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406

Nokia Lumia Icon Review

Our full review of Verizon's new flagship Windows Phone

On February 20th, Nokia and Verizon are bringing the highly anticipated Lumia Icon to market. The phone has been rumored for months, even going by the previous moniker of Lumia 929. But now it is finally getting the spotlight treatment.

For all intents and purposes, the Lumia Icon is a Lumia 1520 jammed into a smaller, more nimble device. With a more practical 5-inch 1080P display, 32 GB of internal storage, Qi wireless charging and a whopping 20 MP PureView camera, all in a body that is only slightly taller than its predecessor, the Lumia 928, it’s hard to see how this phone could fail.

So, does the $199 device live up to the hype? Is this the ultimate Nokia Lumia? Read our full review for all of the details and watch our video hands on, after the break!

History

Going way back to September 2013, rumors of a smaller, sister device to the Lumia 1520 – which itself was still a rumor – began circulating. A few months later, the haze cleared and what remained was the Lumia 929, a grown up version of Verizon flagship phone from earlier that year. The Lumia 928 was itself an interesting phone, a device inspired by the Lumia 920 but with an OLED display and a new Xenon flash. So a follow up was highly desirable.

The leaks of the Lumia 929 continued to flow with release dates coming and going. Unfortunately, the Lumia 929, which was later renamed to the Lumia Icon, never appeared in 2013. Well, at least not by Verizon directly. The phone did make its way, albeit briefly, to a Chinese retailer. Indeed, I’ve had the device for weeks now, thoroughly enjoying the phone on Verizon’s rapidly growing LTE network here in New York.

Luckily for Verizon customers, the phone goes on preorder today and will be available next week for $199 on a two-year contract. It’s been a long wait, and many phones have been released since the Icon was first rumored. Is it too late though?


Featuring the same specs as the Lumia 1520, the Lumia Icon is much smaller and easier to handle. It has cutting edge hardware, a great 1080P display and an impressive 20 MP camera. 


The Lumia Icon is only on Verizon, with no chance of going to other carriers. The design is a bit uninspired, with only black or white colors available. No Glance screen support.


Many people shied away from the Lumia 1520 due to its massive size. The Lumia Icon from Verizon fixes that, by making it only a hair taller than the Lumia 928. It's packed to the gills with cutting edge hardware, including a 2.2 GHz Quad-Core CPU, making it in many ways, the ideal Windows Phone that many have wanted.

Specifications

  • Windows Phone 8 Update 3, build 10521
  • Lumia Black firmware
  • 5” full HD 1080p OLED display, ClearBlack, Sunlight readability, Glare-free, Super sensitive touch, Gorilla Glass 3
  • Pixel density: 440 ppi
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Quad-Core processor, 2.2 GHz
  • Adreno 330 GPU
  • Camera: 20 MP PureView, ZEISS optics, OIS, 2x lossless zoom, oversampling, dual LED flash
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 32 GB internal storage (no micro SD)
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • 2420 mAh internal battery with Qi wireless charging
  • Dimensions: 5.39 x 2.79 x 0.39 in
  • Weight: 166g /5.86 oz
  • nano SIM
  • Networks: LTE: 700MHz; SVLTE Band 13; Band 4; CDMA: 3G EVDO 850/1900 Rev A with Rx Diversity; Global Ready: GSM (850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz)  UMTS (850MHz, 900MHz, 1900MHz, 2100MHz)

Looking at those specs and you have about 90% overlap with the Lumia 1520. Where they do differ, the Lumia Icon surprisingly comes ahead in some areas, at least compared to the AT&T version of the 1520. For instance, you get that coveted Qi-wireless charging, which has become a go-to feature for many users. While there is no expandable storage, 32 GB of built in adequate for most people. Finally, that CPU is one of the latest and fastest around and it simply makes the Windows Phone OS fly.

I’ve already covered the 20 MP camera on the Lumia 1520. It’s the same here. While it’s not as powerful as the monster shooter in the Lumia 1020, it doesn’t need to be, it’s simply an awesome camera on its own.

There’s really nothing to not like about the Lumia Icon in terms of specs. It can easily go toe to toe with any high end Android on the market today and yes, it’s relatively future-proof. The Snapdragon 805 isn’t due to until the second half of this year and it’s hardly as groundbreaking as the Snapdragon 800 compared to the 600 series.

Plus, the Lumia Icon will get Windows Phone 8.1 later this year, like all current Windows Phone handsets.

Look And Feel

If there was one personal complaint about the Lumia Icon, it’s the same one I had about the Lumia 928: Verizon tends to suck away some of the creative and bold design choices by Nokia, for a more conservative approach. No yellow or red phones here, instead you get either white or black. And while the back of the Lumia Icon is ‘ergonomically curved’ to our liking, the overall design is a bit generic.

But that’s a personal, aesthetic choice. Many people in fact desire a low-profile phone and let me be clear, there’s nothing about the design that is bad in that it hurts the Lumia Icon. It’s just really nice. Not exciting, but really nice. Who am I to tell you that you need a bright yellow phone? Go all matte black or be ‘outrageous’ with white. Either way, you’re getting really good hardware.

Undeniably, the Lumia Icon is in my opinion leaps and bounds better in build quality over the Lumia 928. That device was very ‘plasticy’ and my phone, months later, has some awful creaking. Not so with the Lumia Icon. The reason? Nokia opted for a metal chassis with a polycarbonate back. It was a brilliant decision as the Icon feels much sturdier this time around. It’s cool to the touch on the sides, but the back is a welcome non-glossy design that lends itself to being cradled in your hand.

Yes, Nokia and Verizon have the familiar ‘pillow’ design that we saw with the Lumia 928, it’s just better this time around with a higher quality build.

