Nokia Lumia 920 (vs iPhone 5) review

Nokia has attempted to pre-empt Apple with the announcement of its Nokia Lumia 920 mobile phone. While Apple has yet to reveal the iPhone 5, thanks to lots of iPhone 5 leaked images and specifications we seem to have a fairly good idea of what Apple is about to introduce: even so far as to seeing test units out in the wild.

Neither product has a price or official release date yet, although Apple is considered to be bringing the iPhone 5 to market first with an expected 21 September release date, while the Nokia Lumia 920 has been announced as ‘later in the year’.

See also: New iPhone 5 rumours: release date, specifications, and leaked images

Interest in both devices is running high, so we thought it’d be a good idea to do a square-off between the Nokia Lumia 920 and Apple iPhone 5. Both Apple and Nokia appear to be focussing on providing better displays for their devices, so let’s start with that.

The Nokia Lumia 920 display

The Nokia 920 has a 4.5in screen with a 15:9 aspect ratio. That’s pretty big and edges the device towards the smartphone meets tablet category (or Phablet as some people are describing it). Interest in bigger screens is pretty high, and many people seem to think the 3.5-inch display on the current iPhone 4S and iPod touch is looking a little small (we’re still of the opinion that there’s space for a smaller overall phone, but it seems the market is heading towards the bigger is better approach).

Nokia is touting its Puremotion HD+ WXGA IPS LCD touchscreen with Clearback technology as something of a breakthrough (not to mention a mouthful). It sports a resolution of 1280 x 768 pixels with a pixel density of 332ppi (putting it in the Retina display area). 

How Nokia Lumia 920 Clearback display technology works

According to Nokia, Clearback technology is designed to make the screen easier to view in bright sunlight, which will be worth testing when it comes out. Nokia states that “ClearBlack display uses a sequence of polarising layers to eliminate reflections.You have probably tried polarising sunglasses before now and so have a rough idea of how that works. If you look at a window or the surface of some water using polarising glasses, then they become more transparent – which is why they’re especially good for fishermen. The polariser cuts out reflected light.” That's according to Nokia, mind, we'll be interested to put it to the test.

Nokia Lumia 920

The iPhone 5 display technology

On the flip side the iPhone 5 is expected to have a 4-inch Retina display with 1136 x 640 pixels, 325 ppi. The iPhone 5 will go from having a  3:2 aspect ratio to a 16:9 aspect ration, essentially the same as most widescreen movies.

The iPhone 4S already has IPS (in plane switching) so we expect the iPhone 5 to have the same, IPS provides a much better brighter and sharper image than the older non-IPS LCD displays, but there is some argument towards the Super-AMOLED technology found in the Samsung S3. Many people claim that AMOLED provides a better picture quality (it certainly produces higher contrast and solid blacks, but many people feel IPS is more natural). Apple may not have technology like Clearback, but we’re not really sure if the iPhone’s IPS display is particularly hard to see in bright sunlight, we’ve never found it a problem (unlike in devices like the PSP and earlier Nintendo handhelds).

The Nokia Lumia 820 had 4.3-inch display and it found it hard to compete against the iPhone 4S’ 3.5-inch display, so we’re not sure that everybody going up a gear will make much difference

The Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 dimensions

We hope you have big hands, and sturdy pockets: the Nokia Lumia 920 is 130.3 x 70.8 x 10.7 mm thick. That’s over a centimetre thick and it weighs in at 185g. This is by all accounts a serious slab of device to carry around. 

The iPhone 5 dimensions aren’t currently known, but given Apple’s disposition towards ‘thinner devices it is likely to be substantially thinner than the 920 and perhaps thinner than the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 4S measures 115 x 58.6 x 9.3 mm and weighs 140g.

A purported leak has shown the iPhone 5 to be perhaps slightly taller and thinner with dimensions of 124.46 x 58.58 x 7.41mm.

