The Nokia Lumia 820 – Hit or Miss

This device was announced towards the end of the presentations at Nokia World on Wednesday.  The way it was announced made it seem almost an afterthought, with the Lumia N920 getting  all the attention. However, it has a few tricks and some may prefer it. Does it have enough to rise above the label of what you get if you can’t afford the 920?

The Lumia 820 seems to have either the same spec as the 920, or a vastly lower one. It shares the same processor and ram, a screen just a little smaller at 4.3″, and that screen does include the technology that enables use with gloves. However, it’s screen resolution is a low 800 x 480, the lowest resolution that Windows Phone supports, and the camera is 8MP which is nice, but without the advanced PureView technology headed to the 920.  It also has a meager 8GB of memory, though it does support Micro SD cards.

This leads to a phone that is significantly better than the Lumia 710, but doesn’t feel like a successor to the 800.  The 800 was released as a Nokia Flagship device and this does’t feel like a high spec device that’s just a bit smaller than the 920. It doesn’t help that it breaks from the Fabula design language began with the N9, and continued with the lumia 800 and 900, and now used on the 920. I don’t want to infer that it looks cheap, it just feels like the gap between 820 and 920 is bigger than between 800 and 900.

Having said that it does have a few advantages over it’s big brother.  The first is Micro SD support, the second is removable battery and the third is swappable cases. That means that yes, you can get this one in cyan, and if yours isn’t, you should be able to buy a Cyan (or one of several other colors) back cover for it. So, not a lot, nothing that will impress stat chasers, but useful none the less.

However, the market isn’t just two Nokia devices.  In fact, this device will be beat for specs by other Windows Phones on most carries. HTC is rumored to have 3 Windows Phone devices coming – the Zenit, Accord and Rio and the first two will seem compelling in comparison. HTC have been pretty good with the Windows Phone releases – The Radar, HD7, Titan and Titan 2 are all competitive devices and with the exception of the HD7, they aren’t Windows Phone slapped into a device from another operating system.

So aside from not having the camera and cool screen, and the naysaying Symbain fans (though at least this supports Micro SD) it will need some good value added software to convince users to go for this vs good competition. With windows 7.5, Nokia have done a good job with this.  Apps like Nokia Maps, Drive, Public transit, Nokia Music, and useful utilities like Counters have helped. However, In Windows 8, it is likely that Nokia Maps and Drive and possibly Public Transit will be available to all Windows Phone manufactures, and utilities like Counters may be part of the OS. Nokia will need some new exclusive apps to tempt consumers. It’s frustrating that we haven’t seen Windows Phone 8 demoed fully yet to know for sure how Nokia’s maps suite will be included in the OS.

Don’t get me wrong, the Lumia 820 sounds like a perfectly good device an is probably the Lumia I’m likely to get (or at least most likely to be supporte by my carrier, T-Mobile), but if I’m there face with this and another “midrange” offering with higher resolution, a bit more built in memory, and some color options, all bets are off.  I am pretty confident that there will be that choice to make, especially if the upper mid range devices in general go for 720p screens.

So in the end, if it’s priced right, the Lumia 820 should sell well, it’s a good device, and I like that with the 710 and now 820, users can swap covers and personalize their devices a bit.  However, Much like with the Lumia 710, Nokia will need to provide a compelling reason to buy their device vs the mid-range competition and that will likely be software driven, and will need to go beyond music streaming and gimmicky lenses. It also need Nokia to treat it like it’s a good device, which it is. If Nokia treat it like an afterthought like they did in the presentation, that feeling will get passed on by reviewers and analysts and to mobile retail staff. Then consumers who read reviews or talk to retail staff will know they don’t need to worry to much about this device either.

I am very much on the fence about this being a hit. I don’t think it will be a big failure for Nokia by any means, but it won’t be as successful as the 920.  The shame is, I think that is easily remedied. Why do smaller screen phones have to have a worse feature set than the big ones? I don’t get it.  Give this device the same PureView camera as the 920, a few more GB of memory and a bump in screen resolution and this would definitely be a hit.

As it is, the competition will have mid-range devices that have good or better camers, as well as higher resolution screens and more memory. It’s up to Nokia’s exclusive apps and the 820’s colorful personality to convince the consumers that this devices is for them. And if Nokia themselves remember to shout about it too, that certainly would help.


About bluechrism

I am a software developer with most professional experience in the Windows .Net realm and I'm currently a WPF developer with Starkey Labs. However, I have wanted for some time to start the mobile developer journey properly and being an N900 owner, this was to be in the realm of QT. Job hunting, moving to Minnesota and changing jobs put my plans on hold 6-12 months but things are starting to settle now, just as I'm getting sorted to start some things, Microsoft and Nokia merge. This blog is about my novice mobile development experiences and hopefully will end up complete with links to download some apps on various platforms, but obviously by the name, Sybian, Maemo/Meego and Windows Mobile. In other stuff, I am English, I support Everton FC, I have visited Glastonbury music festival 5 times and recommend it to anyone. I am married and my wife and i have a dog called Friday.
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