Nokia Lumia 925 Review
Thanks to Nokia India for providing us with the Lumia 925
The Nokia Lumia 925 is the newest Lumia device in the 9xx series, and what it is – is a physical evolution in every way possible from it’s older brother – The Nokia Lumia 920. What do we mean by that? Well Nokia have taken the Lumia 920, and made it lighter, thinner, possibly stronger, improved the screen quality, and even improved the exact same camera by adding an addition lens ring. There has been a lot of expectation to improve the rather heavy and large Lumia 920, and with the 925 – that is what Nokia has intended to do. But the question is, did they pull it off – or is it a step in the wrong direction for Nokia? Read on to find out!
From a hardware point of view – Yes. Nokia have created the best Lumia yet, and we wonder if the Lumia lineup would have been selling better if the original 920 was presented as the 925 when it was launched. That doesn’t matter though because we’re here to look at the 925. With the 925, Nokia have tossed out the Polycarbonate shell, and replaced it with an aluminium shell, with only the back of the phone having a polycarbonate build. By doing this, Nokia have managed to shrink the 925 to a very sleek 8.5mm in the thickness department (from 10.7mm on the Lumia 920) – and that’s an incredible amount of bulk they’ve managed to remove. It’s like the 925 went on The Biggest Loser show or something! By reducing the size, Nokia have also managed dramatically cut the weight to 139 grams, a sizeable difference from the 920’s 185 grams – showing you just how small a phone the Lumia 925 has become. It’s certainly a lot easier to hold and operate – but sometimes we miss the heft of the 920 to remind you that you have a solid phone in your hands. Though you get used to the 925’s weight very quickly. Don’t get us wrong though, the specs otherwise remain exactly the same internally with a 1.5Ghz dual-core processor, a 1280 x 728 display, though with an AMOLED display instead of an LCD, 1GB of RAM, though unlike the 920’s 32GB of internal data – the Lumia 925 only comes with 16GB of internal data which is a silly thing when you consider how quickly 32GB get’s filled up these days with apps, music, videos, etc. Vodafone do have a 32GB version of the 925 – but it’s exclusive to them only. With the Lumia 925, Nokia have created what we would say is the prettiest Lumia ever – it’s sleek, it’s thin and light and it belongs in a car like a Jaguar (which is exactly what we did as you can see in the images above during our Lumia Jaguar shoot). Our only gripe is that the Lumia 925 only comes in White, Black or Grey – gone is the fancy stand out colors such as Red & Yellow and while that’s not a big gripe, some people may still be disappointed at the lack of color options. In terms of Hardware, my friends were quite critical of the Lumia 920 at how heavy and large it was, but were full of praise once they got their hands on the 925. This is the route Nokia needs to keep on with – thin and light, and great to use.
We’re slightly torn here. On one hand, Nokia have definately done the right thing by replacing the 920’s LCD screen with Nokia’s AMOLED Clear Black Display for the 925 (and yes, puremotion HD+ also carries over for smooth and fast scroll rates). On the other hand, while AMOLED is the better screen option – The Lumia 925 still remains a generation behind with their 720p (or in this case – 768p) resolutions on their devices. Most high end Android devices now sport a 1920 x 1080 display, while the 925 languishes on a 1280 x 768 display resolution. That’s more a Microsoft limitation than a Nokia one, but with 1920 x 1080 displays expected to be launching for Windows Phones by the years end, that should quell the screen doubts. For now, the Lumia 925 does fall behind on this regard to competitors. If you’ve never used a 1080p device, it won’t matter much to you – but once you are used to a 1080p display like we are with different Android devices it becomes hard to go back. However, when it comes to non-1080p displays – The Lumia 925 undoubtedly has the best display we’ve come across which is thankful. Watching movies on this display is a real joy and the deep blacks and bright colors pop. Seeing the expected Lumia devices with 1080p screen at the end of the year will be stunning, but for now the Lumia 925 is certainly a great screen. Sunlight usability is pretty top notch on the 925’s screen (especially with Sunlight readability mode turned on), and there are very few screens in the world better in the sun than the 925. If you plan on using your phone outdoors often, look no further.
