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Nokia Lumia 820 - Music, Video, Battery Life and Camera

Andrew Williams

By Andrew Williams


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Review Price £349.99

Nokia Lumia 820 – Music and Video

Microsoft and Nokia share multimedia duties in the Nokia Lumia 820. The phone offers the standard Windows Phone 8 music services, comprised of a slick media player for your own tunes, a store front where you can buy digital music for around £8 an album, and the Xbox Music streaming service. This is a bit like Spotify, letting you stream a catalogue of millions of tracks for £9 a month, or £90 for a year.

Nokia Music, a separate app, adds in Nokia’s own music store, which again sells albums for around the £8 mark, and a wide array of Nokia Mixes. These are free-to-stream playlists – you pick the genre, decade or style and Nokia Music chooses the tracks. Streaming quality is fairly low and it’s no replacement for a full music streaming service, but it’s a welcome addition when not every music app is available for Windows Phone 8 yet.

We imagine most music fans will want to load their own tunes onto the Nokia Lumia 820, though. Windows Phone 8 makes this easy, letting you plug in the phone to a computer and transfer files without needing specific software. Alternatively, you can plug in a microSD card full of tunes or videos – the Lumia 820 supports cards up to 64GB.

Format support for both music and video is a bit limited, though. Lossless FLAC files aren’t supported, and neither is popular video format MKV. There are a few third-party media players out there that can fill these gaps, but there are far fewer than on Android or iOS – and it’s a shame to ditch the smooth native media player.

Nokia Lumia 820 – Camera

The Nokia Lumia 820 has two cameras, an 8-megapixel rear sensor and a surprisingly basic VGA user-facing camera. Most Android phones at the price offer at least 1-megapixel sensors – although for just a low-spec camera, this video chat-geared sensor is surprisingly good.

The handset's main 8-megapixel sensor is a disappointment after the unusual, and unusually good Lumia 920, though. The Nokia Lumia 820 is capable of capturing sharp, fairly colourful images, but we found that both its white balance and focusing were a little unreliable at times.

Nokia Lumia 820 sampleNokia Lumia 820

The latter may be in part down to the lack of optical image stabilisation, which does feature in the Lumia 920, matched with the Nokia Lumia 820 trying to shoot a little faster than it necessarily should do. The missing stabilisation is even more noticeable when shooting video, although the Nokia Lumia 820’s camcorder mode does extend all the way up to 1080p. The dual-LED flash is more powerful than most too.

Its camera app at first appears simplistic, with basic image controls and no fun effects like Panorama or HDR in its settings menu. The truth is the opposite, though.

The Nokia Lumia 820 uses modular plug-ins called Lenses. These provide extra modes such as Panorama, and far more bizarre oddities besides. For example, the pre-installed Bing Vision is a QR code and barcode scanner. It’s not just about photographic delights. Additional Lenses are available to download within the app.

Nokia Lumia 820 – Call Quality and Battery Life

Although recent years have seen Nokia’s phone cred plummet from former great heights, it has continued to provide solidly-built phones with decent call quality. The Nokia Lumia 820 offers a good, loud earpiece speaker with full-bodied sound. There are dual microphones too, to let the phone remove ambient noise from the signal.

Battery life is not quite as robust, though. The Nokia Lumia 820 uses a 1650mAh battery, which is respectable but not stellar when many larger Android phones circle around the 2000mAh mark. It’ll last for a day and change between charges, but anyone who lives their life through their smartphone will still need to charge once a day.

Nokia Lumia 820 – Value

On pre-pay, the Nokia Lumia 820 will cost you £330-350, or you can get the handset for free on a contract of around £25 and up for the 3G edition, or £35 for the 4G version. This is not a cheap phone, although it does offer a top-end experience.

The problem is that so do the lower-cost Windows Phone 8 devices, such as the Nokia Lumia 620 and HTC 8S. Top-end phones of 2013 tend to differentiate themselves with stellar cameras and screens – the Lumia 820 has a decent camera, but a fairly poor screen by today’s standards. We’d advise to wait for the inevitable price drop before opting for this phone.


The Nokia Lumia 820 is a solid phone, but doesn’t have any of the stand-out features of the fantastic value Nokia Lumia 620, or the Nokia Lumia 920, with its excellent camera. Its screen is also a disappointment, suffering from the oversaturated colours OLED screens are prone to, while falling way behind the back in resolution terms. Performance is excellent, but it’s not the complete package we now expect at this upper-mid-range price.

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gaz martin

February 9, 2013, 11:25 am

DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR, DO NOT BUY THIS PHONE. The first 820 i had broke in my pocket (cracked screen), even though it was in a case with a screen protector. I eventually got a replacement from carphone warehouse after shouting and screaming for three hours in-store.
The second handset is plauged by bugs. Sometimes it won't charge through USB for no apparent reason. The data connectivity often won't work without turning the phone off and on first. Sometimes the music player volume will zump to zero and won't turn back up until you turn it off and on. Some photos iv taken have a solid line of purple pixels across them, the list goes on...
Iv tried endlessly to tackle this with Nokia and they've done absolutely nothing. They do not know the meaning of the words "customer service", do some forum searches and you'll see what i mean.
Iv used Nokia for 15 years but when this contract runs out im never dealing with them again. Take my advice and save yourself from a ton of frustration, and being stuck with a shoddy handset for two years.