The display is the familiar curved glass that we’ve seen on other Lumias. It feels great to use, being smooth to the touch. We’ll have more on the display below.

Moving to the sides, we have the volume rockers, power button and camera shutter on the right side with no button the left. The buttons are ceramic, with a chilly metal feel to them. They’re sturdy, easy to discern without looking, and they feel great when depressing them. No complaints.

On the top of the device you have a 3.5 mm headphone jack in the middle and on the opposite end (bottom) you have the familiar micro USB port for charging or connecting to a PC for syncing. Both are accented with grey bars, which is an interesting design choice.

On the front, you have backlit keys for Back, Start key and search keys. They look good and have fairly even lighting. Near the top front you have the earpiece and front-facing camera along with the Verizon and Nokia logos. The keys have a haptic feedback with a short, solid vibration.

The back of the Icon is clean with the 20 MP PureView ZEISS camera, dual LED flash microphones. The metal accent strip of the Lumia 928 is gone, and instead it’s just smooth polycarb on the back.

Speaking of microphones, you have four digital high-dynamic-range mics on the Icon (also known as High amplitude Audio Capture, or HAAC). It’s the same setup as the Lumia 1520 and they allow high quality stereo recording with distortion free audio, perfect for concerts or loud events.

Verizon and Nokia are pushing the Lumia Icon as a media device, perfect for movies and photos. It’s a good sell.

But is it too big?

With the Lumia 1520 review, I focused heavily on the size, since it is a rather enormous device. What about the Lumia Icon?

It’s perfect.

I have no problem recommending this phone’s size to anyone. Comparing it to the Lumia 928, it’s practically the same phone, it’s just the Lumia Icon is a smidgen taller. That’s remarkable when you consider you getting a 1/2 inch larger display that’s higher resolution, a 20 MP camera (versus 8.9 MP) and you get a bigger battery (420 mAh more with the Icon). It goes to show you how moving to the Snapdragon 800 and some newer tech can result in a more powerful phone, without sacrificing size.

And weight? The Lumia Icon is 166 grams, which is just 4 grams more than Lumia 928. That’s essentially nothing and it’s still much lighter than the Lumia 920 (185 grams). While I wouldn’t say the Icon is lite, with its metal frame and quality build, the device feels…balanced.

Using the Lumia Icon one-handed? Check. While those with small hands may struggle, I’d say that moderate sized hands will have no issue using the phone with one paw, being able to stretch across the display to tap a Tile. That’s unlike the Lumia 1520, which requires two hands often to use.

5 inches is more manageable than 6

The Lumia Icon opts for an OLED display, the same found in the Lumia 928. But the resolution is bumped to 1080 x 1920 versus 768 x 1280. Windows Phone 8 looked fine at the latter resolution, but with 1080P and a whopping 441 ppi, the OS really shines. Plus, you get that third column of Tiles, which came with Update 3.

The Icon also features Corning Gorilla Glass 3, making it slightly better than the Lumia 1520. It’s smooth, doesn’t leave many fingerprints and it has a 180 degree viewing angle. Combined with the rest of Nokia’s technology like ClearBlack (dual layer polarizer), sunlight readability (super brightness outside) and the vibrant contrast of the Windows Phone OS, the display is nearly perfect.

Sure, some people don’t care for OLED tech over an IPS display, as the former tends to saturate the colors, but Nokia has tossed in their Lumia Color Profile (in Settings) to adjust things to your liking. Make the colors cool or warm, contrasting or neutral. Your choice.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still stuck on the 1520’s 6-inch display—it’s real hard to go back. But the Lumia Icon just feels right at 5 inches. It’s more, dare I say, normal and if you’re coming from 4.5 inches, you’ll barely notice a change, in a good way.

No Glance screen support

But wait. There is one lame thing about the Icon and that is it doesn’t support the Glance screen. For those who aren’t familiar, Glance is a Nokia technology that allows static information to be displayed on the screen when in standby. It shows the time and with Update 3, can optionally show notifications as well. It’s super useful and with the Glance Background app, you can even customize it with your own images.

But yes, Glance is not available on the Lumia Icon out of the box, nor with any system app updates (e.g. Extras + Info, which did not change the situation). That also means no double-tap to wake, as the two features are intertwined. 

Nokia says this is due to “certain hardware restrictions” and they’re not ruling it out in the future, but as of today, the Lumia Icon will remain a Glance-free device. That’s a bit of a letdown, especially for a flagship Lumia, but if you never used it, then there’s nothing to miss. But if you were looking forward to it, then…

Phone

The Lumia Icon, like all Nokia phones, handles calls admirably. While it eschews the big speaker and grill that was featured on the Lumia 928, the Lumia Icon gets a fair rating for a speakerphone. The Lumia 1520, due to its sheer size, still handily wins for best audio quality on pretty much any device I’ve used, including some Androids and iPhones. I suppose Nokia and Verizon had to sacrifice something to get the rest of that tech in there, and the rear speaker was one of those (the other was the Xenon flash).

Phone calls through the earpiece, which is how most people will use the Icon, were above average for smartphones and on par with Nokia’s other Lumias, that is excellent.

Reception was fine, with no dropped calls or issues noted during my testing.

For GPS, the Lumia Icon supports A-GPS and Glonass and they worked very well together, with no problems ascertaining my position quickly.

20 MP PureView Camera

I won’t concentrate too much on the Lumia Icon’s camera, because it’s the exact same one found in the Lumia 1520. Readers of this site know probably know I have pretty much every Lumia made and while I appreciate the Lumia 1020’s massive 41 MP camera, I more often than not find the Lumia 1520’s 20 MP camera with ZEISS optics more than adequate for my everyday needs.

