Nokia Lumia 925 review

Nokia Lumia 925 review

Where the ill-fated Lumia 700, 800 and 900 phones had a toy-like brightly coloured plastic outside – along with their Windows 8 replacements – the Nokia Lumia 725 more closely resembles a modern smartphone in its metal-edged livery. Read our Nokia Lumia 925 review to find out more.

That metal is just around the outside, forming part of the phone’s antenna, as devised by Apple for the iPhone. Nokia’s PR company told us that the use of metal allows a significant reduction in weight and bulk of the phone. Which more than anything raises the question of why did Nokia settle on chunky plastic until now. See also Group test: What's the best smartphone?

Power the phone on, though, and it’s the same jarring mess of colours by default that characterises Windows 8 everywhere. You can change the garish ‘cobalt’ theme to something less crayon-pack, but some interface tiles, such as Office, Nokia Smart Cam and Games, maintain their lurid primary-colour look.Take a look at our Nokia Lumia 520 review too.

The Lumia 925 is a large, broad and reasonably thin handset, if not as over-sized as Samsung’s penchant of 5in-plus screens. The 4.5in AMOLED display packs 1280 x 768 pixels, the maximum resolution allowed by Windows Phone 8. Visit: What's the best Nokia smartphone?

The back plane is still rubbery plastic though, grey-coloured to blend in with the satin aluminium sides, while the front glass is gently shaped along the edges to help form the rounded-off square body. The glass fits neatly to the front but the plastic inset behind has a fine gap all around which will undoubtedly become the home to dust and dirt before long, as seen in Sony’s Xperia Z.

There are three buttons to the phone, all along the right edge, which is handy for right-handed users. Top is the volume rocker, centre is sleep/wake, and below is a camera button. These buttons are long, dash-like and have suitable tactile feedback for easy use.

The phone’s lower edge is unusually bereft, leaving headphone jack, Micro-USB and Micro-SIM to co-exist across the top. There’s no additional SD card slot, so you’d need to buy the storage you anticipate needing from the outset – either 16 or 32 GB. Our 16 GB sample showed ‘14.68 GB’ total capacity, with just over 12 GB available to the user.

Build quality is good, if below that of the best of the category. The iPhone-style pin-operated SIM tray was fiddly to use, and the tray did not fit so snugly after closing.

Lumia 925 review

Nokia Lumia 925 review: Inside specs

Inside, the Lumia 925 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 SoC, featuring a dual-core 1.5 GHz Krait processor with Adreno 225 graphics. It’s a competent chipset used in many of last year’s phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S III and Nokia’s own Lumia 920.

We couldn’t lab test with any of the usual benchmarks as no such apps are available for Windows Phone. But in use the interface felt mostly smooth, and while not as slick as iPhone it comfortably beat all instances of Google Android we’ve tried in the pinch-to-zoom webpage test, for example.

The Windows operating system may be hiding any intrinsic lag though, as needlessly long screen animations punctuate most swipes and taps. As an example, opening a new IE browser tab from the home screen takes much longer than on an iPhone, not just because an extra tap step is required, but because you must wait for a flurry of animations to complete between each step.

A problem with this handset, but not limited to Windows Nokias, is the inability to switch off haptic feedback. This feature that is widespread on Google Android but at least switchable, makes the phone vibrate with every screen press; useful and enjoyed by some, but to us an annoyance we’d rather lose.

Nokia Lumia 925 review: Photos

Nokia makes much of the main camera on the Lumia 925, as a possible way to differentiate the phone from more popular competitors. Its 8.7 Mp has an unusually large 0.33in sensor which should help low-light shots – and as we found, it could edge out an iPhone here in darker scenes, with brighter-looking images.

It’s not the easiest camera to operate though. There’s no touchscreen tap-to-focus or to set exposure – as soon as you tap the display, a photo is taken, which we found made it next to impossible to compose the shot as we wished before releasing the shutter. The ability to side-swipe left from live window to see previously taken photos, while not exactly intuitive, proved itself a cool UI feature.

