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REVIEW: Nokia Lumia 925 Windows Phone 8
Posted by Arne Hess - on Wednesday, 10.07.13 - 16:44:13 CET under 08 - Reviews - Viewed 18925x
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Announced back mid of May, I had the pleasure to use the Nokia Lumia 925 Windows Phone 8 as one of my main phones for over a week now. Nokia calls the Lumia 925 itself "a new interpretation of its award-winning Lumia 920" and indeed, it follows the design language but comes with slightly updated features and materials by introducing a metal design; which is the first of its kind for Nokia and Windows Phone in general. So far, Windows Phones were mainly made of plastic and some of them feel cheaper, others feel more valuable; but for sure metal – and in this case it's an aluminum frame – always adds this extra kind of luxury to a phone.

The Hardware
In terms of the very basic hardware specs, the Lumia 925 isn't anything groundbreaking since it runs Microsoft's Windows Phone 8. Like the Lumia 920, it has to follow some Microsoft Windows Phone guidelines and therefore it's powered by a 1.5 GHz dual core Qualcomm S4 MSM8960+WTR CPU which is still good enough for Windows Phones. It's in the Windows Phone design that these devices don't need the latest and fastest quad-core CPUs to be fast but Windows Phone by itself is fast enough that it takes all the benefits from a dual-core CPU.

However, this phone wouldn't be a Nokia smartphone if the Finns wouldn't have incorporated all their knowledge from more than 20 years of GSM experience and therefore it's no wonder that the Lumia 925 supports virtually all bands and technologies, a state-of-the-art smartphones have to feature nowadays. Therefore is the Lumia 925 supporting quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE at 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, quadband UMTS/HSPA+ up to 42.2 Mbps down at 850/900/1900/2100 MHz as well as pentaband LTE up to 100 Mbps down at 800/900/1800/2100/2600 MHz. This makes it pretty much a world traveler, even if North American LTE bands aren't supported at all; but it virtually gives HSPA access all over the world.
Other connectivity includes Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi a/b/g/n and NFC, as well as the Windows Phone typical FM radio. Last but not least, the 925 comes with a couple of sensors which includes an ambient light sensor, accelerometer, gyroscope, proximity sensor and magnetometer.

Somewhat high-end but still Windows Phone 8 typical is the Lumia 925's touch screen which features a 4.5" WXGA HD OLED ClearBlack display at 1280 x 768 pixels and an aspect ratio of 15:9. It comes with a pixel density of 334 ppi and a super sensitive capacitive Corning Gorilla Glass 2 glass which even allows interacting with gloves and long fingernails. And again, it's in the details which differentiate the 925 from other Windows Phones.

Initially announced with 16 GB flash storage only, there's also a 32 GB version available, which I had the pleasure to use for the tests and both versions come with 1 GB of RAM. The internal memory can't be expanded with microSD memory cards.

Not a surprise at all is the fact that the Lumia's 8.7 megapixel PureView auto focus camera comes with a Carl Zeiss Tessar optic which features f/2.0 at 26 mm and true 16:9 optics with a 1.3" sensor; optical image stabilization (OIS) and short pulse high power dual LED flash for still images and videos. The main camera is capable to record full HD 1080p video at 30 fps. The front facing camera supports 720p HD videos and 1.2 megapixel still images.
The main camera is really one of the better cameras in the market, if it comes to light sensitivity and night shots. It's unbelievable how much light the sensor absorbs, even if your eyes have the feeling that it's dark like hell. Therefore the flash can says off for most of the shots, something I really appreciate since flash photos are always looking somehow cumbersome but not with the Lumia's 8.7 megapixel camera.

Other than the highlight features above, the Lumia 925 comes with the Windows Phone typical front facing and touch sensitive backlight illuminated menu buttons bellow the touchscreen as well as the dedicated camera key on the right side. On the top, the 925 features a 3.5 mm stereo headset jack, a micro USB port for charging and the micro SIM card slot.

As said in the introduction, the Nokia Lumia 925 introduces metal for the first time to the Nokia range of Lumia smartphones, bringing appeal and unique benefits like increased robustness. As a matter of fact, the 925 isn't sporting a unibody design, as some of the competitors do, but it's an aluminum frame; which nevertheless gives the device a luxury look and feel. The battery cover is made out of polycarbonate and comes in white, grey or black. For sure, Nokia is also offering a wireless charging cover which nevertheless isn't replacing the battery cover but snaps on top of it.

