Nokia Lumia 820 review

Windows Phone 8 for a friendly price tag

Nokia Lumia 820 review

Although we had been aware of its arrival for some time, the Nokia Lumia 820 only became available on the Dutch market towards the end of 2012. And only in small quantities and in limited colours.

Nevertheless, we were given a nice yellow one to test not only a new Nokia offspring but also the new Windows Phone 8. Windows Phone 8 is still new, so new even that during our testing period WhatsApp was not yet available for it. Luckily, that has been fixed in the meantime.

As a little brother of the Nokia Lumia 920, he is not expected to take on the Samsung Galaxy S III or HTC One X+ but competition comes from the HTC One S and the HTC Windows Phone 8X. To compete, the Lumia 820 is equipped with an 8.0 megapixel camera, 1.5 GHz dualcore Snapdragon S4 processor, 1 GB RAM and 8 GB internal memory.

What's with the device?

An in-ear headset, USB cable with adaptor plug, is included in the box underneath the device. Quick start guide and explanation for removing the cover. This explanation soon turns out to be very useful. The headset is wrapped in the same bright color as the battery cover.

Although not included, the memory can be expanded with a MicroSD card. The Lumia 820 can be charged wirelessly, but you still need to purchase the accessory separately.


When you take it out of its packaging for the first time, you will immediately notice that it is quite heavy and on the hefty side. The weight is something you can get used to but the clumsy look remains a recurring topic of conversation. Partly the size of the device is caused by the curvature in the sides of the battery cover. This makes it comfortable to handle.


Unlike the Lumia 800 and 920, the screen of the Lumia 820 is not spherical but just a flat surface. Apart from an oval opening for the camera and flash, the entire back is covered by the sleek battery cover with a matt finish.


The right side of the unit is the place for the hardware buttons. From top to bottom they are the volume buttons, power/lock button and camera button. On top of the device is the headset jack and at the bottom of the device is the location for the microUSB cable and speaker.


When inserting your SIM card for the first time, the explanation for removing the battery cover is very useful. It requires some dexterity to loosen the cover with good decency. The advantage of this is that the device feels very solid, all the plastic must be able to withstand a knock.

Besides the yellow version of our Lumia 820 there are also covers in the colours white, red, yellow, black, light blue, purple and grey.


Despite the weight of the phone, the battery of the Lumia 820 is not very strong and has a capacity of 1,650 mAh. It can be difficult to reach the end of the day with intensive use.


On some days the battery charge suddenly went down in big steps which gave the impression that something is wrong with software. This gives the hope that this problem can be solved with an update. With the battery saver on, functions such as background synchronization are turned off.

Call quality

We generally have little to complain about the sound quality during phone calls at Nokia's, and this is also the case with the Lumia 820. Everything shows that the microphone and ear loudspeaker are of good quality.


This applies to a lesser extent to the ordinary loudspeaker. It can be very loud, but the sound quality suffers as a result. During the phone call, the most important functions are available on the screen in a tile layout. Unfortunately it is not possible to quickly find a contact with the numeric keypad.


With its 4.3-inch screen diagonal, the Lumia 820 is in the lower half of today's segment. Yet we still find this a pleasant size. However, the resolution of 800 x 480 pixels is disappointing. Especially for a phone with a price tag like the Lumia 820. You don't immediately see it in the interface, but for example in the browser and in apps. In addition, the border around the screen is rather large.


On the AMOLED screen with its bright colours and deep black tint, the interface comes into its own. The brightness of the screen can be set to three different modes or auto mode. The sensitivity of the screen can also be increased so that it can be operated with gloves.


Microsoft is very keen to keep the appearance of Windows Phone the same on all devices from different manufacturers. Because of its cooperation with Microsoft, Nokia has a little more possibilities to adjust things to the interface. This is mainly found in the standard addition of applications.


The overall look of the menu has not changed significantly with version 8 of Windows Phone compared to version 7. It is now possible to adjust the size of the tiles on the home screen and the lock screen has more functionality by, among other things, displaying detailed status information. Because the Live tiles in the normal and double size can show all kinds of information, the start screen is constantly changing. It is entirely up to the preferences of the user how clear or full this is.


The menu is still a long list of alphabetically sorted icons. Most standard apps have the same colour, which does not help the overview. There is, however, a wider choice for this so-called accent colour. If the list becomes too long, the apps are grouped by initial letter and can therefore be scrolled a little easier.

As with Android, it is possible to close applications with the back button, but unlike Android, with Windows Phone, you come out in the previous app and the home screen only appears when all previously used apps have been closed. It is easier to simply return to the home screen with the Windows button.


The person app is the Windows Phone version of the phone book and has considerably more functionality than a boring list of phone numbers. To start with, contacts from different accounts can be shown. When data of the same person is linked, you get an overview with extensive information when you open his or her personal data. Of course, the contacts are sorted alphabetically and you can indicate from which accounts contacts should be shown.


By dragging the image to the right, the latest activities of contacts on social networks become visible. In addition, recent contacts are visible. Even further on we find rooms and groups. Groups speak for themselves but in rooms multiple contacts can be put together to chat and to make sharing a calendar, notes or pictures easier.



