A Tale of Two Lumias (820 and 920 Specifically)

Lumia Brothers

Brother and brother

Prices on the first two 2nd-Gen Lumias have dropped to bargain-level. Yet the phones are less than a year old, and still very relevant – so which should you pick?

I gave in to a refurbished Lumia 920 at a ridiculous price the other day, with the intention of reselling it after playing for a few days. Turns out, easier said than done! Not because it’s hard to find a buyer, but because I will miss the experience. So let me share a little bit about their differences from real-world use.


Two of my friends gave up their 920s shortly after purchase; not because the hardware or interface was bad – they liked those aspects. However, battery life and some software crashes really marred their experience.

Their stories have made me wary, but so far the Lumia 920 has been a blast to use. While not perfect, there has definitely been significant improvements with Microsoft’s GDR2 and Nokia’s Amber updates. Without further ado, a quick comparison with my 820:

  • Design. While the 820 is still pretty to look at, the 920 fits nicely in the hand with its smooth, rounded back. The ever-so-slight curve to the display has a subtle but noticeable feel. And while I started preferring matte finishes, I’m beginning to become partial to the glossy Ferrari-type jobs. Where the 920 loses out here is the interchangeable cases of 820 – change your case, and it’s almost as if you’ve changed your phone.
  • Weight. People make a big deal out of this at times. I do find a significant weight difference when picking up the 820 again, but I actually really appreciate the heft somewhat. Like a friend said recently – it feels like a phone. Maybe something that I could kill someone with, but appreciated nonetheless.
  • Storage. I was disappointed when I realised the removable microSD card couldn’t be used to install apps. So having 32GB (more like 29GB after counting OS space) was like opening the sugar closet for the kid in me.  How much space does that app take? Hey, I don’t even care.
  • Battery Life. Thank you, Whatsapp. And thank you, Nokia and Microsoft, for improving the software. I still find battery life sometimes unpredictable on the 920, but it’s definitely not the 6-hours-with-nothing life some of my friends initially experienced. Although I’m pretty sure my 820 lasts longer. Likely it’s the battery saving AMOLED on the 820 that helps.
  • Camera & Camera Apps. Every friend I’ve shown Nokia Pro Cam to has been genuinely impressed (can I download that on my iPhone?). Unfortunately, it won’t be coming to the 820 – the closest is Nokia’s Smart Cam. Which is still neat, but it’s still not the Pro Cam. As for picture quality, the jump from the 820 to 920 is very noticeable. Or maybe it’s that screen. And videos, my goodness. Such a revelation.
  • Speakers. Not a big deal for me, since I’m more a headphones kinda-guy, but the stereo sound is very obvious. If my morning alarm on the 820 is one of those 3rd-Gen iPod heresies, then the 920 is an Ultimate Ears Triple.Fi 10 (or whatever took its place).

Basically – I got the 820 for two reasons: battery life, plus on paper it looked like a 920 with less weight, curves and camera prowess. Now I am finding it somewhat difficult to part with the 920 – but hey, I gotta look long term.

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