Nokia Lumia 925 Review

The first time I had a windows phone, it was on the Lumia 800 nearly a year ago. After several months, I got my hands on the Lumia 920, which had windows phone 8. It had several improvements, bug fixes, optimizations and showed a lot of promise. I certainly recommended it being a very smooth device that had simple operation, a good camera in a very well built package, when Nokia sent me the Lumia 925, I only wondered what had changed and what had not.

Nokia Lumia 925 -  Box

This time around, I got a brand new unit (I love fresh unboxing) and I had one major problem, I ran a specification comparison on Nokia’s website and I was shocked to know that they were almost identical! Yes, this new one had smaller dimensions physically but the only differences on the inside that my eye could catch was the screen being AMOLED instead of IPS and the battery was of a different model which supposedly gave two hours of extra 2G call time.

A new model just for that? perhaps there are more things that Nokia aren’t mentioning? something good? something bad? I was dying to find out. They just had one major issue ahead of them… I jumped into the Lumia 925 coming from a premium Android phone, so keep reading, this is about to get intense! Do not get me wrong, the Lumia 920 was a lovely phone, and an improved version is bound to be better, but it isn’t always just a product that co-exists by itself, it has competitors that need to be accounted for.

Quick Spec Sheet

A 139 grams device (46 grams shaved off compared to the Lumia 920!) and dimensions of 129 x 70.6 x 8.5 mm with 4.5 inch PureMotion HD+ screen with 1280×768 resolution pumping 332 pixels per inch. Corning Gorilla Glass 2 with a ton of features, sensors and a 1.3 megapixel front facing camera. On the back is a 8.7 megapixel camera, dedicated camera button, 4x digital zoom, and a host of features with dual LED Flash capable of full 1080p videos at 30fps. Inside the beast sits a dual-core 1.5 Ghz Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon processor with 1 GB of ram, LTE chip, 16 GB of internal memory, a 2000 mAh battery, NFC, but this time around, they have removed the built in wireless charging! What?! Why?!

Box Content

Nokia Lumia boxes have created their own style now and it is a common box (which isn’t a bad thing) where it acts like a little cabinet drawer. It has a very similar style and branding on it too. Pulling the little tab (that is now more of a material than cardboard reveals the beauty.

Nokia Lumia 925 -  Box OpenedYou are always welcomed in a nice way by Nokia, and here it was no different, I pulled out the tray and there it was waiting for me! Before I get into the phone itself, the box had more stuff in it.

Nokia Lumia 925 -  Box Content

These were far too familiar. A SIM-card ejector tool, a Micro-USB cable, a wall charger with a pair of Nokia headsets which are covered by the little paper packet of manuals. Very Nokia (these days Nokia at least)

Design, Body and Display

To be absolutely honest, I really liked the Nokia Lumia 920’s design. Yes, yes I know it had eaten quite too many burgers as a diet but it looked good, the problem I had was, when Nokia started using the design too often with only subtle differences, so I was so keen to see what they had done to keep the Lumia 925 sparkling new.

Nokia Lumia 925 -  FrontSo, Whats new? well a lot! Poly-carbonate body? Gone. Yes, the Lumia 925 is not plastic, it is aluminium! not entirely though. The sides are all a dark grey aluminium which makes the device feel superb in the hand. The front is entirely covered in Corning Gorilla Glass 2, with the front facing camera, light sensor, proximity senor and speaker on the top, and on the bottom, in a typical fashion, the 3 Windows Phone keys, back, home and search. Below the capacitive buttons, on the bottom left is a hardly noticeable cut in the glass for the microphone.

Nokia Lumia 925 -  BackThe back isn’t aluminium but a matte finish plastic. It feels a lot nicer than the glossy poly-carbonate, and has a nice thick feel to it, not plasticy at all. There is a large speaker grill and three connector ports of some sort. I did some research and that is when I found out that the Lumia 925 does not have built in wireless charging and requires an additional back cover. I have mixed feelings about this.. On one hand, wireless charging would cost extra buying the pad which, as far as I have personally seen, is rarely done and on the other hand, it is a feature that should catch on and instead of taking it away, Nokia should promote it more by providing wireless charging pads instead of traditional chargers. I do not want to sound biased but the wireless charging covers actually add protection to the corners of the device, which is good. Doesn’t justify removing a feature I encourage, but good.

Moving on, being that the phone is slimmer, Nokia’s 8.7 Megapixel camera needed more space than the body could offer, so there is a slight bulge, tiny, with dual LED flash.

Nokia Lumia 925 -  TopOn the top of the device is an array of things. Starting from the right is a microphone hole, a 3.5mm headphone jack, the Micro-USB power and the SIM-card tray. Speaking of the tray I have two things to talk about…

The first is, when fully inserted, the leveling is off. The SIM-card tray goes in a bit deeper than the body. Surely many people wouldn’t care, but I pay a lot of attention to quality and with a build THIS GOOD, that should have been without a doubt something I would never experience.

