Friday, May 17, 2013

Nokia Lumia 925 Review

The Nokia Lumia 925 is the second flagship phone Nokia has added to its Lumia lineup in a week. While the Lumia 925 shares many key specs with the Lumia 928 -- screen size, processor, and camera resolution -- it sports a metal design and, crucially, will be available outside of the U.S.
It's due to go on sale in the U.K., Europe, and China starting in June, with an estimated price of 470 euros before taxes -- expect that number to vary wildly once local taxes are applied.

Rumors have been circling for months now that Nokia has been toying with the idea of using metal in its phones. The chassis on which all the crucial components are mounted is metal, with thick metal banding present around the edges of the handset.
Rather than opt for an all-metal design though, the 925 has a poly-carbonate back plate. It's a shame not to see a single-piece metal construction. We've already seen this on the HTC One and iPhone 5, both of which are unquestionably stunning phones.
That's not to say the 925 doesn't look good though. Far from it. The metal edging feels firm and curves nicely to join the rounded edge of the screen. The back panel doesn't give much flex when you press on it, making it feel much more solid and secure than the plastic body of the Samsung Galaxy S4

The GSM radio supports 850/900/1800/1900 bands. There's also WCDMA support for 850/900/1900/2100, and LTE support for 800/900/1800/2100/2600 MHz.
The 925 packs a 4.5-inch display, which is physically the same size you'll get on both the 920 and 928. The 925 and 928 however use OLED screens, rather than standard LCD which promise richer colors and deeper black levels as they don't need to be back lit as do cheaper screens.
Nokia already has good form for squeezing vibrant screens into its phones though -- its "ClearBlack" technology on the 920 and other phones is excellent. In my demo with the 925, the screen certainly looked impressively bright and bold, but I was seeing it in a dimly lit office -- in those conditions, even a poor screen would shine like a supernova.
It has a resolution of 1280x768 pixels, which again is the same as you'll find on the 920 and 928. It's a shame not to see a push for a few more pixels -- it would help the 925 stand out as a clear flagship against its brothers -- but it did make the Windows Phone 8 interface look extremely crisp, so it would be wrong to suggest it's lacking pixels.
Nokia has given the 925's camera a couple of small tweaks, too. It uses the same 8.7-megapixel sensor as its predecessor, but Nokia explained that it's improved the optics in front of the sensor. As well as the lightweight plastic lenses -- low weight is needed for the optical image stabilization -- the 925 uses a sixth glass lens which Nokia reckons gives better clarity, especially in daylight.
Nokia has also apparently improved its camera firmware to give better noise reduction in low-light situations. Until I can give the camera a thorough test, I can't comment on whether these tweaks are worthwhile. The Lumia 920 was already an excellent low-light performer, so let's hope Nokia hasn't messed around with that too much.
You will find some new camera software on board, chief among which is called SmartCam. This app (also integrated as a camera lens) takes a burst of 10 images that you can then edit into an action sequence, change the faces, or choose the best image from the bunch to save. We've seen these functions already on the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4. Unlike the Galaxy S4 though, you choose how to edit the images after you've taken them, rather than choose a setting to shoot in beforehand.
I've played around with the action sequence modes on other phones and found them to be a lot of fun -- so long as you have a particularly exciting scene to capture. Nokia's effort seems to work in much the same way, but with what seems to be a more stripped down, easier to use interface.
You can set the camera to automatically load in SmartCam mode, or you can pin the icon to your home screen to get access to it quickly.
One thing you will need to bear in mind though is that the Windows Phone 8 app store is still very understocked. You can find the odd jewel -- Netflix, Spotify, and Skype are all available -- but many big titles are missing, and WP8 devices are generally at the end of the queue for receiving new apps.
The 925 is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor which -- surprise, surprise -- is the same engine that's inside the 920 and 928. It's easy to argue that Nokia needs to ramp up its processor if it wants to properly compete with the quad-core phones, but given that there's very little you can find in the Windows Phone store to tax a phone, it probably doesn't need to. I found swiping around the interface to be perfectly swift, but I'll reserve judgement for the final review.


With its new metal parts, the Nokia Lumia 925 is a sleek and attractive addition to the Windows Phone 8 range. Does it excite, though? No. It shares most of its key specs with the older Lumia 920 which doesn't really stack up well against the elite competition such as the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.
We'll have to wait and see if the slight tweaks to the camera and the more sturdy build will make the 925 a serious smart phone contender.

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