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Nokia Lumia 820 review

 Review: November 2012  

Last updated April 2013

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: The Nokia Lumia 820 is a 4G Windows Phone 8 smart phone. Good looking with a range of changeable covers, the 820 has a big 4.3 inch display, a fast dual-core processor, a great camera and the bonus of wireless charging.

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The Nokia Lumia 920 may have received the lion's share of press coverage, but it's little brother, the 820 offers most of the same features for a lot less money.

4G or not 4G

The headline-grabbing Lumia 920 is only currently available on EE's 4G network, which means that it will cost you a small fortune. The Lumia 820, whilst it's also a 4G phone, is also available on 3G networks, so you can pick it up for about £10 a month less. That sounds like a good deal, provided that Nokia haven't removed too much functionality from the phone, so let's take a close look.

On a 4G network, theoretical maximum download speeds are 100Mbps compared with 42.2Mbps on 3G HSPA, although in practice much lower speeds will be achieved on both 3G and 4G networks.


The design of the Lumia 820 is a little different from the 920. It's not as square in shape as the 920, with some curved corners. It's smaller too, in all dimensions, and is a more human kind of phone. At 160g it's surprisingly heavy though. Interestingly, the shells are changeable, so you can change to another colour if you prefer.

The 4.3 inch display is only a tiny bit smaller than the Lumia 920's 4.5 inch display, and few people will notice the difference. We're more than happy to sacrifice a tiny bit of screen to cut down the overall size of the phone.

Less welcome is the loss of HD resolution - the display has 480 x 800 pixels, which is typical for this price range. Having said that, it's a good quality AMOLED screen with Nokia's ClearBlack technology and performs well enough in other respects.

Hardware specs

The 820 uses the same dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor as the 920, running at the same blistering 1.5GHz clock rate and backed up by an Adreno 225 GPU. A full 1GB of RAM is available.

The built-in memory is 8GB, which is less than the Lumia 920, but you can plug in a microSD card for up to 64GB additional storage. You also get 7GB of free SkyDrive cloud storage.

Windows Phone 8

The 820 runs Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 operating system, and very impressive it is too. The user interface is based around Live Tiles, which populate the Start screen and allow one-touch access to frequently-used apps as well as continuously displaying the latest news and information.

Communication is built into the heart of Windows Phone 8, and you'll be able to communicate by texts, email, a range of instant messaging systems, facebook and twitter. Support for attachments is provided and with Office you can even create new Word documents, PowerPoint presentations or Excel spreadsheets. An integrated phonebook lets you access all of your communications from one place.


The camera may lack the PureView branding of the Lumia 920, but it's still very impressive. After all, it uses an 8 megapixel sensor, which is only a fraction less than the Lumia 920's 8.7 megapixels. It lacks the low-light BSI enhancement technology of the 920, but it does have a short pulse high power dual LED. An f2.2 aperture allows plenty of light to enter the Carl Zeiss Tessar lens. So, yes, it isn't quite up there with the best, but it's not far behind.

The main camera can also record full HD 1080p video. The flash operates as a video light in this case, and video zooming is supported.

The front-facing video camera is less impressive, recording at VGA resolution only.


The 820 has support for aGPS and the new GLONASS satellite system, so you have double the chance of finding out where you are!

The phone comes bundled with some impressive mapping and navigation software, including Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive, Nokia City Lens and Nokia Transport. So, whether you're travelling by car, train or bus, you'll be able to find your way to your destination, and then find out about all the visitor attractions when you arrive.

Connectivity & internet

We've already mentioned that the phone supports both 3G and 4G networks. In addition, it's Wi-Fi enabled and can act as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 5 Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

Web browsing is supported by Internet Explorer 10.

The phone supports Bluetooth and NFC and has a micro-USB port and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. It also supports Qi Wireless charging.

Battery life

The Lumia 820 has a 1650mAh battery installed, compared with 2000mAh for the Lumia 920. The battery may be smaller, but battery life still manages to impress. In our test we managed to squeeze out 3 whole days of light to moderate use.

Conclusion - excellent value, one or two shortcomings

Overall we're very impressed by what the Nokia 820 has to offer. It's a smaller, more manageable phone than the Nokia 920. Less macho, you might say.

It's significantly cheaper than the 920, yet retains 90% of its capability. Specifically, the differences between the two phones are:

That seems like a reasonable trade-off. It's certainly a much better value phone than the Lumia 920.

Nokia Lumia 820 features include:

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Nokia Lumia 820 user reviews

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Average rating from 7 reviews:

Reviewed by Tricia from United Kingdom on 27th Sep 2014
I used to love my Nokia Lumia 820 it was so easy to use had everything I needed, I have had it a couple of years now and then all of a sudden I got a message from Nokia saying they were updating it and it would take about twenty minutes which it did, when it came back on I found that every time I tried to do anything I was inundated with Ads, If I try and google something I get pop ups every few seconds, Am totally fed up now of my lumia as no matter what I do I cant get rid of them, for this reason and the fact that I cant get some of the apps I want as its windows Im only giving it three stars.

