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Nokia Lumia 925 Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Beautiful display

The Bad

  • A little pricey
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If the undeniably oversized Nokia Lumia 920 underwent an extreme makeover, it would likely turn into the Lumia 925. Shedding weight and inches, while very different on the outside, inside it’s looking all too familiar.

The tried and tested 1.5GHz dual-core processor and HD display combination doesn’t just benefit from a redesign, loaded up with improved camera hardware, software and AMOLED screen technology.

Are these improvements enough to sway Lumia 920 users to upgrade though? And more importantly – is the Lumia 925 a decent standalone phone? 

Nokia Lumia 925 review: Design & Screen

From a design aspect the Lumia name has come to represent key trends that help Nokia differentiate its line of Windows Phones on the store shelf. Up to this point we’ve learnt to expect polycarbonate bodies, punchy colour options and in most cases, near-seamless construction.

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The 925 swaps those vibrant colour options for a monochrome palette of three shades (black, grey or white) and what’s more, shrugs the seamless design ideals of its predecessors with the introduction of new metal elements banding the edge of the handset. In practice, the white polycarbonate back also has a tendency to attract grime and marks, which although easily removable are a hassle nonetheless.

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Although the metal does detract from the strong design language employed by previous Lumia handsets like the 800 and 920, Nokia says it’s been proven to boost mobile signal performance, in a similar way to the iPhone’s antenna design.

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While the body is unorthodox for a flagship Lumia, the display in use is far more familiar. Much like the 920 (save for the use of AMOLED over LCD technology) Nokia has given the 925 a 4.5-inch PureMotion+ ClearBlack HD display with a WXGA (1280×768) resolution.

Thanks to the non PenTile screen tech, the Lumia 925 doesn’t suffer the same shortcomings of other AMOLEDs as it offers up an impressively vibrant colour gamut, great viewing angles (albeit with a little colour distortion), deep blacks and an impressive maximum brightness.

Save for the lack of Full HD resolution it’s certainly one of the better displays around right now.

Nokia Lumia 925 review: Operating system & Performance

Although we were expecting more of the same, predictable yet enjoyable Windows Phone 8 user experience, Nokia has once again proven that it knows best how to add variety and ingenuity to the platform.

Whilst the standard exclusive Nokia apps are available via the Windows Store and the tile interface is the as familiar as ever, there are a few notable additions.

Users can, as always, expect a great navigation experience from the likes of HERE Maps, Here Drive+ and HERE City Lens but in addition is the new Data Sense app – a mobile data usage management system that similarly to Android, keeps tabs on data usage over 3G/4G and WiFi, as well as providing a breakdown of your app’s usage.

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Tipping its hat to the Nokia N9’s MeeGo operating system, the Lumia 925 is the first Windows Phone handset from the Finnish manufacturer that brings back Glance Screen. Whilst the phone is locked, for an automated or set time, the clock will continue to be displayed.

Thanks to the low power demands of AMOLED technology, battery drain is less of an issue and there’s even a reddened night mode that won’t hurt your eyes.

These little additions and tweaks aren’t significant in their own right, but the sum of the parts feels fresh and we like that Nokia is clearly trying new ways to greater diversify the base experience of Windows Phone.

For the most part things stay just as snappy as with the Lumia 920, primarily thanks to the same brain, graphics and memory arrangement in the form of the ever-popular Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro dual-core chip, clocked at 1.5GHz, Adreno 225 GPU and 1GB of RAM.

Nokia Lumia 925 review: Camera – Stills & Video

What’s most intriguing about the Lumia 925’s 8.7-megapixel PureView camera is that it builds on the 920’s shooter with optical image stabilisation, but in addition throws in a new six-element lens which promises to maintain impressive low light capabilities whilst also greatly improving picture quality in natural light environments

As you can see both here and in our 4-way camera face off, the Lumia 925’s new snapper copes extremely well in both bright and low light conditions; colour, contrast and noise are all wonderfully balanced.

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As you can see from the shots above, the Lumia 925 delivers strong detail, great low-light performance and until the EOS lands, probably the best all-round camera phone on the market.

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It’s also worth mentioning that the Lumia 925 is also the first handset to showcase Nokia’s new Smart Camera feature, which integrates a multitude of advanced lenses to create special visual effects or at the very least help you grab the best shot in a sequence.

As you’d expect, that optical image stabilisation helps keep the Full HD video looking sharp too and the camera showed no trouble dealing with colour and movement, even if adjusting the contrast and brightness was a little jerky.

Nokia Lumia 925 review: Multimedia & Storage

Nokia builds on the existing multimedia chops of Windows Phone 8 with a host of additional apps that push the boat out that little bit more. Out of the box you get both Xbox Music with its own proprietary music store and Nokia Music which as we’ve seen before offers free music streaming, predefined playlists which are free to download and millions of tracks available for purchase.

The video side of things resides with Xbox Video or any third party application such as Netflix, not to mention solid codec support for your own video files.

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With 16GB of internal storage (or 32GB if you get the Vodafone exclusive) there’s enough room for locally storing media too, although it is a shame you can’t throw in a removable SD card on top.

Nokia Lumia 925 review: Connectivity & Battery

The arrival of Windows Phone 8 opened up the connectivity options for the platform when compared to its predecessor and the 925 is wholly able to make use of this extra freedom. WiFi, LTE, NFC and Bluetooth 3.0 come as standard and with smart apps like PhotoBeamer and SmartGlass, there are options to share or control content in myriad ways.

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The 2000mAh battery will comfortably see you through a day of general use, even with features like Glance Screen keeping the AMOLED screen on for long periods of time.

Part of the reasoning behind why this is the thinnest Lumia to date, at just 8.5mm, is that it forgoes the wireless charging feature of the last flagship out of the box, with a special case required to use the feature.

Nokia Lumia 925 review: Conclusion

So is the Nokia Lumia 925 just a refresh of the 920 – on paper yes. In practice though, its thinner profile and better battery life help stand above its Windows Phone rivals. Going even further, the work Nokia has put into the imaging side of things makes this the best all-round camera phone out right now.

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If you’re not in it explicitly for the camera, the £499 price tag is a little steep. We would expect more than 16GB of storage, or micro SD expandability, as well as slightly more traditional Lumia styling.

All in all though, another strong phone in Nokia’s mighty Lumia portfolio.

Specification

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