Verizon Nokia Lumia 928 Review

Late last year, Verizon saw its first bit of Lumia love from Nokia, in the form of the Nokia Lumia 822, a mid-range smartphone which was a variant of the Lumia 820.

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Available for $99.99 on-contract, it was a big deal for Nokia, since it was their first WP8 device on Big Red. But while it was a great mid-range phone, it paled in comparison to AT&T’s Nokia Lumia 920, which is why it was important for Verizon to bring in their own super spec’d Lumia 920 variant, but one that had some notable differences to make their customers happy to have something newer, and even better in some aspects. And that’s where the Nokia Lumia 928 comes in.

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Priced aggressively at $99.99 on-contract, it’s armed with the same Nokia features that we first heard of with the 920, such as the PureMotion HD+ display, and the PureView camera, but there’s also the introduction of a Xenon flash, and a slightly different design.

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So how does the new Nokia Lumia 928 do in the real world? Read on to find out!

The Retail Box:-

The Nokia Lumia 928 comes with the usual usual retail box that you’d expect from a Verizon device.

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No headset in the retail package though, so you’re going to have to go out and get one separately.

More details over in our Nokia Lumia 928 Unboxing post.

The Design:-

Measuring 5.24 x 2.71 x 0.4 inches (133 x 68.9 x 10.1 mm) and weighing grams, the Lumia 928 looks similar-yet-different from the rest of the Lumia lineup.

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Nokia has managed to make it slightly thinner and lighter than the 920, though the thinner frame is mostly due to it’s tapered design, where it’s skinnier from the sides but gets ticker towards the middle.

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Unlike the 920 though, it has a lot of straight, hard lines and 90 degree corners, instead of the curves seen on the AT&T Lumia. As a result, it isn’t as ergonomic to hold, as the 920, but does feel even more solid in terms of build quality.

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Speaking of build quality, the 928 is constructed out of the same polycarbonate material as the 920. which inturn means that it feels quite sturdy, and also still has a bit of weight to it.

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There’s a very glossy finish to the entire body though, which can be susceptible to finger grease and smudges but the white color does a good job of hiding them.

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Much of the front of the Lumia 928 is occupied by the 4.5 inch PureMotion HD+ 768 x 1280 (WXGA) AMOLED display, at 332 ppi pixel density, which uses Nokia’s ClearBlack display technology for deeper blacks and to keep reflections low, and Corning’s Gorilla Glass 2 to give the screen some strength to survive falls.

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The AMOLED screen is much better than the LCD screen used on the 920, with nicely saturated colors, wide viewing angles and, thanks to the ClearBlack tech, surprisingly decent outdoor visibility as well. The pixel density might pale in comparison to a 1080p display, but fine text is still visible and very readable, just fine.

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Overall, it’s an incredible looking display.

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Just like the Lumia 920, the display also has a super-sensitive panel which can recognize touch inputs even if you’re wearing gloves. This setting is switched off by default (or rather screen sensitivity is set to ’low’ in the settings) so you need to switch it on (aka set it to ’high’) for it to work.

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Above the display, you have the centrally located earpiece, ambient light sensor, proximity sensor, and a front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera that is capable of 720p video recording.

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Below the display, you have the usual three Windows Phone buttons that we’ve been accustomed to seeing in this position, for back, start and search.

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They’re well spaced away from each other to prevent accidental button presses, though the backlighting seems to be somewhat uneven.

Coming to the rest of the phone, at the top, you’ll find the the SIM card port, standard 3.5 mm audio jack, and the microUSB port for charging or data connectivity. There’s also a tiny pinhole for the secondary, noise cancelling microphone.

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The left side of the 928 is completely barren, with no ports or buttons.

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The right side has all the physical buttons, with the power/screenlock button situated between the volume rocker key and the two-stage dedicated camera key.

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They’re all easy enough to find and use.

The bottom is also devoid of ports or buttons, instead just having the model number and FCC information.

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Coming to the back, you’ll see the 8.7-megapixel PureView camera with Carl Zeiss f2.0 lens, and optical image stabilization, but you’ll also notice a xenon flash, which debuts on Windows Phone with the Lumia 928.

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As you probably know if you’re a regular reader, I’m a huge fan of the ol’ Xenon Flash, and it definitely helps brighten up some pictures. But we’ll talk about that later!