The same is true with the Lumia Icon. But let me delve a little into the specs:

  • Optical Image stabilization
  • f/2.4, wide angle lens
  • Dual-capture: 5 MP oversampled + 19 MP (4:3) or 16 MP (16:9) full resolution images
  • Dual LED flash for Images and Video
  • HD 1080p Video Capture @ 30 fps Video
  • HD front facing camera with 2 MP sensor and 1.2 MP stills and 720p video.

Those are all very admirable specs for a smartphone camera in 2014. Combined with the fact that Nokia actually knows what they are doing in mobile photography and you get outstanding performance from the Icon.

Like the Lumia 1520, the color and white balance were accurate for most shots and with the quad-core processor, the normally sluggish Nokia Camera app is significantly faster than other Lumias. Having said that, some people coming from the iPhone or Android may still find the Icon a dash slower. However, as you can see by the above snow shot, the white balance struggled with the snow, a common issue with digital cameras.

You also get to shoot in RAW (DNG) optionally and get dual-capture, with HD photos at 16 MP and 5 MP photos for sharing via email or social networks. It’s a cool system, resulting in full resolution images for later editing in Photoshop, including RAW images, plus you can still post things to Instagram without a massive upload toll. It’s truly the best of both worlds.

Read our guide on shooting in RAW and how to make the most of it on your Lumia Icon.

Let’s talk about the flash. I’m not a flash user, though if I have to use it, I want it to be good. Many will lament the decision to not have a Xenon flash on the Lumia Icon, whereas the Lumia 928 famously did. Xenon flashes are, for the lack of better words, ‘real’ flashes. Where a dual LED is more akin to a torch. Because of this difference, Xenon flashes can do cool stuff like “freeze” people in motion (or even the more dramatic, freeze fan blades in rotation).

While I’m not going to argue that a dual LED flash is as good as a Xenon (it’s not), I will say the result for most instances, is quite impressive. Specifically, the Icon gets the white balance right (the Lumia 928 despite the Xenon sometimes had a yellow hue) and the shadow fill is better, with less light focus in one area.  So yes, for certain instances, Xenon is undoubtedly better, but dual LEDs have significantly improved over the years and I’m fine with it on the Icon.

Everything else, including the front facing camera, is the same as the Lumia 1520. To see this camera system up against the Lumia 1020, make sure you see our photo comparison between the two.

Battery Life

With a 2.2 GHz Quad-Core CPU and a 5-inch 1080P display, you would think that the 2420 mAh battery may not last long. That, despite the fact, that the Lumia Icon has a 400 mAh advantage over the Lumia 928. But the Snapdragon 800 is really good at managing battery life, as any Lumia 1520 owner can attest to, and the Lumia Icon is the same.

While I don’t put an exact hour usage on the Icon, suffice it to say I had no issue making it through the day with moderate usage and battery life should not be a concern.

Toss in the built in Qi wireless charging, and picking up a few re-charges during the day is easier than ever. I happen to have a few Qi chargers laying around, so it’s real easy to plop down the Icon to gain back some juice during the day. Qi is more than just expedient, it’s awesome and I’m glad it’s here on the Icon. Shame on AT&T for removing it from the Lumia 1520.

Windows Phone 8 Update 3, Lumia Black

I’ve written about Update 3 in the past and you can find our overview and comprehensive coverage below. In short, Update 3 (OS build 10521) is the latest release of the Windows Phone 8 operating system. The Icon is running on all cylinders in that regard, coming with that OS preloaded.

Update 3 brings things like support for HD displays and Quad-Core processors. It also offers better Bluetooth functionality, Driving Mode to manage calls and text messages in the car, screen orientation lock, customized alerts for email or text messages, and the ability to close apps running the background. It’s a great update, one of the finishing touches before Windows Phone 8.1, due in a few months. The Lumia Icon will surely get that update, which you can read more about from our 8.1 guide.

Likewise, the Icon comes with Nokia’s latest firmware release, dubbed Lumia Black. That includes some camera enhancements, RAW support and other under the hood fixes for their customized software.

The Verizon Nokia Lumia Icon is basically running the latest of everything from Microsoft and Nokia, as it should.

Accessories

Nokia has recently teamed up with some third party manufacturers, ensuring that there will be an ample amount of cases and screen protectors for your Lumia Icon, should you choose to buy one. That’s a change from the past where ‘custom’ carrier phones like the Lumia 928 were often left without many choices.

Verizon will be stocking a handful of cases on release day for this phone, and while I’m not convinced this phone needs a case – it’s not as susceptible to slippage like the Lumia 920 or Lumia 1520 – should you desire some protecting, you should be able to have a hearty selection on day one.

Offerings from Incipio and Otterbox, to name a few, should be available at your local Verizon store, and you'll want to keep your eyes locked on our Windows Phone Central store for more Lumia Icon Accessories

Who’s it for?

If you have a Lumia 928 and want a new device, then getting the Lumia Icon is a natural upgrade path. In fact, assuming finances are not an issue, I’d easily recommend anyone with a Lumia 928 to grab this phone. You’re getting a much beefier processor, superior camera and a display that is both larger and higher resolution.  The best part? The thing feels like a 928 in terms of size.

If you’re coming from Android and iOS and you’re eyeing the Lumia Icon as a ‘switcher’ device, then I can also recommend it. The Windows Phone OS sits between iOS and Android for complexity, in fact I’d say it’s almost easier than the iPhone. It’s a solid device, one that you will be able to use for a relatively long period due to the current hardware on board. Basically, you’re getting what I would call a prime Windows Phone experience.

Video and photography buff? The Lumia Icon is literally being marketed to you by Verizon. This phone has a 20 MP PureView camera with ZEISS optics and some of the best optical image stabilization (OIS) around, making videos of your kids or concerts a primary selling point.

