Nokia Lumia 920 Review - Camera Review

Nokia Lumia 920 – Camera

So we come to the piece de resistance of the Nokia Lumia 920, its PureView branded optically stabilised camera. Packing in 8.7megapixels, it’s slightly higher resolution than most but doesn’t quite take the crown thanks to the 12mp boasting Sony Xperia S and 13mp Sony Xperia T.

Nokia Lumie 920 camera app

No, the big draw here is the stabilisation. This has the whole camera assembly mounted on a movable platform which works to counteract the shake of your hand and the wobble of your body, allowing the camera to use slower shutter speeds for better low light image quality without resulting in blurry photos. At least that’s the theory.

iPhone 5 camera night time test
Left: Nokia Lumia 920. Right: iPhone 5

In practice the Nokia Lumia 920 does deliver impressively noise-free images, with far more natural looking lighting and colours. However, there is a fairly major downside: the Lumia 920 only counteracts movement of the camera, not of what you’re shooting. The result is that if you’re shooting your mates larking about in a dingy pub, while the background and table may be nice and blur-free, your mates will very much not be. It wouldn’t be so bad if you could control how the camera shoots with options to turn off the stabilisation or set the shutter speed but no setting we tried seemed to actually force the camera to prioritise speed over ‘quality’. As such, nearly every low light shot we took had a degree of blurriness to it.

Left: Nokia Lumia 920. Right: iPhone 5

All that said, the dual-LED flash does a better job than most so closeup shots will at least be bright and blur-free. Plus, the Lumia 920 really does wipe the floor with the competition when it comes to low-light still life and landscape shots (or portraits where everyone’s sitting still).

Exposure and dynamic range is excellent but detail and sharpness are only mediocre.

There is another problem too. In well-lit scenarios the Nokia Lumia 920 simply doesn’t produce all that impressive a shot, that is there’s a softness to its images, almost like they’re slightly out of focus. They don’t look awful by any stretch but they lack the crispness of many rivals. A bit of sharpening in Photoshop slightly alleviates the issue but by no means completely fixes it. Nokia is set to roll out a fix for this but it hasn’t arrived yet so it’s impossible to say how much things will improve.

Left: Nokia Lumia 920. Right: iPhone 5

Our final complaint is that we found it next to impossible to focus the camera on the flower in our usual macro shot test. The phone can focus very close up but it didn’t seem quite as able to cope with a moving object.

The left image showed the results attempting to focus up close on the left flower. The right image shows as close as we could get and keep the flowers in shot.

To be clear, though, the Lumia 920’s camera isn’t awful but it doesn’t live up to its billing, yet.

Nokia Lumia 920 – Video

Where the camera does rather better is with recording video. Here, where absolute sharpness is less of an issue, the stabilisation works well to smooth out any wobble. Inevitably it can’t completely eliminate larger movements that result from you walking along while recording but it noticeably takes away the finer shake to make for a much more watchable video.

Nokia Lumia 920

iPhone 5

The footage is a little oversharpened and colours over egged but not enough to really diminish the overall effect.

Audio quality is exceptional, though, picking up both a wide range of frequencies and coping with high volume. Just check out the quality of audio in the below clips.

Nokia Lumia 920

iPhone 5

Nokia Lumia 920 – Battery Life

We weren’t exactly wowed by the Nokia Lumia 920’s battery life, making it more regrettable that you can’t access the battery to swap it out, but it should still suffice for most users. As with most smartphones around today, it’ll last about a day on one charge so a nightly recharge will be a must.


The Nokia Lumia 920 almost a barnstormer but is ultimately let down by a few too many niggling issues. Its optically stabilised camera does trounce the competition for night time shots but is let down by mediocre performance in good lighting. The phone’s design is also very nice but then it’s a very heavy handset and all but the black model have slippery, fingerprint-attracting shiny finishes. And, extras like wireless charging and NFC are great but then there’s no memory card slot and you can’t swap out the battery. Meanwhile Windows Phone 8 is mostly very nice but lacks apps.

Some of these issues such as the camera performance and apps should be fixable but others like the weight won’t be. It’s certainly a solid effort from Nokia and one that will keep most users very happy but priced as it currently is and with competition like the Galaxy S3 around, it comes up just a little short.

Trusted Score

Score in detail

  • Performance 8
  • Camera 8
  • Design 8
  • Usability 8
  • Value 8
  • Features 9
  • Screen Quality 9

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