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Nokia Lumia 925 Review - Is This The Best Windows Phone Right Now?

Nokia Lumia 925 Review – Is This The Best Windows Phone Right Now?
Luke Hoare Greene

The Nokia Lumia 925 is the newest Lumia device to come to Irish stores, having launched just last week on almost all networks, but is it worth your attention?

With the sheer number of Lumia devices lately you’d be forgiven if you got a tad confused, heck it’s my job to know all about Windows Phone but even at that it can be hard to keep track of the many Finnish phones under the Lumia name.

The 925 is clearly poised as the premium model however, sitting high and mighty above the 520, 620 and 820 (the 720 and 920 never really reached Irish retailers).

Of course Nokia faces a massive uphill battle in such a small mobile market here in Ireland, so how does it fare?

Hardware

Right from the get-go it’s clear that the Lumia 925 is made to be admired, and as the first Lumia to throw in aluminum alongside polycarbonate plastic, it turns out to be the lightest and thinnest Lumia yet.

There’s three colour variants, black/dark grey, white and silver/grey. Thanks to an issue with a locked device, I managed to have a black model for a few days and then the silver, and I personally prefer the silver/grey. The white model looks like it could be nice too, but colour is a very personal choice and I find anything other than black to be refreshing these days.

Nokia Lumia 925 1

The 925 does take a small design cue from the iPhone too, with four small black antenna bands on each corner, but they blend in nicely.
The left side and bottom of the phone are completely bare, the top has the micro-SIM slot, USB port, noise cancelling mic and 3.5mm headphone jack.
On the right side you’ll find the camera shutter button, power/lock button and volume rocker, similar to every other Lumia device on the market.

A lot of people say how a phone (or tablet etc) feels in the hand is a huge indicator as to its quality and therefore worth and in that sense, the Lumia 925 is definitely quality.

It feels amazing in the hand, the soft polycarbonate back helps with grip and the metal sides are smooth and cold, while the half rounded, half angled corners don’t hurt your hand when holding the phone for long periods of time.

The few minor gripes with the build were that the micro-SIM tray didn’t feel as flush as it should have been, there was some movement when pressed on and the volume up button was very spongy and difficult to press.

The other buttons were fine though, so it’s likely that these problems are exclusive to my device and shouldn’t appear on every 925.

Another drawback to the aluminium addition is inevitable damage – just like the iPhone 5 is renowned for not holding up well under use, our Lumia 925 is a mere two weeks old and already has one or two scratches on the sides.
This is to be expected with any aluminium device of course, the HTC One is similar, but it’s still annoying, especially when my year old Lumia 800 is still in good condition.

Nokia Lumia 925 3

On the front of the phone is a 1.3mp front facing camera, the usual Windows Phone back, start and search buttons (capacitive) and of course the 4.5″ inch AMOLED display – more on that later.

The rear of the 925 is where the main attraction is – the 8mp PureView camera.

The camera protrudes from the phone just a tad but not enough to be annoying, it actually adds a lot to the overall design and doesn’t look strange at all.
Above the camera is a dual LED flash while below is three connector pins for wireless charging by way of a snap on case and then the speaker grill.

Nokia omitted built-in wireless charging like in the 920 to keep the 925 thinner and lighter which is disappointing as it was one of the more unique features of the 820/920.

It sounds hypocritical to say this but while I do love how the camera looks, because it protrudes from the phone I found myself constantly worried about scratching or damaging the lense, leading to me placing the phone down on tables and desks like it was made of glass.

Nokia have stated that you shouldn’t worry about this as the camera is actually slightly receded into the hump, so the glass itself isn’t touching down when you place the phone down, but it’s still a worry I can’t shake.

Display

Nokia have moved from the LCD screen found in the 920 to AMOLED here, and it’s a wise choice. AMOLED and LCD screens have their own benefits and drawbacks but I personally prefer AMOLED for the rich, vibrant colours and when combined with Nokia’s ClearBlack technology for extremely deep blacks, everything just pops off the screen beautifully.

The full resolution is 768 x 1280 (~332 ppi pixel density) which makes the 925 the first HD Lumia available in Ireland.

Nokia Lumia 925 2

It lacks when compared with the 1080p screens found on rival Android handsets but to most people 720p HD is enough, I found text, graphics and images to look amazing on the 925’s screen.
Included in the display settings are the options for changing colour saturation and colour temperature in order to fine tune the screen for yourself.

Lumia Screenshot 2The screen is also super sensitive, meaning you can use it with gloves on, with a pen or even your car keys, and as it’s Gorilla Glass 2 you shouldn’t worry about scratches… just don’t try anything too sharp.

Also included is a new feature called Glance Screen, which is kind of a lock screen upon a lock screen. When the phone is asleep, it’ll continue to display the time (for how long can be set by you) and it’ll also change the colour of the text at night to avoid hurting your eyes.

One of the coolest screen abilities is double tap to wake up, even if Glance Screen is turned off you can double tap the screen to wake the phone up which is pretty handy.

