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Nokia smartphone shootout: A sibling rivalry between the Lumia 920,925 and 928

19

Connect smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance and image quality.

Nokia's Lumia 900 series offers compelling camera specs too.

Nokia has a history of innovation in phone cameras dating back to before the touch screen revolution, and it’s made camera performance a key differentiator as it tries to claw back smartphone market share in a world dominated by Apple and Android-powered devices.

That’s been good news for mobile photographers: the most exciting phone of the year from an imaging perspective is definitely Nokia’s 41-megapixel Lumia 1020.

But if that photographic juggernaut is a bit too camera-centric (or too expensive) for you, the company has several other phones in play that offer compelling imaging specs too: the Lumia 925, Lumia 928 and the aging-but-feisty Lumia 920. These phones are closely related but subtle differences in camera technologies (and substantial design variations) make them all individuals. We put them head-to-head in a shootout to see how those differences manifest in real world use.

Device Sensor Aperture  Optical Image StabilizationFocal length equiv Flash 
Nokia Lumia 920  1/3” 8.7MP  F2.0  Yes 26mm (16:9), 28mm (4:3) Dual LED 
Nokia Lumia 928  1/3” 8.7MP  F2.0  Yes 26mm (16:9), 28mm (4:3)  Xenon
Nokia Lumia 925  1/3” 8.7MP  F2.0  Yes 26mm (16:9), 28mm (4:3)   Dual LED

All of these phones feature 8.7-megapixel multi-aspect ratio sensors that deliver 8 MP 4:3 ratio images and 7.1 MP 16:9 photos. 16:9 shots actually cover a wider field of view (and have more horizontal resolution), as opposed to simply being cropped 4:3 images. As far we know, Nokia remains the only phone maker offering multi-aspect ratio sensors.  

When the 920 launched last year it was the first phone to feature optical image stabilization, which greatly enhances low light photography (of stationary subjects) and makes videos look steadier as well. This year's 928 and 925 also have this powerful feature, but Nokia no longer has the field to itself, as HTC and LG now both offer OIS. 

The 920 and the 925 have conventional two-LED flashes, but the 928 sports a xenon strobe, which (at least in theory) provides more even lighting across the scene, allows for shorter shutter speeds to avoid blur, and throws out more light for illuminating more distant subjects. It still packs an LED for focus assist lighting. 

All three phones feature F2.0 lenses, tied with the fastest (i.e. best for low light) available in handsets. It’s not clear if the 920 and 928 have the same lenses, but the 925’s is definitely different since Nokia talks up the fact that it features a sixth glass element. In theory, this could keep things sharper across the frame and reduce distortion and ugly image aberrations.

All three phones offer dedicated two-stage shutter buttons (a half-press locks focus just like a “real” camera) that can also wake up the phone directly into the camera app with a long press, making it easier to grab shots quickly.

The sleek and svelte 925 is available on AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S. or unlocked pretty much everywhere. The 928, with its boxier build and slick plastic back, is exclusive to U.S. carrier Verizon. The hefty unibody 920 is sold unlocked globally and is available on AT&T for a paltry buck on contract. How do the photographic capabilities of these closely-related phones stack up? Read on to find out. All shots are taken in auto mode with the default camera app on phones running the latest software update unless otherwise noted. Click on each example to view it at full size and ratio. 

Comments

Total comments: 19
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (10 months ago)

Lumia 1520
WHEN????
please test it against the Nokia 808 and the Lumia 1020

2 upvotes
Erin Lodi
By Erin Lodi (9 months ago)

We should have a device to test this week. We're looking forward to seeing what it can do as well.

0 upvotes
HawaiiVolcanoes
By HawaiiVolcanoes (10 months ago)

Nokia...you people are a JOKE..thank you

2 upvotes
dpfan32
By dpfan32 (10 months ago)

My Lumia 925 has EXACTLY THE SAME F*N PROBLEM !!!!

Right in the middle of the frame a big blurry spot! This is unbelievable!

And the call this piece of junk PureView!?!?!

Comment edited 24 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (10 months ago)

looks like you need to sell it or get it repaired by nokia care

0 upvotes
dpfan32
By dpfan32 (10 months ago)

Yes 2 days ago I sent it to Nokia Care partner Arvato here in Germany.
But I have doubts they will do anything but make a simple re-flash of the firmware :(
Like on my Nokia N86 2 years ago which I got back unrepaired with keyboard light issues on top!
It had the very similar lens issue like my L925 !!! Unbelievable!
My first N8 had right side softness my second had lower left corner softness ... Thank god my Nokia 808 is (still) perfect!!!