Reviewed by shuggie from scotland on 11th Jul 2013
I received my lumia 820 a few days ago after considering other lumia phones and I'm delighted I opted for the 820 it's just like having your pc in your pocket. Everything about this phone is class the battery life is like any other smart phone depending on what you want it to do anywhere from 1 to 2 and a half days,if your fed up with android and want something different yet something you will be as comfortable using as your pc then go for it forget all the iphone hype o good you have done as for apps there are more and more available daily hope this helps

Reviewed by Charles from England on 3rd Mar 2013
One of the best things about this phone is the blistering processor speed, there is no lag or waiting time while it thinks about what it's doing. My previous phone was an htc desire and was running out of memory so i was forced to upgrade, and thank god i was, i really like the simplicity of the windows system. The keyboard is excellent and is very good at predicting the next word. Some reviews mention the screen resolution could be better, maybe it could but it looks great to me, i love the deep blacks of the AMOLED screens. Battery life is the same as the Desire, about 2 days with average use.
If your thinking of moving from apple or android go for it you wont regret it... Erm unless you do then don't blame me �� The app store is good and getting better all the time.
i do slightly miss the optical cursor mover the Desire had but I'll get used to it. The back cover is easy to get off once you've done it once, just pull the top back and it clicks off.

Reviewed by Tris from UK on 7th Feb 2013
I've had a few lumia's now and have to say bar the first one I had I've been impressed so far. I also own a 800 and 900. I bought an lg l7 for work but I'm just to used to windows now so I bought a 800 to fill the gap until my work got my 820. First off I have to say the 820 has more in common with my 900 then my 800 which is odd as they are different classes. Where they do differ is the case. I can't help but think the 820 feels and looks a little cheap. On the plus side its easy to replace the case when it gets older ,so that's good. The screen is the same as the 900. Only 217 PPI still. I think they could have done a little better.on the better points its fast, more bands for lte then the 900, wireless charging and NFC. Nokia bundled apps. Its a hair thinner too and feels good in the hand. Camera is a touch better too then the 900. Problem for me is it has premium features in a 620 type looking case. I can't wait for the day some brushed aluminium and higher res amoled make an appearance. Im more then willing to live with the looks of course because at the end of the day its durable, fast and has the best features in its class on the market...... Just shame it looks a bit Disney with its red case. Do I think its worth the money............. Yes. You will be hard pushed to beat all its features in the mid range.Its just a personal thing that I think the screen could have been a touch better in PPI and I don't really care much for the cheap styling.

Reviewed by James from UK on 10th Jan 2013
Had this phone since November, after moving from an iPhone. iPhone is good of course, but I couldn't justify the huge price differential between that and the Lumia 820. Am not regretting the decision at all: this phone and OS are great. No lack of apps, and a fast smooth interface that helps you get things done quickly. Battery will last about a day if you use it very heavily, and the ability to bring across all my iTunes content was an unexpected benefit.

Stick a 64GB mSD card in for less than 50 and you have a phone with over 70GB of memory - where else can you get that? Agree with Theo - this phone is an absolute bargain.

Reviewed by Steve from UK on 10th Jan 2013
I wanted a Nokia Lumia 920, but didn't want to pay the high price, nor did I want to be stuck on EE, especialy since I don't live in a 4G area. Instead I chose the Lumia 820, which seemed like much better value and let me stay on Vodafone.
Coming from Android (Google Nexus S), this phone feels very fast and fluid, and I am absolutely loving the user interface. WP8 is absolutely a much more enjoyable OS than Android Jelly Bean. It feels so much more polished, and is tremendously easy to use. I find that I am downloading and installing more apps, which is ironic since people say that Windows Phone doesn't have many apps! The phone comes wil loads of great apps already installed, and I really like the People Hub, which puts all your tweets, fb status updates, etc in one place for you to browse.
Migrating from Android was so easy. All I did was to sign in to my Google account, and all my contacts were immediately synced. Sign in to facebook, twitter and create a Windows Live account, and you're done.
I also want to mention the keyboard which is amazing and lets me type so much more quickly than with Android. Not only are the keys better spaced, but the predictive text is 100% superior, even guessing what word you want to type next, based on the previous word(s). I had tried the stock Android keyboard and downloaded a couple of 3rd party ones, but I never got one I was happy with. The WP8 defauly keyboard beats them all!
If you are hesitating about moving to WP8, I say do it and you'll never look back. If you're thinking the 820 isn't as good as the 920, the only real differences are that it's smaller (better sized IMO), and doesn't have a HD screen. I'm not noticing the lack of HD - the screen seems really sharp.
Oh, battery life is good too - getting a few days between charges even with playing with it constantly.

Reviewed by theo from uk on 23rd Nov 2012
One of the best phones out there. I think for the price is a total bargain. free Nokia maps, works like tom tom and offline so you can use in Europe with no charge, nokia music, wireless charging, great quality overall. Windows phone 8 is probably the easier system to use and definitely the most integrated. There are so many things that surprise you every day. The nokia 920 will be my only other choice.

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