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Review: Nokia Lumia 920

December 13, 2012 • Reviews

Selecting a mobile phone is like buying a new car. I have been lucky enough to have only purchased two cars in my whole adult life, so I have not had to experience the difficulty of choice and decision that buyers generally have to go through.

Nokia's Lumia 920 (image: Nokia)

I do tend to favour vehicles that are a bit out of my price range, but they are still great to look at. I will do absolutely anything to be able to drive a 1932 Ford hot-rod, 1966 Pontiac GTO or a 1968 Shelby GT500, but I know the car will be highly impractical and I cannot install a petrol pump at my house.

So looking at more economical vehicles, I will say that I tend to lean more towards a Hyundai i30, Mazda 2, or any other smallish type vehicle. Naturally there are also a great number of cars that I will not drive (for various reasons) such as a BMW, Toyota and Nissan – and a 30-year old Ford Cortina.

We have all seen them on the road: classic blue or beige with a big 3.0L sign indicating it’s “roaring” power, extra fat tyres for “added” grip and the unforgettable 80’s design that just screams plastic furniture covers and pink flamingos in the garden.

Maybe it is just me, but I tend to look for the lowest priced car in my range, above a 1.4l, but other potential buyers will have a look to see what is available in their price range and then narrow it down to a couple of choices. After the list has been shortened, it will come down to what lies beneath the bonnet and how sound the mechanics are.

Here the list of potential candidates will be whittled down to about three or four choices and personal preference will start to play a major role.  From that point on, the buyer pretty much knows what it wants, and makes an offer to purchase before driving his brand new and shiny car off the showroom floor.

Purchasing a mobile phone really involves a similar process. It should actually make the buying process a bit easier if users assign a car to each phone and then decide what type of phone they want.

Indulge me for a second, if you will.

The Samsung Galaxy SIII can be seen as a powerful Range Rover. It is sturdily built, slightly bigger than the usual phones and users know the trusted quality that it can provide. While being powerful when it needs to be, it can also be quiet and gentle.

Just like the Range Rover, it can be slightly more expensive than what the average user is willing to pay, but once driven they will understand the raw power and customisation it offers. Running on the Android 4.1 operating system is equivalent to having a well-oiled and finely-tuned tiger under the hood.

Bringing the competition to the SIII in the mobile phone department is the iPhone 5 from Apple. Maybe not much in the vehicle stakes, but the iPhone can be seen as a slick Volkswagen GTi. The design of the iPhone has essentially stayed the same throughout the last three or so years, and the GTi has also only seen small changes made to it design – but at heart it is still a very powerful Volkwagen Golf.

The iPhone operates on Apple’s iOS, which is can be equated to a turbo-charged diesel engine or a finely tuned racing setup. It has got all the power available when required, and it is not scared to work for that extra bit of juice just to go that little bit farther.

So using the logic of vehicles that is available in the country at any point, users will be able to quickly decide what type of phone they would like to carry in their pocket. Do they want a slick racing machine or do they want a workhorse not afraid of pushing the limits slightly?

But one thing that is for sure, is that the Nokia Lumia 920 is the Ford Cortina of the mobile phone world. Just like its vehicle counterpart, it is fat and heavy and runs on a system that is essentially all show and no action. Ultimately, Nokia tries too hard to stay with the pack, and fails at reviving their brand.

Operating system

Fundamental to the Lumia, it makes use of Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system. The operating system is still in it’s infancy (it was only launched on 29 October this year), and there are a number of issues that need to be sorted out before it will be able to compete with iOS and Android. I have stated on many occasions that I’m not a fan of the WP8 interface, as it looks uninspired and boring. Compared to iOS and Android, it’s actually boring, with the live tiles as the only thing that keeps it interesting. I’m a huge fan of Microsoft and can’t wait for the Surface tablet, but Windows 8 works better on a bigger touch tablet, than it does on a PC or phone.

Build and design

While some mobile phone users like the feeling of a bit of bulk in the palm of their hands, the Lumia is just a bit too hefty for me. With phones getting thinner and lighter, it’s almost as if Nokia took a step backwards by making it 10.7mm thick. That’s a full 2.1mm thicker than the Samsung Galaxy SIII, and weighs 73g more than the Apple iPhone 5. Without being to knit-picking, the sharp corners just make it seem a bit awkward.

