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Nokia Lumia 928 vs Lumia 920: Which PureView is the Better Experience?

by Brandon Russell | May 21, 2013May 21, 2013 9:30 am PDT

By now you should be intimately familiar with Nokia’s PureView prowess, which we’ve covered numerous times before. First introduced—at least on a wide-scale consumer smartphone level—in the company’s Lumia 920, the technology has changed our perceptions about what smartphone images should look like. It’s not about just cramming more megapixels onto a smaller sensor; with PureView, Nokia worked smarter, creating a technology that produces pictures that not only look excellent in everyday scenarios, but excel in low-light situations.

With the Lumia 928 for Verizon, the latest flagship in the Lumia line, Nokia kept that same incredible PureView technology and added a Xenon flash. Great got even greater. In short, Xenon provides more light when you need it. Theoretically that should mean more natural, well-lit images in situations such as a dark restaurant or outside at night. The brighter light also means being able to freeze action, and not simply emit light onto your subject.

Xenon isn’t a new addition to the Nokia brand, but in conjunction with the company’s 8.7-megapixel shooter, it promises to provide the best mobile shooting experience yet. That’s not the only area that makes the Lumia 928’s camera, or even the Lumia 920’s, so great. It’s an entire package, a sum of its parts compiled into one harmonious camera utopia.

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Verizon Nokia Lumia 928-Camera

Both the Lumia 920 and 928 have f2.0 aperture—one of the largest in the industry—which allows for more light to enter onto the sensor. Couple that with both the 920 and 928’s OIS and image processing capabilities, and you have arguably some of the best smartphone images out there. Not only that, Nokia has developed cameras with lenses that are separately encased in their own unit to compensate for your shaky hands.

“You can have a great sensor, lenses, algorithms and mechanics,” said Juha Alakarhu, head of Nokia’s imaging technologies. “But if you haven’t got them all working in harmony together, you’ll end up disappointed. It’s all about balance between the ingredients.”

Both of the devices feature the same sensors and PureView technologies, so we didn’t expect too much of a difference in everyday shots. But, with the addition of a Xenon flash, there should theoretically be a difference when the flashes are used. Can you tell? Like all of our tests, we’re reserving judgement in favor of community discussion. So, then, which one do you prefer?

As a note, we shot everything using Auto settings at the same resolution.

Taken mid-afternoon in a partly shaded courtyard.

Taken mid-afternoon in a partly shaded courtyard.

Here it's interesting to see how the devices expose the shaded house, which was still partly bathed in sunshine.

Here it’s interesting to see how the devices expose the shaded house, which was still partly bathed in sunshine.

In a shaded spot in my backyard. Light was plentiful in the early morning.

In a shaded spot in my backyard. Light was plentiful in the early morning.

An ice pit on a food truck that comes by our work, taken only seconds apart. There was no direct sunlight coming into the ice compartment.

An ice pit on a food truck that comes by our work, taken only seconds apart. There was no direct sunlight coming into the ice compartment.

Shaded work of folk art, good for detail.

Shaded work of folk art, good for detail.

Taken at night from across the street of a liquor store.

Taken at night from across the street of a liquor store.

Indoors with sunlight coming in from an open entrance. Those barrels are a darker green color.

Indoors with sunlight coming in from an open entrance. Those barrels are a darker green color.

Taken inside a completely dark room, which is about the length of a hallway. I stood around three feet away from Roy.

Taken inside a completely dark room, which is about the length of a hallway. I stood around three feet away from Roy.

Photo taken indoors of the Cyan Lumia 900 and Red Lumia 920, with sunlight coming in from the left.

Photo taken indoors of the Cyan Lumia 900 and Red Lumia 920, with sunlight coming in from the left.

Taken indoor with no lights on, but sunlight streaming in from behind me. Photo of the little green Android guy, Red Lumia 920 and Cyan Lumia 900.

Taken indoor with no lights on, but sunlight streaming in from behind me. Photo of the little green Android guy, Red Lumia 920 and Cyan Lumia 900.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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