0 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (10 months ago)

yes better keep your 808. With higher resolution sensors the manufacturing tolerances have to be higher. So if you have an 808 that has no lens issues, like side softness, I think you should look after it well!

The 1020's manufacturing tolerances must be even finer being in a more confined chasis, so it makes it even harder to get a good copy that does not have the lens issues you were having with your n8.

btw my n8 is perfect too, although all it does now is desk clock duty ;)

1 upvote
dpfan32
By dpfan32 (10 months ago)

Yes I saw many 1020 on flickr and forums with side softness. Even Damian Dinning was given such a bad unit! Ubelievable...
I think Toshiba knew hot to make good sensors. Sony is crxxp IMHO. (Oh I own a RX100 :p with some minor corner softness but on 20MP not much visible on normal viewing).
My 808 is rock solid so far I have to consider buying a new spare battery just to have one in case; or simply get another 808 for "cheap" 250-300 EUR :) (I spent 495 EUR back July 2012)

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
0 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (10 months ago)

with smaller thinner optics there always has to be some compromises, in this case quality control tolerances is rather small

0 upvotes
dpfan32
By dpfan32 (10 months ago)

Strange thing here is than when I use manual focus and manage to set it right the photo is sharp!??! So only on Autofocus this issue is there.
When I turn focus to infinity the opposite effect takes place: Middle of frame is sharp and the some vignetting effect everything else blurry :(

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (10 months ago)

sorry to say dpfan32, it sounds like you lens is seriously out of alignment, and possible the 6 element lens group is out as well from what you describe.

0 upvotes
3DSimmon
By 3DSimmon (10 months ago)

Nice comparison, I had assumed they would all be in the same League more or less but each has their own character. I am still waiting for the Perfect lumia before I go back to Windows phone, hmmmmm, maybe a 1025 With more grunt under the Hood.

0 upvotes
nicolaiecostel
By nicolaiecostel (10 months ago)

I bought a Nokia N9 some year and a half ago, probably the top offering at some point. The display is sh*t, when it gets cold outside, like 5-10 degrees Celsius, the display show a lot of lines, and when it goes below 0, the lines at the bottom merge and it becomes unreadable for like, 1 cm on the height of the screen. Really bumed up about it and there's nothing I can do, unless I wait for winter and take it to the shop while it's still cold. Lucky I have a lifetime warranty. Other then that, sometimes the battery charge drops significantly, from 100 to 0 in hours, even if I don't activate the internet connection and I just speak for like, 30 minutes. Nokia QC is nowhere what it used to be ..

I have had unpleaseant issues with a previous premium Nokia, the E55, I think I will never buy another Nokia.

Comment edited 20 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
PeterK70
By PeterK70 (10 months ago)

Well it happened I purchased Ford Model T a few decades ago and I had constant problems with it.
It even didn’t have an electric starting system to supply current for the ignition and its transmission system only had 3 gears.

I’m definitely not going to buy another Ford car.

1 upvote
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (10 months ago)

Nokia manufacturing needs to re look into the quality control of the camera components. It is just not a good having some with soft corners, some without, some more on one side, etc.

When people buy Nokia they believe they are buying into innovative technology and quality. The quality seems to be not as good as it used to be and the competition has caught up

2 upvotes
IchiroCameraGuy
By IchiroCameraGuy (10 months ago)

I bought Nokia's top of the line a few years back and display went crazy just after a year was up...wife had a different Nokia about two years ago that would freeze and delete items after just a couple months time. They are definitely sketchy in quality and quality control compared to a decade ago.

0 upvotes
CyberAngel
By CyberAngel (10 months ago)

Starnge
Lumia 920 has no problem
- not the camera (after Amber)
Very similar to E90, N95, 7710, Navigator, etc
except it has OIS and it's superior in Video

2 upvotes
dpfan32
By dpfan32 (10 months ago)

Yes:
My defective Nokia camera phones:
Nokia N73 - left lower corner big softness
Nokia N86 - blurry spot right in the middle
Nokia N8 - right side softness
Nokia N8 - quite big lower left corner softness
Nokia Lumia 925 - a bit worse than dpreview unit

My OK Nokias:
Nokia N95
second Nokia N86
Nokia 808 PureView (the real and ony one PureView IMHO!)

(My older Nokias like 7650 and 6600 were too bad to be mentioned)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 49 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
bigley Ling
By bigley Ling (10 months ago)

wow dpfan32, sounds like you have had a very bad run with Nokia handsets. The n73 though I never thought to have a good camera.. The N93 flagship was the one phone I enjoyed and cherished for many years. It too had corner softness, but made up for it by having a true optical zoom

0 upvotes
Total comments: 19
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