Features

While the camera is actually very decent (8.7 megapixel which makes use of Nokia’s proprietary PureView with Optical image stabilization technology), the images seemed to be inconsistent when it came to exposure and white balance. Photos of the same image would be darker than others on the same settings, which is frustrating. I did however enjoy (albeit moderately) the exclusive Cinemagraph app. It takes an image and only moves certain portions of it – almost like a .gif file, but cooler. The app is exciting to try at first, but the quality of the images could be greatly improved upon.

Processor

When talking computing power, Nokia claims that the Lumia is the most powerful smartphone on the market – which is true. It makes use of a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Krait processor, but the added .1 GHz in power will hardly be noticeable to the average user – compared to the 1.4 GHz quad-core Cortex-A9 that sits in the SIII. Here the iPhone falls a little behind, as it only makes use of a 1.3 GHz dual core Apple A6.

Verdict

I have never truly been a fan of Nokia and being in the position of Consumer Tech editor for a long time, I have had the opportunity to review a great number of mobile devices. For me, a great phone needs to perform in several categories: ease of use, technical specifications and of course aesthetics. As mentioned above, the Lumia is definitely heavier (and it’s noticeable) in a user’s hand; the design elements aren’t as friendly as the rounded-corners of most of the smartphones released this year and Windows Phone 8 needs a lot of work before it will be able to compete with Android and iOS. Granted, the camera and CPU is better than most phones, but is that enough for users to make a purchase? Ultimately, it comes down to users to decide what mobile device they would like to use, but I feel that there are a number of other devices that look better, have far better operating systems and are far easier to use. There are also other Windows Phone 8 devices that users might want to look at, if they truly want a WP8 device- such as the HTC 8X.

I thought that I might have been the only reviewer who felt this way about the Lumia 920, but The Wall Street Journal wrote that it “has barely moved the needle for Nokia”, CNET said it had an “unimpressive battery life and heavy weight,” while Popular Science says that they “just can’t recommend it,” and Sam Biddle from Gizmodo writes, “I wanted to own this instead of an iPhone 5, but no. No you shouldn’t. It’s too big and heavy. It’s not fun to own. It’s not enjoyable to use.”

At the end of the day, I’m still waiting to be impressed by a Nokia device. But there is hope…

Our final score: 6.0/10

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor

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44 Responses to Review: Nokia Lumia 920

  1. Steve Moylan says:

    Your review is lame.

    • Charlie Fripp says:

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for your comment. I have updated the article with more technical stats and my reasons for calling the phone fat, so I hope that meets your criteria.

    • Hi Steve,

      Thanks for your comment. I have updated the article with more technical stats and my reasons for calling the phone fat, so I hope that meets your criteria.

  2. Hisham Ahmed says:

    A *nuclear-powered facepalm* just for your review. You've made a complete hash of not just the phone, but the website too.

    • Charlie Fripp says:

      Hi Hisham,

      Thanks for the comment. Maybe not a *nuclear-powered facepalm*, but I get your point. I have updated the article outlining a number points that I liked about the phone, as well as the main reasons why it didn’t rock my boat. Feel free to read the updated section, and then let me know what you think. It’s through comments such as yours that we can only get better in knowing what style and composition our readers enjoy.

    • Hi Hisham,

      Thanks for the comment. Maybe not a *nuclear-powered facepalm*, but I get your point. I have updated the article outlining a number points that I liked about the phone, as well as the main reasons why it didn’t rock my boat. Feel free to read the updated section, and then let me know what you think. It’s through comments such as yours that we can only get better in knowing what style and composition our readers enjoy.

    • Hisham Ahmed says:

      You are a GSIII owner,and while I understand that you rue the lack of apps and pocketability, I simply cannot believe you faulted its build quality! Sure its heavy ( and no,I'm not gonna tell you to hit the gym,poor Sam Biddle's already been bombarded with such comments) but its build quality has been faulted by NONE (not even Biddle!).Mentioning about the processors was useless cuz all the flagships are equally fast.The camera quality is mind-blowing (have you tried night-pics?) and while the white balance issues does exist,Nokia acknowleged that a firmware patch should fix it.You've also forgotten to mention wireless charging,NFC,display quality and even the ability to use the touchscreen with gloves (that's useful for South African winters).The battery life is a software issue Microsoft has resolved through the Portico update.Fine,the tiles don't inspire everybody but icons are becoming more of an eyesore now………You'll need to review your review,cuz you've missed out on way too much.I don't like Android or Samsung,but I know for a fact that the GSIII an excellent handset. And so is the 920.

