, the 920 packs a screaming 1.5Ghz dual-core processor that keeps the latest version of Windows Phone humming along. The 8 megapixel camera on the back takes good pictures although the front-facing 1.2 megapixel camera seemed a bit grainy and yellow in my tests.
Overall, the 920 feels heavy and a tad thick to me. It has more girth than the latest iPhone 5 (.42" compared to .30") and the Samsung Galaxy S III (.34"). This is a personal preference issue. Some people actually prefer a bit more weight and thickness to their phone. I expected the 920 to be a bit thinner.
Perhaps some of that thickness comes along with Nokia's wireless charging capabilities. This, is a killer feature! Palm tried it back in 2009 with the Palm Pre and Palm Pixi. Unfortunately Palm died a slow death. Nokia is using the new Qi wireless charging standard . AT&T is even giving away a free wireless charger for a limited time. This all means that you can simply set your phone on top of a wireless charging base (or pillow !) and the phone starts charging. No more searching for the cable and trying to figure out the right way to plug it into the phone. I'm hopeful that more companies will adopt Qi in the months and years to come. Thanks Nokia!
Windows Phone 8 is a great mobile operating system. Microsoft has stepped up to the plate with a new user interface concept that works. Live tiles are now even better than WP7. It's a fun and simple OS to use.
It's not perfect. The app store still lags behind the competition. I couldn't even get the super-cool Microsoft-created Photosynth App to install on the 920. It said it was incompatible? With the limited WP8 hardware I can't imagine that Microsoft's Photosynth app is incompatible with the latest and greatest hardware, the 920? I'll let this one slide as a glitch but it could be a sign of growing pains for the young OS.
The catalog of apps has holes. There is no Instagram and there is no Pandora Radio, to name a few glaring omissions.
The bigger question is, can Windows Phone take on the monsters that are iOS and Android? Time will tell but it's going to be a tough battle. From my testing, I think Windows Phone is a very worthy competitor but that doesn't always matter. The competition is already ingrained in users minds and people are creatures of habit. Microsoft and Nokia have made it clear that they are willing to spend the money and time it takes to make inroads.
The Nokia Lumia 920 on AT&T Wireless is an awesome phone. Nokia knows hardware and it shows in the 920. It's a solid, sexy looking smartphone with some serious power on the inside. It's a bit fat and heavy, I think a diet is in order but that may not bother you. Wireless charging is a feature that you will love within days. It's the future of phone charging.
The Windows Phone 8 operating system is better than ever but still not perfect. For only $99 with a 2 year contract on AT&T wireless, the 920 is a great deal. Top notch hardware at a discount price. Most users will have to make the bigger decision about whether they're ready to make the jump to the underdog mobile operating system .