Review: Nokia Lumia 925 smartphone

28 Jun 2013

Nokia's latest flagship smartphone running Windows Phone 8, the Lumia 925

The Lumia 925, as it is officially known, is Nokia’s latest flagship smartphone running Windows Phone 8 and it is hard to say which it exemplifies the most: a solid performance smartphone, sleek and beautiful design or the best camera technology in the market right now.

The Lumia 925 is one of a handful of devices to come from Nokia where very little is spared in terms of lens technology but refreshingly this doesn’t cost innovation or design elsewhere in the device. The whole package is perfection.

I have to admit I have struggled to fall in love with Nokia’s smartphones that arrived in the last two to three years, first running Windows Phone 7 and more recently Windows Phone 8 operating systems. Something just didn’t click. The phones were solid (in some cases too solid and heavy, with heavy plastic materials) and while Windows Phone is a decent OS and genuinely the first mobile OS to come with what is now fashionably known as ‘flat’ design, it still didn’t feel totally right.

But the 925 has me smitten. I have phone envy. And I haven’t said that about a Nokia device in a very long time. I will spare you the history lesson but I finally am convinced Nokia has found its stride in terms of packaging hardware that can compete for style and performance with elegant vamps like the HTC One or the Samsung Galaxy S4.

The 925 comes in a nice silvery aluminium-like shell that makes it refreshingly light, unlike more recent models, like the Lumia 800, which I felt had a lot of heart, but which was heavy and awkward. Before we get into a debate about superficiality I think I am making an important point; Nokia needs to start being talked about in style terms and not just technology if it wants to win back lost ground.

But you say looks aren’t important, it’s what’s inside that counts. And yes, that is also true and the 925 is where design, software and hardware work entirely in concert or harmony for Nokia and the Windows Phone platform.

Lumia 925 specs

N925 pic

The kind of shot Nokia says is possible with the Lumia 925

The main camera sensor is an 8.7-megapixel PureView lens with optical image stabilisation, autofocus and short pulse high power dual LED flash. It is capable of capturing video in 1080p HD video at 30 frames per second.

It is the first Nokia device to come in a metal body in a long time and this results in the lightest of the entire Windows Phone generation at just 139 grams. For the eco-conscious among you, Nokia says the body is made from entirely recycled materials. So bravo!

The phone’s PureMotion HD display measures 4.5 inches and the device is capable of wireless charging.

Sporting Corning Gorilla Glass, the AMOLED display has a resolution of WXGA 1,280 x 768 with an aspect ratio of 15.9 and a pixel density of 334.0 ppi. It also comes with all the accelerometers, gyroscopes, proximity sensors and magnetometers you would now expect in a high-end smartphone.

As well as being LTE-ready, that means capable of 4G, the device works with Wi-Fi and 3G, as well as near field communication (NFC) for mobile wallet applications.

I couldn’t wait to use the new Smart Camera technology, which I put to the test at the recent Body & Soul festival and which enables users to capture 10 images at once and edit them using features such as best shot, action shot and motion focus.

These were nice features but when it came to simply getting a good shot, just a little superfluous, because the quality of the 8.7-megapixel camera and image stabilisation meant you could capture pretty good stills anyway without trying to get 10 images so you didn’t miss that ‘moment.’

One unexpected surprise was the phone’s battery life and in just a week I probably only charged it twice. I was very impressed by this. Most devices require a daily charge.

The 925 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz dual-core processor and comes with 1GB of RAM, mass memory of 16GB and users are automatically entitled to free cloud storage of 7GB on Sky Drive.


Nick Cave & Bad Seeds

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds live at Body & Soul last weekend. Photo taken with a Nokia Lumia 925

When I said earlier about the whole thing coming together in concert in terms of hardware and software, what I meant was this is probably the best example yet of what Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 technology is capable of and I found myself delving deeper into the Windows Phone OS than I had before.

This was ultimately because the lightness of the device and its superior capabilities, such as the camera, encouraged me to simply want to use it for more and more things, to the detriment of my trusty iPhone 5. I found myself relying on the alarm, using the calculator, the to-do list – stuff I hadn’t really been able to bring myself to using with regularity on the Windows Phone platform before.

I found it to be pretty darned good for photo-sharing via social media, sending photos to the cloud or simply emailing images.

Downloading apps via the Windows Store was simple and elegant and I found myself using functions like Calendar and Messaging a lot more than on previous Windows Phone devices.

The reason for this has to be not only the software but the device’s attractive design and light body. Like I said, the whole thing works in concert and it’s hard to put it down.

The only drawbacks that I can tell about the Windows Phone platform is although new apps are arriving into the Windows Store all the time and Microsoft revealed amazing developer tools at its Build conference this week, it is a shame there is as yet no dedicated YouTube app apart from a few developer-made clones that have limitations and quirks.

While temporary, this is really a shame because the screen size and capture capabilities make you really want to capture and share video, as well as consume video. This phone was built for video. The longer this drags on I believe it is as much Google’s loss as it is currently Microsoft’s, so hurry up people. Apparently, the dispute has something to do with the display of ads. Consumers don’t care about that stuff, so sort it out.

Either way, users are free to capture video and share directly onto the YouTube platform but it is the playback side of things that is unresolved. You can also share your video via the usual social platforms, like Vimeo and Twitter.

On the whole, I believe the 925 is a massive departure for Nokia in the design department. It looks and feels more like a high-end phone than any of the models of the past year and one that will adequately compete with other high-end rivals.

The Nokia Lumia 925 launches in Ireland next week and the handset is free on contract across Vodafone, O2, Meteor and eMobile. Pre-pay rates are not yet available.

Lumia 925

To see the Nokia Lumia 925 in action, check out our hands-on video, plus a Q&A with Lumia product manager James Guion.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years