Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Nokia Lumia 920

Introduction and Design

Let's face it – Nokia has been struggling to become relevant again for the last few years, and even with Windows Phone 8, it's still having a lot of trouble gaining any real traction. Meanwhile, Samsung has been enjoying increasingly bigger profits thanks to its efforts in the Android market. The two companies have recently switched their places, as Samsung has become the biggest cell phone maker, and Nokia has been left licking its wounds and trying to come up with a comeback plan. Well, that plan was Windows Phone and the best Nokia has managed to do with it is the Lumia 920. As Samsung has just introduced its newest flagship, though, the Galaxy S4, we think it'll be more than interesting to see how the biggest phone makers by volume stack up against each other.


Could the Galaxy S4 and Lumia 920 be more different as far as design is concerned? Hardly! Samsung's device is made from a somewhat flimsy feeling plastic, although in theory, it should be polycarbonate, which is the same as what the Lumia 920 uses for its construction. However, Nokia's handset feels much sturdier and more durable than its opponent. This has come at a price, though, as the Galaxy S4 is definitely the slimmer, lighter and more compact smartphone of the two, which is a big deal, considering that it also has a larger screen.


And by larger, we mean 0.5" larger, which is not a small thing. Not only that, but the GS4 also has a higher resolution display – 1080p vs 768p, so it's a lot sharper too, although image quality with the Lumia 920's display is also very good.

The Lumia 920 sticks to the tried and true LCD IPS technology, while Samsung is counting on its Super AMOLED, but don't worry, that's not the oversaturated and cold AMOLED that we once had in Samsung's phones. Well, it could be, but it can also look a lot more natural now thanks to a couple of screen profiles that Samsung has built in. Even then, the screen of the Lumia 920 is just superior in terms of overall quality.

The Lumia 920 is not super-bright, but it's still a bit brighter than the GS4, and that makes it a bit easier to view outdoors. Meanwhile, its colors appear more natural-looking, as they have that warm and balanced appearance. The GS4 is not far behind, though, and it also has its 1080p resolution to make up for the areas where it loses.

Interface and Functionality

OK, so Windows Phone 8 may not be the hero operating system Microsoft hoped it would be, but it's still a viable alternative to Android and iOS. We have to admit, though, that Windows Phone 8 is the more difficult platform to approach, due to its radically different user experience. Whereas, Android has more of a standard icon and widget-based concept, Windows Phone's homescreen has these live tiles, which are something of a cross between icons and widgets, and it also has a non-traditional structure, which is based around different hubs like People, Music+Video, Games, Office and so on. So it will probably take you a bit more time to get used to WP8, which is OK, but the thing is – is it worth it to go through the trouble of learning Windows Phone? Well, our answer is yes, but only if there's some specific feature of the Lumia 920 that you absolutely love, because in terms of pure software layout and capabilities, Android 4.2, especially with Samsung's TouchWiz on top, in our opinion, is far more versatile and superior to Windows Phone 8 as an operating system.


Smaller screen or not, the Lumia 920 comes with a better QWERTY keyboard, which makes typing somewhat more intuitive and faster. Sure, you have that extra row of numbers with the GS4, but the keys are smaller, and don't feel particularly spacious even when typing in landscape mode.

Still, with the GS4 you have the option to install some other QWERTY keyboard that may prove to be just the right one for you, whereas that freedom is not there with the Lumia 920, which isn't such a big issue, because, as we said, its built-in keyboard is great.

Internet and Connectivity

The Nokia Lumia 920 has an amazing browser with Internet Explorer 10. It may not be as fast as the one in the Samsung Galaxy S4, but we certainly appreciate all the fine details that have been polished to perfection by Microsoft, like the double-tap zooming, perfect text size boosting and user-friendly scrolling.

Still, the awesome browser in the Galaxy S4 has a few tricks up its sleeve as well. How about Flash support? That's one thing you'll never get with the Lumia 920's Internet Explorer. However, reading may not be as easy with the GS4, as it doesn't seem to have noticed how the other browsers around it tend to artificially increase certain fonts in order to ease reading.