      P.S.: Gizmodo ranked the Lumia at No.2(so much for his review) and the Australian Gizmodo ranked it No.1!

  3. Lumia 920 review? One retarded paragraph in your entire article referances the 920…and yet it is TITLED A review of the Nokia Lumia 920.. Who edits this crap?

    • Charlie Fripp says:

      Hi Keith,

      Thanks for you comment. “This crap” actually gets edited by a team of journalists and sub-editors, so everything that goes onto the site is vetted by at least 2 people. With that said, I have updated the article to explain what I meant in the main review. I hope the outlining of good and bad points will meet your criteria of a review. As I’ve mentioned to the other comment posters, I tried to do things a bit different with this review, instead of just writing a boring article about the specs and design. But it’s only through comments such as yours, that IT News Africa truly and instantly understand what our readers want.

      - Charlie

    • Hi Keith,

      Thanks for you comment. “This crap” actually gets edited by a team of journalists and sub-editors, so everything that goes onto the site is vetted by at least 2 people. With that said, I have updated the article to explain what I meant in the main review. I hope the outlining of good and bad points will meet your criteria of a review. As I’ve mentioned to the other comment posters, I tried to do things a bit different with this review, instead of just writing a boring article about the specs and design. But it’s only through comments such as yours, that IT News Africa truly and instantly understand what our readers want.

      - Charlie

    • As I stated in my comment, the title was extremely misleading. It was NOT a review. It was a commentary on cars and cars you have owned/bought. I rarely comment on things I read, but your "review" was so inappropriately named, I had to write. I haven't reread your new version, but I hope whatever you did to change it REFLECTS the titles content. I enjoy reading reviews of all kinds. It helps me make buying decisions. That article was no review. Thank you for responding and I hope I wasn't demeaning or too harsh.

  4. Uli Mahlangu says:

    Your review is very biased, are you reviewing cars or phones? you say the Lumia "screams plastic furniture covers and pink flamingos in the garden" have you ever held an S3? Yes it colorful, if you do not like bright colors there is a black version! Have you been paid by Samsung or Apple for this review? There is not a single technical bone in your body! On what are you basing your review? The cheap S3 built you call sturdy needs a pouch to survive and after that it weighs like 10grams lesserthan the Lumia, the Lumia is almost rugged, you can drop it anywhere, has the most modernised features ever seen on mobile phones! For you to compare the rigid iOS with the futuristic Windows Phone 8 shows that you have no idea what you're talking about! One word PureView, Google your reviews and plagiaries or quit!

    • Charlie Fripp says:

      Hi Uli,

      Thanks for the comment (and your criticism). As I’ve mentioned to the other comment posters, the article was a bit of an experimental piece. If you have read any of (as an example – completely unrelated) Jeremy Clarkson’s written reviews, you’ll understand where I was coming from. But… I have updated the article with more technical stats than you can shake a stick at, so I hope that meets your criteria. Oh, and I actually do use a Samsung Galaxy SIII. A review is a subjective piece of writing, and while you might not agree with it at all times, it’s still my opinion on a piece of hardware.

      - Charlie

    • Hi Uli,

      Thanks for the comment (and your criticism). As I’ve mentioned to the other comment posters, the article was a bit of an experimental piece. If you have read any of (as an example – completely unrelated) Jeremy Clarkson’s written reviews, you’ll understand where I was coming from. But… I have updated the article with more technical stats than you can shake a stick at, so I hope that meets your criteria. Oh, and I actually do use a Samsung Galaxy SIII. A review is a subjective piece of writing, and while you might not agree with it at all times, it’s still my opinion on a piece of hardware.

      - Charlie

  5. Joe Phiri says:

    stick to car reviews your analysis is bad the title says nokia review and you have a 4 lined paragraph for a review it should have read S3 review please retire you write for the masses not for yourself sour taste article.

