We recently polled nearly 30,000 people on what they thought was the most desirable smartphone, money no object, a massive 30 percent of them went for the Nokia Lumia 920. This flagship Windows phone may not be the most popular smartphone in terms of sales, but those who like the Nokia Lumia 920 *love it*. See also: Samsung Galaxy S4 review.
On the other hand the Samsung Galaxy S4 is one of the most anticipated smartphones ever. It is likely to be the most popular high-end Android phone on the market when it launches in the UK on April 26th. But how does the Galaxy S4 shape up when compared to the most desirable Windows Phone 8 handset: the Nokia Lumia 920? We compared the two phones to find out.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Design
The Galaxy S4 looks quite similar to the Galaxy S3 in design. The Galaxy S4 is rounded and pebble-like. The S4 is mostly plastic with a removable cover and comes either in black or white.
The Lumia 920, on the other hand, comes in bright yellow among other colours and has a one-piece polycarbonate body with rounded edges. In this respect, it's not doing much differently from the Lumia 800, but it's still more conspicuous and fun than the Galaxy S4. Which you prefer will come down to your subjective sense of style.
With a 5in screen and measuring 69.8 x 136.6mm the Galaxy S4 is a pretty big smartphone. It is wafer thin at 7.9mm and at 130g light too. The Lumia 920 is chunkier, at 71x130x10.7mm. It weighs 185g, too, which is 25g heavier than the Lumia 900. It's a weighty phone - if thin and light is your desire, the S4 wins hands down. See also: Group test: what's the best smartphone?
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Screen
The Lumia 920 has a 4.5in screen and a huge resolution of 1280x768 (roughly speaking, that's a 16:10 aspect ratio). Pixel density works out at a once-considered-outstanding 332ppi. It's an IPS LCD screen with an anti-glare filter and, although we've yet to put the two side by side, it's entirely possible that the winner in terms of clarity, is the Lumia 920.
The 920's screen is curved like the Lumia 800's (Nokia calls this 2.5D) and also works if you're wearing gloves,as does the Samsung Galaxy S4.
The Galaxy S4 has a 5in display with a Full HD resolution of 1080x1920, giving it a whopping pixel density of 441ppi. The Samsung Galaxy S4 display uses SuperAMOLED technology and Gorilla Glass 3.
We haven't spent enough time with the Samsung Galaxy S4 to make a fair comparison, but both the Lumia 920 and S4 have great screens, unimaginable even 18 months ago.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Processor
Most of our benchmarks don't work on Windows Phone 8 and we haven't yet banchmarked the Samsung Galaxy S4, so what follows will be largely subjective, I'm afraid.
The Lumia 920 runs Windows Phone 8 and has a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chip, backed by 1GB of RAM. This may seem under par compared to some recent Android smartphones boasting quad-core processors and 2GB of RAM, but it's sufficient to run Microsoft's mobile OS well.
Geenral performance is great. Navigation around the system happens effortlessly without lag although menus and lists tend to judder somewhat if you scroll slowly. A select few apps, however, such as Nokia Maps and Cinemagraph take a few seconds to load.
Going on the specification, we'd expect the Galaxy S4 to beat all comers in our benchmark tests. That's despite the fact that Samsung has confirmed that the UK model of the Galaxy S4 will use a 1.9GHz quad-core processor instead of the octa-core chip. We'll let you know how this affects performance as soon as possible. But it's important to remember that, aside from benchmarks, both the Galaxy S4 and the Lumia 920 are two highly powerful smartphones.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Storage
The Samsung Galaxy S4 comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models. It has a microSD card slot that takes 64GB cards as standard.
Nokia offers the 920 with 32GB of storage (plus 7GB free with a Microsoft SkyDrive account), but despite Windows Phone 8 allowing the option of memory expansion, the Lumia 920 doesn't have a memory card slot.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Cameras
The Galaxy S4 has a 13Mp rear facing camera with the ability to shoot video in Full HD 1080p quality. It has a 2Mp front-facing camera that can also record 1080p video. We haven't yet had the opportunity to properly test the image quality of the S4's camera.
The Lumia 920 could match or beat the Galaxy S4 here as it has an 8.7Mp sensor and optical, rather than electronic, stabilisation. Nokia has also shown off the ability to add features to the 920's camera app - including augmented reality with its so-called City Lens. It can also shoot 1080p video.
On the most part we found still photos from the 8.7Mp PureView rear facing camera with its Carl Zeiss lens very good. Colour balance, saturation and exposure were all of a good standard but some photos weren't quite as sharp as we'd hoped. We also found a lot of noise reduction leading to a loss of detail.
The most outstanding feature of the 920's camera is that optical image stabilisation. It means video footage, which can be recorded in full-HD, is extremely smooth.
We found the Lumia 920's camera excellent in low light conditions. Where most phones would struggle to cope we managed to get usable, but not remarkable, results. There's a built-in flash for those moments where it's just too dark. The front facing 1.2Mp camera also provides a good quality image although there is some obviously graining.
And Nokia being Nokia, the bundled camera apps are good.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Software
The Samsung Galaxy S4 runs a modified version of Google's Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2. The Galaxy S4 with TouchWiz comes with exclusive software features. With an up-to-date version of Jelly Bean there are expandable notifications and importantly Google Now. There is, of course, access to the Google Play Store for apps, books, magazines, films and music, as well as Samsung's own app and media stores. This is an area very much down to personal opinion, but if you have never used a Samsung Android phone it is worth trying before you buy.
The Lumia 920 runs Microsoft's new mobile operating system – Windows Phone 8. If you're using Windows 8 you'll recognise the brightly coloured tiled interface. The two operating systems now share the same structure but Windows Phone 8 doesn't have all of Windows 8's features. For example there's no charms bar and you can't use a gesture to switch between apps.
We've written a detailed Windows Phone 8 review for the uninitiated. But suffice to say that it looks and feels different to more popular mobile OSes such as Android and iOS. That may not be a bad thing: it's stable and good looking, and those that like WP8 tend to love it. App support isn't great, but Microsoft keeps telling us that the numbers of key apps goes up every week. However, because of Android's greater popularity, the Galaxy S4 just shades this section for us. See also: Group test: what's the best Windows phone?
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: Battery
The Galaxy S4 has a large and removable, 2600mAh battery. This doesn't automatically mean that the Samsung offers long battery life but its higher capacity means it is likely to be a good long-life phone - that despite the fact that the Galaxy S4 in the UK won't have the power saving saving cores of the Exynos processor. We're looking forward to finding out when we get our Galaxy S4 review sample.
Nokia has fitted the Lumia 920 with an above-average sized non-removable 7.4Wh battery pack.
We got comfortably through a full day of use with the Lumia 920 and at the end of the day we had nearly 25 percent of the battery remaining. While this is typical of today's Android handsets, we were expecting more.
Luckily the wireless charging feature should help you to easily keep the Lumia 920 topped up. A Nokia wireless charging dock will set you back around £40 so keep one on your bedside table or at work and you shouldn't find yourself running out of battery.
Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Nokia Lumia 920: The bottom line
We're not going to make any definitive judgments because we haven't yet spent enough time with the Samsung Galaxy S4. Suffice to say that both of these phones offer high-end features and good performance. They each have great displays and good cameras. Windows Phone users swear that their platform is the best, but you will find that some of the apps you like are available on Android and not Windows Phone. Ultimately, the choice is yours - select either of these flagship phones and you are unlikely to be disappointed. See also: Group test: what's the best Android phone?