Head to Head: Nokia Lumia 920 Vs. Apple iPhone 54:00 PM EST Tue. Jan. 08, 2013
When Apple introduced the iPhone more than five years ago, the device was clearly hungry; it ate all of its competitors for lunch. The then-kingpins of the smartphone world never knew what hit them. HP bought Palm and killed it; RIM is on the ropes, and incumbent champion Nokia is now OS-beholden to Microsoft rather than charting its own course.
Nokia had limited success with its first run of Lumia Windows Phones, especially once it was revealed that it could not advance to Windows 8. So in many ways the Lumia 920 is Nokia's first smartphone that is genuinely capable of competing with iPhone. And a competitor it is; the Lumia 920 boasts a feature set that is plainly meant to grab attention. It's a workhorse and it's powered by the brand new Windows Phone 8. And right here it squares off with the newest from Cupertino: the thin, powerful and oh-so popular iPhone 5.
Continue on to see how the battle of Nokia Lumia 920 vs. Apple iPhone 5 plays out.
The Lumia 920's unique qualities start with the display. Its 4.5-inch IPS LCD panel is hyper-sensitive to the touch, responding not only to fingertips but also to gloved hands and fingernails. And the 920 is no slouch resolution-wise either, clocking in at 1,280 x 768 for a pixel density of 332 ppi.
This stacks up against the iPhone 5's 4-inch display rather well. The iPhone 5 has a slightly lower (but still impressive) resolution of 1,136 x 640. That trend continues in terms of pixel density, in which the iPhone 5 punches out 326 ppi. While the edge goes to the Lumia, both of these devices have superlative screens. Face it folks, we're spoiled.
There's just no way around it; the Lumia 920 is beefy. Its measurements of 5.1 by 2.8 by 0.4 inches make the iPhone 5 appear comparatively Lilliputian at 4.9 by 2.3 by 0.3 inches. And the iPhone advantage translates to weight as well. The Cupertino-killer tips the scale at 3.95 ounces, while the Lumia 920 breaks the scale at 6.53 ounces.
Both phones are attractive. The Lumia 920 has a curvy polycarbonate unibody that's pleasing to the eye. Nokia also has taken to shipping its Windows Phone in a variety of colors. There's a lacquered cherry red that recalls a 1950's Cadillac, the cyan variant that popularized the Lumia 900, the gloss yellow looks a bit like an 80s-era Lamborghini Countach and there are more staid black and white as well. The iPhone 5's two-tone schemes that wax between dark and light variants are just as classy as the Lumia's paint jobs are eye-catching.
The processors are fairly close competitors. Each has a dual-core application processor; the Lumia has a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 clocked at 1.5GHz, and the iPhone 5 meets that match with an Apple-built A6 clocked at 1.3GHz. Each processor is supported by 1 GB of RAM. Neither can boast expandable storage or a user-replaceable battery, but the Lumia offers wireless charging under the Qi standard. And on the subject of storage, Apple offers models with 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB; Nokia offers just a single 32-GB model.
Now here's a slugfest. Both companies have been consistent innovators in mobile imaging. Despite its fake demo, Nokia signals its Lumia 920 as a flagship imaging device with the Pureview moniker. The camera has an 8.7MP sensor featuring a f/2.0 aperture and backside illumination. The key is its optical stabilization technology, which it calls a "floating point lens." The Lumia 920 has absolutely incredible low-light performance because of these technologies. Barring Nokia's 41MP Pureview 808, this is the best smartphone camera available today.
The iPhone 5 is no slouch either though. The 8MP sensor features an f/2.4 aperture and also has a backside illuminated sensor. Most reviewers rate the two cameras as comparable but give the Lumia a large advantage because of its low-light performance. Perhaps that isn't much of a surprise given Nokia's clear focus on solving that problem.
Windows Phone 8 is a marked improvement over Microsoft's previous iteration. Its ability to provide "at a glance" information is unmatched. It's quick too, and it's arguably the most attractive of the popular mobile operating systems. Problems lurk though. There is no dedicated notification center, so particular notifications may slide away unnoticed after a moment if the user doesn't keep a tile for the app on the home screen. The ecosystem on Windows Phone has surpassed 100,000 apps, but it is still lacking compared with Android and especially iOS. On the plus side, every Windows Phone ships with Microsoft Office Mobile for free.
The iPhone 5 comes with the latest and greatest iteration of iOS 6. The Cupertino-built iOS is the most reliable, familiar and easy-to-learn of all its competitors. The app ecosystem is unmatched. New app developers innovate on a weekly basis, and all of your favorite internet services are likely to be represented in the App Store.
Apple has a clear victory in terms of availability. The iPhone 5 can be found at every national U.S. carrier except T-Mobile (that's AT&T, Verizon and Sprint). The Lumia 920 is only available from AT&T. The lower-end Nokia, the Lumia 820, can be found at AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint stores, but it frankly doesn't compare well to its bigger brother or the iPhone 5.
An equally clear victory is awarded to Nokia in the price category. AT&T sells the Lumia 920 at $99 on contract, half that of the iPhone 5's $199. Remember also that the Lumia 920 comes standard with 32 GB of memory. To match that, the iPhone 5's price would be kicked up an extra Benjamin. Ouch. But again, this is a quandary that only AT&T customers have the privilege of facing.
With the Lumia 920, Windows Phone finally has a flagship piece of hardware that genuinely competes. It isn't perfect, but strong performance and a phenomenal camera largely make up for the phone's heft and rotund build. The iPhone 5, however, feels like a device of little compromise at all. Cupertino may tout the newly embiggened screen, but 4 inches may already be too small for some. Other than that, Apple's marketing is right; it's the best iPhone yet.
For those looking for something outside the box, or simply new, the Lumia 920 with Windows Phone 8 is a solid bet. Don't expect all of your favorite apps to be there (Instagram and Pandora are missing standouts), but the sheer ingenuity of the OS doesn't wear away with the new phone's novelty. The iPhone 5 remains an incredibly strong contender. It is one of the best phones on the market and the perennial safe bet. For most, that's more than fine.