Nokia Lumia 822 review:

Strong features burdened by boring design

Squirmy babies are hard to photograph. Despite some serious shutter lag, the Lumia 822 produced this precious pic. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

The 822 takes some nice HD video, but colors outdoors will look more natural and better adjusted than indoor scenes. Keep in mind that the phone is capable of taking 1080p HD video, but defaults to 720p HD instead. You'll have to change the quality in the settings. The front-facing camera shoots 720p HD video.

The Lumia 822 over-expressed the leaf's red and green hues. In real life, colors were more muted. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

When it comes to storage, you'll find 16GB onboard, double the 810's capacity. There's also 7GB free online space with Microsoft SkyDrive, and that microSD expansion slot holds up to 64GB cards. The phone also has 1GB RAM.

By the way, you can compare studio shots in our photo comparison gallery.

Call quality
I tested the Lumia 822 in San Francisco using Verizon's voice network (CDMA 850/900/1800/1900). I expected good things, since Verizon's network is typically strong here in San Francisco, and since the Lumia phones have given me nothing but clear calls. Not so for the Lumia 822. I heard persistent interference, like small blips, throughout my test calls. Voices also sounded digitized from beginning to end. Volume, while fine, didn't seem as loud as on the Lumia 920 or Lumia 810. Gladly, no background noise added insult to injury.

On his end of the line, my test partner said I sounded a little muffled. I came across softer and less crisp than I did for the other Lumias (Lumii?). Although background noise was equally absent for my tester as it was for me, he still branded call quality less than ideal. We tested the phone twice to make sure we heard the phone's quality and not just a weak network moment.

Nokia Lumia 822 call quality sample Listen now:

Speakerphone calls came across tinny and rather fuzzy when I tested at waist level. There wasn't any in-hand buzzing, which is very good, though volume didn't seem terribly loud when I set it to maximum. The entire test call was middle-of-the-road; not awful, but also nothing to crow about.

To his ears, my test partner immediately noticed a drop in volume. He also added that my voice came across a little muffled and scratchy. I was also hard to hear, he said.

Speed Test
Results using the diagnostic app Free Speed Test throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Screenshot by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

The Lumia 822 runs on the same 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chipset that's also found in the Lumia 920 and the Samsung Galaxy S3. Navigation was mostly smooth and fast, though Windows Phone OS doesn't lend itself to a superfast bootup, and the camera takes its time focusing before taking a shot.

Nokia Lumia 822: Performance testing
Download Endomondo app (3MB) 30 seconds
CNET mobile site load 4.1 seconds
CNET desktop site load 14.3 seconds
Boot time to lock screen 26 seconds
Camera boot time 3 seconds
Camera, shot-to-shot time 3 seconds with flash; 2 seconds no flash, no focus
Load up app (mySpeedTest) 1.5 seconds

Data speeds on Verizon's typically fast network were strong throughout the Bay Area, though much more uneven than I've seen before. Usually speeds stay in the double digits, often peaking in the 20s and sometimes 30s. This time, I only saw download speeds in the low 20Mbps -- that's nice and fast for this area. What surprised me were the low numbers. I usually see many more results in the 15Mbps to 22Mbps range, with only a few dips into the single digits.

A 1,800mAh battery powers a rated battery life of 15.1 hours talk time and 20.3 days of standby time. We'll continue to test battery life in our CNET labs and will update with more details. The Lumia 822 has a digital SAR of 1.23 watts per kilogram.

Who should buy it
If you're sold on Windows Phone, a $99 price tag makes the Nokia Lumia 822 a good value on a carrier whose high-end devices usually settle at $200 or even $300. Buy it if you're scouting deals, want a simple design, and appreciate a smartphone that will sync with Microsoft's Office app and music content. Skip it if you're looking for a slim, light, or stylish handset above all else.

Compared with the HTC Windows Phone 8X, the Lumia 822 is thicker, heavier, and less attractive. It's also $100 cheaper up front and contains more software extras.

Compared with the Nokia Lumia 920, Verizon's 822 costs the same, is a little lighter, has a clunkier design, and has an expandable storage slot. Its camera isn't known for mastering low-light shots, and it doesn't have wireless charging right off the bat.

This week on CNET News


Discuss: Nokia Lumia 822 - black (Verizon Wireless)

Conversation powered by Livefyre