Nokia Lumia 920 vs. Samsung Galaxy S3 vs. Sony Xperia Z Smackdown

By Pierre Dumont , Mar 12, 2013 02:02 PM EDT

It's time for a smackdown between three of the best smartphone devices out there: the Nokia Lumia 920, the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Sony Xperia Z.

In terms of design, all three devices are fairly appealing, each with its own unique touch. To begin with, the 920 is definitely heavier than most. This may seem irksome at first but becomes something accustomed to over time and in fact lends the device a sturdier, more substantial feel. The other nice thing about the Lumia is that it comes in a few distinct colors, so you can opt for a vibrant appearance or something more conventional. The device is comfortable to hold and has a sleek body, much like previous Lumia designs.

Samsung calls the Galaxy S3's design "inspired by nature" and you may certainly find this to be the case in the "Marble White" and "Pebble Blue" options. Unlike the 920, the S3 actually feels sort of light, due to its plastic design. That does not translate into a feeling of cheapness, however, given the strong interior and Gorilla Glass 2. The rounded edges of the phone will definitely appeal to some more than others. Probably the coolest thing about the Xperia Z is that it's water resistant, allowing you to submerge the entire phone in water without causing damage. Other than that, the phone has a thin, minimalist appeal that is quite appealing. Potential detractors include a surface that highly reflects light and difficulty of use with one hand.

For display, the Lumia 920 features a 4.5-inch 1280x768 pixel IPS screen. ClearBack helps compensate for the fact that the device doesn't use an AMOLED display. The Galaxy S3's 4.8-inch high-resolution super AMOLED display is on par, as is the Xperia Z's 5-inch screen, though those used to the AMOLED display will have to adjust.

Hardware runs on a near equal level across all three devices. The 920 runs a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, while the S3 and Xperia Z also run the Snapdragon. If anything, the Xperia Z does tend to run a bit slower, however.

As far as the camera goes, the Lumia 920 leads the pack, followed by the Galaxy S3 and the Xperia Z in last place. Lumia has been giving special attention to its cameras and the 920's 8.7-megapixel rear camera can be said to be the highlight of the device, though some may find the photos too true-to-life in normal light conditions. The S3 stacks up with an 8-megapixel camera that has the novel feature of recognizing faces in photos. Unfortunately, the Xperia Z falls behind, despite the camera being 13.1-megapixels. Photos tend to look worse after they are shot, and especially once transferred to a computer. A lack of sharpness also seems to be present.

Battery life should be adequate across all devices, with the S3 giving a comparatively strong performance and the Xperia Z getting extra mileage out of its "Stamina mode."

After considering all factors, the winner this time is Nokia's Lumia 920, due to its great design, screen and camera. Samsung's Galaxy S3 should certainly appeal to Android users but the Sony Xperia Z falls behind in some areas, despite its compelling design.

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