All the features above were packed by Nokia within 129 x 70.6 x 8.5 mm and the Lumia 925 weights, including the non-removable 2,000 mAh Li-ion battery, 139 g only.

The Software
All the hardware above is powered my Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 but Nokia went above and beyond the standard offering from Microsoft. Maybe one of the Windows Phone strengths and weaknesses at the same time is the fact, that all devices, doesn't matter from which manufacturer they come, look and feel the same. On one hand that's good because therefore Microsoft prevents a kind of fragmentation, on the other hand it limits manufacturers to differentiate from each other.

However, with the Lumia 925 Nokia is again showcasing how to differentiate from others without breaking the Windows Phone look and feel and the key are enhancements and services. Nokia goes far beyond just adding a weather app but the Lumia 925 comes with such useful enhancements like Nokia's own camera called Smart Cam, which also comes with a feature called action shot. And it's not just another camera app on the device; no it can be even linked to the camera shutter key and replaces then the original Microsoft camera if the button is pressed.

Or the Panorama app, which allows to “get the bigger picture” by creating panorama photos.  Or the many small utilities like an APN tool which allows you to configure the device with SIM cards, not available in the list of Windows Phone; something very handy abroad if the phone is used with prepaid SIM cards.

On top of this, Nokia has added its fantastic services like Nokia HERE Maps, HERE Transit (for both Nokia has announced an upgrade yesterday and Lumia 925 users will take benefit of it free of charge), or Nokia Music with it's excellent "mix radio" (I already enjoyed a lot on the Lumia 920) which gives users free access to Nokia's music library (even if it's not as personal and flexible as Spotify but Nokia Music is a kind of online radio where users are nevertheless more in control than with a standard FM radio).

And if this isn't enough, Nokia has also added such a beautiful feature of constantly showing the time on the turned-off display, even if the device is in sleep mode. And since the Lumia 925 is using an OLED display, this isn't consuming too much battery at all and the clock turns off in the pocket. Also turning on the device is different from other Windows Phones because users can simply double tap the screen and you'll either get the unlock screen or the Start menu (however configured). No more fingering around for the power on/off button on the side.

There are plenty of further enhancements, tweaks and improvements which make Nokia Lumia phones so different from other Windows Phones, even if all of them look the same on the first sight, and the Lumia 925 incorporates virtually all of Nokia's currently available enhancements and improvements.

Last but not least a final sentence about the battery standby and run-time: “Same, same and not different”. Also the Lumia 925 is just another smartphone which means it can last roughly one (working) day - maybe more - but that's it. I'm sure the engineers tried their best to get the most out of the 2,000 mAh battery but I haven't found any positive or negative differences to other smartphones in the market. If you use it a lot, and that's what smartphones are made for, the battery is always the Achilles heel.

Final Conclusion

Yes, the Lumia 925 is another Windows Phone but not just another one but most likely the best one, money can buy today. It's beautifully designed, made out of finest materials, doesn't feels cheap in any kind and is built rock-solid. There's no creaking but everything fits nice. It's just a pleasure to hold it in the hand. I'm absolutely enthusiastic about the design – I can hardly hide it.

And I have the same enthusiasm if it comes to the features. During the recent days, I had the pleasure to use it with Vodafone's LTE network and the 925 and LTE play nice with each other. Doesn't matter if I surfed the web, sent and received E-Mails, snapped photos and recorded videos or used any of Nokia's online services; there was hardly a notable difference seen between offline and online. Everything was there, right after a single tap.

Nokia contributes so much to Microsoft's Windows Phone that they definitely deserve the crown for being – at least for the moment – the one and only “real” Windows Phone manufacturer; which puts more than just technical specs and design into the devices.
It's not about just building (beautiful) devices, that's something most manufacturers can archive with the help of a good designer; and it's also not about high-end specs, that's also something most manufacturers can archive with the help of component supplier but it's about packaging all this and adding some extra spice on top. The real differences are Nokia's own services, which make all Lumia smartphones so different from other Windows Phones. And the Lumia 925 is the – by now – best looking and best featured Windows Phone and Lumia smartphone.

If I have to go for a Windows Phone at the moment, the Lumia 925 would be my only choice. Sure, the Windows Phone platform in general is still behind Android and iOS, especially if it comes to apps availability where it is even hard for Android to compete with iOS. But if you don't have any special requirements for apps or favorite services, Windows Phone in general and the Lumia 925 in particular is something to consider.

I for myself will enjoy using the Lumia 925 for the next two weeks, before I have to send it back to Vodafone.

Cheers ~ Arne

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