Nokia Lumia 925

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This incremental update from the 920 is less bulky than its predecessor, offers impeccable low-light shots and has an incredibly responsive user interface – is it the perfect Windows Phone experience?

The Nokia Lumia 925 is by no means a revolutionary phone, bringing more evolution than revolution to the table, but this should not fool you because this is a phone which has built on the great work of its predecessors.

With the Lumia 925 being an increment change from the 920, you shouldn’t be at all surprised that the phones are quite similar, although we think Nokia has made enough changes to ensure the 925 remains in a category all on its own.

While the 920 was big and bulky, the 925 is a lot slimmer and lighter, thanks to the aluminium design – which is a first for the Lumia range.

Despite all the chopping down, Nokia refused to take out any of the insides of the 920, with the same innards as its predecessor, plus a few notable upgrades.

When picking up the 925, you straight away notice the difference in both size and weight compared to its predecessor. We have to say that this is the first Lumia we have seen that compares to the lightness and thinness of other phones on the market.

While it’s still thicker than a Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One and even a Sony Xperia Z, it wasn’t all that noticeable.

In fact, when compared to an Xperia Z, we’d even argue that it felt less bulky, with the device weighing slightly less in our hands.

When compared to the 920, which came in at 10.7mm, it’s no contest, with this just being 8.5mm thick, which makes it a lot more usable in one hand, as well as a lot less noticeable while in your pocket.

The screen isn’t the largest we’ve seen, at just 4.5 inches, and it isn’t HD, but this is a very different screen from the 920’s, with Nokia opting for an AMOLED panel rather than the IPS LCD we saw on the 920.

We think that this is around the perfect size for a phone screen, not too big yet not too small. It would be nice to have an HD screen, but as it stands it’s still a vivid display – just like the one we saw on the 920.

It also has the same PureMotionHD+ technology that Nokia claims reduces latency on animations – something we noticed on the 925, as well as the 920, with the Windows Phone UI being very responsive to touch and incredibly fast.

One issue we had with the screen is the fact that it simply didn’t replicate colours in the same way as the IPS LCD, despite having excellent colour replication, although we have to say they definitely felt brighter as the AMOLED screen really helped the blacks blend into the bezel, meaning the colourful UI of Windows Phone looked a lot more vibrant.

True colours
Nokia has also included a setting where you can change your colour profile, just as you would your ringtone. This enables you to change both the temperature of the colours as well as the saturation, with many pre-installed options available to you, as well as the ability to tweak it manually.

One issue I find with most smartphones is the inability to read the screen in the sunlight, something that was very much present on other flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S4. With the 925 I was surprised by how easy it was to see everything on the screen even in incredibly bright direct sunlight.

If you loved the ability to use gloves in the 920, then that is back with the 925, and yes you can even use your keys, although it isn’t advised.

Under the screen are the same three soft buttons we’ve come to expect from all Windows Phones, although we did notice that when our phone had run out of charge, the Windows start button would flash after you plugged it in. This flashing logo is something we want to see used more, with it flashing for other events such as notifications – something common with Android phones.

People have reported that the 925 has a notification light, as many have noticed that there is a red light in the top right corner, but Nokia has clarified that this is not a light and is simply the proximity sensor.

The soft buttons have seen an improvement over the 920 though, with the lights being a lot brighter when illuminated – we did have some issues with this however, as the lights did not always show up, even when in a completely dark room.

Turn the device around and you’ll notice a familiar material, something Nokia hasn’t abandoned on the 925 – despite encasing it in aluminium. We had the white 925 which looked a lot better, but also picked up dirt a lot more, a possible downside to choosing polycarbonate for the rear panel.

Issues of dirt aside, the 925 looks very nice from behind, with everything seemingly well thought out, from the speaker grill to the slight bump on the camera.

The camera is definitely an important feature of the 925, with Nokia claiming that it can capture “more than your eyes can see”, something you’ll hear a lot more about later.

Also on the back you’ll notice three small dots just above the speaker grill.  This is where one of the differences between the 920 and 925 really stands out – with the 925 losing its wireless charging capabilities as a standalone device. Now if you want to wirelessly charge your 925 you’ll have to buy a separate case which connects to these three dots – something we’ve seen on similar flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Bumpy ride
As far as design goes, it isn’t challenged aesthetically by those three dots, but one place it is challenged is the inclusion of two bumps on the speaker grill – which were noticeable at first, but as we got used to the device, we didn’t even acknowledge their existence.

That said, unlike other flagship devices, the 925 is nowhere near as flat on its rear.

As for the edges of device, they are all nice and smooth, making it feel a lot nicer to hold, although we thought that Nokia felt a little too passionately about putting all the ports in one place, with them all being on the top rather than spread out.

The ports you do get are standard slots for both micro SIM and Micro USB as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack.

We do have to applaud Nokia for moving the micro USB slot to the top, as it makes the device a lot more accessible whilst charging, although it was annoyingly positioned being slightly left of centre.

There is no microSD card slot on the 925, with the only remaining features on the side of the device being the buttons for the volume, power and camera functions – something which is also present on every Windows Phone device.

As Nokia has chosen to keep both the left side and bottom of the device free, 920 users may find the 925 a bit of a culture shock, as Nokia has even chosen to put the speakers on the back of the device. This didn’t affect sound too much, although we had to be careful not to cover the grill.

As far as sound quality goes, we were incredibly impressed by the clarity of the sound, although we felt that it could have been slightly louder – especially given the 920’s booming speakers.

It doesn’t have a quad-core processor, nor does it have eye tracking, but the 925 is by no means an unimpressive device when it comes to its ability to perform.

In fact, it performs incredibly well, even in benchmark tests, with the 925 even coping with some intensive 3D games, such as N.O.V.A.

Battery life was also not that terrible – although the 925 didn’t manage to last a full day, it was a notable step up from the 920.

With a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, the Windows Phone UI didn’t struggle at all, switching between apps incredibly quickly with no latency whatsoever – which was also helped by the 1GB of RAM on board.

It wasn’t all coming up roses for the 925, however, with our review unit crashing to the lock screen on occasions. While this wasn’t the biggest issue in the world, as all apps we were running were still going, it often became frustrating and on very rare occasions the phone even restarted itself.

Full article in Mobile News issue 543 (July 15, 2013).

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