The second thing and the big shocker (Nokia shall not be happy with me because of this) the plastic of the tray itself is weak. I had inserted a SIM-card to try it out and then I wanted to switch it out to something which had an active data plan, and while removing the card, the tray snapped in half. Was I being too rough? No, I wasn’t. I was figuring out how the tray worked as anyone would and getting the SIM-out isn’t hard but in my simple attempt it snapped. I glued it together and it works perfectly fine but, word of warning: be extra gentle with the SIM-card tray if you buy it.

Nokia Lumia 925 -  Right SideOn the right side of the device (it is laid face down in the picture above) sits the volume buttons up top, then the lock/power button and the two stage camera button in the bottom, typical Lumia stuff.

being that most of the ports and buttons are on two sides, that leaves the rest of the sides cleanly designed and empty.

That being said, the build quality is fantastic, dare I say near perfect (except for that SIM-card tray issue). It feels super solid and fits brilliantly when held in hand.

Nokia Lumia 925 - Home Screen

There is quite a lot to talk about regarding the screen. They went with AMOLED, which is really good. The colors are good, brightness is good and viewing angles are also good, but there’s the small catch, I felt the screen on the Lumia 920 was great, not just good. One of the reasons I say this is, when changing viewing angles there is an evident change in color. A benefit of having am AMOLED display, is that Nokia has incorporated a clock that is always on (timed actually). This moves around the screen slowly and shows notifications as well. It does time out after a good while.

Nokia Lumia 925 - Screen Saver Clock

This works with the proximity sensor too, so when the screen is either covered or facing down it would turn it off. If it times out, a wave of the hand over the device will start it up as well. This is actually quite nice during the day, but in a dark room it is too bright, so they introduced a night mode where the text is red instead of white, it does the job. Another cool feature is the ability to wake up the phone by double-tapping the screen at any time to show the lock screen. I have tried this on various devices that just failed, on this, it works perfectly. Such a relief when its sitting on a table and I just want to take a look or do something simple!

You’d think I am done, but I am not! While testing it under the sun, not only does brightness play a role, but the colors themselves seem to change for better visibility. Might be seeing things? perhaps, but it works under the sun.

here is the device sitting beside the HTC One for a quick size comparison, certainly is shorter but a bit wider

Nokia Lumia 925 -  Front Beside HTC One

Memory and Data

Ouch. No, I am not a memory junkie, but the device has 16GB worth of built in storage with no expandable memory solutions, i.e. no memory card slot. I can pass 32GB but 16GB today, with no expandable storage? Asphalt 7 for instance is over half a GB by itself. Photos and videos in HD take a lot of storage too! (This is certainly subject to personal opinions, I know people who think 1GB of storage is too much)

I wouldn’t call this a direct plus point but, with integration of Microsoft’s skydrive, files can be uploaded to the cloud through the phone, but it simply connects to it, they do not offer you any additional storage or benefits because you bought a phone with limited storage. Other brands with no expandable slot provide a cloud storage alternative giving free storage space for a year or two as a compensation, I didn’t end up with a 27GB Dropbox account out of no where!

The device comes with 1GB of RAM, just as with the Lumia 920. It runs super smooth and doesn’t really require much memory due to the fact that it doesn’t have proper multitasking, and the way it manages recent applications rather than running applications cause it to not consume much memory. That may sound like a good thing in terms of a device’s memory but in practicality using the device to switch between apps, end apps consuming RAM, etc are functions devices should have right now. Clicking the back button to go through the open apps one by one and continuing to press back to close them is what I call, outdated.

Camera

The camera doesn’t seem to have changed from the Lumia 920, and based on specifications I have read, it is the same. Either way, the following are some samples of the lovely camera of the Lumia 925. I do have my own view about this factor but after you look through some of the samples.

WP_20130729_002

This shot is a macro-mode shot of two coins. It has been used before for comparison in my HTC One review found here.

WP_20130729_004

This is another shot, indoors, mediocre lighting

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At a showroom with decent lighting, Review of the above GMC Acadia coming soon on ihabdrives.

WP_20130805_008This is an outdoor shot, it was a bit gloomy.

I could have taken beautiful shots, in perfect scenarios but I already have done that in the Lumia 920 review, and it is essentially the same camera, so I took shots that are taken in normal daily use of things, places or objects we come across in odd lighting situations.

The camera here is good, it is a 8.7 Megapixel camera with their Pureview technology, has auto-focus with two stage capture key, 4x digital zoom baring a Carl Zeiss lens with a 1/3 inch sensor. It has dual LED flash.

The quality of the camera is good for it’s specifications and it handles lighting quite well. One of the very noticeable differences I have observed (compared to other smartphones) is the timing of the image capture using flash. Most smartphones will take the image with the flash at max, overexposing everything in a white flash, the Lumia 925 though, takes it somewhere mid way, giving it a lot of lighting but never over exposing it.

Operating system

There really isn’t much to say in this section which was the biggest issue I have had with the Lumia 925. It is essentially the same as the Lumia 920. I am not saying it is bad, but this device launched nearly 6 months from the previous model and nothing has changed!

Nokia Lumia 925 - GlanceThis is the screen that handles the active screen clock. You can have it timed and enable or disable night mode (which turns the clock and notifications to a red color that is less bright during the night)

it disappoints me to say, that is pretty much the noticeable addition to the device.

