Nokia's new top-of-the-line phone has been unveiled. The company announced the Windows Phone 8-powered Lumia 920 this morning at an event in New York City, and we've had a chance to play with the new device ahead of its release. In large part, the 920 feels like everything the Lumia 900 could have been without the shackles of the Windows Phone 7 requirements: it has a gorgeous 4.5-inch display, a fast dual-core processor, and a number of improvements in the software and hardware across the board.
The Lumia 920 feels every bit like a flagship phone. As if the Lumia 900 were dipped in enamel, the glossier bodies feel no less sturdy, and the harsh lines and sharp corners make the device unmistakably a Lumia. Thanks to the sharper edges the phone feels enormous in your hand (even bigger than the 900), but it's incredibly handsome. The polycarbonate body Nokia added new colors to the 920's range, including a stark bright yellow (Nokia's nothing if not bold in its designs) and a more subtle matte gray. We liked both, particularly the gray, and Nokia's design chief Marko Ahtisaari agreed with us, saying "it's a very controversial color, but I know it's beautiful." We loved the design of the Lumia 800 and 900 — the 920 actually borrows more from the 800, right down to the camera section — and the 920 is a worthy successor.
Plenty of cues taken from the 900, but everything's been refined
The curved, Gorilla Glass-coated 4.5-inch display is a huge improvement over the 900, and thanks to Nokia's ClearBlack and PureMotion HD+ technologies it's one of the more impressive LCD displays we've seen. Its 1280 x 768 resolution is even denser than most 720p displays, and it looks amazing: It has deep blacks and impressive contrast, and Windows Phone's Start Screen looks vivid and colorful on the device.
At a meeting with Nokia execs in New York, we got a quick demo of the Lumia 920's 8-megapixel camera — its primary addition is optical image stabilization, and it works remarkably well. In a video showing a couple on a bike ride, footage went from headache-inducingly shaky to clear and still with the flip of the stabilization switch. The eight-megapixel camera also does remarkably well in low light, a factor reps contribute to a combination of the Carl Zeiss lens, the image stabilization, and some Nokia software in the device.
We got to test the wireless charging and NFC capabilities of the device, along with the new accessories from JBL and Nokia. Both works as you'd expect — you still have to place the phone in exactly the right spot to get it to connect or charge, but each accessory has some visual cues that guide you.
Windows Phone 8 hasn't yet been released, but if the Lumia 920 is any indication the software can't be far from finished. It's snappy and responsive, with no crashes or problems in the few minutes we got to use it — of course, the 920's dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor helps there as well. Nokia has added its usual cadre of software, too, from Drive to City Lens and others. There's also a bunch of themes that match the 920's color options, so you can go whole-hog and get a yellow theme for your yellow phone.
Update: we mistakenly said that the 920 has on-screen buttons instead of capacitive keys. Turns out they're capacitive, as usual.
Vlad Savov and Tom Warren contributed to this report