Six lenses are listed in the specification, and the overall assembly does protrude from the back plate, such that the phone rocks on the lens housing when placed flat on a desk. While the clear lens cover is recessed, it’s only by a fraction of a millimetre so we’d fear for damaged glass here.

Nokia Smart Camera is the name of a suite of apps for managing and editing photos, with tricks like removing objects from your shots. We like the Colour Pop feature, which turns your picture to black-and-white, then lets you tap the areas you want to have colour restored.

The front-facing camera can be used with Microsoft’s new Skype app, which has finally come to the platform. Image quality from its webcam was reported to be good by our remote callee, over a good 3G signal. But the phone did get worringly hot after less than five minutes of use, so expect short chats unless the phone’s battery is kept on charge. There’s also no way we could find to quit Skype once it was opened, which concerned us for privacy and battery-conservation reasons.

Video footage was similarly well-lit, but limited to 1280 x 720 size. Some motion artefacting was noticeable with vertical pans, and ‘resolution enhancement’ had been clearly turned up to give more apparent sharpness, at the expense of creating unnaturally ringing video.

Nokia Lumia 925

Nokia Lumia 925 review: Compatibility

In an ironic turnaround in www events, we found Internet Explorer in Windows Phone 8 was not particularly compatible with modern websites. A good example is the BBC news site, where graphs showing finanacial data were rendered without their actual zig-zag plots, just the axes.

Elsewhere on the same site, embedded video clips failed to load entirely. Where an iPhone would simply display the video in full-screen without fuss, Windows Phone 8 here just showed an error message of Cannot Play Media.

Nokia Lumia 925 review: Call quality

Most phones’ calls now have quite decent voice quality when placed over regular GSM telephony. With the Lumia 925 we sometimes found an extra metallic flavour, even when both sides of the call were in good reception areas.

Nokia Lumia 925 review: Battery life

Nokia lists 440 hours of standby time, although the claimed ‘over 18 days’ may be more than optimistic. The battery is not user replaceable, and its capacity is not listed, although its sister phone the Lumia 928 appears to have a 7.6 Wh lithium battery.

We managed four days of inactive standby before the battery expired. When put to use from a full charge, the phone lasted into a second day, which is comparable to Android smartphones.

Go to next page to see our initial hands-on review of the Nokia Lumia 925

Troubled mobile-phone maker Nokia today announced a new flagship Windows smartphone. It’s called the Nokia Lumia 925. Or No-kia Looomia Nine-Twen’yfive, as the American host at the London press event preferred to describe it. Here's our Nokia Lumia 925 hands-on review.

See: more reviews of Windows phones.

A crowded downstairs basement in Holborn was the scene of the international press announcement on Tuesday 14th May, revealing the failing Finnish company’s latest attempt to make a popular contender to the Apple iPhone. Now entirely aligned with the Microsoft mobile smartphone strategy, Nokia last year posted a net income of minus-€3.1 billion.

With the Nokia Lumia 925 bizarrely billed by Nokia’s marketing department as ‘the world’s most innovative smartphone’, the company’s Finnish-English dictionary has patently been hacked, such that innovation is now fittingly defined as ‘to follow the technical leadership of others’.

Only last week Nokia announced a slimmed-down version of the bulbous Nokia Lumia 920, the 928, a less-garish black or white plastic Windows phone destined for a single network in the US.

Nokia Lumia 925: sleek sees the light

But for the more discerning European market, Nokia admitted it had make it even sleeker, and with better materials. So it took the easy route of copying the all-metal casework of the Apple iPhone, with a resulting handset that almost resembles fellow imitator HTC’s One phone.

Lumia 925

Unlike the HTC One, Nokia has more closely emulated the invention of external antennae, with metal that encircles the Lumia 925 in a seemingly continuous band.

Only look more closely, and you can see where, just like Apple, it has included some non-conductive gaps. It looks to us like the aerial system on the Lumia 925 comprises four metallic sections: left side, right side, top, and bottom.

