While I do so many smartphone reviews just about all of them are catered to Android. It’s rare I get my hands on a windows phone and the last time was actually the Nokia Lumia 810 a year and a half ago. There have been very good models that have hit since such as the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the phablet sized Nokia Lumia 1520 that has garnered a decent amount of attention. The devices referenced are exclusively home to AT&T. The Nokia Lumia Icon aka Lumia 929 is on the Verizon network and looks to be the perfect Windows Phone 8 around. Can it be the “Icon” that Windows needs?
With the Lumia 1020/1520 phones you had a hard shiny polycarbonate plastic backing. The Icon has a plastic backing as well but at first glance and feel you think it was made out of metal. Etched on the back is the Nokia branding as well as the usual unforgettable Verizon/4GLTE logos. Besides that is the 20MP camera, LED flash, and audio speaker. On the top is a headphone jack and MicroUSB charging port on the bottom. Right side of the device has a power button, volume rocker, and camera button. I won’t lie I miss the days of dedicated camera buttons. Especially if you are a snapper like myself. The Lumia Icon has such a smooth feel in the hand but at times I wouldn’t mind slapping a case on, mostly when I’m doing one-handed activities such as picture snapping for better grip. On the front is more branding from Verizon/Nokia, 1.2MP and capacitive buttons. The Nokia Lumia doesn’t have thin bezels such as the HTC One M8 or even the Galaxy S5 but it does feel like a well put together and sturdy device.
What makes the Nokia Lumia look so sexy is its 5″ FULL HD display. It uses Nokia’s ClearBlack display(which is still AMOLED) that gives deeper blacks and provides 441ppi. Protection on the glass is Corning Gorilla Glass 3 which was actually on the Lumia 1020 but not the 1520. I been a bit rough with the Lumia Icon but haven’t put a scratch on the display. If the colors aren’t to your liking Nokia gives out access to change-up the color profile with saturation and temperature options. Also the screen adjusts itself pretty good to sunlight thanks to an option you can flick off/on as well. Watching videos on the ESPN Hub app looks clean and provides rich colors.
The Lumia Icon has some pretty nice hardware underneath to keep it running at a snappy pace. It has a Quad Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip, 2GB RAM and 32GB of internal storage(i believe it was around 25-27 when first activated). If wireless charging is your game it has QI charging capabilities and should work with any QI Dock. Battery is 2420mAh and at times has held up pretty good on the Lumia Icon but other times using it, I’ve had the phone overheat and deplete quickly. It has been some result of using the Windows Phone 8.1 OS I believe which is still in Beta . So user beware. Sadly I like Windows Phone 8.1 so much I can’t see myself reverting back even with the overheating.
Microsoft has always been seeking to make improvements on its Windows Phone OS and has come a long way from its WP7 interface. Notifications have looked better, faster response time and they luckily been getting some support from app developers. Unfortunately while they are receiving said support more is definitely needed. There are apps that are just outdated and need revisions. While there are apps now such as Instagram and Vine, alternates such as 6Tag and 6sec work wonders and this is thanks to app developer Rudy Huyn. If you are a IG user look at 6Tag as it’s actually one of the best IG app I used.
Windows Phone 8.1 & Cortana
With WP8.1 nice customization options are given as you can see on my screen. You can now put a background and see it as you scroll throughout your Live Tiles. If you want to enable more tiles I suggest to download the Transparency Tiles app. Action Center is a pull down menu similar to the ones you’d see on Android and gives you quick access. Login to WIFI, Bluetooth, Airplane Mode or Lock Rotation. Notifications for apps such as email are available and easily accessible. This was sorely needed and is welcome to the Windows party. Wi-Fi Sense sees when you are near a hotspot you are always using and hops right on to help free data.
Another feature you may like is Word Flow Keyboard. Its Swype-esque if you been an Android user and making creating words easier than before. I actually like typing on the WP keyboard too and has never gauged to be a problem. There are tons of other WP 8.1 you can check if you like. Cortana wants to be your next-gen Siri/Google Now service for Windows and it works as it should. You can ask Cortana questions and you will get audio responses back which are at times funny but useful. Other times it will just pull up a list of results. It’s not a bad feature to have and can see Microsoft continuing to fine tune it as time progresses.
Service is always a plus with Verizon and making calls while seldom were fine here in New York City. The real deal is the data speeds I can able to capture from Verizon. The speeds when in an awesome coverage area was giving me over 60+ Mbps on the download and over 15 Mbps on the upload. I did use the Lumia Icon a lot on WiFi and most likely you will too unless you have unlimited data which is a rarity these days.
I won’t lie to you when I say my favorite feature on the Lumia Icon has gone to the camera. It has a 20MP camera with a PureView ZEISS 6 Lens and uses OIS to help disable the shaky hand syndrome you(or myself) may inquire at times. I have taken 100s of pictures with this camera in various settings and prefer to actually use it more than any of the other smartphones I have around me including the HTC One M8 and Galaxy S5. It just brings the details out of images and that’s even with a bit of zoom. Its Nokia Camera system is easy to use and has various features if you are looking to tweak the shot a bit. If you shoot in 4:3 you get the full 20MP, otherwise if you use 16:9 which i used a good deal, you get 16MP snapshots.
Recording video isn’t something I didn’t get into much, not that I didn’t like the 1080p camera recording ability but just never had the opportunity to really put it to work. I did do some filming around Flushing, Queens briefly which is always crowded and you can see it catches all the movement going on.
I originally was given the Lumia Icon as a gift and didn’t think I put much into it. I actually love using it based on how fluid it runs. Using it with the Verizon 4G LTE service makes the online data presence plentiful and calls crystal clear. I’m a fan of Windows Phone 8.1 even if it’s still in beta as it gives the consumer more control over their device and can make the experience personal. Apps are really the only thing deterring me from using it on a daily. With missing apps or some so outdated such as Twitter, Foursquare, no google native apps and the list goes on. Camera experience on the Lumia Icon is a gem and I have taken countless pictures in various settings. It’s one of my favorite cameras to use on any smartphone and Nokia continues to push the quality envelope on their shooters.
Best Windows Phone?
Nokia’s Lumia Icon is bar none the best Windows Phone on the market today. I feel like it combines the strength of the Lumia 1520 and compacts it close to the size of the Lumia 1020. Superior camera experience, terrific running OS, and great build quality is what makes this smartphone a beast in the mobile realm. Once again only thing that can really keep you away is the types of applications you use. If you are big on certain apps whether it be Android or iOS you may want to see if Windows Store has suitable replacements. Definitely check out the Lumia Icon by Nokia exclusive to Verizon and see if gives you a change of heart about Windows Phones.