Nokia Lumia 925 - MultitaskingMultitasking remains the same, where the applications are all lined up with no way to close them other than going from one application to another by pressing the back button.

The system runs smooth but I did have the odd times where nothing would click, and no matter how many lock/unlocks or attempts, it needs a restart. Another issue I faced is the notifications have a fixed time, they come one after the other with, lets say, 3 seconds time out. In the case of getting three or four notifications they will take their each individual 3 seconds even if you have already opened the app and seen the content, the notifications will still come in their own time, which is annoying.

I believe this is the biggest drawback Nokia has right now. The Windows Phone 8 is pretty decent, it is super smooth, clear, intuitive and responsive but it lacks so many things in my opinion and here is a list of what I think is missing from Windows Phone 8 (some of which I have posted months ago while testing the Lumia 920):

– Proper Multitasking, with ability to end tasks individually or together
– Notification center implementation, and smart notifications that realizes apps which are open to stop notifying
– Proper utilization of screen resolution. Having a humongous title bar or buttons just takes away from the valuable screen real estate (A smaller device is capable of showing so much more content per page than WP8)
– Applications, Applications, Applications. Microsoft need to really help developers and support them in creating their applications on the WP8 platform. Android and iOS are so far ahead in this and on this device I had to figure out a way to get instagram through some weird alternative application.
– Dictionary. The keyboard is really good, big, easy to use but the dictionary is lazy! For example if I write “thjnking” it wouldn’t bother correcting it. Tap it and it will show “Thinking” so why didn’t you do it? This is a common issue I saw, especially jumping to and from Android and iOS to WP8.
– Permanent indicator of battery, WiFi, Signal statuses. At least let it be an option to enable or disable it.
– Improve the NFC communication between devices. I haven’t been able to do more than 3/10 successful transfers.
– Spoil us with an LED indicator light that can notify of battery status, messages, calls, app notifications, etc

I personally believe that although Windows Phone 8 is a very well designed platform that runs smoothly with very little bugs at this point, but it is in the rapid firing range of Samsung, HTC, Apple, and others. They have really gone to new levels of mobile interaction, features, sensors and experiences that Windows Phone 8 is looking like its lacking behind.

Battery

For the Lumia 925, Nokia has given it a new model of battery, but with the same 2000 mAh capacity of the Lumia 920. Previously on the Lumia 920, Nokia stated nearly 18 hours of 2G talk time, and I had managed to obtain nearly 12 hours of battery life on it with combined use of Wi-Fi (always on), calls, light gaming with 3G on. When I wasn’t using it constantly I got nearly 20 hours of battery life, most of them being light normal use + standby.

Although the battery on this Lumia 925 has the same capacity, it is supposed to have better battery life. The active clock does consume a little battery while it is on, so on average I did manage to pull of around 12 hours of battery life with normal use. Heavy users could expect an average of around 7 hours battery life. it is a pretty decent battery.

Performance

This has a bit of trickery to it in my opinion. Give a device technical multitasking abilities and it will slow down with use, take away its ability to stack up on RAM, it will always have memory for switching between applications and be smooth. Surely, we want both worlds, enough empty RAM and the ability to truly multitask.

The device runs super smoothly even while switching between applications like it did on the Lumia 920.I did not expect much difference in terms of technical performance, but still, I ran the Microsoft Fish Tank test.

With 100 fish, it held 35-45 FPS
With 250 fish, it held 28-29 FPS
With 500 fish, it held 19-20 FPS

Ironically, the performance has increased! it followed through the same 1024×522 browser resolution as before, but I did get more FPS.

To try it out for yourself, you can visit this link, and I think I shall be using this with future device reviews too.

Wrap up

Not often do I add a wrap up section because I would have spoken a lot in terms of what the device has, how it runs and how it feels, but in this specific review, I wanted to add a few words. After using the Lumia 925 for about two weeks, it became evident what Nokia has done here. This is essentially a Lumia 920, that went on a diet and learned how to dress. It surely lost some talents along the way (Like wireless charging) but it is the same kind hearted familiar friend.

I believe Nokia has built a very good device, and have done an excellent job in making the device look and feel premium and rich, the only downfall it has at the moment is truly in terms of the Operating System. The OS is starting to really show its lacking and the folks at Microsoft aren’t doing much about it.

I love this device, and I loved the Lumia 920. I almost have no problems with the device other than the Operating system. If it had sufficient functions, tools and worked as synchronized as Android and iOS, it would be amazing. For now though, it is the device anyone should buy if they were going to buy the Lumia 920.

Device pros and cons:

Pros:
– Superb built quality, feels like a premium device (except for the flimsy SIM-Card tray)
– Good camera with multiple Nokia specific enhanced camera tools
– Lovely screen, in terms of quality, resolution and color (Also, its very nice silky touch or use as if its smoothed out)
– Skydrive integration is a good integrated storage solution
– Good battery life
– Active lock screen clock with notification icons that appears with a wave of the hand

Cons:
– Operating system lacks important features
– Operating system lacks applications
– Sim Card tray isn’t a perfect fit and wasn’t sturdy

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