    • Charlie Fripp says:

      Hi Joe. Thanks for the comment. Due to the massive amount of comments from readers such as yourself, I’ve updated the article with outlining the good points and the bad points about the phone. I hope its to your satisfaction.

      - Charlie

    • Hi Joe. Thanks for the comment. Due to the massive amount of comments from readers such as yourself, I’ve updated the article with outlining the good points and the bad points about the phone. I hope its to your satisfaction.

      - Charlie

    • Joe Phiri says:

      you have just confessed your dislike for the brand at least nokia made something that does not look like an iphone who says a phone must always must have curves .weight you are a man its an impressive divice all the advantages you mentioned in your update are like just by the way a skewed analysis we know the 920 out of 10 major features outdoes the s3 and iphone in atleast half, its good you are not the only critique you would lose so many people and what do you really use of the 700,000 applications.

  6. Dave Stewart says:

    Why is this article titled "review" when it isn't? What it is, is embarrassing.

    • Charlie Fripp says:

      Hi Dave and thanks for your comment. I wrote the article as part of an experimental piece in composition, and I have clarified my point with an update to the main article. As part of the update, you read a number of good points, but more importantly, the points I didn’t enjoy.

      - Charlie

    • Hi Dave and thanks for your comment. I wrote the article as part of an experimental piece in composition, and I have clarified my point with an update to the main article. As part of the update, you read a number of good points, but more importantly, the points I didn’t enjoy.

      - Charlie

    • Dave Stewart says:

      Hi Charlie. Well, good of you to explain. Personally, I don't feel the preamble contributes to the review in any way, and as a creative-writing experiment would be better-saved for a peer-review, especially when today's reader is more likely to skimming for product-relevant opinion and facts. It still comes across as an opinionated review, but at least it's a review now, so well done for turning it around.

    • Singe Chohan says:

      Dave , I stopped reading when he equated the iPhone to a VW Golf GTi ☺

    • 920 is so obviously the best smartphone on the market and IMO the first serious smartphone that reading a review like this would be shocking if I had not already read others very similar. Sort of like Republican talking points, everybody saying the same insane junk.

  7. Vladimir Jason says:

    Can we please have this article taken down? Over 70% of the words written here have nothing to do with the phone itself and are mostly just pointless blather slash iPhone fanboism. Whatever's left of the article that actually talks about the phone is pure bias and insults towards Nokia.

    To the editor, you didn't even TRY to sound impartial, in multiple separate occasions you explicitly said "I'm not a fan of" only to follow it up with more negative comments based on YOUR personal taste an opinions. I hope this website isn't paying you for such reviews because frankly you should be ashamed to call yourself a reviewer/writer. This is the worst piece of "journalism" garbage I have ever come across on the internet.

    • Hi Vladimir,

      Thanks for you comment. I'm going to assume that you read the updated portion of the article, where I said that the Lumia does actually have a better CPU and camera than any other phone on the market. At the end of the day, the review (and any review for that matter), is an opinion by the writer based on various factors. As I've also mentioned to the other comment posters, I wrote this article in a completely different style than what I normally would. If you read any of my other reviews, you'll see the style and composition that I frequently use. I do use a Samsung Galaxy SIII, but I'm by no means an Apple "fanboi". I used those two phones for comparison, since they are the closest in specifications to the Lumia (and each of them uses a different OS)

    • Vladimir Jason says:

      Well then just to inform you, the S3 is not "sturdily built". If you had actually watched ANY of the drop tests on the S3 you would know this. Any drop of the S3 from shoulder-length would send the screen smashed, the battery cover and battery scattered across the floor. And this is not me hating on the Samsung phone, this is just pure plain fact. An exercise you would be wise to implement when writing a professional review! State facts, not biased personal opinions!

      No matter what your personal opinions may be, as a professional writer you have the obligation to deliver proper, unmitigated FACTS. And do not call an article a review when it is not so. This isn't a review moreso than it is a quick, thoughtless comparison of the Lumia 920 against the iPhone and to a less extent, the S3 and a bunch of cars.

