The Nokia Lumia 822, 820, and 810 are, from a hardware perspective, all the same phone -- an affordable mid-tier option with interchangeable casings -- just with different builds and offered on different carriers. The Lumia 820 is AT&T's version of the phone, while the Lumia 810 is a T-Mobile exclusive. That leaves Verizon Wireless' offering, the Lumia 822, which is a decidedly less attractive looking model that alternatively offers more in terms of performance.
Since we recently reviewed T-Mobile's Lumia 810, a very similar smartphone, we will be using this short-form review to highlight the few differences that set Verizon's Lumia 822 apart from its sister handsets. And though the differences are few and far between, they're certainly enough to suggest that this $50 option just might be the best option of the three.
Build and Design
The Lumia 822 takes a more traditional approach to its build, what with its rounded corners and gentle curves, unlike the sharper edges of the Lumia 810. It also features a glossy white casing instead of a matte finish, which I was personally a little disappointed to see, but I recognize that that's just a matter of taste.
The dimensions of the Lumia 822 are similar to its kinfolk, however, sharing the same exact width (2.69 inches) and height (5.03 inches) as the Lumia 810. The Lumia is ever-so-slightly thicker though, measuring 0.44 inches thick. It also features the same bottom-firing "speakers" as the Lumia 810, but this is once again a farce, as pulling off the removable casing reveals that there is, in fact, only one speaker beneath the grill.
Everything else is the same as far as the buttons and ports, as well, with the volume rocker, power button, and dedicated camera button all located on the right side. The 3.5mm headphone jack is on the top edge, while the micro USB port for charging is on the bottom, and the front-facing camera is right next to the earpiece. The 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with Carl Zeiss optics is located on the upper center of the back, along with its flash.
I talked in depth about the display in the Lumia 810 review, but let me repeat that Nokia's ClearBlack display technology makes a relativly low-resolution, 800 x 480 pixel display, look good.
Where the Nokia 822 beats the HTC 8X so far is on software. Call it bloatware if you like, but Nokia's list of exclusives contains a lot of useful stuff. Windows Phone needs Nokia Drive for turn-by-turn directions and Nokia Transit for transit directions. Nokia's camera apps let you make instant animated GIF-like images and combine photos of groups of people to eliminate shots where people's eyes are closed.
Microsoft's new Data Sense is exclusive to Verizon phones, and that's also a big deal. Like our Editors' Choice Onavo Extend, Data Sense monitors the data you're using app by app, and compresses data on its way to and from your phone. According to Microsoft, you can surf 45 percent more on the same data plan with Data Sense than without. That can help Verizon users shift down to lower data plans, and it'll help.
Otherwise, the Lumia 822's specs are similar to T-Mobile's Lumia 810 and AT&T's Lumia 820: a 4.3-inch, 800-by-480 ClearBlack OLED screen, 16GB of storage, an 8-megapixel camera and a 1.5-Ghz Qualcomm S4 processor.
Verizon will have three Windows Phones: the $99 Lumia 822, the $199 Windows Phone 8X and the mysterious Samsung Ativ Odyssey, which we know relatively little about. The 8X has a much more premium-feeling body, a higher-resolution screen and Beats Audio. The 822 has Nokia Drive. Both have Data Sense. It'll be interesting to see whether a lower price and GPS software win out over industrial design here.
The wasted space below the screen and navigation keys that I complained about on the Lumia 810 is still present, but it's perhaps a little less obvious at first glance due to the fact that some of that black space from the bezel is taken over by the white trim of the casing (though it is also available in black and silver). Rather than having close to an inch of black space on below the screen, it switches to white about halfway down -- complete with the Verizon branding -- which keeps it from looking like the bottom of the device was just stretched out.