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Smartphone comparison: Nokia Lumia 920 vs. Apple iPhone 5

How does the upcoming Nokia Lumia 920 compare to Apple's iPhone 5?

Design

The Nokia Lumia 920 follows a similar design trend seen on the company's previous Lumia phones like the Lumia 900 and the Lumia 800. It's constructed from a single piece polycarbonate which is coloured all the way through in the manufacturing process, so any scratches to the surface won't be too noticeable.

The colours on offer (particularly yellow, red, white and grey) are certainly bold and refreshing among a sea of boring, black or white slabs. However, the Lumia 920 is 10.7mm thick and weighs 185g, so it's far from the thinnest or lightest smartphone on the market. It doesn't compare favourably in girth or weight against the iPhone 5 or even the Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One X. Users who long for a thin and light phone are likely to be left a little disappointed.

The Lumia 920's design is a far different picture to the iPhone 5. Its feather light 112g weight is one of the best features of the device and Apple certainly deserves a huge amount of credit for managing to make the phone significantly lighter than its predecessor while increasing its overall footprint. At just 7.6mm, the iPhone 5 is also one of the thinnest smartphones on the market.

Display

If you're balancing size and weight with screen size, then the Lumia 920 immediately begins to look more appealing next to the iPhone 5. For starters it is larger than the iPhone 5 (4.5in compared to 4in) and it has a pixel density of 332ppi, slightly higher than the iPhone 5's 326ppi. In fact, the Lumia 920 has one of the highest pixel density ratings on the market, bettering most current flagship smartphones.

That pixel density rating comes from a resolution of 1280x768. Previous Lumia devices were hamstrung by Microsoft's maximum allowed resolution of 800x480, so this is a significant upgrade if you're coming from an older Windows Phone. A unique feature is the fact that the Lumia 920's touchscreen can be used even if you're wearing gloves.

Nokia cites the use of PureMotion HD+ technology on the Lumia 920's screen, which it says will refresh pixels faster than many other LCD panels. Nokia also claims that the Lumia 920 has one of the brightest displays of any smartphone on the market and says it will automatically adjust the colour tone (and brightness) depending on the amount of ambient light. We'll have to wait until we get our hands on a review unit to put those claims to the test, but it certainly sounds positive.

The Lumia 920 certainly has its work cut out in competing with the iPhone 5's display, which is one of the best on the market. It's larger than previous iPhone's at 4in, but it's the same width as the screen on every other iPhone, only taller. Apple says the decision to keep the phone at the same width ensures that the span of a user's thumb can reach all the way across the display when using the phone single-handedly.

In a side-by-side comparison with the iPhone 4S, the iPhone 5's screen is slightly brighter at the full brightness setting. It also displays deeper blacks, most notably when watching video content.

Software

The Nokia Lumia 920 will be one of the first smartphones to ship with Microsoft's latest mobile OS, Windows Phone 8. We'll learn more closer to its release date, expected to be at the end of October. What we already know is that there's a completely new interface with support for small, medium and large home screen tiles, more colour customisation options, built-in Skype integration, a data use monitor, and a revamped backup system that now includes the ability to backup SMS messages.

The Windows Phone platform is a smooth, effective and efficient OS. The interface is refreshing and different to anything else on the market and performance has been consistently smooth in most devices that have been released so far. The fact that the Lumia 920 will come with a dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM should ensure that performance will be competitive with the best smartphones on the market.

The biggest issue for Windows Phone 8 will be third-party apps. The platform lacks both the number and the variety of apps when compared to both iOS and Android. If Nokia is to be successful with the Lumia 920, it needs to attract developers to build apps for the Windows Phone platform.

The iPhone 5 has no such problems, with third-party apps one of its strongest advantages. Using the iPhone 5 is a very similar experience to previous iPhone's. Apple says its new iOS 6 software, which comes standard on the iPhone 5, has added over 200 new features to the platform.

The most significant change is the abolishment of Google's Maps application, which has been replaced with Apple's own Maps app. This is a change for the worse as the Maps app appears to be a half-baked, unfinished solution that lacks both the detail and the accuracy of the Google Maps app it replaced. The Nokia Maps application, which will come standard on the Lumia 920, is one area where the company can claim to hold a big advantage over the iPhone 5. It offers free, turn-by-turn navigation in 110 countries, compared to the iPhone 5's 56 and it also works offline, unlike Apple Maps.

Camera

The Nokia Lumia 920 has a "PureView" camera but this isn't the same 41-megapixel sensor seen on the 808 PureView smartphone. Instead, Nokia is now marketing PureView as any feature or features that enable the camera to capture quality images.

The 8-megapixel camera on the Lumia 920 has a "floating lens" which enables optical image stabilisation. Nokia promises this will improve photos in low-light and minimise out of focus photos and shaky, unstable video recordings. We're very keen to put this to the test, as Nokia says the feature will capture blur-free videos even if the camera is shaking.

The Lumia 920 will certainly need all that and more to better the camera on the iPhone 5, which is one of the best we've ever used on a smartphone. It remains at 8-megapixels, but captures excellent photos with great detail and many of the shots produced are comparable to some dedicated point-and-shoot digital cameras.

During testing, we found that the iPhone 5's camera consistently produced more accurate colours than the iPhone 4S. Macro performance is excellent, and the lens is quick to focus on close range subjects -- an issue we found on the 4S. The biggest improvement on the camera is the ability to take better quality photos in low light conditions, though these images are still noisier than most good point-and-shoot cameras.

Internals

The Nokia Lumia 920 has relatively impressive specifications. It's powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, has 1GB of RAM and comes with 32GB of internal memory. There's no memory card slot though, so users won't be able to physically add to that 32GB of storage.

NFC connectivity is present and allows a range of accessories to be paired with the phone simply by tapping the two devices together. There's also 4G connectivity, too -- the Lumia 920 will be sold through Telstra in Australia.

One interesting feature that the iPhone 5 can't boast is built-in wireless charging using the Qi wireless power standard. Nokia will sell a range of charging accessories for the Lumia 920 including a wireless charging plate, a charging pillow, a charging stand and a wireless charging speaker by JBL.

The Apple iPhone 5 is powered by an updated A6 processor, has 1GB of RAM and comes with 16, 32 or 64GB of internal memory depending on the model you choose. Apple says the A6 processor is two times faster than the A5 chip used on the iPhone 4S and has two times faster graphics. There's no NFC capability but the iPhone 5, like the Lumia 920, is 4G compatible in Australia. The iPhone 5 also uses a new SIM card standard called Nano-SIM. It's a smaller SIM card than the Micro-SIM Apple used on the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S.

The Apple iPhone 5 is available now through all major Australian telcos. Nokia has confirmed that the Lumia 920 will be sold through Australian carrier Telstra. No pricing or specific availability has been announced but the Lumia 920 is expected to go on sale sometime in early November.


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