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All in all, it’s not the brilliant design that we saw with the 920, but it certainly feels just as solid.

The Hardware:-

The Nokia Lumia 928 features a dual core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Plus MSM8960 processor, 1GB of RAM and an Adreno 225 GPU, just like the Lumia 920. There’s also 32 GB of onboard memory (out of which 29.2 GB is available to the user) but no microSD card slot.

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Windows Phone is very responsive and super quick on the hardware, even quicker than some Android phones on a quad-core processor. As a result, Windows Phone doesn’t really require a quad-core processor right now, which is probably why Nokia chose to stick with a really powerful Qualcomm dual-core chip instead.

In terms of connectivity, there’s support for Verizon’s 4G LTE, aGPS, Bluetooth 3.0 with EDR, 5GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n Wifi, Wifi-hotspot, NFC, and wireless charging.

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The Lumia 928 is also global ready, which means it will work on CDMA bands domestically in North America, and GSM bands abroad, so that your phone can stay connected wherever you are, and you can drop any GSM SIM card into the SIM tray.

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The Software:-

Windows Phone 8 on the Nokia Lumia 928 is basically the same platform experience that we’ve seen before on the Lumia 920, 820, etc.

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As you might already know, the Windows Phone UI is based on “tiles”, some of which animate as sort-of widgets and are called “live tiles”.

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It’s an animated look that is very distinctive, and completely different from the grid of icons you’ll find on rival platforms.

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We’ve covered it all in detail before, so please do check out our Windows Phone 8 Review for a better idea of it. I’ll try to focus on what’s new to the Lumia 928 here, though a lot of it is almost exactly the same as the Nokia Lumia 920.

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Since it’s a Nokia Windows Phone, the Lumia 928 gets access to a whole bunch of exclusive apps, some made by Nokia and some by others which are only available for Lumia devices. The Nokia apps bring a lot of functionality to the phone, which give it a huge advantage over other Windows Phones, from Samsung, Huawei or HTC. These apps include Nokia’s HERE Maps, HERE Drive (voice guided turn-by-turn navigation), HERE CityLens (great app that lets you find out local points of interests nearby, using augmented reality), Nokia Music, Nokia Cinemagram, Nokia Panorama, and so on and so forth.

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Apart from that, there’s the usual organiser apps onboard, that you’d expect to be pre-installed in a smartphone. These include the calendar app, calculator, etc.

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Since this is a Verizon phone, the 928 also has a couple apps from Big Red, such as the My Verizon Mobile and VZ Navigator apps. There’s also a few third party apps pre-installed, such as the ESPN and NFL Mobile apps.

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Apart from all that, there’s tons of apps on Microsoft’s Windows Phone Store. It doesn’t have as many apps as Android and iOS admittedly, but it has all the essentials, from Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Vevo apps and apps like Instance for Instagram, etc. And tons of games, some of which have Xbox Live support.

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Coming to text input, the 4.5 inch display is large enough that you can very comfortably type away on the onscreen keyboard.

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The windows phone keyboard is easily one of the best out there, and is accurate and responsive whether you’re typing in portrait or landscape.

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It also has pretty good auto-correct, which is switched on by default.

Coming to web browsing, the default web browser on Windows Phone is Internet Explorer mobile. It’s a very well executed browser that works flawlessly with Verizon’s speedy 4G LTE speeds, loading complex web pages and rendering them quickly.

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There are some mildly annoying things though, such as the lack of a forward button.

Coming to multimedia, the Music Player on the 928 is your usual windows phone affair, with a visually minimalistic, yet pleasing UI with all the basic features that you’d expect out of a modern phone.

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There’s also Nokia Music which is a streaming music service that allows you to listen to automatically created mixes from different genres, and download music as well.

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In terms of video, there’s support for a whole bunch of codecs out there, including DivX, H.264, MPEG-4, and Xvid, all up to 1080p high definition.

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And it all looks great on the vivid, large AMOLED screen of the 928.

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The Camera:-

The Nokia Lumia 928 has a 8.7 Megapixel PureView camera with an f2.0 lens, Optical Image Stabilisation and Carl Zeiss optics, just like the Lumia 920, but the difference is, that it has a powerful Xenon flash instead of a measly ol’ LED flash.