Coming in at $199 on-contract, the Lumia Icon is not exactly a steal, but it falls in line with Verizon’s flagship offerings. The fact is, nothing is cheap on Verizon.

What about new Windows Phone 8.1 devices? Good question. As I’ve said, the Lumia Icon will be able to get the 8.1 upgrade, but there’s no telling if Microsoft’s next update will take advantage of new hardware. Sure, in 8.1 on-screen keys will replace physical keys on some hardware releases (it’s up to the OEM) but besides that, it’s a question mark. I can say that Verizon is not known to churn out too many Windows Phones per year, so I don’t expect a new flagship 8.1 device till at least the end of 2014, making the Icon a safe bet for now. That is, unless you were considering changing carriers.

All in all though, I think those on AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint will be eying the Icon with envy. It hits the specs right down the middle.

What happens if I put an AT&T or T-Mobile SIM into it?

The Lumia Icon comes SIM unlocked, so yes, you can toss in a nano SIM card for any network and the phone will work. You should also pick up Nokia Access Point to ensure appropriate network and MMS settings. That app will install to Settings.

However, depending on your carrier’s LTE setup, your data connections will vary:

Networks: LTE: 700MHz; SVLTE Band 13; Band 4; CDMA: 3G EVDO 850/1900 Rev A with Rx Diversity; Global Ready: GSM (850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 1900MHz)  UMTS (850MHz, 900MHz, 1900MHz, 2100MHz)

For T-Mobile, you can get HSPA (3G) connections, and it will fall back to the super-slow 2G Edge otherwise. It does not support T-Mobile LTE and I was often stuck on Edge, meaning the Lumia Icon will technically work but it’s far from ideal.

For AT&T, things are only slightly better with HSPA+ in certain locations and of course there is no issue with phone calls. However, I was not able to get LTE data either.

In other words, the Lumia Icon can work on other US networks, but you’ll be most likely sacrificing LTE network speeds to do so. Probably not the wisest bargain if you’re considering purchasing it off-contract.

Final Thoughts

The Lumia Icon for Verizon is in many ways, the most ideal Windows Phone made so far. While many consumers coveted the specs of the Lumia 1520, just as many were put off by the sheer size. Or AT&T’s gimping of the massive phone. The Lumia Icon pretty much solves this problem by knocking the display down from six inches to a more evenhanded five, and in doing so, they have nailed the ultimate Lumia.

In fact, I can only come up with three weakness of the Lumia Icon, and those are all mild criticisms:

  1. It’s only on Verizon
  2. The design is timid
  3. Glance screen doesn’t work

The Glance screen omission is really the only nit of this device, and even that doesn’t rise to the level of outrage against AT&T for removing Qi from the Lumia 1520 or hobbling it at 16 GB of internal storage. It’s disappointing, but hardly a deal killer and there’s not even a guarantee that it won’t happen at some point.

The Lumia Icon being only available on Verizon is also minor. The fact is, if you’re on Verizon or are considering switching to Verizon, you don’t care. For those on AT&T, T-Mobile or Sprint, you’re probably rightly jealous, but that is kind of the point. Mission accomplished.

I don’t see this phone having a ‘global variant’ as many like to say. It’s a Verizon device through and through and it will stay that way, just like we never saw the Lumia 928 go to any other carrier. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a new flagship Lumia for the Windows Phone 8.1 launch in mid-2014 fitting this range, but it won’t be this phone.

The fact is, Verizon ordered up this phone from Nokia, so to the victor go the spoils. Kudos to Verizon and Nokia for giving the Lumia that many people have desired. Now make it in red.

Likewise, complaining about the design being ‘unexciting’ is also inconsequential. It’s simply my personal opinion, one that you may not share. The design elements do not detract in any way from device functionality and in the end that is all that matters.

All in all, Nokia and Verizon have delivered a well-made, cutting edge Lumia. The size is perfect, the specs are impressive, and it’s a real blast to use. You have everything that is great about the Lumia 1520 tucked away in a more agile body, which is something many of you have asked for. Well, this is it.

The Verizon Lumia Icon is now the definitive Windows Phone.

The Nokia Lumia Icon will be exclusively available on Verizon starting Thursday, February 20 for $199 on contract. Preorders start today, including Microsoft Stores for just $25 down. More info can be found from Nokia at www.nokia.com/us-en/phones/phone/lumia-icon

Have questions? Want to talk about the Lumia Icon? Head to our discussion and help forums dedicated to this phone: WPCentral Forums – Lumia Icon

Special thanks to Mark Guim for the video work

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Reader comments

Nokia Lumia Icon Review

406 Comments

Same for me. I'm very much looking forward to Black on my 822 so I can see notifications in Glance. Sounds like a great phone, but huge flaw there, Nokiasoft.

 

On the off-chance that that's even slightly true. get a clock, stick it on your desk. Now buy a dumbphone, and save a load of money :)
 

Same here. My contract is about to be up on ATT, and I was thinking of making the switch to Verizon. I still might, but Glace even works on my 920, so it's weird that it won't work on any flagship Lumia.

Yeah, I'm starting to think I'll be with my 920 forever. They still haven't released a newer phone that can match the features I care about. This phone is so close, but the 3 problems the review mentioned are all issues, with Glance being the most insurmountable (unless they can get it working by the time my AT&T contract expires).

Im sure that will change over after BUILD and WP 8.1 is officially annouced. Their will be new devices ranging in all shap and sizes for the new Update. My contract renewal in NOV so I can't wait to see what they unveil over the summer and in the fall

I feel you. My 920 really serves me well in every aspect and I can't really come up with any good reason to really buy a new phone that is drastically different and better. 

I mean, there are tons of things that the 1520, 1020, and Icon have that are better in regards to the 920, but there's no real feature that makes the $199 that much worth it.