Matthew Paul

February 9, 2013, 11:47 pm

I don't know if Gaz Martin is in the pay roll of some other manufacturer, but all I can say is he is subject to his own opinion.

It is a great phone and a smart option for your money's worth. Just use the phone in a store for any period of time and make your own mind up. Do not let some random guy troll your mind.

gaz martin

February 10, 2013, 11:16 am

Im just sharing my experience.

Matthew Paul

February 10, 2013, 3:40 pm

Okay so am I. It's sad that you've had such a bad one. Nokia has always been outstanding with customer service in my experience.


February 10, 2013, 4:10 pm

I have just returned this handset having upgraded my contract. It's a shame as I don't believe the issue is with the hardware, but it's Windows Phone 8 itself. The issues I encountered included poor battery life, difficulty setting up exchange but the biggest disappointment was the management of external storage.

It seems that it is near impossible to save anything to an SD card apart when using non-native applications. The fact that you can't even download an mp3 via the browser is ridiculous in itself. There is no native UK podcast support, so when using a third party app it will down files to the internal memory rather than your SD card. In addition, the Nokia apps do the same, including Nokia Maps and Music. With only 8GB of storage you will fill it up pretty quickly, I don't know how offline playlists work in Spotify but I can only assume the same issue applies.

It's a real shame as even my old e71 could run applications from the SD card and 3rd party applications could be set to use an SD card. I really don't know what handset to upgrade to now, as I don't trust WP8 on a Lumia 920. In addition it seems the 920 suffers from battery life issues and tends to run hot. It's a shame as I would prefer to upgrade to a Nokia if possible.


March 15, 2013, 5:18 pm


In line with the remarks of many other users/victims below.

The phone is not able to meet even the minimal most expectation. The main difficulty the phone I have has is to establish basic 3G connection, It is able to do so for about an hour a day (in total), Bluetooth is not able to sync once unpaired, 802.11 connection just vanishes for no reason. The difficulties in my view are software and not hardware, but the fact that no QC is able to identify the problem prior to the phone being offered to unsuspecting clients is insulting. On the evidence up to now, I don't think Nokia will be in business for long.


March 15, 2013, 7:59 pm

The handset is really good, build quality is perfect, and nokia applications are great, the only drawback is unfortunately win 8 mobile, I really, really wish Nokia used android instead of win system, I think quality-wise these phones are matching apple, but system is crap, amount o apps is less than poor and is not really growing :-( at all. I've always been fan of nokia but now I realy feel disappointed, think will come back to E52 as works much better than 820, and will last 8 days on one charge ;-)


June 19, 2013, 9:20 am

i agree with you. nokia rocks!! unlike the 'Made in China' like samsung or any other manufacturer. hardy, user friendly and CLASSY.!! I've dropped my C7 from a rocktop when i was hiking and it still works perfectly. i drop it once or twice everyday. I love nokia!! the thing is this model has no gorilla glass. would it be an issue???

Faizz Gour

August 21, 2013, 8:39 am

dear gaz martin u don't know how to use the windows phone............ hahahahahahah


October 7, 2013, 8:59 pm

I've had this phone for about 2 months now. Overall I like it but I do have a few issues.

1. Connectivity with my computer - I take a lot of pictures and videos that I want to share with friends. I haven't got the patience to upload them singly to Facebook or wherever and email struggles to send large amounts of pictures. It's not a simple case of plugging the phone in to the computer you have to download an app which is only available if you have windows 7 or 8 on your pc/laptop. I have XP on one computer and windows 7 on my laptop which won't let me update facebook or send an email (therefore meaning I can't share my pictures/videos etc)

2. Size - It's just slightly too big to type with one hand but it's liveable

3. The case is a little smooth so I keep dropping it!! Thankfully the screen seems to be holding out but the case is starting to crack!

4. The case is ridiculous to get off! Even the guy in the Vodafone store I went to to swap contacts from my old phone couldn't get it off!!

5. Memory - Weirdly, my old phone seemed to cope reasonably well but I am constantly getting messages telling me that I have run out of memory!!

6. The Nokia Music App is unpredictable. It used to work fine but now won't always work. I've looked online and a few others have the same problems. Their solutions worked at first but alas no longer.

There's probably a couple of other things that I've forgotten (Probably not that big a deal then!!) and a lot of this probably seems like a lot of personal preference but it's stuff I wish I'd known before signing up for a 2 year contract.

As I said, overall I like it but perhaps wouldn't have got a windows phone had I known about the connectivity issues with the computer.


October 20, 2013, 8:07 am

I do also have same experience. Are you saying that there is relation between Windows Phone and Screen and build quality of Nokia phones.
I am impressed with Windows Phone OS but Nokia build quality is worst.
gaz, at least get it replaced from Nokia; but for me I had to pay a lot for getting screen replaced from Nokia Care. Very much satisfied with Nokia smart phones quality.

tushar banne

November 7, 2013, 10:50 am

Even I face the problem of data connection. First I thought it might be the service provided problem but now confirm about it. Music player problem also persist.

Dual code does not work upto the mark.. Even I keep on fighting with the bugs. But camera is appreciated and battery and rigidity is also appreciated. Maps are good. But details of area are less. Many imp places are missing on the map.

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