Nokia Lumia 820 review: Backup squad

Backup squad

GSMArena team, 22 November 2012.

Retail package covers the basics

The Lumia 820 ships in a very similar box to what the first gen of Finnish Windows Phone smartphones used to have. Sadly, there isn't much to get excited about inside - a USB cable, an A/C adapter and a pair of earphones is all you get.

Nokia Lumia 820 Nokia Lumia 820
The Nokia Lumia 820 retail package and its contents

The Lumia 820 has a memory card slot but there's no microSD card in the bundle. There’re no spare covers either – you’ll have to get those yourself. Most high-end smartphones don’t offer anything more than that anyway, so it will be unfair to the Lumia 820 to deduct points here.

Nokia Lumia 820 360-degree spin

The Nokia Lumia 820 is one extra solid piece of gear - not too tall but strong and physical. The heavily built smartphone measures 123.8 x 68.5 x 9.9 mm, which is by no means the compact alternative of the flagship Lumia 920. The cheaper, less sophisticated option perhaps, but not compact.

Nokia Lumia 820 Nokia Lumia 820 Nokia Lumia 820 Nokia Lumia 820
Nokia Lumia 820 sized up against the Lumia 800 and the Nokia N9

To be honest, the Lumia 820 is rather generously sized for a 4.3-incher. The Motorola RAZR M, for example, is 1.6mm slimmer and almost 8mm narrower, while still packing a larger battery. Of course, the Nokia Lumia 820 has a user-removable back panel and a slightly larger screen (due to the different aspect) to show for it, but that’s hardly enough.

The 160g weight is another thing that might be held against the Lumia 820 - that’s 27g more than a Galaxy S III, which boasts a much bigger screen. And while the extra heft certainly contributes to a solid, reliable feel, it’s something you should definitely consider. The Lumia 820 isn't a device you'd simply slip in a pocket and forget it's there.

Design and build quality

If there’s one area where Nokia is still going strong, despite all recent trouble, it’s the design of their smartphones. The Lumia 820 has its body entirely made of plastic, but that doesn’t take anything away from its clean, smooth looks. It’s not as exciting as the Lumia 920, but it’s certainly one that you wouldn’t mind being seen with.

In some strange way it resembles an HTC phone - in every good way possible. Hard to put a finger on, but there're certain similarities to an HD 2, or a Desire HD. A bit ironic actually, considering the allegations that HTC have borrowed the design of their Windows Phone 8 smartphones from Nokia's Lumia range.

The choice of materials is excellent and the build quality is impeccable. The metal accent around the camera lens at the back is the only thing that doesn’t quite work perfectly. Overall, the Nokia Lumia 820 looks way better than most mid-range smartphones out there.

Plus, given that practicality is also a function of the design, we might even be tempted to give the nod to this approach over the Lumia 920’s unibody, which doesn’t play nice with microSD card slots and removable batteries.

Display

We've always said that AMOLED and the Windows Phone OS are a match made in heaven. The 4.3" screen of the Lumia 820 is taken straight from the former flagship, Lumia 900, and is quick to impress with excellent contrast and sunlight legibility.

Nokia Lumia 820
The Lumia 820 comes with a 4.3" AMOLED display

There's no PenTile matrix to worry about here, but the sharpness of the screen is obviously not as good as on those 720p displays. The Lumia 820 makes up for that with ultra wide viewing angles and, overall, there aren’t too many better displays at this price point.

Here go the Nokia Lumia 820 results from our display tests. You can find more about what we test and how over here.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Nokia Lumia 820 0 260 0 422
HTC Windows Phone 8X 0.17 174 1017 0.49 501 1020
Samsung Ativ S 0 129 0 302
Nokia Lumia 900 0 347 0425
Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III 0 174 0 330
Apple iPhone 5 0.13 200 1490 0.48 640 1320

Contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.970
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Windows Phone 8X
    1.873
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.680
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • HTC Desire C
    1.300
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.180
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Reader comments

  • john

how to hard reset nokia lumia

  • T-Bone Winchester

I've had my 820 for 8 years now. It still works well but it is not my everyday phone. I have owned many phones (Android, IOS and WIN) this one is the best built of all of them. Everything still works well, no issues with anything. It's too ...

  • ozone

This phone has been incredible. I too have had it 6 years, keep thinking I should update, but it still does everything i need, never freezes, just the battery is starting to tire by the end of the day now.