Breaking News
Home / Mobile / Nokia / Nokia Lumia 928: A mighty Windows Phone for a great price

Nokia Lumia 928: A mighty Windows Phone for a great price

Nokia Lumia 928

Nokia’s Lumia 928 features a slimmer unibody design with sharp, flat edges.

For everyone who thought that Nokia’s Lumia phones are too heavy and thick comes the start of an antidote, Verizon’s notably slimmer Nokia Lumia 928, which goes on sale Thursday for a decidedly wallet-friendly $99.99.

At its meatiest point, the 928 is about 0.2 inch thinner than its chunkier Lumia 920 counterpart for AT&T. Flat sides also give it a cleaner, sharper look than the more bubbly 920. Finally, where the 920 features an LCD display, the 928 opts for AMOLED technology.

Under the hood, the 928’s specs mostly match up to its AT&T cousin. Both 4G LTE devices feature the same Windows Phone 8 operating system, 4.5-inch 720p HD screen, fast 1.5Ghz dual-core processor, and 8.7-megapixel camera with image stabilization and PureView image processing. One notable difference is the 928’s xenon flash in addition to the LED, which Nokia claims will boost image performance.

A high-end Verizon device that sells for less than $200, or even $150, is a rare find. With its $99 on-contract starting price and slimmer-than-usual Lumia frame, the 928 sets up Nokia for a boost among those looking for a powerful, affordable Verizon smartphone.

Verizon’s sharper, slimmer Nokia Lumia 928 (pictures)

Design and build
The second you see the Lumia 928, you know two things: first, that it’s absolutely a Nokia Lumia 900-series device, and also, that it’s much slimmer and sharper than AT&T’s cheerfully rounded Lumia 920. At 5.2 inches tall, 2.7 inches wide, and 0.44 inch thick, the 928 is no scrawny stallion, but it’s also 0.2 inch thinner than the 920, and notably lighter — a still-solid 5.7 ounces, compared with the 920’s 6.5 ounce heft.

With flat sides, 90-degree corners, and a slick, lightly curved back, Nokia’s white 928 still feels good in the palm while giving your fingers a solid, grippable edge. It’s good to see Nokia’s deep black, glossy 4.5-inch display make a return with its slightly bubbled-out surface. In this design, the black bezel meets the phone’s spines; this makes for a cutting-edge look compared with earlier Lumia designs that frame the display within the chassis.

Nokia Lumia 928I like a phone that can stand on its own.

Speaking of that screen, it’s interesting that Nokia switched from LCD in the 920 back to AMOLED for the 928. The 4.5-incher delivers rich, saturated color with a 768×1,280-pixel resolution (and a 334ppi pixel density). A common problem on many AMOLED screens, the greens tend to look a little candied on the display. Luckily, Nokia’s still-fantastic ClearBlack filter cuts down on outdoor glare, making the phone more legible than others outdoors. A supersensitive display lets you operate the phone decked in gloves.

Above the display you’ll find the 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera. Below are the usual touch-sensitive controls for going back, home, and launching a search, in addition to calling up secondary actions to switch tasks and set a voice command in motion. Nokia left the bottom and left sides bare, but you’ll locate the Micro-SIM card slot and Micro-USB charging port on the top surface of this otherwise completely sealed device.

As usual, the volume rocker, power/lock button, and camera shutter button rise out of the right spine. Pass a finger over the physical camera button (or peer really intently) and you feel (or see!) that it sticks out slightly higher than the other two keys, for easier button-pushing.

Look away! The Lumia 928’s xenon flash is plenty bright.

Nokia gave Verizon a little something different in its otherwise similar camera components: a xenon flash in addition to a much smaller LED bulb. You’ll find that long, eye-wateringly bright light-bearer on the 928’s rear side, along with the 8.7-megapixel camera that’s also draped with the 920’s descriptors: image stabilization, Carl Zeiss optics, and the PureView image-processing algorithms. (Skip ahead to the camera and video section if you can’t wait to see the 928’s image quality so far.)

Interestingly, Nokia strays from its bright pops of color to sell the phone in basic black or white.

