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Mobile Phones, Nokia, Reviews
July 10, 2013 by Dan Grose
With a good number of Windows Phone 8 devices already under its belt, Nokia has made a solid start to life on the platform. Famed for an attractive blend of customisation and features, the operating system has been the catalyst behind successes including the Nokia Lumia 920 flagship. So, where could it possibly turn next for a follow up? To the Nokia Lumia 925, that’s where, a device with a brand new look and a trick or two under the hood.
But can it hit that balance of style and substance, or will it leave us wishing for something a little bit more? Why, let’s take a look and find out…
Design & Hardware
Nokia had built up an identifiable template for its Lumia range over several handsets, and whilst having not completely torn it down, things are certainly different on the Lumia 925. Gone are the rounded polycarbonate edges last seen on the 920 and in their place comes an aluminium frame with sharp points and a thinner feel. Polycarbonate fills the back to add a familiar texture, but it’s a big departure from the usual fare and it looks impressive to say the least. In fact, get it in hand and you won’t want to put the Lumia 925 down, such is the scale of the improvements Nokia has made, which is a good start.
Despite the changes there’s been no shift towards a 5-inch display á la Samsung and HTC’s recent handsets, and the Finns have stuck with the 4.5-inch effort as seen on the aforementioned Nokia flagship. This doesn’t present any problems and proves large enough for most tasks, although it’s unlikely to rival the best smartphones for detail or brightness. We wouldn’t have minded a bit of an upgrade here, what with the beefed up camera props, but this is somewhat of a running theme that we’ll get to eventually.
Under the hood things are also strangely familiar as the same 1.5GHz dual-core of previous Lumias returns untouched. Whilst this is more than capable of handling day-to-day tasks like browsing or gaming, at times it struggles to deal with the improved imaging, particularly when Smart Camera is involved. When rendering and editing images there are frequent and noticeable stutters, which is something you wouldn’t expect from a flagship device. It’s not terminal, and it definitely doesn’t ruin the handset as a whole, but it is an avoidable issue and a slight disappointment.
Software & Multimedia
There may not appear to be much different when it comes to the Windows Phone 8 operating system either, but there are several key tweaks that make the platform far more functional. The inclusion of data monitoring (finally) brings it in line with Android, and things like a quick look lockscreen, which displays the time and can wake the device with a double tap, add extra usability. Nokia’s own touches include Here Maps and Here Drive which allow users to download offline mapping, and the magnificent Creative Studio photo editing suite, but most of the tweaks come courtesy of Microsoft’s Amber update rather than the Finnish firm.
Nokia Lumia 925 Sample Image 1 (Click to enlarge)
That said the platform proves as reliable as ever and, if you’re a fan of Microsoft’s OS, you’ll be right at home here. Internet Explorer offers a fast browsing experience and the Live Tiles interface is as likeable as ever. Creating your own tapestry of content is a genuinely rewarding experience and, when you combine that with the all-purpose People Hub, makes for a quirky and sociable interface, if one that isn’t very different from other handsets.
Nokia Lumia 925 Sample Image 2 (Click to enlarge)
Nokia has gone to town on the Lumia 925’s camera in a big way though, and the results make it one of the best imaging phones of the year, if not the best. Basic performance is outstanding despite a fairly modest 8.7 megapixel count, with snaps beautifully detailed and full of natural colour. Results don’t initially blow you away like they would on the Samsung Galaxy S4, for example, but colours are more realistic and this makes for a superb all round image. PureView makes low light performance genuinely astounding as well, something that really has to be seen to be believed. With all the talk of the 41 megapixel Nokia Lumia 1020 around at the moment, if it can produce results anywhere near as good as these we will have to be picked off the floor.
Nokia Lumia 925 Sample Image 3 (Click to enlarge)
For more complex photo capture Nokia has included Smart Camera, a suite of various modes that the firm is really pushing. Things like best face, action shot and object removal have all been included to put it in line with other top smartphones, but it doesn’t quite reach the same heights. Whilst some images are good, things like action shot are far too complicated and also take an age to load, the result of that overworked processor again. It’s not a catastrophe and with practice you can get some great shots out of it, but basic images are far more impressive than the clunky trickery on show here.
Performance & Verdict
Battery performance on the Nokia Lumia 925 suffers at the hands of the camera, and those looking for a phone capable of endurance will likely be disappointed. That said, use it wisely and you’ll find it performs like most other leading smartphones, with a day’s charge the average. But, go photo crazy and you can expect this to drop, something that’s logical if not a little frustrating.
Overall, how you view the handset will differ greatly depending on your situation. If you’ve never had a Windows Phone 8 device and are looking to give one a go, the Lumia 925 offers solid functionality, a very nice design and a simply outstanding camera, making it the clear choice from the existing range. But if you’re a Lumia 920 user and want a reason to upgrade, it’s unlikely there’ll be enough here to convince you.
Nokia has created one of the best smartphone cameras we’ve seen, that much is undeniable, but it hasn’t changed enough throughout the rest of the handset to totally win us over. With the Nokia Lumia 1020 on the horizon its position is even more curious, and it remains to be seen how it will be received by customers. But, viewing it as a standalone handset on its own merits, the Nokia Lumia 925 ticks an awful lot of boxes.
It may not offer enough by way of software improvements, but the Nokia Lumia 925's impressive design and stunning camera make it well worth a look.
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