Nokia Lumia 822 by Verizon Wireless Review

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The Lumia 822 is the first Windows Phone 8 device to grace Verizon’s network, and is the first Windows Phone device to appear on the network since the HTC Trophy, which launched back in May of 2011. Nokia’s 822 isn’t the only Windows Phone 8 device on Verizon’s network, however, as HTC’s flagship Windows Phone 8X launched just days after the 822 was made available back in November. Samsung’s ATIV Odyssey launched just yesterday, leaving consumers with a trio of Windows Phone devices on Big Red’s 4G LTE network battling for your hard-earned dollar. Does the Lumia 822 have what it takes to edge out the competition and become your Windows Phone device of choice? Read on for the full review.

HARDWARE

When it comes to smartphones, thin may be in, but the Lumia 822 apparently didn’t get the memo. At 11.2mm thick, a whopping 3.6mm thicker than the iPhone 5, the Lumia 822 is certainly one of the more-hefty phones on the market today, though despite it’s full-bodied nature, the overall frame is aesthetically pleasing. From the curved corners to the white-on-black contrast (on our device, anyway), the Lumia 822 is certain to turn a head or two.

The rounded edges of the Lumia 822 differentiate it from the previous Lumia devices, though the company very obviously took some design cues from the Lumia line. Embedded on the back of the phone is a black stripe (on the White Lumia 822), which contains the Carl Zeiss branding and the rear facing camera. The black/white contrast on both the front and back of the White Lumia 822 provide a striking look for the phone which is sure to garner some looks when you pull the device out in public.

While the Lumia 822 might not be the most visually appealing smartphone on the market today, Nokia’s much lauded build quality has never been more apparent. Despite the plastic-coated exterior, the Lumia 822 feels like a premium handset and like it can withstand quite a beating. The display is coated with Gorilla Glass, which protects the device from scratches should you put your phone anywhere near your keys, and the plastic coated shell adds yet another layer of scratch protection to the device. I’d still warn you against dropping the Lumia 822 on a hard surface, however, so if you’re worried about drops you may want to purchase a case and/or Invisible Shield for the display.

As is customary with a lower-end device, the Lumia 822 features a 4.3” display with 800 x 480 resolution. While not the 720p or 1080p we’ve come to expect with smartphones released in recent months (and featured in the Lumia 920), the display is certainly good enough for the Windows Phone 8 platform to shine and the ClearBlack Display technology is quite good on this unit. Though not high-definition by any standards, most users will find the Lumia’s screen easy on the eyes.

When it comes to processing prowess, the Lumia 822 features a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and 1GB of RAM, which was able to easily handle any task we threw at it, and provided a lag-free Windows Phone 8 experience. The Lumia 822 features 16GB of internal storage, with up to an additional 64GB available via a microSD card.

SOFTWARE

Nokia’s Lumia 822 runs on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system, Microsoft’s solution to the ongoing smartphone battle with Android and iOS. Windows Phone 7 and 7.5 showed lots of promise and offered a refreshing new take on the smartphone operating system, but too many glaring omissions in the app store as well as a handful of OS deficiencies compared to Android and iOS kept the platform from taking off as Microsoft had hoped. Now, Redmond is back with Windows Phone 8, featured prominently on the Lumia 822, yet the operating system feels like more of the same.

Once the initial setup screens are completed, users are presented with the familiar home screen of live tiles, which are resizable as a new feature in Windows Phone 8. Tiles can be sized in 3 different configurations (small square, large square the size of 4 small ones, and a double-wide) to meet your needs, offering a level of home screen customization typically only afforded to Android smartphones. The home screen has also been reworked to take up the full width of the screen instead of the three-quarters layout in previous versions.

Kid’s mode makes its debut in Windows Phone 8, which allows owners of the Lumia 822 to put their device in a form of safe mode which prevents kids from getting their grubby hands on your important emails, calendar appointments, and really anything else you’d like them to avoid destroying with the ever-present delete button. It’s a welcomed feature, though it’s more of a nice-to-have feature than something that truly sets Windows Phone apart from the competition.

That’s the problem with Windows Phone, really. A few bells and whistles were added to the OS, as well as some much-needed enhancements throughout the system, but the OS still feels a bit bland. Sure, it’ll likely get the job done for most users, but the shortage of applications available on the Windows Marketplace alone is enough to warrant users considering other viable alternatives. To be fair, Nokia’s Windows Phone apps are superb, but outside of the comforts of Nokia’s offerings, the apps available on the Windows Phone Marketplace are far from plentiful. That’ll ease over time, but likely not enough over the course of a 2 year contract to warrant that kind of commitment just yet.

CAMERA

Nokia is known for the high-quality camera technology in their smartphones. The Lumia 920 was treated to a variant of Nokia’s PureView camera technology, though the lower-priced Lumia 822 device lacks this functionality. Unfortunately, in many common picture-taking situations, the Lumia 822 underperformed, particularly in low-light situations. It’s decent, but it lacks the crispness and magical ability to capture low-light pictures in dark situations like the Lumia 920. The Lumia 822 certainly won’t replace your standard point and shoot camera, but it’ll do well in a pinch, provided you have enough light at your disposal.

We’ll let our random photos speak for themselves.

CALL QUALITY AND BATTERY LIFE

As expected, call quality on the Lumia 822 is good. We were able to clearly hear parties on the other end of the line in both normal and speakerphone modes, and they reported that we sounded crystal clear as well.

Despite the notorious battery-sucking nature of LTE, the Lumia’s battery performed much better than the average smartphone in terms of battery life. Users of the Lumia 822 will easily be able to get through the workday with moderate usage, and we found we could usually get through 2 full business days without needing to scramble for the charger. This is likely due to Windows Phone applications not running in the background as they do on other platforms (as referenced above), which is both Windows Phone’s promise and heartbreak. Still, if battery life is an essential component of your smartphone experience, the Lumia 822 will not disappoint.

CONCLUSION

The Lumia 822 is a solid budget-friendly device on the Verizon network, and at $49.99 is friendly on the old pocketbook. The call quality is superb, as is Verizon’s 4G LTE network, and the all-day battery and Windows/Office integration is perfect for business users on the go. As far as the software goes, however, Windows Phone 8 has shown promise and a few signs of improvement in the latest version, but it still leaves much to be desired and feels somewhat unfinished compared to Android and iOS.

If you really want to get a solid Windows Phone 8 experience, you’d likely be better off with the HTC Windows Phone 8X. The display is clearer and more dense, the build quality is even higher, and the overall experience is better. We haven’t had any time yet with the ATIV Odyssey, but suffice it to say we don’t think you’re missing too much with Samsung’s entrant into the Windows Phone series. Still, smartphones and other large purchases shouldn’t be taken lightly, and we highly encourage you to check out all three devices, and determine which one is right for you and your smartphone needs.

The Lumia 822 for Verizon Wireless is available for $49.99 from Verizon Wireless, or $0.01 on Amazon.

This article was written by Anthony Domanico

Anthony is the Editor in Chief of Techgress, and a big mobile and gaming geek. He's covered mobile technology for the better part of three years, and gets excited about shiny, new things. He currently uses an iPhone, iPad Mini, and Nexus 7, but Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry devices are never too far away.

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