Lumia 925

The internal specs of the Lumia 925 look much the same as the Lumia 920/928, starting with a dual-core 1.5GHz ARM processor (Windows Phone 8 cannot take advantage of quad-core architectures. And unlike some phone platforms, arguably doesn’t need to thanks to leaner and more efficient code).

There’s another 1280 x 768 AMOLED display (the maximum size allowed by Windows Phone 8), and a high-spec rear-facing camera.

Storage is only what’s inside, as Microsoft likes Apple’s idea of not letting the users faff around with fiddly microSD cards. But at least the company’s OEM division has included 32GB of flash.

A spokeswoman for Nokia was unable to expand on the camera technology when questioned on-stage, although she did say that the company believes that camera quality is the reason why people choose a particular phone.

‘It’s the ability to take great pictures. People do this above all else. It’s in the fabric of our social life’.

Which goes some way to explain Microsoft and Nokia’s obsession with social networking. On top of the usual tedious suspects, Nokia has embraced another, a spin-off of Hipstamatic – Oggl – which it proudly announced as only available on one other platform (iPhone).

The Oggl app consolidates your camera pictures and enables you to upload them to yet another new cloud service. The highlight feature of the Oggl app is the Food Filter. This optimises the images you always take of your dinner just before you tuck in at restaurants.

Nokia Smart Camera is a name given to a software mode that lets you take a picture of a skateboarder, then superimpose other shots taking automatically a fraction of a second either side. Nokia thoughtfully provided a mocked-up urban skatepark in the basement venue at the 925’s announcement event. We didn’t catch anyone actually trying to capture the ’boarding youths mid-air, and flick through multiple versions of the flying teenagers.

The Nokia Lumia 925 phone itself is an unremarkable union of glass, plastic and metal, but much more discreet than the hitherto children’s-toy colour Lumia phones that have been haunting high-street shops’ less trafficked cupboards.

Build quality – judged in a brief hands-on opportunity – looked as good as any of the other recent crop of high-end smartphone hardware. Only edge-to-edge glass instantly trumps the tatty crumb-collection gap left in Sony's flagship Googlephone, the Xperia Z.

One thing that’s not changed is the Windows Metro tiling, and here the clashing Fisher-Price interface neatly restores the overblown colours removed from the casework.

The Nokia Lumia 925 is scheduled to launch in Europe in ‘June’ and will be with Vodafone UK – as we understand it, exclusively so.

A price of €469 was given, although without added clarification whether you’d need to sign any lengthy contract to take advantage of that enticing £400 price, or if you’d simply be beholden to Vodafone through a PAYG SIM-lock.

Given the competition, we'd anticipate that that price was the official unlocked and SIM-free price tag, before shelf-clearing discount was applied.

Nokia Lumia 925: Specs

  • 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 (dual-core ARM)
  • 4.5-inch (1280 x 768, 15:9, 334 ppi) AMOLED capacitive touchscreen
  • 16 or 32 GB flash storage
  • 3G, LTE
  • 802.11a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • 8.7 Mp rear, dual-LED flash, 1.3 Mp front
  • NFC
  • 129 x 70.5 x 9.0 mm (10.5 mm at camera lens)
  • 139 g
  • 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 (dual-core ARM)
  • 4.5-inch (1280 x 768, 15:9, 334 ppi) AMOLED capacitive touchscreen
  • 16 or 32 GB flash storage
  • 3G, LTE
  • 802.11a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • 8.7 Mp rear, dual-LED flash, 1.3 Mp front
  • NFC
  • 129 x 70.5 x 9.0 mm (10.5 mm at camera lens)
  • 139 g

OUR VERDICT

The Lumia 925 stands apart from preceding Windows handsets that Nokia styled more for pre-teens, with a slightly more sophisticated metal and grey plastic look. As a piece of phone hardware it’s competently put together, but ultimately is undermined by an aesthetically challenged and unintuitive software interface, while you’ll be lucky to find half the apps you might need to load on it.

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