Nokia smartphone shootout: A sibling rivalry between the Lumia 920,925 and 928
Peter M Ferenczi | Published: Nov 5, 2013 at 13:49 UTC19
Connect smartphone reviews are written with the needs of photographers in mind. We focus on camera features, performance and image quality.
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.
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.