The messaging application is divided into a conversation and an online section. The online tab shows which contacts are online. In the conversations tab we find classic SMS messages but also chat messages from apps like Facebook and Windows Live. They are grouped by contact and displayed with text clouds. Distinction between different sources is made with a short indication.


Virtually all possible accounts can be set up for e-mail, after which the Lumia 820 easily retrieves and displays them. Messages are grouped by subject and displayed as conversations. Messages from different accounts can be viewed together in one inbox, but also in separate inboxes.


The QWERTY keyboard of Windows Phone is nicely arranged and easy to use on the screen of the Lumia 820. A small disadvantage is that numbers and most punctuation marks are hidden behind a separate key.


To charge the Lumia 820 wirelessly, a separate accessory must be purchased. Wireless charging is further made possible by technology incorporated in the battery cover.

Nokia Lumia 820 battery cover

In addition to this technology, the Lumia 820 also has the standard Bluetooth and WiFi functionality with added support for Near Field Communication (NFC). With the Lumia 820, data and files can be exchanged with another phone. With most Android phones, we see that switches for WiFi, for example, are included in the status bar. Windows Phone does not have such a status bar, so to enable or disable WiFi, the settings menu has to be dipped in.


Internet Explorer 10 is the default browser for Windows Phone 8. Just like the rest of the interface, the look and feel of the browser is very minimalistic. At the bottom of the screen, the search/address bar is always visible, along with the refresh button and the link to the options menu. Here you will find, among other things, the possibility to open extra tabs or share pages. Microsoft has worked on the performance of the browser and in general it works smoothly and displays pages well. Support for Flash is not an option.



The 8.0 megapixel camera is equipped with glass by the renowned brand Carl Zeiss. Unfortunately, it does not have the PureView technology, but it does deliver beautiful images. Pictures can be taken with a resolution of 3,264 x 2,448 pixels in a 4:3 ratio or 3,552 x 2,000 pixels in a 16:9 aspect ratio.


Again, the interface is very simple with a link to your photo album on the left and a number of buttons on the right for quick switching of functionality. The settings menu is divided into options for photo and video. These settings include scenes, ISO, exposure value, white balance and aspect ratio. For video, they include white balance, continuous focus and video mode.

The camera can be turned on by holding down the button on the side for a moment and works very pleasantly when taking a picture. The camera needs a moment to wake up but shooting goes smoothly. In addition, a picture can be taken by touching any place on the screen. Unfortunately this cannot be turned off. Pictures look neat with good contrast and color reproduction. Brightness and detail perform alternately in automatic mode.


In addition to the standard photo function, Nokia has added a number of lenses. These are the Cinemagraph application to take moving photos, Panorama for panorama photos, Bing Vision to scan barcodes and Smart Shoot with which multiple photos are taken and you can then choose the best one. All of them are fun additions but it's a little strange that they all appear as separate apps in the menu.


Video is recorded in 720p quality as standard but can also be recorded in Full HD 1080p.

Photos shot with the Nokia Lumia 820

Existing programs

The not yet listed but standard programs are calendar, alarms, creative studio, help & tips, transferring my data, music & videos, Nokia care, Nokia City lens, Nokia Drive+ beta, Nokia Maps, Nokia Music, Nokia OV, Office, OneNote, popular apps, wallet, calculator.


All in all, a considerable package that has been expanded considerably by Nokia. With Mix Radio in Nokia Music, for example, you can stream music for free, and when you create an account, your music library is analysed to recommend new songs and create mixes. Some of the music can also be downloaded for free.

Although the Windows Store now contains more than 100,000 apps, it still has a lot of ground to cover compared to Google Play and Apple's App Store. An annoying peculiarity is the fact that the Lumia 820 returns to the menu every time you download an app to show its progress.


There is an icon of Angry Birds Roost in the menu of the Lumia 820, but after opening this appears to be just an introduction to the game. In order to actually shoot birds away, the game still needs to be purchased. There is also the possibility to link your Lumia 820 to your Xbox account.



Nokia has added a lot of map and location apps to Windows Phone on the Lumia 820. The most important one is Nokia Drive+ Beta and although there is the addition beta behind it, this app works fine. It gives you access to free, full and unlimited offline navigation software. For the offline part, however, you first need to download the map of a country. Route directions are brought in by the device before departure.


With Nokia Maps you have a comprehensive and interactive map at your disposal that can be displayed both as a map and as a satellite photo. You can use the app to find locations or information about things around you.


With Nokia City Lens you can use augmented reality to scour your surroundings for interesting sights or restaurants. You can also switch to a list or map view.


The Nokia Lumia 820 gives you the full Windows Phone 8 functionality for a reasonably friendly price tag. In that respect, Nokia has an advantage because on top of that, Nokia adds a lot of extras to the software that you do not get on other Windows Phone devices. Moreover, the Finns also add a great camera to the whole.

Unfortunately Nokia had to sacrifice a bit on the resolution of the screen in order to reduce the price. For a consumer who is looking for a Windows Phone that is not in the top segment, the Lumia 820 is the obvious choice. But the competition from more affordable options from the Android corner is formidable and there the drawbacks of the Lumia 820 can cost him the headlines.

Mentioned products

Questions and answers about this Nokia 820 review