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It was back in September 2012 when Nokia announced its newest flagship smartphone, the Lumia 920, which ran on the Windows Phone 8 OS and featured a 4.5-inch display with a resolution of 768 x 1280 and a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor. Several months later, Nokia announced a slightly upgraded version of the Lumia 920, the Lumia 928, which had many of the original device’s internal specs, but was lighter, features a Xenon flash and doesn’t come in as many colors as the Lumia 920. The Lumia 928 is also available on Verizon Wireless, while the Lumia 920 is currently only available on AT&T.

With such a small improvement over the Lumia 920, is the Lumia 928 a better Windows Phone 8 device considering the improvements as well as its availability on one of the most popular wireless carriers in the U.S.? That’s what we’re going to take a look at in our review of the Nokia Lumia 928.

Nokia Lumia 928 Specs

OS: WP8
Display Size: 4.5
Display Resolution: 1280 x 768
Display Type: IPS
Main Chip: Snapdragon S4
Battery Capacity: 2000mAh
MicroSD: No
Back Camera: 8.7MP
Front Camera: 1.3MP
Internal Storage: 32GB
Weight (oz): 5.71
Width: 2.71
Height: 0.39
Length: 5.23

Industrial Design (very good)

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The Nokia Lumia 928 for the most part has the same form factor and design as the Lumia 920, although there are some slight notable differences, such as the placement of the microUSB port, 3.5mm headphone jack and the addition of a larger speakerphone located at the lower-back of the device. Unfortunately, the three-button layout we weren’t big fans of in the Lumia 920 has made a return in the Lumia 928 as the right side of the device is where you’ll find its volume rocker, wake / sleep button and its third dedicated camera button. We still feel crowding one entire side with all of a device’s physical buttons, as well as the location of its power button, is still one of the few annoyances we had with the Lumia 920, and we still feel this way with the Lumia 928. We still wish Nokia would move the wake / sleep button on its Lumia 920 series to a more comfortable position, like where its volume rocker is located, as we’re sure people would end up pushing the wake / sleep button a lot more than the volume buttons.

Weight and size comparison to other smartphones – much better

One of the few negatives we had with the Lumia 920 was the fact it was quite a heavy smartphone weighing in at 6.52 ounces. Thankfully, Nokia has improved the weight of the Lumia 928 as it nearly sheds an entire ounce with a weight of 5.71 ounces. It’s still nowhere near as light as the iPhone 5, but it’s a pretty big improvement and one that we definitely appreciate. When holding the Lumia 928, it feels good in the hand as its material and weight both feel quite comfortable.

Compared to the Lumia 920, the Lumia 928 is also slightly slimmer, although it’s also slightly longer for some reason. We’re not entirely sure why that is, but it’s an extension that you probably won’t realize it if you’re holding the Lumia 928.

Display (very good)

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We won’t go into too much detail in regards to the Lumia 928’s display since it remains unchanged from the Lumia 920. You can expect a 4.5-inch IPS display with the Lumia 928, which we still feel the device could have fit a 4.8-inch display on the device, although we also understand Nokia probably didn’t do so due to keeping the device’s costs down.

What’s new? (not much when compared to the Lumia 920)

It’s all about the Xenon, baby: The rear-facing camera on the Lumia 928 is still a PureView 8.7MP camera, but one of the major improvements is the inclusion of a Xenon flash. The Xenon flash is usually found in digital cameras as LED flashes tend to be made available on smartphone devices, although the Xenon flash does a much better job in low-light conditions due to the way the flash illuminates the subject. The result of an image taken with the Xenon flash tends to have a more natural look as well as a reduction in image blurring.

Let’s move some ports around, shall we?: As I mentioned above in the Industrial Design section of our review, Nokia shifted some of the Lumia 928’s ports around, but didn’t move around any of the device’s physical buttons. On the Lumia 928, you’ll find the microUSB at the center of the top side of the device, while the 3.5mm headphone jack has been moved as far to the top-left side of the device as possible. Between the two is where the Lumia 928’s SIM card is located, which is in the same location on the Lumia 920.

Digital Imaging (Xenon flash makes a world of difference)

One of the major selling points for the Lumia 920 was its camera, which offers a stabilized 8.7MP camera. The actual camera module in the Lumia 928 is no different, except Nokia included a Xenon flash to further improve its already impressive ability to provide a great low-light image.

Before we get into our low-light test, we took both the Lumia 928 and iPhone 5 out to take a few images. The images both the Lumia 928 and the iPhone 5 produced look similar in the amount of detail, color and brightness both cameras are able to capture in their respective images. With that said, we did notice the image the Lumia 928 produced was slightly better in terms of its color and detail when compared to the iPhone 5, whose image looked slightly washed out in comparison. The difference between the ability of both cameras when natural daylight is involved is so insignificant, but if we had to choose a winner, we’d have to say the Lumia 928’s camera would come in first.

Low light is where the Lumia 928’s camera reigns supreme as both the non-flash and flash images it produced easily beat out the iPhone 5’s camera. The Lumia 928’s non-flash low-light image looked so good, we could have sworn the photo was taken in the middle of the day when you see just how bright and detailed the image is. The low-light non-flash image doesn’t produce as much detail as its daylight image, but considering the circumstances, we can definitely overlook it. In comparison, the iPhone 5′s non-flash low-light image looks good, but it pales in comparison to the image the Lumia 928.

Taking a photo with the Lumia 928’s Xenon flash resulted in an image which had a bit more color and detail than its non-flash version, and definitely beats out the iPhone 5’s flash as well as the image the iPhone produces doesn’t look as natural as the Lumia 928’s image. Because of the LED flash in the iPhone 5, the color in the image looks washed out when compared to the Lumia 928 and looks unnatural.

Conclusion (still very good)

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The Nokia Lumia 928 is a minor improvement over the Lumia 920, which we already thought was a solid Windows Phone 8 device. The improvements Nokia made with the Lumia 928 are slight and certainly make this a better device, but still not enough to earn our “excellent” rating as we still aren’t big fans of the device’s physical button layout, and the Windows Phone 8 Marketplace still has yet to catch up with Android and iOS in regards to providing must-have applications.

Still – if you’re a fan of Windows Phone 8 and want the absolute best device on Verizon, then you shouldn’t hesitate to pick up the Lumia 928 as it improves an already great smartphone experience to the point where we can easily consider it better than the original.

Overall product rating: 8/10

Filed in Cellphones >Featured >Reviews. Read more about Lumia 928, Nokia and Phone Reviews.

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