Nokia was one of the first companies in the Windows Phone camp to adopt 4G LTE capabilities when it launched its debut WP8 device, the Nokia Lumia 920; but making superfast mobile data functionality affordable is the newest challenge practically every mobile manufacturer now faces. Step forward the new Nokia Lumia 625 – a 4G phone that’s both fast an affordable.

Nokia Lumia 625 review: Design & screen

As the its name suggests, the Lumia 625 sits between the Nokia 620 and 720 with regards to its spec sheet, but from a design perspective, it more closely resembles a blend of Nokia’s entry-level Windows Phone, the Lumia 520 and the Nokia Lumia 720 as a result of its minimalist aesthetic, embodied by elements likes the diminutive camera surround on the phone’s rear 5-megapixel snapper.

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For a device with a removable body it looks almost completely seamless. The black body probably the most unexciting shade on offer, with Nokia’s trademark punchy Lumia colour options gracing the 625 with orange and green body shells amongst the alternatives. The hardware controls trace the right-hand side of the device, including a dedicated camera key, while the front plays host to the display capacitive keys, earpiece and front facing camera.

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Aside from its 4G capabilities Nokia bills the Lumia 625 as offering a ‘big, beautiful screen’ and we can certainly agree on it being big, at 4.7-inches the expansive display means that the 625 is a hefty piece of kit in the hand (it also weighs in at 160grams). The big weakness comes with the lowly WVGA (800x480) resolution the screen utilises, rendering pictures, video and text at a lacklustre 201ppi. Having said that, the TrueColour IPS LCD is vibrant, offers good sunlight legibility and super-sensitive touch for operation with gloves.

Nokia Lumia 625 review: OS & multimedia

If you’re not familiar with Windows Phone 8, it offers a wonderfully responsive user experience paired to a simple, minimalist user interface that plays well with the Lumia 625’s physical design. Nokia has proven time again that it knows how to best augment the basic WP8 package by throwing in a number of  pre-installed exclusive apps like HERE Maps, Nokia Music and for the first time since the current UK flagship the Nokia Lumia 925 launched, the Nokia SmartCam app.

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As we’ve already mentioned, the display is the biggest downfall for enjoying video content, however those 4G speeds take the edge off said shortcoming, as you’ll be able to buffer your favourite YouTube videos or Netflix movies in a matter of seconds rather than minutes over a solid mobile data connection.

The audio experience offered my Nokia Music means that you can stream premade ‘stations’ using the Mix Radio feature absolutely free, or fork out some cash for greater control over your music experience whether it be online or off.

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It’s also worth mentioning that the removable back not only has room for a 4G SIM but also a microSD card up to 64GB in capacity, hugely bolstering the 8GB of internal memory included on the device itself.

Nokia Lumia 625 review: Connectivity, performance & battery

The wireless radios and ports concealed within the Nokia Lumia 625’s body aren’t anything out of the ordinary. It’s status in the Lumia lineup renders it without Qi-standard wireless charging or NFC (despite the lower-tier Lumia 620 offering this feature), but of course in their place is the all-important inclusion of 4G connectivity. There’s also WiFi with hotspot functionality and the latest Bluetooth 4.0 LE technology on board too.

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In practice both the UI and the 3D gaming experiences are consistently snappy and fluid, although the meagre 512MB of RAM and 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor aren’t powerful enough to run the beefiest titles in the Windows Phone Store, such as Halo: Spartan Assault, so it’s best to use the Lumia 625 for checking emails, editing Office documents on-the-go and checking your favourite social networks.

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With regards to battery life, the lower mid-range specs and large 2000mAh power pack ensure that the Lumia 625 stays running for a full day without trouble. Even a dash of 4G hotspot use didn’t strain the cell excessively either.

Nokia Lumia 625 review: Conclusion

With the Nokia Lumia 625 there’s now an affordable option for those who want snappy data speeds to complement that snappy Windows Phone 8 user experience. The trade-off in order to accommodate that 4G radio comes in the form of a lacklustre display and meagre amounts of RAM, but for around £200, there aren’t many rivals with the same distinctive skill set.

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If you’re happy to fork out £60 more, Sony’s Xperia SP will grant you 4G speeds wrapped in a precision design with a superior display, camera and internals, whilst the Nokia Lumia 620 can offer up an almost identical setup to the 625 albeit without 4G and in its place NFC for around £50 less, the choice is yours.