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.
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 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