After eight months, the Lumia 920 camera is still my favorite vacation companion

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As you’ve probably heard, we’ve got some Nokia news to look forward to this week. If the rumors and leaks are to be believed, the company is gearing up to drop quite a smartphone on the world come Thursday – and whether it’s called the EOS, 909, 1020, or something else, it’s a safe bet its name won’t be the big story. Taking center stage will most likely be its super-sized camera module, which at an assumed 41MP seems guaranteed to blow the pants off every other device out there not called an 808 PureView – including Nokia’s current Windows Phone flagship, the Lumia 920. But the Lumia 920 camera still has legs; in fact, it’s one of the factors that makes the 920 my preferred vacation companion, even after eight months and access to more review devices than I can count.

As devoted listeners of the Pocketnow Weekly podcast will know, I came to this realization during a recent jaunt to the Boston Harbor Islands – a trip I knew was guaranteed to subject me (and my smartphone) to blistering heat, salt water spray, sweat, stumbles and falls, and no small number of photo opportunities. It was thanks to that latter category that I chose the 920, my personal daily driver since last winter, and it’s a choice I don’t regret for a minute.

Some context is needed in the form of the devices I didn’t take, but could have. In the mixed inventory of smartphones on extended loan and those Pocketnow owns, there were two which were possibly more suited for an island adventure: the Galaxy S 4 Active stands out as the obvious first choice thanks to its water-resistance, but the Kyocera Torque comes in a close second due to its increased durability. I didn’t choose either of those devices, though, because I knew the Lumia 920 would stand up to the occasional bump or bruise.

 

Nonetheless, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little apprehensive. My 920 has endured most of its wear-and-tear in thoroughly domestic situations: accidental drops from a desk and other such pedestrian events. The Active or the Torque would have been much better candidates for weathering the beaches, forests, and abandoned forts of the Harbor Islands. More than once, as I gingerly avoided polluting the Lumia’s speaker ports with my sweat-soaked fingers, or wiped the suntan lotion off the camera lens for the twentieth time, I wondered why I brought my favorite device out into the wilderness.

Then I took a gander at the photos I’d snapped, and I instantly remembered.

Experience the wonder: click to expand.

Click to expand, and hold your breath.

The Lumia 920 takes the best pictures I’ve seen from a smartphone. That’s no surprise in and of itself –we’ve been saying it for months now– but it’s rare that a phone sits atop the heap for so long in any category. And whether it was broad daylight with the sun washing out the display so bad I couldn’t see what I was photographing:

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Or the dank confines of a 150-year-old subterranean bunker:

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Or the extreme closeup of an inchworm making its way across a finger:

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… the 920 pulled through. And it did so with such consistency and reliability that even when I couldn’t clearly see what I was snapping pictures of, I felt reasonably sure I could just press the button and come away with a nice photo. More often than not, I was right.

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Despite its hardware being less well-tailored for the outdoorsy lifestyle, I’m glad I brought the Lumia 920 on my island adventure. Not just because it validates my purchase (and eight months’ worth of glowing camera reviews), but because it renews my hope for the next generation of Lumia/PureView technology. A generation whose announcement we’re due to see this very week.

In our increasingly homogenized mobile world, it bears remembering that there are some standout features that, when executed well enough, overcome other aspects some might see as handicaps. We don’t have any solid data on how many people bought a Lumia 920 primarily on the merits of its camera -indeed, a recent podcast discussion revealed there’s still plenty of room for debate on the issue. But given how much breath Nokia, Microsoft, and the carriers have spent touting the camera’s performance, I’d bet a lot of Lumia 920 owners are also pretty intense shutterbugs. Especially now that titles like Instance have filled a big part of the app gap.

So the fact that the Lumia 920 is big and heavy doesn’t bother me, nor does the fact that it runs an OS that doesn’t get along too well with my preferred ecosystem. Its camera isn’t its only merit -not by a long shot- but it’s my favorite of a long line of features this phone gets right. It makes me proud to own it, and it makes me even more excited for the 909 the 1020 the EOS whatever device Nokia will be unveiling this coming Thursday.

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About The Author
Michael Fisher
Michael Fisher has followed the world of mobile technology for over ten years as hobbyist, retailer, and reviewer. A lengthy stint as a Sprint Nextel employee and a long-time devotion to webOS have cemented his love for the underdog platforms of the world. In addition to serving as Pocketnow's Reviews Editor, Michael is a stage, screen, and voice actor, as well as co-founder of a profitable YouTube-based business. He lives in Boston, MA.Read more about Michael Fisher!