The Nokia Lumia Icon is a refreshing departure from the six-inch-screened behemoths being trotted out by phone makers, including the Nokia Lumia 1520, that are just too large to stow in most pockets or comfortably operate with one hand. At 5 inches, the Lumia Icon's display is plenty big for most smart phone tasks, and you don't have to be a bigfoot to hold it.
Available from Verizon on Feb. 20 for $199, the Lumia Icon is a more compact version of the Lumia 1520, offering the same PureView 20-megapixel camera and a home screen that shows three columns of Live Tiles instead of the typical two. And its 5-inch display presents photos, e-mails, and the colorful elements of the Windows interface vividly and sharply.
The phone measures 5.39 x 2.79 x 0.39 inches and weighs slightly less than 6 ounces, making it a tad thicker and heavier than phones with comparable-size displays. But that extra heft may be due to the phone's built-in wireless charger—a convenience most phones don’t include. Here are my impressions of a press sample of the Nokia Lumia Icon that I used for the last few days.
Nokia marketers have been touting the Lumia Icon's camera more than any other feature. While our engineers are still putting the Icon's camera through its paces, I have a hunch that image quality will be very close to that of the camera on the Lumia 1520. That camera, which used only 18.7 of its 20 megapixels to take photos, produced excellent-quality pictures at ISO settings up to 1600. It also performed very well under low-light conditions, thanks in part to its optical image stabilizer. But Nokia cameras in general haven't fared as well in our video tests.
The Lumia Icon camera interface is excellent. It now fuses a number of convenient auto settings for taking great pictures with the nifty manual controls of Nokia's Pro Camera app.
For instance, when you shoot in Smart Mode, the camera takes a series of 10 photos at 4 frames per second. You can do several things in this mode, depending on the subjects and circumstances of your photo. You can simply choose the best still from the bunch (Best Shot); delete a passerby who may have strayed your picture (Remove Moving Objects); or swap best facial expressions from different pictures to make one "perfect" shot (Change Faces).
On the cheesy side, you can make a composite picture showing one subject in multiple stages of crossing the room, creating an image with an army of clones (Action Shot), or sharply focus on that person while the scenery behind him appears to whir by (Motion Focus).
The Lumia Icon presents an arc of a half-dozen individual manual controls. Those include manual-exposure settings such as shutter speed, ISO, manual focus, white balance, and exposure compensation. Adjustments you make via the manual settings appear instantly on the display, preventing unpleasant surprises.
As we've seen on phones from HTC, Apple, and others, the Nokia Icon groups photos according to the time and place, and comes with a beta version of a Nokia app called Storyteller, which shows you on maps where those events occurred.