Hope MS releases a phone that has everything we want, haha. Though that's a bit much to ask.

Dual core really drags.  If Tmobile doesn't get their variant of a quad core 5 inch min display, I'm going for the 1520.

I am quite sure the device will get glance after a while.  Nokia probably just needs to roll out an update for the feature.

Ditto, it's got everything I love about the 1520 without being stupidly large...but it lacks external storage so I'll be unable to use the multimedia features like I want to.

I know the generic defense is that bs about security loopholes, but I really would like to have my flac collection on me, while installing whatever I please.

hope an AT&T variant comes soon to fix this problem.

I wish it has a Xenon flash, but I could deal with dual LED. I also wish it had Glance support. Other than that, I'm on ATT, and plan on going to TMobile soon, so it is not going to help.

They want you to use that onedrive integration... there is no reason for this device to not have an SD card slot.

I wish people would stop going on about SD cards, no one uses them any more, they practically defunct in terms of high end phones.

Only because high end phones don't support them really. But I'd rather have a 64GB phone then fiddle with SD cards. Internal storage is faster.

"No one," sure does a lot of bitching when a top of the line phone doesn't have SD. What rock do you live under?

Ummm...
The 32GB micro-SD card, in my Samsung Ativ Odyssey, would disagree with you.
That's the same card that I used in my Samsung Omnia 2 and that I wanted to be able to use in my HTC 8x and my Nokia Lumia 928.
It's also the same card that I transport between an Android tablet and Windows tablet (contains MP3s, pictures, and emulation ROMS).

The only reason people don't use cards is because THEY CAN'T.
Oh, and a co-worker just plopped a 64GB micro-SD card in his Samsung Galaxy S4.
JJ

Hmmm...
I don't have a Wii.
I'm just a Verizon customer.
I only have had four options (and I've owned three of them).
I would have owned the Lumia 822, as well, but I really don't like how it feels in my hand.

The Ativ S has the largest screen, best battery life, and fewest build quality/software-firmware issues of the 3 original WP8 devices. If anything, it is the poster-boy for the unofficial WP mantra: It. Just. Works.

I havent used an sd card not because i cant but because they fail.  All my 'important' information is cloud stored (and backed up on pc twice).

I am abit different in my cloud storage though.  I get 25gb free from MS skydrive since i was an early adopter.  My rom emulator allows me to get data from my cloud too.  I get 20gb from the loyalty skydrive and 20 from office 365 which is shared by 5 people (100gb total).  So i get 65GB right now.

My pc has about 5k songs in it all synced with my xbox music service, about 3gb worth that i do not have to carry on my phone.  My docs and photos all on skydrive.

While sure extra storage is always 'fun'.  I have not needed an SD card for some time now.  Also 50gb for 2yrs is cheaper than a 32gb or 64gb card.

Lack of MicroSD and double tap to wake just burst my bubble. Oh well I'll wait for the 8.1 phones. This will be the only Gen phones I didn't own.

It's what they asked for, it's what they got. Can't say its lazy design if that was the customer's brief. Verizon are the ones with no imagination.

Availability in India.....Never....which kind of sucks...since 2520 also isnt still available here...considering now a days windws phone are more common than a few months back....maybe our carriers should step up too....bleh

I don't know why they do not launch new phones in India simultaneously. It's a whole big, I say biggest market here and growing too. Like now 720 is for 12k around and then 925 28k around. There is not a single phone in between 12k to 28k as 820 and 920 are no more in market.

Didn't it says that it's unlikely to become Nokia's True Flagship thus international support? It's a Verizon phone guys.. And 928 didn't even go International too.., learn from past... This phone is good... But it's not nokia's 2014 flagship...

Meh, the 1520 isn't even availalble in Canada, out of all the countries. The Icon is a Verizon only phone and really I'm not entriely sure why I've read this review if it's only about an American mobile service.

Once you use 6 inches, really hard to go back ;) I like the Icon a ton, but I get better service with AT&T and I like the 1520's design a bit more. Maybe the Icon in white though...

And which screen would you say its better. I love my 1520 screen but I didn't like the 1020 much since yellow was kind of fluor and a little bit green. Is Gorilla Glass 3 really that better? Which one would you say its better, the 1520 (global variant) or the Icon?

It's not as intense as the 1020, though it is more contrasty than the 1520. It's really personal opinion, and I could use either.

Speaking of white, that's why your 928 was "plasticy" and glossy, should've bought the black one...not plasticy, not glossy. ;-)    The Icon not having the Xenon flash, glance and that bland look may be a deal breaker for me, still contemplating.

 

Hi Daniel. I love the 1520 but i have read a few issues with screen, speaker cracks and other problems. Are you having any problems with yours? I have the Note 2 and i would buy the 1520 for my first WP smartphone but im afraid of spending money and then getting problems with the 1520. If i buy it will be the 937 version. Dont know if i take the risk or buy the Note 3. I would appreciate and value your opinion. Greetings from Portugal.

I've had my 1520 for a month now and haven't had any issues.  I even dropped it on a tile floor last night and it didn't do a thing to it--still looks brand new.

The Note 3 is nice phone, but nowhere near the build quality of a Nokia phone.  Also, I used Android for 2 years, and while I think Android is a great operating system, I like Windows Phone more.  It's smoother, more secure, easier to use, and has a modern and consistent look not found on Android.

it's tru, 5 inch phones feel like toys now. 1520 FTW. 5.5 min inch screen phone FTW.

 

Can't wait for Microsoft's variant.

It is not crazy, it is just a further example of the blatant arrogance of carriers and how penalized is the US market locked in their racketeering.

