Tech Reviews

Nokia Lumina Icon Review

 
Nokia has long been an innovator in the world of mobile-phones. They were once the premier choice for millions as North America slowly adopted mobile-phones into their daily lives, and today they are the choice of millions more that are opting for a Windows platform over iOS or Android.
 
In a market that is completely saturated with choices, mobile developers have to make a conscious decisions on how they will stand apart from their competitors. Whether it’s a desire to be compatible with other brands, new CPUs or a flashier design, or in the Nokia Lumina’s Icon case, choosing photography, speed and Windows 8.
 
How we all use our mobile phones on a daily bases can be generally summed-up into a few categories. There are those of us that use it for work and productivity, while others simply use phones for staying in touch while on the go with their messaging and calling features. Still, others focus on social media and image-sharing, and there are even a few that blend gaming, entertainment and creativity applications into the those categories as well. One person could easily use their phones for all of these tasks, but more likely than not we tend to use our phones for what we tend to enjoy doing the most, and the rest is just a little extra when we need it.
 
The Lumina Icon rests heavily on those that are social, online or out-on-the town. Whether that is sharing or creating pictures, capturing video, or using a few of the thousands of apps like Instagram and Snapchat that have allowed social-butterflies to expand their reach to millions of other people, the Icon is a powerhouse of social and creative features for a smartphone.
 
The ability for your phone to take pictures, capture video, edit or re-touch images has become one of the most important factors for millions of people choosing a smartphone everyday, and the Lumina Icon is one of the best phones you can pick up at a Verizon store for those individuals.
 
Verizon Wireless and Nokia partnered to create the Lumina Icon from the ground up, Nokia designed a phone that would showcase the best facets of the Windows 8 platform, coupled with new technology that would allow users to capture the world around easily share those moments like never before.
 
On the outside everything about the Lumina Icon reflects a high-end smartphone, a matte polycarbonate backing is coupled with an aluminum strip on the side that is sleek to look at and it felt solid and durable in my hand. The phone fits what I’ve come to expect from flagship phones; well chosen materials, intuitive buttons and a somewhat distinguishable design. I say ‘somewhat’ because unless a manufacturer is going to completely change what customers have come to expect in a smartphone, there’s only so much you can do with the popular rectangular shape.
 
I’ve read a lot of conflicting reviews online about the shape of the Icon and of it’s reported thickness. The side-edge of the phone is almost the exact same width as an iPhone 5, the difference is, that the Icon’s back is tapered. This simply means that the back middle of the phone is thicker and the backing comes to it’s thinnest on the edges. These create a sort of “cupping” effect when you hold the phone in your hand and it was no means a hinderance in my day to day use.
 
Nokia-Lumina-Icon-InsertIt actually made the phone feel more secure than my iPhone 5 normally does in my hand, which of course has the flat back that usually just leaves a gap between my palm and the phone. When reading other reviews you can take this however you choose, in my use with the phone the thickness of the back never even occurred to me after switching from my iPhone 5 during my week of testing. The edges are the same, but the large screen in my opinion benefits the user to have a tapered back. Without it the gap from a thinner phone with a flat back would feel more like holding a tablet with one-hand. Your experiences may differ, but I would recommend you test out the phone before accepting the “thickness” claims that I’ve read online.
 
On the plus side this backing comes with a reason, there’s a 2,420mAh battery inside the Lumina Icon and a 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800 processor with 2GB of RAM. This gave me a day’s worth of use on average (working emails on the go, pictures while out with friends, social media throughout the day, and a few clips online) and it was ready to charge at night when I went to bed. Obviously your settings, social-media use ands video playback is going to effect how the long the battery lasts but the Lumina Icon has a well met ‘starting capacity’ when it comes out of the box.
 
Switching to the front of the phone, there is a beautiful display. A 5-inch screen protected with Gorilla Glass 3 and beaming with a 1080p resolution that brings all of my favorite episodes of ‘Archer’ to life. The screen design seemed flawless, I enjoyed everything about it, from the slightly scalloped edges to the bright, luminous webpages that I browsed everyday. The display could easily sell the phone for many users I believe and when you spend hours each day looking at your phone, this is a display worth watching.
 
So what you can fill that gorgeous display with? Well you can start with pictures, because that’s one of the premiere features on this phone. Packing a 20-megapixel rear camera, the Icon offers a 1/2.5-inch sensor with a f/2.4 lens. This is a phone designed for social-events and travel, it wasn’t just simple to operate, but fast and intuitive and the Icon will allow you to capture all of life’s spontaneous moments.
 
You can choose to go third-party but the Nokia Camera app and the Nokia Creative Studio app turned out to be robust image-editors, allowing you to turn all of your bright (albeit large) pictures and get them ready for your Facebook Wall or Instagram in just moments. The Nokia Storyteller Beta is on its way to becoming a quick an easy way for you to make photo-albums on the go, but it’s just not as responsive as the Creative Studio or the Camera App at this time. It is in beta though, and I expect it to be more useful for families than it was when it was when it was just me and my cat all weekend.
 
The Windows 8 platform works effortlessly on the Lumina Icon, every animation, any application, any situation, the phone never had a slow moment. If this will be your first impression of a Windows 8 phone than you should be pleasantly surprised with the speed. Windows 8 tends to rest on the lighter side of the spectrum when it comes to needing system resources to operate smoothly, and the improved hardware in the Icon allows any task to be done without issue. Regardless of whether I was jumping from Hulu to sending a message, or switching from the internet to taking a picture, the experience was better than any other Windows phone I’ve tested.
 
The app store on Windows phone was the Achilles-heel of the platform in the past, but a drastic focus-change from Microsoft has done wonders for the platform in the last two-years. A new Windows 8.1 update that is expected out later this year will only improve the phone, and SkyDrive and Office Mobile offer cloud-solutions that make organizing files, storing media or exchanging files easier than ever. Windows hasn’t completely caught up with the Apple App-store, or the Android Market or Google Play, but all of the major apps were accounted for, from Instagram to Facebook and Evernote, and from Netflix to Hulu.
 

 
Phones are becoming so customer-specific in design that I can’t say there is one phone that would please everyone. A few weeks with the Lumina Icon and I can tell you who I think will get the most from its benefits. The device is geared towards social-events and multimedia, with the 20-megapixel rear camera allowing you to take pictures in an instant with a simple button push, the applications and third-party support that these pictures get should make an instant fan of the social-media crowd and of the picture-heavy phone user. At the same time the 1080p screen offers a fantastic display to watch video-media, edit pictures or to consume online content in any setting.
 
Outside of Microsoft Word, the productivity applications from the Windows store haven’t totally caught up with other app-stores, but that isn’t to say it couldn’t change in a moments notice. Multimedia is the strength of the Lumina Icon, whether you are creating it or consuming it. For those customers I would absolutely urge them to put the phone on their comparison list and I strongly suggest you hold one to experience it for yourself.
 
more info: verizonwireless