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On the Lumia 920 Design

I have been taking a close look at my red Lumia 920 lately–questioning myself whether there is room for improvement. I strongly believe there is. The Lumia 920 is a beautiful smartphone. However, I find the 920 has some design flaws that have grown to irritate me, particularly, because that other smartphone cleverly avoids them.

The smartphone is personal yet social, physically social. Smartphones are handed over to share, maybe show, and to be used by someone other than the owner: taking pictures, showing a video, a website, etc. It is then when the 920’s design flaws start to show: “oh! something happened,” “oops, how do I get back,” “aarghh… I don’t know what I pressed,” “I don’t know whether I took the picture or not.” I too often hear this when I try to be social with my smartphone. I stopped asking strangers to take a picture of me with my family/friends a long while ago. That camera button in the 920 requires more than intuition to be used, that is, if the stranger didn’t first accidentally press the Bing Search or Back button when the 920 was being handed over.

Why is there 3 capacitive buttons in the front of the 920? Attention to detail is fundamental in good design, so is user-friendliness and unobtrusiveness. Either of those three buttons are pressed on accident too many times a day– they are obtrusive, specially the magnifying glass. I find it very annoying when I am using HERE Drive and I pick up my phone from the seat to have a look at the beautiful Bing picture of the day.

The camera button confuses some, but the group of the 3 physical buttons on the side which are actually 4 prove to be even more confusing to new owners. There is no distinction between volume up/down in the upper button. The power-on and camera buttons are identical. The four of them combined are unnecessarily complex. I would like to silence my phone with a switch, or lock a screen mode if so I desire. On an unrelated note, why is there 30 volume levels on Windows Phone?

Another overlooked detail of placement is where the headphone jack sits. The top of the phone. I would love for it to be on the bottom so when I am listening to music I can pull my phone out not up side down.

The plastic housing on the 920 is also a questionable material, the shiny 920s are not very long-lasting. My red 920 was full of hairlines within days and some dents on the edges.

The 920 weights more than it should and it dimensions are on the larger side. The AT&T logo on mine doesn’t help either. Hopefully Nokia addresses some of these concerns in next iterations, solutions like Swipe UI (like in the N9) would be very welcome instead of the 3 capacitive buttons that sit on every Windows Phone.