Nokia Lumia 820 review

The baby brother steps up

Nokia Lumia 820 review
The flagship sidekick - a role of its own?

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The Nokia Lumia 820 sits nicely at the crossroads between value and power. While it doesn't have the processor, camera or larger screen of its big brother the Lumia 920, it does have microSD storage, removable covers and a more attractive price tag.

The Nokia Lumia 820 isn't meant to be the flagship phone of either Nokia or the Windows Phone 8 operating system. That relieves it of a certain amount of pressure and what you're left with is a very competent handset for those that want a simple, fluid experience.

It's now been slightly sidelined by better phones at lower prices from Nokia - there's an argument that the Lumia 820 (and the Lumia 620, while we're here) could be deleted from the range and it would be a lot more streamlined.

The app selection still handicaps Windows Phone 8 devices. But if you're less of a heavy app user and more interested in using your phone to play music, read documents or take pictures then Nokia has laid on a tidy little handset that won't cost the earth during your contract.

Is it going to sway a lifelong Android or Apple user? No. But if you wanted evidence that Windows Phone 8, and more importantly Nokia, are taking steps in the right direction then this is it.

We liked

The weight and dimensions of the Nokia Lumia 820 are among its core strengths. It feels heavy enough to take a knock or three, but light enough that you don't notice it in your pocket.

Likewise, if you're one of the people that think phones are getting a little too big these days, you'll appreciate the smaller 4.3-inch AMOLED screen.

The camera, as ever, is a highlight of this Nokia handset. You're not given as many options from the get-go as you are on other phones but the addition of Nokia's Lenses is intriguing. Ideally, the camera will get more versatile as different lenses are released.

Last, but by no means least, the 4.3-inch AMOLED 800 x 480 screen is really bloody good. You won't miss the extra inches because this is a crisp, clear display that makes watching video on the move a real pleasure.

We disliked

While there aren't any giant, crushing flaws with the Nokia Lumia 820, there are a couple of minor irritations that get in the way of everyday usage.

For example, there's no notification light on the front to tell you you've got a Facebook comment, text message or email. You'll have to routinely open the phone and check the lock screen to be sure.

Another irritation was removing the Lumia 820's swappable back cover. It really shouldn't be this hard to remove a phone's casing, should it? Well according to Nokia at least, it should be. So good luck with that.

You're also going to have to make peace with a relatively short battery life (price of a good screen, eh?) and the non-existence of apps on the Windows Phone store. Nokia does a commendable job trying to plug the gaps, but these issues are still noticeable when compared to rival handsets.


Nokia is building a solid line-up of smooth, competent Windows handsets that started with the original Lumia line-up last year and continues through to the Windows Phone 8 era. We feel the Lumia 820 is a building block for that line-up rather than its superstar focus.

Despite some definite plus points (microSD anyone?) this doesn't take the Windows Phone 8 crown from the likes of the Nokia Lumia 920 or the HTC Windows Phone 8X. Likewise we don't believe that iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S3 users will feel they're missing out when this hits the shelves.

But sidelining it commercially is doing both the Lumia 820, and Nokia itself, a disservice. This is a well constructed, colourful handset with some excellent technological features, and it's got a really palatable price point to boot. It's been overshadowed by others in the range, but that doesn't mean it isn't still a class act.

The Windows Phone OS is maturing nicely and offers a realistic alternative to other phones on the market. Throw in some competitive pricing and you've got plenty of reasons to consider this phone.