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Nokia Lumia Icon review

Does the premier Windows Phone device for Verizon live up to its name?

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Our Verdict

As far as Windows Phones go, the Lumia Icon is solid

For

  • Good battery life
  • Decent camera
  • Excellent hardware

Against

  • Lackluster 1080p display
  • Image quality could improve
  • Ecosystem relatively weak
Nokia Lumia Icon review
Nokia Lumia Icon review
Nokia Lumia Icon review
Nokia Lumia Icon review
Nokia Lumia Icon review

Verizon customers looking for a Windows Phone should really only consider the Nokia Lumia Icon. It's one of the nicest Windows Phone devices you can buy today, and since it's only available for Verizon in the U.S., it has no peers on the carrier.

Whether it really lives up to its name is another story. First, when you think of icons, Windows Phone devices don't exactly come to mind. But Nokia has made a beautiful piece of hardware with the Icon, along with a decent camera and a pretty display.

Windows Phone has also come a long way since launch. It's mostly usable with a fickle notification system and still a lack of major apps, but perhaps slowly over time it will be a non-issue.

Perhaps the biggest selling point for the Lumia Icon is its camera. It has a 20MP sensor with Zeiss optics, and dual-LED flash. While it's not quite the Lumia 1020, with a 40MP sensor and Xenon flash, it's more than you'll ever need to post on Facebook or Instagram.

Nokia Lumia Icon review

As an overall package, the Lumia Icon is a solid Windows Phone device, but how does it compare with the iPhone or Android smartphones? And just how well does it perform on a day-to-day basis, with day-to-day tasks?

Let's dig a little deeper and see what the Lumia Icon is all about.

Hardware and design

The Nokia Lumia Icon has a metal chassis with a soft touch polycarbonate back. Known for its durability, Nokia doesn't seem to skimp on materials with the Icon, and it gives a premium in-hand feel.

The device measures 5.39 x 2.79 x 0.39 inches, so it has some substance and isn't the slimmest phone on the block, but if you're a Lumia user now, you're probably used to it.

Nokia Lumia Icon review

You'll find Corning Gorilla Glass 3 layered over the display, so you'll have difficulty scratching it whether it's in your pocket, bag or face down on a counter somewhere. The glass also curves around the edges and melts into the frame, so to speak, and blends into the rest of the phone for a seamless overall feel.

MicroUSB charging can be found on the bottom near the microphone, and a volume rocker, power button and camera button are found along the right edge of the device.

Nokia Lumia Icon review

The left edge is clean, which leaves the 3.5mm headset jack and SIM card port (for 4G LTE connectivity) up on top of the device.

The polycarbonate back makes room for the 20MP camera module and dual-LED flash, while the rest of it is adorned with Zeiss, 4G LTE, Verizon and Nokia logos. It sounds like a lot, but it's lightly printed in relatively small font, so it's not gaudy.

Nokia Lumia Icon review

There are four microphones on the Lumia Icon, which help with noise cancellation during phone calls, and for better sound quality when recording videos with the rear or front cameras.

As mentioned before, the rear camera is a 20MP shooter with Zeiss optics and a dual-LED flash. The dedicated camera button helps to focus and snap photos. It also has optical image stabilization, so you get fewer jitters for videos, and sharper still images.

Nokia Lumia Icon review

The front-facing camera is a 2MP sensor that captures 1.2MP stills and shoots 720p video, and is also great for video calling.

Of course, the most important thing here is the display, which measures 5" diagonally and has a 1920 x 1080 resolution. That give us a pixel density of 441 PPI. Couple that resolution with Nokia's ClearBlack display technology and you should have a sight for sore eyes.

However, it appears as though Nokia went with a PenTile arrangement with the Lumia Icon. Text doesn't look very sharp, and images on web pages and apps look completely awful. Instagram, Facebook and web photos, for example, appear to be washed out and look a little pixelated.

Nokia Lumia Icon review

The display's colors are rich and high in contrast, and the high brightness and ClearBlack technology make it easier to view in bright conditions. However, where this counts most - in pictures - it is very hit or miss, mostly miss.

At the base of the display are back, home and search buttons, and they're self-explanatory. However, if you press and hold each button, there will be different actions.

Nokia Lumia Icon review

As far as specs go, the Lumia Icon has a quad-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon 800, Adreno 330 GPU, 2GB RAM, 32GB internal memory with no expansion options and a 2,420 mAh battery.

Nokia's Lumia Icon is definitely a solid package where specs, hardware, camera and battery are concerned, so the next major thing to consider now is the software.