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Nokia Lumia 920 and 820, first Windows 8 smart phones, offer best cameras we've seen

Consumer Reports News: September 05, 2012 02:38 PM

Update 9/11/12: Reports today say Nokia is investigating claims it used misleading video and still photos in advertising the Lumia 920. We'll test the phone's camera and determine its true capabilities, along with its other features, when we get it into our lab, and we'll report on our findings.

At a press event in New York City today, Nokia and Microsoft introduced the Lumia 920 and 820—the first smart phones that run on Windows Phone 8. The flagship Lumia 920 features the most advanced phone camera we've seen; both phones contain unique advanced features such as wireless charging based on magnetic induction, augmented reality, and offline navigation.

The Lumia 920's 8-megapixel camera features PureView imaging technology, bringing its performance closer yet to a standalone camera. Nokia says the 920 has an f-2.0 maximum aperture (most phones have f-2.4 or even f-2.8) and advanced image stabilizers, enabling the phone to perform better in low light without the need for a flash and help compensate for the photographer's movement when shooting.

One cool camera feature lets you convert photos tagged in Facebook to live tiles, which can be resized. You can also see notifications from those individuals in those tiles. Another, called Smart Shoot, lets you remove people from the background of photos, such as when you're shooting in public spaces. And a Cinemagraph feature lets you add a bit of animation to still images (GIF files).

Also included on the phone is Nokia City Lens, which provides enhanced information about locations you're viewing through the camera lens. This augmented-reality feature is integrated with Nokia Map, superimposing points of interest in the phone's viewfinder.

The Lumia 920's enhanced camera view. (photo: Nokia)

The Lumia 920's 4.5-inch display appeared to be the sharpest we've seen on a Windows phone. It automatically adjusts itself to bright sunlight, improving viewability. The 920 also sports what Nokia claims is an ultra-tough capacitive touch screen technology, called SmartGlass, which lets you interact with the screen even when you're wearing gloves.

The home screen now supports resizing of tiles, new live tile features and much more. Tiles in earlier versions of Windows Phone were confined to two sizes—a square or a rectangle—but Windows Phone 8 will support smaller, larger, and wider tiles to make full use of the coming wave of higher-resolution displays on Windows Phones.

The phone will run on 1GB of RAM and a 1.5GHz dual-core processor. Microsoft confirmed that all Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" apps will run on Windows Phone 8, as will older live tiles.

The Lumia 820 is positioned as a mid-range phone. It includes similar features to the 920, but has a smaller display (4.3-inches compared to 4.5) and a slightly smaller battery. No pricing or availability information for either phone was announced; we'll find out both in Q4, and hopefully test these phones into our lab as soon as possible.

The Fatboy wireless recharging pillow, one of the accessories announced for the new phones.

Mike Gikas

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