Lumia 920 and Nexus 5: Matching smartphones from Windows Phone and Android

Published by at

While many commentators will be comparing the new Android 4.4-running LG Nexus 5 to other Android flagships, the device reminded me of a particular Windows Phone, one with which it shares a number of similarities. We need to go back a full year, but here I consider the Nokia Lumia 920 and the Google Nexus 5, side by side...

Lumia 920 and Google Nexus 5

Why the Lumia 920 and not the newer 925, the even fresher 1020 or the upcoming 1520? For eight reasons:

  • Both have Qi wireless charging, still something of a rarity in the smartphone world, but incredibly welcome.
  • Both are almost identical in size.
  • Both are distinctly mid-range in terms of price, making them both equally fantastic value. The Lumia 920 is currently £200 or so, the Nexus 5 £299, but both massively less than the typical £500 launch price of top smartphones.
  • Both have OIS-equipped 8 megapixel cameras.
  • Both come with 32GB sealed storage and no expansion, plus sealed batteries of similar capacity.
  • Both use souped up LCD screens rather than AMOLED.
  • Neither are considered flagships for their respective manufacturers.
  • Both have been, or will be, updated again and again in terms of firmware updates - this is hardware that won't get obsolete.

With these in mind, here are the relevant comparison points:

  Nokia Lumia 920 Google (LG) Nexus 5
First sold November 2012 November 2013
OS Windows Phone 8 GDR2 Android 4.4
Form factor, materials Polycarbonate shell, convex Gorilla Glass front, very robust so far and plenty of YouTube evidence to support this, with the shell colour baked into the material, etc. Weight is 185g  Almost identical dimensions, but with rounded corners and lighter, full face Gorilla glass, polycarbonate back, feels high quality in the hand. Weight is 130g
Dimensions 130 x 71 x 11 mm  138 x 69 x 9 mm 
Connectivity Quad band 3.5G, pentaband LTE, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, integral wifi tethering, NFC  Hexaband 3.5G, pentaband LTE, Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0, integral wifi tethering without needing third party software, NFC
Input mechanisms Good predictive virtual multitouch keyboard in portrait and landscape mode (where appropriate).  Excellent multi-touch virtual qwerty keyboard in both portrait and landscape modes (where appropriate), with writing aids and even Swype like gestures recognised. Compatible with most Bluetooth keyboards. Google Now allows some voice input and interrogation.
Display  4.5" (768 x 1280 pixels) IPS LCD display with ClearBlack Display polarisers, true RGB, excellent in sunlight  4.95" (1020 x 1920 pixels) True HD IPS LCD, RGB pixel layout, pretty good in bright sunlight
Interface  Windows Phone 8, kinetic swiping and multitouch everywhere that's needed, portrait mode tile layout homescreen plus linear application list. Some applications support landscape mode.  Android 4.4, kinetic and multi-touch, of course. Unlimited homescreens of live, often interactive widgets. Most applications work in landscape mode, but homescreen and app menu is resolutely portrait only.
Speed  Excellent, dual core 1.5GHz Krait processor, very responsive UI all round and super rendering speed. Multitasking isn't full, but as with iOS, enough background threads are allowed that the user probably won't notice any issue. Gotchas for most people will be occasional 'updating...' messages in (for example) the People hub... 1GB of RAM is plenty for Windows Phone in such an environment. Generally excellent, with a quad-core 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 processor. If there's one thing the Nexus 5 excels at, it's speed! As with Symbian, there's full, no holds multitasking, backed here with 2GB of RAM.
Memory capacity (storage) and flexibility  32GB internal storage, non-expandable, mounts as a disk and MTP device under Windows 7 and Windows 8, but not for Macs and other desktop OS. 16/32GB (depending on variant) of integral storage (MTP-mountable on a desktop), non-expandable.
Camera (stills) Good 8 megapixel stills from a BSI 1/3" sensor with optical image stabilisation (OIS) on the whole camera assembly, adjusting at 500 times a second. Advanced image processor and LED flash. Dedicated camera button and a variety of camera 'extras' built-in.