      The 920 is by far and away the most sturdily built of the 3 phones. Your "Features" section of the review don't talk of any features except for the camera. Your "operating system" section talks about NOTHING aside from saying that the OS is in it's infancy (how?) and that it looks uninspired and boring (a minority's opinion mind you as the metro UI is almost universally praised by editors and users alike for its stylish design).

      Honestly, I didn't even go to college but even I think your article is garbage. You don't need me to tell you what an absolute disservice you did to this website by writing (and actually publishing!!!) this article. I've read more unbiased and neutral reviews on apple/android fan sites. Shameful.

    • Charlie Fripp says:

      Hi Vladimir,

      A review shouldn't be unbiased and neutral, otherwise it's only a write-up of the technical specifications and the the phones features. A review by nature is the writer's opinions, thoughts and concerns about a product, device, service or video game.

      "A consumer review refers to a review written by the owner of a product or the user of a service who has sufficient experience to comment on reliability and whether or not the product or service delivers on its promises, otherwise known as product reviews." – while not the most reliable of sources sometimes (actually, never), this is from Wikipedia.

      As I have mentioned numerous times in the comments, the review (or as some of you would like to call it, the "review") is my personal opinions on the product. I also wrote in my previous comment to you that I wrote this article in a completely different style than what I normally would – needless to say I'm not going to try this style any time soon again. I use a Galaxy SIII for my everyday needs, and it's not without fault. There too, are a couple of things I don't like about the SIII. No phone is perfect, just as I believe no video game is worth 10/10 (I review video games as well)

    • Agreed Vladimir. The reviews shouldn't biased.

  8. Reji Nair says:

    I don't think the author has actually used or tested the phone. He may be going by the specs. The phone is really good and the camera is amazing. The Windows Phone OS also is quite user friendly now.

    • Charlie Fripp says:

      Hi Reji,

      Thanks for your comment. It is integral for a reviewer to use all the products given, and put through it's paces. I had the Lumia for about three weeks, which was ample enough time for me to play around with it and use it in everyday scenarios. If I based the review on technical specs alone, I would be doing our readers (and myself) a great injustice by writing a review that is essentially then a lie. Once again, I updated the main article, highlighting points that I liked, and ones that I didn't. I did mention that the camera was "actually very decent".

  9. William Boyce says:

    Oh Dear, I came across this review while having lunch. I nearly choked on my pear. My Friends this is one of the best phones I have ever had. I have nearly had it for 5 weeks and I am far from board. The Nokia Lumia is fast , smooth, Super Sexy, with brains on the inside to.
    Its soooooooooooo good. You would have to chop my hand of to get mine.
    Camera is brilliant.
    Super hd screen.
    Great audio.
    Perfect cut to hold comfortable in hand.
    Nfc.
    Wireless charging ( Very Handy ).
    Best social hub available.
    So easy to use my nephew of 5 can use it. ( unfortunately lol ).
    Battery power is very good considering the huge fantastic display.
    Updates from Nokia and microsoft Extremely good compared to anddddddddddroiddddddddddddddddddddddd.
    Iphone has lost the brains of there show.

    Go get it my friends, you will love it.
    King Nokia is back with bang yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

    • Charlie Fripp says:

      Hi William,

      Thanks for the comment. I'm glad that you like your Lumia, but as I said before, (thankfully) consumers have different tastes, and I just wasn't impressed with the Lumia. I agree (and I mentioned it further down the article) that the camera is good, but it's not perfect. The screen is HD, yes, but so are almost all screens on smartphones these days (and it's no longer a strong selling point). The bulkiness of the phone is what made it uncomfortable in my hand, but that could be because I have the hands the size of a small monkey. If you love the Lumia, by all means spread the word… I'm not going to tell someone to not buy the phone, I'm just highlighting what I didn't like about it.

    • Come on friend….iPhone4 with the phone case is much heavier than Nokia Lumia 920…I'm an Asian, 169cm and I'm 58kg, you should bang the wall and die on the spot because I found no difficulty to lift the 186g phone with my five fingers.

    • And I read your articles about the processor, did you know that why ios and wp8 just only need dual-core processor? because it is not power hunger as in Android. You know what you lack is PROVE (screenshots, benchmark, picture prove, video, etc…etc….etc….) !! Come on….seriously, as an editor…I should say shame on your professionalism, an outsider like me also can tell that your review is completely biased. Do more research, do your homework before you show your "Consumer Tech Editor" professionalism.