The iPhone has substantially rounder corners than the Nokia Lumia 920 (and we doubt Apple is ever going to introduce square corners) so the general impression we’re getting is that the iPhone 5 will be a sleeker, rounder, lighter device whereas the Nokia Lumia 920 is larger, squarer, and heavier; the proof will be in long term holding but ‘brick-like’ does seem to be the term coming to mind.

Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 technical specifications

Nokia has announced the specifications of the Nokia Lumia 920 so we have a good idea about what’s inside, if not how well this will translate to running the Windows 8 operating system. Apple, meanwhile, is typically reticent about the internal features of its devices even after they launch, so we have a much less clear idea about what the iPhone 5 specifications will be.

Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 system-on-chip

The Nokia Lumia 920 will be powered by a dual core MSM8960 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC (System-on-Chip). The Qualcomm S4 is pretty much state-of-the-art , perhaps only beaten than the quad-core S4 Pro. inside it runs the Arm A7 CPU, Adreno 225 WUXGA graphics (capable of 1080p output), and it’s 28nm process offers 30% better battery performance than the S3 processor.

Mind you, it’s also found in lots of other devices including the Samsung Galaxy S3, Motorola Razr M, HTC One, and so on: so it’s not exactly a breakthrough device.

Apple produces its own SoC devices branded with A monikers . We’re not sure whether Apple will go for the dual-core 1GHz Apple A5X processor with its quad-core graphics (as first found in the new iPad) or roll out a new A6 processor with a quad-core system or faster CPU cycle. The A5X has a slower CPU clock rate (between 800Mhz-1GHz) although it also sports an Arm A7 CPU; but it does have a quad-core Power VRSGX543MP4 GPU.

The Nokia Lumia 920 has 1GB RAM and the iPhone 5 may well match that, if it needs it. People have been predicting 1GB RAM on the iPhone forever, and one day they’re bound to be right.

It’s all about balancing battery life, with heat dissipation and form factor, along with enough power to power the display and run all the features correctly. Getting the balance right is really important while continuously improving each feature. Some reports have the Nokia Lumia 920 feeling really hot, and it’s undoubtedly quite large; it may be that the iPhone 5 has different specs to maintain battery life and keep the form factor down. 

We’re also not 100% convinced that any of this matters beyond ensuring that the operating system, features, and programs designed have the space and power to work well. Which may be fine in both devices.

Tech-heads love to coo over specifications, but interface and feature implementation seem more important to customers. Not that one doesn’t lead to the other, but with such tightly controlled development. Putting both operating systems to the test is what counts.

Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 storage

The Nokia Lumia 920 comes with 32GB of storage as a single standard, along with 7GB of free SkyDrive Storage. The iPhone 4S is available in 16, 32, and 64GB models and offers 5GB of iCloud storage as standard.

Apple may drop the 16GB model from its line-up, although we think it’ll perhaps keep the 16, 32, and 64GB models as a good standard. We sincerely doubt that you’ll see a 128GB model in this update.

Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 Connectivity options

The Nokia Lumia 920 will be available in LTE and HSPA+ models and uses a Micro-SIM. The iPhone 5 is also expected to sport the 4G LTE/HSPA+ technology from the new iPad (third-generation). Contrary to earlier reports it will appear that the UK will have LTE technology in place around the iPhone 5 launch, with Everything Everywhere getting the approval from OFCOM to switch over a portion of its network to LTE. Everything Everywhere has also announced that part of its network will be leased to operator Three to provide 4G LTE service. All other networks are bidding for 4G network space and will have the technology in place next year. 

Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 camera quality

The Nokia Lumia 920 has a 8.7 megapixel camera on the front and 1.2 megapixel on the rear. Pretty good but it’s the inclusion of PureView that’s raising interest. PureView is a collection of Nokia technologies, including a floating lens for both still image and video stabalisation. It was first introduced in the Nokia 808 PureView with a oversized 41-megapixel sensor (the idea being that zooming would not degrade quality).