In general terms I am always prone to give everybody the benefit of the doubt but.... Verizon is not new to deny its users useful features, FM Radio docet, and the vacuity of the given explanation do not help either. Said that I am not affected because I am going to buy the  Unbranded successor of the 920 which hopefully will be announced at Barcelona or during the presentation of WP 8.1.

Said that the fact that I am lucky and I can afford to bypass carriers and their crippled devices does not mean that it is time to put an end to their racket.

even though its verizon... can I use it In India with Indian sim if I buy the unlocked version??? its an awesome phone... cant gor for 6 inch 1520 so waiting for 5 inch.. please suggest...

I'm sure there is, I don't think they said "hey, let's just not support Glance for the heck of it". I'm sure there is a technical reason, just not happy about it. But thanks for the response Daniel and the great review! 

Laugh a little,at your "heck of it".. And I think that's true.. They should say that it might be fixed in the future then... They make Full HD OLED? Make it perfect!

I was worried I was going to be forced to see the Verizon logo everytime I used glance, but I guess this is a small sacrifice for the time being. For some reason they like to have their logo gift wrap their devices.

That is smart, except Verizon doesn't spit out WP as quickly as AT&T. I would be surprised if Verizon announced a WP 8.1 device before the Fall.

And even if they do announce it, you wouldn't have it in your hands until holiday 2014 or 2015. That's just one reason why I'll be getting the Icon to replace my 928 next week.

Yeah...
I'm just not sure if it's worth getting the 929, if you already have a Windows Phone 8 phone (man, I hate saying that).
Throw the developer preview of 8.1 on your current phone and see how much more you like it.
If it doesn't satisfy you, then upgrade to the 929.
If it does satisfy you, then wait until the new 8.1 phones are released.
JJ
 

I <3 the icon, but something tells me Nokis/MS will release an international version with better looks. hoping to see Snapdragon 805 on that :D

I've been reading/hearing (mainly here?) you won't see Snapdragon 805 devices until 2015 sometime, so don't hold your breath too long.

I'm a bit amazed that given the fact there we have excellent designs with the iPhone 5s, the HTC One and even the GS4, that Nokia would release such an uninspiring device in 2014. Functionally this phone is top notch in many areas. However, if Microsoft is to steal customers away from iOS and Android they will definitely have to sharpen their design skills when Nokia's phone business is officially part of the fold.

This phone if 100% functional. I'm a Windows fan and this phone doesn't speak to me at all. I'm a fan of the 920, 925, 1020 and the 1520. Arguably, each phone has a bit of an edge to it and represents some type of statement. Yes they're not the big sellers like the 520/21/25 but that's what it is going to take to win hearts and minds. I want to be 100% wrong and hope that this phone does absolutely well but I just can't imagine why it would.

I'm happy that Verizon has a new offering that has great specs, I just wished for a Iconic design and this isn't.

So there will soon be an AT&T version with less storage and no Qi charging, but in a more attractive shell. Hooray for choice.

As usual reviewers blow off the battery life. Establishing no standards. "Moderate use enough to last all day."

Ya cool features but when you got no more juice left none of it matters.

Well i guess its lacklusting in battery life then. Looking for stuff that can last two days.

The only smartphone that I've been impressed with the battery life is my current Samsung Ativ Odyssey (and I think that's more due to the 480p screen than anything else).
It can, easily, go two full days between charges.
I've been on Windows since the Windows Mobile 6 days and I've never had a phone not be on the charger when I go to bed.
I would keep the HTC 8x and Nokia Lumia 928 on the charger, while sitting at my work desk, if I wanted to use it all day.
JJ
 

That is very bizarre about the lack of Glance support. Hardware restrictions? Why are they being so vague about it? Weird. Is this the first Lumia to eschew it? Or at least the first high-end one?

Well screen is the part of a phone that sucks by far most of the battery life. This also features AMOLED screen rather than IPS.

While Lumia 1520 has stunning screen, Lumia icon shoudl save on battery life thanks to smaller screen and AMOLED.

If you can handle six inches and you don't worry about carriers. I think its an easy choice. At least for the international version of the 1520. Don't forget SD.

No FM radio on the 928, no Glance on the Icon.... Do they have a fucking dartboard in the office with phone features and whatever the dart lands on they decide to exclude that feature? They're doing this shit on purpose now, no excuses for this.

Nice phone, that is probably an ideal size. I left verizon after years because they wouldn't get WP devices. Now they finally are getting things going. They didn't mess with the wireless charging like at&t but they did mess with the design and colors. Lets see what At&t brings for a lumia 920 upgrade. Too bad about the glance screen.

Looking at what I just wrote, it sucks that Nokia has to sacrifice features and options to please these carriers. Still wish Microsoft had more leverage to set the rules like apple does.

If the carriers had their way, Apple wouldn't have the leverage they do today either. No way another manufacturer gets that leverage. It's the carriers' job to bend people over, not the other way around!

And now the question remains.. Why buy this when we just found out all the kickass stuff from 8.1? This phone is a few months late. And a few months early to be an 8.1 flagship..

Did I miss something? Has there yet been an official announcement of this phone? I seen the stuff on Nokia US' YouTube channel, but that still wasn't an announcement.

I will kill for the international version of this. If the icon would have the 2600 and 900 band for lte I would jump at this straight away.

Waiting for 8.1 phones. No Glance is idiodic. I use that function all day long. Also hoping to get off Verizon but Tmobiles choices are stale.

I suspect there may be a setting issue preventing it from working on TMO. It does support Band 4 LTE which is what TMO uses so it would seem that the hardware is OK.

Nice write up, Daniel. I now come in a green option, b/c the envy I have as a T-Mobile user is going to be noticeable.