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The Camera UI is pretty much the same as every other Windows Phone 8 device, with a nice minimalistic UI around the viewfinder, having just a few icons in the right side. Some might think it’s too simple, though it’s miles ahead in terms of functionality in comparison with the iPhones camera UI. There’s support for touch-to-focus (which also re-adjusts exposure) but it automatically takes a picture/video when you do, which is fine for photos but means you can’t refocus while recording a video.

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Windows Phone also has support for camera apps called “lenses” which you can access right from the camera app. You can download the, from the Windows Phone Store but there are also a couple built-in, which include Nokia Panorama (which is a Panorama taking app), Nokia Cinemagraph (which allows you to create animated gifs), and Nokia Smart Shoot which captures a series of photos and lets you merge them, allowing you to make sure everyone in a group photo is smiling, etc. It can also remove moving objects from your picture, which is a pretty useful feature.

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Coming to image quality, the 928’s camera is pretty great in good lighting conditions. It’s great for close up shots, as you’ll see in the camera samples below, even using a nice bokeh effect for whatever’s in the background. Landscape shots are pretty good as well, with sharp tones, solid color reproduction and overall balanced results, though the fine details are a little fuzzy.

In low light scenarios the f2.0 lens combined with optical image stabilization, really shines, allowing the 928 to draw more light in, to get images that are significantly brighter than what you’d get from other smartphones. Though sometimes this results in softer details or a bit of noise. Still, it’s ability to produce such bright low-light images is definitely impressive.

Likewise the xenon flash really helps in portrait shots of people, but you’d actually get better low light shots without it in most cases. The xenon flash is fantastic incases where there’s a moving object and you need to picture it, freezing the blades of a fan, or a dog running, etc. but that being said, it isn’t a huge advantage over the dual LED of the 920, or rather, isnt as big of a difference as I thought it’d be. Mostly because Nokia’s low light optics seem to have reached a stage where a xenon flash does only marginally better than an LED flash.

Here’s a couple Nokia Lumia 928 Camera Samples to give you a better idea:

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Low-Light Version (at dusk):

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Panorama:

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Cloudy Day:

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Without Flash:

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With Flash:

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Without Flash:

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With Flash:

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Without Flash:

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With Flash:

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With Flash:

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With Flash:

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Front Facing Camera in day time:

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Coming to video, the 928 can record up to 1080p resolution video, fluidly and the results are pretty much the same as with photos. Exposure seemed a bit sensitive in some cases though, and details could have been better. The optical image stabilization really helps you get a smooth, flowy video, even if you’re walking around or in a shaky car, etc. even sound quality recorded with video is significantly higher than non-Lumia smartphones.

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Here’s a couple Lumia 928 camera video samples to give you a better idea:

Verizon Nokia Lumia 928 Camera Sample (Cloudy Day) :

Verizon Nokia Lumia 928 Camera Sample (Night – very low light) :

The Call Quality:-

Calls came in loud and clear on the 928, and there’s was no trouble hearing voices at both ends of the call, thanks to the great noise cancellation used here.

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The loudspeaker is also pretty good for calls, since it is quite loud.

The Battery Life:-

The Nokia Lumia 928 has a 2000 mAh battery. As a result, we got the same amount of battery life out of it, as we did with the Lumia 920.

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On LTE, with moderate usage of a few calls, lots of web surfing, some music listening and texting, we managed to get about 16 hours of battery life out of the 928, which is quite impressive for an LTE phone.

The Conclusion:-

The Nokia Lumia 928 is essentially a reworked Lumia 920, being slightly thinner & lighter. Which isn’t a bad thing at all, except that I don’t know what took it so long to release. The 928 beautifully complements Verizon’s line of Windows Phones, and it’s definitely a great alternative to the 920, which it resembles so much.

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Verizon is offering the 928 at a tantalising price point of just $99.99 with a 2-year contract, which is very affordable, and hence very tempting.

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At the end of the day, the Nokia Lumia 928 is a great, well rounded choice for folks on Big Red’s network, and it’s definitely worth checking out.

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About The Author

Clinton is currently based in New Delhi, India and is executive editor for UnleashThePhones. He is responsible for all editorial decisions, and covers all forms of Mobile and things-that-connect-to-mobile. Cj is addicted to Starbucks, Instagram, and technology. Almost a hipster but not quite. Always up for a good conversation, you can reach him through the contact form, on Google Plus , Instagram Instagram or Twitter: or on YouTube

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