Whether PureView offers real advantages on the 8.7-megapixel camera is debatable though. Or at least it will be when the Nokia Lumia 920 comes out as Nokia’s demonstration did not include taking photographs.

The iPhone 4S also has a 8.7 megaplixel camera and Apple is thought to be introducing technology that improves image quality without going down the line of increasing the megapixel range of the sensor. What, exactly, this entails will possibly be revealed on 12 September.

Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5 price and availability

Nokia has not announced any pricing for the Nokia Lumia 920, they have also not given an launch date beyond ‘later this year’. iPhone 5 pricing and availability is due to be announced at Apple’s event on 12 September, with our prediction of release date to be 21 September.

It’s a fair expectation to see the iPhone 5 as being around the £499 mark that is currently the price for a 16GB iPhone 4S. We would expect the Nokia Lumia 920 to be around the same price, although Nokia and Microsoft may take a hit in profit to try to gain a foothold in the market.

Windows 8 vs iOS 6

Windows Phone software continues to be in the ‘surprisingly good’ category. Tiles are an effective alternative to app icons, and the Live Tiles are a neat alternative to Notifications.

The real question remains apps: both in terms of quality and quantity Windows falls short, it falls shorter than Android let alone the iOS platform. There’s nothing close to the quality of the App Store and it’s hard to see how Microsoft is going to set about changing that situation. App Store apart, however, and Windows Phone 7.5 is already a genuinely competent mobile operating system, and if Windows 8 manages to truly combine that sort of fluid interactivity with professional grade Microsoft business applications then it could start to make some headway. Even so, we’d let others do the legwork and wait until Microsoft really starts to deliver before making a £500 investment. 

Nokia Lumia 920 vs iPhone 5: the market opinion

The business market seems to have written off the Nokia Lumia 920 before it even launches, Nokia’s announcement was followed by an immediate 10% drop in Nokia’s share price. Conventional wisdom seems to be is dictating that it’s a bit late for a third ecosystem to gain any traction. And Windows Phone frankly hasn’t gone anywhere so far, and this device isn’t likely to change that. We’re not 100% convinced that Windows is out of the game yet, but any noticable change in marketshare isn’t likely to take place in the short term.

It is unlikely that Apple will to see a 10% drop in its stock price following the iPhone 5 launch, it’s typically selling between 20 and 30 million iPhones in each quarter and each model is steadily showing an increase in sales and analysts predict that the iPhone 5 will be one of the biggest product launches of all time. While older models are being used to provide the market with cheaper options for those on a budget, making it easier to buy into the iPhone market, and the iOS ecosystem of apps and data make it harder than ever for customers to leave.

See also: Nearly 40% of consumers will buy iPhone 5 no matter what features it has

We’re not so bold as to claim both Microsoft and Nokia are out of the game, but convincing people to spend approximately £500 on a Windows phone instead of a iPhone, or Samsung S3 if you really must have an Android phone, doesn’t seem to be a viable option on a personal level. We wouldn’t do it ourselves, or recommend it to others. Okay, fair enough, we are Macworld, but even so: we’re finding it hard to find a compelling reason to move outside the iOS ecosystem (or even Android ecosystem) for slightly larger screen and arguably marginally better camera. We can’t see any killer feature on the Nokia Lumia 920 or Windows 8.

If all three devices were available today (including the iPhone 5 that we are imagining Apple is getting ready to launch) our cash would probably go on an iPhone 5, Samsung S3, and then Nokia Lumia 920 in that order. Mostly because we’ve bought into iOS and don’t want to swap to Android, and find switching to Windows unthinkable.

OUR VERDICT

For the time being you can’t buy either, so waiting for the iPhone 5 to be announced is probably a good first step. But the question becomes should you wait for the already announced Nokia Lumia 920 to go on sale after the iPhone 5 is launched? Probably not. We’ll update this article when more information about each device comes along.

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