Wait, NO Glance screen? H.... how?! That's literally one of my favorite features of my 928. I want to pre-order today to test them for my company, but........ I've just got to believe they simply need to do some resolution-based software tweaks and then they will return Glance to this device.

...... it's illogical that it wouldn't support Glance in the future. Right? O_O

No Glance screen support?  I have come to really love this feature on my 822, and now my 928 with the Black Update.  I would really miss it.  Glance is such a unique feature of WP, I can't believe they couldn't get it to work on the Icon.  I am sticking with the 928 for now, but mainly because I would have to pay full price for the Icon.  I hope it sells well.  WP really needs a hit with a high-end device.

This is an excellent phone, but I am very happy with the 928. It can easily handle my needs until the next Lumia phone hits Verizon next year!

Is the 928 and Icon designed by a different team than the other Lumia phones?  They just don't have "it" like the 925, 1520, or any of the other high end Lumia's have.

And that's the problem. Carriers should have no input. Just provide my damn service and quit messing with devices.

It's on mine. They pushed a new update out a few days ago. Paid $50 for it and my $850 iPhone 5 doesn't even do this.

Really?  I hope they fix this and the Glance support.  These are great features and really must haves for me.

Wait I'm sorry, no glance screen?  What in the hell?  I would think we need more of an explanation than "hardware related"

Men Verizon is killing Nokia here, they should've created something similar to the ones att get, this phone is nice but its not something people will STARE at it of ask about it..hopefully with MICROSOFT owning Nokia, this will change.. VERIZON HAVE THE UGLIEST LUMIAS.. I'm not hating just stating what I see...

I'm just glad Verizon was able to fit a logo on the front AND back. That's the most important thing, even if you have to go wthout Glance.

Really bummed about lack of glance. I use that constantly throughout the day, and have impressed quite a few non-WP folks with it.

I'll still be getting this phone, but not at $200. At $200, Verizon is making a mistake offering this phone this late and this close to the new android flagships just around the corner, IMO.

Looks like a very solid release for Verizon customers.

The review video is nicely done! Good backgrounds and lighting.

Great review. If I was on Verizon I would totally get this phone. I like the design of the phone. The speaker looks just like the speaker on the 520 though. I am sure it sounds much better though. I own a 1520 and love the device but can honestly say a 5 inch screen would be the perfect screen size.  

Love it! Even those sharp blunt edges- they somehow ooze some kind of aristocratic grace. Sad for the glance screen though. Hope this is the very range that the new WP8.1 flagship hits. And i will have it in the blink of an eye. :)

What were they thinking removing Glance out of the box?  There should be a set required features for every Lumia and never should never be deviated.

I wonder what the "certain hardware restriction" are?

I don't use Glance so I don't care to see it gone, and I hate bright edgy phones. I'm a conservative through and through so this design is very nice to me in black.

 

However that "Verizon only" thing sucks, even if the phone runs in Europe. And the nano SIM just breaks the deal.

 

Still, I'm absolutely sure that Nokia will NOT allow this phone to stay around without an International version. I expect Goldfinger to be basically this, perhaps minus the physical buttons and perhaps a couple other twitches. And hopefully a normal micro SIM which is what the vast majority of people use in both WP and Android.

I just got the 928 in may last year and love it, though it spotty in the mountains that I live which is expected. Unless I can get on the edge program then I probably won't be able to get this but I wanna try it out. Verizon is good for the mountains as ATT fails, I had att and couldn't get a one call compared with Verizon.

Daniel can u elaborate more on the battery life? How is the battery life vs the 928 and the 1520? I was looking to get this mainly for the battery life.

I imagine it's difficult to quantify due to multiple use scenarios. Unlike playing an HD movie on a tablet and watching the timer.

No SD card, no go. After using my 822 for over a year, I have discovered that it is a bitch to do anything with pictures or video when doing so using the USB cable. Moving, deleting, adding pictures and video takes forever. When using the SD card, things go much faster.

I also don't like SkyDrive because it keeps losing the thumbnails for picture folders stored there...nothing worse than 20 grey tiles showing instead of a picture. And then you have to download the dang pictures to your phone first before sharing/sending! FAIL.

The final nail in the coffin is no Glance screen support. Really? REALLY?

Honestly, the 822 is working much better than expected.

I loved my 822, but it recently died on me.  I am have a 928 now.  However, I am a big supporter of micro-SD.  I understand that Verizon wants us to use their cloud storage, but it is not going to happen.  Give us micro-SD on all our phones!  I do use SkyDrive and I love the auto-upload feature.  I haven't had the problem that you are having.  I did save new photos and video that I took directly on the micro-SD for awhile, but I had problems with the video recordings being choppy.  Thankfully I was using SkyDrive because I would have lost photos and videos that I saved directly to the phone storage.  I can live without the micro-SD being that the 928 has 32 GBs of storage, but the micro-SD would be really nice to have.  I am really liking the built-in Qi charging.  That is definitely something that you miss out on with the 822.  I hate how Verizon and AT&T have to continually take away something to make a device less than perfect.  Micro-SD would make the Icon perfect, that is if they can resolve the Glance screen and Double-tap to Wake issues and get them to work!

I'm going to venture that jamming in a micro SD card reader was also limited by the design and size of the 929, along with cost considerations.

The phone is already $199; how much more could it have cost? I also hate the form-over-function mentality train of thought. I still can't see any compelling reason to ditch my 822, even though I wouldn't mind bumping-up my screen size.

Not so much on a per-phone basis to the customer, but rather as a mass produced phone by Nokia and their profit margin on the device. Plus, the  size issue, which is a limiting factor when engineering phones.

Exactly right. It's funny that people think phones like this actually cost $200 even though that is a heavily-subsidised price when you're locked into a contract. To keep it at $200 on-contract just cuts into their profit margins as you said.