Sunlight readability is really impressive and was essential during the last week or so of amazing weather we’ve had here, with most other phones I think I’d have struggled to even write a text message.

Software & Performance

Inside the 925 you’ll find a Dual-core 1.5 GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, again that doesn’t quite reach the same standards as the HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4 but as has been noted countless times, Windows Phone runs smoothly and fast on dual core processors, so you won’t notice any lag or slowdown.

The entire OS is pretty much identical to what you find in any Windows Phone 8 device, for a more detailed rundown on the Windows Phone 8 OS check out our Lumia 820 review, but Nokia do still include their own array of apps here.Lumia 925 Screenshot 1

HERE Drive, HERE Maps and Nokia Music are the staple Lumia apps at this stage, each one doing its job brilliantly, offline GPS, accurate maps and great free streaming radio respectively.

Nokia Music+ is now in Ireland too which gives you unlimited skipping for about €4 a month.

The Windows Phone Marketplace hasn’t grown massively since our Lumia 820 review, but third-party developers have filled big gaps in the meantime.

Instance is a great Instagram client that does everything that the official iOS and Android version does, while 6Sec gives us Vine (although Vine is officially coming soon) and SwapChat fills your SnapChat needs (until this week, the future of the app seems to be in limbo, suggesting that an official client is on the way soon).

Bing Listen has also finally made its way to Ireland around 2 years after it was launched, but it is useful as it allows you to tag any song much like Shazam, only by doing it straight from Bing, without needing Shazam.

The base model is 16GB internal storage with 7GB SkyDrive cloud storage free, but Vodafone do have a 32GB model exclusive to them if you need more space. Personally 16GB is fine for me and I think most people will get by with it.

Camera

Nokia have made it clear that the camera is the real star here and have added an extra lense since the 920 (that’s one more, for a total of six).

Their hard work has definitely payed off as the 925’s camera is one of the best cameras you can hope to find on any smart phone (not including the recently announced 41mp Lumia 1020 of course).
ZEISS Optics, Optical Image Stabilization and a 1/3” sensor combine to give some great shots, especially in low-light.

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It really has to be seen to be believed but the OIS makes such a vast difference, even at a concert or in a car, images are steady and blur free.
The level of detail in the resulting photos is impressive and there’s little to no noise found in the shots either.

Holding the camera shutter button to wake the phone and boot straight to camera is one of Windows Phones’ smaller but better features and it fits nicely with the great camera on the 925.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Nokia Smart Cam is the coolest camera feature to play with here.
It can take 10 photos in quick succession, you can then choose the best of them to keep (but the others don’t get deleted, so you can always change your mind) compile an action shot (which is good for someone cycling past you for example) that gives you the option to blend the images together, the now standard face swap option, remove objects that get in the way and the very cool motion focus – basically focusing the image on one object/person to emphasize movement.

Again, these features have to be seen to be fully understood but they’re very cool and useful.

Lumia Shot 2

Battery Life

There’s a 2000 mAh non removable battery in the 925 which is a fairly good size, especially when you consider that the iPhone 5 has a 1440 mAh battery by comparison.

Lumia 925 Screenshot Battery

Battery life was variable, some days it was lasting until the next morning and other days it was dying by 5pm – of course there’s many factors at play here, as with any new phone it’ll be used quite heavily for the first few days so I’m remaining open-minded.
That said, you’ll more than likely have to charge the 925 every night – or as I tell everyone (and in all my phone reviews, I know!) If you have a smart phone, expect to charge it every night.

One small quirk I found was that the phone could get very hot with excessive use, and even in my pocket without use while I was in the sun, it reached quite the hot temperature.
This could be affecting the battery somehow, but the combo of plastic and metal means the phone cooled down quick enough.

Verdict

The Lumia 925 is at a strange time in the market right now, it’s probably the best camera phone available right now, but with the Lumia 1020 coming soon with a 41mp shooter, the 925 starts to look less appealing.
Of course, I think that the 925 looks a lot more attractive and is a lot lighter than the 1020 will be, not to mention the price – the 1020 is expected to be a lot more expensive due to the camera.

The Lumia 925 is a worthy contender to either the HTC One, iPhone 5 or any other flagship smartphone.

Nokia Lumia 925 6

The app situation is still annoying, there’s still no Hailo Taxi App and every company in the world develops for iOS and Android first which is very frustrating, but more and more third-party developers are filling the gaps in, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

I still can’t shake the fear of damaging the camera lense, I know the camera hump was necessary to fit in such a good camera, but it’s a big worry that bothers me every time I set the phone down and the overheating is also quite strange, but these are minor problems and in the grand scheme of things shouldn’t deter you from considering the 925 as your next phone.

The camera is amazing, the design is beautiful and the screen is crisp and clear –  this is truly the best Windows Phone 8 device on the market right now.

The Nokia Lumia 925 is available now from Meteor, eMobile, O2 and Vodafone.

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