Processor and Memory

There is no doubt that the Galaxy S4 is the real specs monster among these two smartphones. Samsung's flagship comes with either Snapdragon 600, or Exynos 5 Octa, depending on the market, while the Lumia 920 is equipped with the last-gen dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus. System performance will be just fine with both handsets, though the Lumia 920 will certainly not be as future-proof as the GS4 with regards to third-party apps, and especially 3D games.

The Galaxy S4 is also far more versatile when it comes to storage space, as it comes in 16, 32 and 64 GB variants, and it also has a microSD card slot, whereas the Lumia 920 only comes with 32 GB of storage with no option to expand that.

Camera and Multimedia

Expectations towards the camera of the Lumia 920 have always been high, and for the most part, it has failed to live up to them. This is exactly what we observe now that it competes with the 13MP shooter of the Galaxy S4. Interestingly, Samsung doesn't really praise the camera of the GS4, but it's really so much better than that of the Lumia 920.

To start with, the Galaxy S4 features tons of different shooting modes and options, and while we don't really think that all of them will prove to be useful, some of them might come in handy in certain situations. The Lumia 920 isn't exactly free of any settings, but it can't really compare with what the Galaxy S4 offers..

That would have been OK, if the quality of the Lumia's images was better than that of its opponent, but that is not the case. The Galaxy S4 captures much more detail in its 13MP shots, and it also keeps noise levels at bay, while noise is easily seen with the Lumia 920 when shooting in cloudy conditions, for example. In addition, the Lumia 920 tries to get some liveliness in its shots by boosting the contrast and altering the colors, but it doesn't really do it right, and the Galaxy S4 remains much closer to reality in those aspects. Pretty much the same observations are valid when taking images indoors, in low-light conditions.

In terms of 1080p video recording, the Lumia 920 doesn't fascinate us with anything as the video itself has a bit of a high contrast, but its optical image stabilization (OIS) more than makes up for that as it makes all camera movements appear very smooth and pleasant – none of that constant trembling that's visible when recording video with the Galaxy S4, which lacks any OIS technique. As far as pure image quality is concerned, though, the GS4 once again takes the cake, maybe with the exception of extremely low-light recordings.

Taking a picLower is betterTaking an HDR pic(sec)Lower is betterCamSpeed scoreHigher is betterCamSpeed score with flashHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy S43.4
Nokia Lumia 9204.2
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Samsung Galaxy S4 Sample Video:

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Nokia Lumia 920 Sample Video:

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Samsung Galaxy S4 Indoor Sample Video:

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Nokia Lumia 920 Indoor Sample Video:

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Call quality

Surprise, surprise, neither phone is particularly good for carrying out conversations, as both of their earpieces sound somewhat... bad. The Galaxy S4 does manage to slightly edge the Lumia 920 in that respect though, and the same thing goes for its loudspeaker, which, although far from perfect, tends to be noticeably clearer than that of its opponent.

We measure battery life by running a custom web-script,designed to replicate the power consumption of typical real-life usage.All devices that go through the test have their displays set at 200-nit brightness.
hoursHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy S4
4h 59 min(Poor)
Nokia Lumia 920


Well, it's been another action-packed face-off, and we think it's clear already which device we think is the superior one here – it is the Galaxy S4! Sure, its appearance isn't as fancy and the construction isn't as sturdy as those of the Lumia 920, but that's about where the Nokia's advantages end.

Samsung's handset is definitely the more convenient phone to use, as it's much lighter and thinner, while at the same time it packs a significantly larger display. But that is not all. The Galaxy S4 also has a much better camera, and when we turn our attention to the software experience, that's where the Galaxy S4 easily gains the upper hand as it simply offers so much more, both in terms of custom, built-in features and third-party apps. Microsoft has certainly nailed a number of things in Windows Phone, including the web browser and QWERTY keyboard, and then we have Nokia's free offline turn-by-turn navigation, but those things aren't nearly enough to save the Lumia 920.

With all of that in mind, it seems that the only thing that remains for us is to wait for Nokia's next flagship smartphone, and then see how close it's gotten to successfully competing with the most fearsome Android phone around.

Samsung Galaxy S4 vs Nokia Lumia 920:

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