I am talking more about that adding the SD card and making the phone slightly larger (which might also add more space for a larger battery), wouldn't add that much more to the cost, and in the end, it would be totally worth it. But this is a moot point since the glance screen (something I find myself using a lot more than I thought I would), isn't supported and doesn't sound like it would be. I just can't get my head wrapped around that point.

 

I also suffered through the choppy video issues a while back. I believe they were caused by the phone not really supporting 64GB SD cards, even though the specs said they would. I went to a 32GB card I purchased from Verizon (the 64GB card was form Newegg), and everything's worked out just fine.

 

I don't mind SkyDrive for documents, but with videos and pictures, it's a non-starter for me. I even once tried to upload some videos from the phone to SkyDrive and SkyDrive whined about them and tried to reencode the video and it made it god-awful, with stuttering and massive loss of resolution. As it stands, I have like 65GB of SkyDrive storage and I use maybe 1GB.

 

"I also suffered through the choppy video issues a while back. I believe they were caused by the phone not really supporting 64GB SD cards, even though the specs said they would."

I agree with this.

Great review! Pre-ordering today. I have a feeling glance will be supported later on since they didn't rule it out. I'll miss it in the meantime but having a 5" Windows phone is worth it. Yeah buddy!

This is an exceptional phone.  I cannot see (as a Verizon network customer) any Windows Phone competition for this in the near future.  My first Windows Phone was the Trophy and I am going to return to Windows Phone (from a Galaxy Note II) for this phone.  The camera, speed, Qi charging, display and Nokia infrastructure make this a great choice for me. The wait has been a wee bit long, but the promised land is finally here!

Man, I'm right there with you on that sentiment. I'm typing this on my Lumia 822 now. I've been waiting for this phone since I first heard of it. I still wanted a variant of the 1020 but this will do for my photos and videos.

I'm still bummed about T-Mobile being left out on the fun. The last high end windows phone was the 925 and its over 6 months old! :(

You realize that MWC is just a couple weeks away right? Nokia will undoubtedly be announcing new phones for more than one carrier there.

I remember you mentioning that new phone will be announced by it just baffles me that historically speaking T-Mobile has been left in the dark for the most part. That's all.

I was just in a T-Mobile store over the weekend because I'm going to switch to them from Verizon, and I asked the girl how early they know about new phones and she said three months.  I asked if she could look for me and she said no new Windows Phones in their system coming up, just Android.  I'm sure that could change, but still dissapointing  Still think I'm going to get the 925 if nothing else is announced at MWC.

I know you've professed your love for this phone before, and I played with it at a Microsoft store before I went to T-mobile, so I'm sure I'll love it (coming from an 8X).  It's just kind of one of those ideas right now that I go and make the jump this weekend, then an announcement comes that T-mobile will be getting a more powerful phone in a couple of months.  I don't usually purchase with fear like that, but for once I'd like to be ahead of the curve instead of behind!

I like the 925 but with only 16GB; it was an easy pass!  I think now a days with iPhone having 64GBs; 16GB is just not enough even with the cloud storage.  32GB is about right for a normal smartphone that has music library and a couple of TV episodes loaded.

I hope that the international version will come out with REAL Nokia design,glance,and a real speaker, and everything that nokia can throw at it .American carriers are butchers.

Hey Daniel, you have an idea what the off contract price would be? Neither Verizon nor Microsoft is saying anything. That's my only choice. And I want this phone so bad.

Posted via the WPC App for Android!

as Daniel stated "glance is not available for lumia icon due to certain hardware limitation,that also mean no double tap to wake up feature,as both the features are intertwined" so my ques arises L520,525,625 support double tap to wake up.. will they be having glance feature in future updates.. lets hope so!!

"For T-Mobile, you can get HSPA (3G) connections, and it will fall back to the super-slow 2G Edge otherwise."

Does this mean that I will get the same service I currently have with my Lumia 521? It says "4G" on the network indicator on the 521, but isn't that just T-Mobile speak for 3G? I am perfectly fine if that's the case... don't have much need for LTE.

If I read correctly, it doesn't have the AWS band (1700/2100 MHz), so you'll only get coverage in refarmed areas, or areas where HSPA has been moved to the 1900 MHz band. Usually it's the case that if you have LTE coverage, you are in a refarmed area.

Great review! Love my 928 but will consider Icon when I'm up for a new model.

Can you post a picture of this side by side with a 928 for comparison?

Would love to have a version of that which would be launched internationally, but w/ added colors. Since using a red 920, white or black phones seem to be a boring phone to me. By May-June would buy something to replace my 920. Lumia 1520 or Lumia 1020? I wish an Icon-esque Lumia WP device would be available.

Any word on if this phone may have the same problem like the 928 has, after using the headphone jack you will have problems with listening to inner speakers, will never recommend a Nokia again after going through 6 with in a 3 week period time and still same problems.I will just wait for the Samsung Huron.

This is a feature of all smartphones, not a problem. If you use the headphone jack and disconnect the headphones you will not be able to use the internal speakers of the device until you go back into the app and pres the "play" button again. This has been true of my iPhone 3G, iPhone 3Gs, iPhone 4s, Lumia 925, and my iPad Air.

It should, however I'm wondering if Verizon has the LTE radios locked....which wouldn't make sense either because that would violate the upper C block mandate for unlocked devices.

This is my dream Windows Phone device (well, pretty close anyways. Just toss in the Lumia 1020's camera and flash and it will be the greatest phone in existence).

Sooooo jealous of Verizon. Hopefully an AT&T/International version can come out, maybe with a 41MP camera? That would be true heaven on earth...

Ugh. No Glance?? I was seriously thinking about just buying this off-upgrade but no glance support is a huge dealbreaker for me. That doesn't make any sense at all :(

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