OS and apps
Naturally, the Lumia 928 carries on the Windows Phone 8 tradition and corrals in Nokia’s hoard of specialized apps besides.

In addition to Nokia Music and Nokia Drive, there’s the newly rebranded Here City Lens augmented reality app and Maps app. Several photo “lenses” are added by default, including panorama, Smart Shoot, creative studio, and Cinemagraph, which combines still photos and video in a frame.

CNN, NFL Mobile, and ESPN also come loaded on, as well as the Weather Channel app and Verizon’s subscription-based VZ Navigator app. A data-tracking app lets you keep tabs on your bandwidth usage to complement Microsoft apps like Microsoft Office, OneNote, the Internet Explorer browser, and the mobile wallet. If you’ve got a hankering for more apps, they download quickly through the Marketplace.

As with AT&T’s 920, Verizon’s 928 bundles wireless charging into the chassis.

Cameras and video
Nokia’s Lumia 928 has an 8.7-megapixel camera (with the aforementioned xenon and LED flashes), 1080p HD video capture, and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera. There’s autofocus, image stabilization for the rear camera, and some extra apps you can integrate through the Windows Phone “lens” downloads, like the panorama mode I described above.

Why xenon, by the way? Nokia says that the Xenon flash is used for images and the LED light kicks in to help focus and to give low-light video recordings a boost.

We’ll be taking many more photos for the full, rated 928 review, including low-light, night, and indoor shots. I will say that in my short time with the phone camera so far, image quality has seemed fairly high overall. Outdoor photos were better than indoor, but colors were mostly true and detailed, and images were mostly sharp.

Here’s a short tour of some shots so far. Note that all photos in this group were taken using automatic settings unless specified.

Nokia Lumia 928 camera testClump of flowers taken outdoors in even lighting.
Nokia Lumia 928 camera testHere’s a full-resolution crop of the blooms.
Nokia Lumia 928 camera testA San Francisco cable car, also taken in even lighting on a dull, gray morning. Click to enlarge.
Nokia Lumia 928 camera testMy co-worker snapped this indoor conference room shot, which has been cropped at full resolution. Notice the red-eye and softer detail than in the outdoor scenes.
Lumia928cameratestExposure was even and crisp in our standard studio test, which is taken with flash. Click to enlarge.

I’ll have more-detailed speed test diagnostics to share in the full Lumia 928 review, but for now, the 1.5Ghz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus (MSM8960) processor gives me no reason to complain. Web sites have loaded quickly on Verizon’s LTE network, and apps have opened with little delay.

It’s too soon to judge staying power on the 928’s 2,000mAh battery, since I just picked up the phone this morning, but it should be about the same as the 920’s, since the two share the same capacity ticker. Stay tuned for findings.

For the record, there’s 32GB of total onboard storage on the 928, and 1GB RAM. The phone has a rated talk time of 16.2 hours and a rated standby time of 22.5 days, both over 3G, which isn’t all too useful for Verizon’s 4G LTE network.

FCC cellular radiation tests measured a digital SAR of 1.4 watts per kilogram.

Outlook and availability
Thursday is the day that Verizon begins selling the 928. I already prefer it to AT&T’s 920 for the 928’s slimmer profile alone, and the $100 on-contract price tag is a great buy.

However, people seeking function and budget over form can’t help but notice that Verizon has slashed the Lumia 822’s asking price to $0 on-contract. “Free” is an even better deal than $100 smackers, if you don’t mind bulk and slightly more-modest components — like a 4.3-inch sensitive screen (instead of 4.5-inch), 8-megapixel camera (instead of 8.7), lower resolution (WVGA instead of 720p HD), and smaller battery quotient (1,800 versus 2,000mAh on the 928.)

At this point in the game, I still think the 928 is the most powerful smartphone in Verizon’s Windows Phone lineup, and one I’d (tentatively) recommend over the attractive HTC Windows Phone 8X for $99 and the Samsung Ativ Odyssey for $50.

Come back later for the complete Nokia Lumia 928 review.