Good 8 megapixel photos with integral HDR, 1/3.2" sensor, LED flash. OIS also built-in. No camera shutter button.

Camera (video) Excellent 1080p capture with the same optical stabilisation working to eliminate camcorder hand shake. 'RichRecording' included, in full stereo. Excellent 1080p capture, with continuous auto-focus, OIS helping again and good mono audio capture at normal volumes.
GPS and navigation  Good GPS, backed up by Nokia Wi-fi location, with Nokia (HERE) Drive worldwide free sat-nav. Maps can be fully pre-loaded by continent, country or area.  Good GPS, with Google Maps Navigation and (somewhat robotic) voice guidance. Maps can now be pre-cached for small areas, but the system is very limited and these caches aren't used for routing at all
Audio out Loud mono speaker, average quality, A2DP, 3.5mm jack, DLNA. Average mono speaker,  3.5mm jack, A2DP, DLNA.
Multimedia playback Video playback is very good on the high res CBD IPS screen, and videos can at last be sideloaded without needing transcoding (provided you have a desktop running Windows 7 or 8). Many, many streaming video applications are also available for the platform. Several third party YouTube clients exist, plus the mobile web site also works very well. Fully Netflix compatible. Video playback is good on the big, bright HD screen. Most MP4 files play fine, though there's no DivX (etc) support. Android also means that an excellent native YouTube client is built-in. Also Netflix compatible.
Web browsing Very high resolution and a super-fast browser make for an excellent browsing experience, zooming, panning, reflow all possible. Multiple windows possible.  Stunning rendering speed. Chrome comes as standard and is very good, with text reflow, etc. At 1080p resolution, many sites also don't even need zooming or panning if your eyes are good enough. Multiple windows possible.
Email As with the iPhone, a strong built-in generic email application with support for some Gmail and (Hotmail) features, and multiple (e.g.) Mail for Exchange accounts. The odd pairing of Gmail and a generic email client persists, as is usual for Android, but it all works well and at very good speed here, bandwidth permitting. The Gmail client/experience, in particular, is stunning.
Other application highlights out of the box Office Mobile, including One Note, Nokia City Lens, Nokia Music, TuneIn Radio, Nokia Reading, plus standard Windows Phone apps and social features  The full Quickoffice editing suite is onboard, thanks to Google buying the company, plus the usual Android core applications, including Google Drive.
Application store and ecosystem  The Windows Phone Store is pretty well stocked these days, thousands* of high quality applications, with only a few high profile omissions. Moreover, multitasking limitations for apps under Windows Phone 8 are now largely a thing of the past, properly compiled apps can use background threads and agents, as needed. App installs are of average speed and happen one at a time, but you can queue them up with one tap to happen in the background. Google Play, and access to many tens of thousands* of high quality native applications. Applications can be automatically or manually updated.
Battery capacity and flexibility/longevity 2000mAh, sealed in, microUSB or Qi wireless charging, casual use under Windows Phone on the 920 should last 1.5 days 2300mAh, sealed in, microUSB or Qi wireless charging, casual use under Android 4.4 here should last a full day.
Ongoing firmware support and OS updates Microsoft have deep pockets, so should ensure Windows Phone 8 stays fully resourced in terms of updates through the rest of 2013 and 2014, plus Nokia have a good track record too, with many built-in applications unique to their marque. Updates are mainly applied over the air, as needed. Prospects excellent, the Nexus 5 will get Android updates until at least the end of 2015, I expect. Very future proof.

* yes, yes, overall numbers in each store are much higher, but I'm estimating the number of genuine high quality applications/games. Not novelties or copycats or junk.

I haven't attempted to pick a winner here, for obvious reasons. Despite the impressive similarities in the bullet list at the top, the two operating systems are chalk and cheese, and all buyers will pick based on whether they want a Windows Phone or Android phone. Period.

What do you think? Is it just me that thinks these two smartphones are spiritual cousins?