    • William Boyce says:

      Charlie Fripp ,

      I'm sorry that's how you feel about this superb device. Its fairly on power with android devices at the moment. However ( fact) windows phone do not need the same specs as android to function better than android.
      As for the thickness which really isn't that bad may i add. There is reasons for this.
      As for a review i found it very one sided ( to put it bluntly) it felt it was your way or the Highway.
      But when someone ( anyone ) reviews a product, They are reviewing it for the whole Consumer public and not ones self.
      And i have also noticed below I'm not alone .
      I would be wondering why hhhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.
      Many thanks,

      Will

  10. The stupidest article that I ever came across! I was hoping to get some info about his phone which apparently bagged the best smart phone of 2012 (by GIZMODO). The phone is selling quite well. I think the iphone5 is too light, which feels cheap. And the S3,, has worst build Quality…

  11. Anonymous says:

    As the author/writer has mentioned in the end "I have never truly been a fan of Nokia and being in the position of Consumer Tech editor for a long time" it no surprise that he has given only 6/10. Plus comparing Nokia Lumia 920 with a ford— I can't get it whether I was reading a car review or a smartphone review… LOL

  12. Dale Lince says:

    I must say that I agree with this review. I have a Galaxy S3 and although I'm not a huge fan of the phone (please save the stone throwing), I had a chance to work with the 920 and I really don't like it either. The worst mistake Nokia made was signing the deal with MS. There is a reason WM only has a 3% market share in the US, while iOS and Android have 34% and 51% respectively. It's all about third party support and WM just doesn't have it.
    It's the same with gaming consoles. The Wii U could be the best console since the Atari, but without good games, it's a very expensive paperweight.
    The Lumia 920 is fine if you want to phone, SMS, take the occasional photo, get your emails and maybe check Facebook and Twitter, but let's be serious, if that's all you want to do, maybe you shouldn't be looking at a smartphone.

  13. I liked your article and appreciate from reading the comments that it was an experimental writing piece. I think it is very refreshing reading your take on tech and how you analogize your love for cars as the connecting idea for your phone review.

    That being said, I completely disagree with your comparisons of the phones to cars. I am not a car enthusiast so I googled the Cortina and while you compare the two other phones in this article (GS3, IP5) to a Range Rover and VW (both fairly newer models), you relegate the Lumia 920 to be likened to a 30 year old P.O.S. jalopy station wagon.

    I think that's what is off-putting about your article. You didn't even give your car analogy justice by comparing the sexy new technologically advanced Lumia 920 to a BMW you didn't like though you could have. I've owned every version of the iPhone and recently gave my 5 to my wife so I could get the Lumia 920 when it was released in CA last month. I don't miss it.

    My Lumia does everything I needed my iPhone to do and it does it faster, bigger and better. When it was released did the Cortina have ABS, Steering assist, CD/DVD? Of course not. CD's didn't come out till the 80's. Can you edit native Word docs on your GS3 or iPhone 5? Didn't think so. Can you use RDP natively on your work and home PC running windows?

    The point is that the Lumia 920 is on par technologically with your beloved GS3 and iPhone 5 and has some features that neither GS3 or iP5 don't. Some call it the most technologically advanced phone out right now.

    You don't like it. I get it. Just don't call my phone a fat 30 year old jalopy because it reminds you of a Ford Cortina. Your article reminded me of a review from a certain S. Biddle but I read it any and enjoyed it. That being said, if a Ford Cortina offered all of the features of say a Range Rover or a VW plus ABS, DVD (back to the future), and voice nav in the 60's when it was released, I'd probably buy it too.

  14. Yeah think this review is a little TOO harsh, but hey your taste right?

  15. Oh God! What a poorly written review. First of all, half of the crap in your review is about CARS? You're using CARS to compare phones? You didn't use the phone your self did you? You didn't mention any of the awesome features it has. NFC, Wireless Charging, Super sensitive HD screen, the amazing pure view camera and so many other great innovative features the L920 holds.
    You like the live tiles on the tablet but not on the phone? how different are they on the phone? The WP8 is not resources hungry as Android is… It doesn't require quad-core.

    You Sir, wasted everyone's time here.

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