The Lumia 920 was ground breaking in the camera tech, adding pureview technology, OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) and a camera that took amazing night time photos, at least for a phone. The only issue is that, pre-amber at least, the camera wasn’t fantastic at day time pictures. Nokia decided to change that up by adding another camera lens ring (for a total of 6, up from 5) in order to improve day time picture quality on 925. Did it work? In essence yes. While it still won’t compare to devices like the Galaxy S4 during the day, it does hold it’s own and you can certainly notice a difference in daytime shots over the 920. No they’re not a drastic improvement, but they make daylight shots bearable.
Night shots are quite good as we’ve come to expect from High End Lumia’s, we have found 2 issues. One – The flash makes indoor pictures seem kind of yellowish (skin wise) over the 920. We have no idea why this is considering the flash is the same on both cameras – but perhaps the amber update is trying to correct the picture a bit too much? Two – The front facing camera isn’t great. Daytime pictures are find (though sunlight filled pictures cause a purple hue), but drop the light even a little and the front facing camera becomes unusable – because the amount of noise that comes in is definitely of concern since every other phone compared outdoes the 925’s front facing camera.
Either, take a look at some of the 920 vs 925 comparison pictures with both phones running Amber (all auto settings, without tripod, default camera app – not pro cam):
Color reproduction is much better on the 925, and it does capture a little more detail than the 920, though it seems the 920 seems to capture more light than the 925 in a few shots we had. That 6th lens is certainly doing it’s part here in these night time photos in order to reproduce an overall better picture than the 920. It’s not the best camera smartphone we’ve used (the Galaxy S4, Lumia 1020 and iPhone 5S are ahead of the 920), but it’s certainly a step ahead of the 920 in most ways. Take a look at the video I took at a Mat Zo concert (with Pro Cam) below, as well as some other pictures I’ve taken along the way.
In terms of video, the Lumia 925 is definitely one of the best in this regard – especially when it comes to recording video’s at Concerts like you’ll see below. While other phones get hit by bass exposure (meaning the sound from the phone sounds garbled and noisy), the Lumia 925 manages to separate the bass from sound and you get quality sound. OIS also plays a big part here. While the Lumia 1020 will probably be better, the 925 is easily one of the top phones for video recording.
In the days of Quad-Core and Octa-core processors, dual-core processors on Windows Phone’s might seem like it’s not enough – but the truth of the matter is that Windows Phone’s have been designed with speed in mind. Performance overall is buttery smooth, and we really can’t find fault within the OS and 1st party apps work like a charm. 3rd party apps do tend to lag every now and then, but the 925’s dual-core processor seems to push it along just fine. Games like Fifa 13 do lag though from time to time and it can be a frustrating experience if you’re trying to play it. But otherwise there’s no real issues with the phone in the performance department. Quad-core processors, also expected by the end of the year with 1080p displays will really change the game for Windows Phones, but until then the Lumia 925 does well on it’s own should apps be optimized for the Windows Phone OS.
Software wise, you’re not going to see too much of a difference between different Windows Phones because the back end is controlled by Microsoft. Where Nokia does excel however is the addition of Nokia only apps such as Pro Cam, Smart Cam, Cinemagraph, and even the glance screen below (which shows the time even when the screen is off.
Aside from all our Windows Phone reviews, we won’t add too much here except that Nokia is clearly the most active Windows Phone partner (mostly because they only rely on Windows Phone these days) and their apps show it such as the list above.
The one thing we do have to knock down is that the Windows Phone software still isn’t quite up to par with Android and iOS (including apps). The lack of a notification centre is quite annoying – because sometimes I’ve got a notification on my phone and by the time I’ve got to the phone – I can’t find which app was responsible for the notification. Live tiles help, but Windows Phone is really lacking a Notification Center.
The stats you see in the picture look good, but don’t be fooled by numbers completely. The battery only lasted 16 hours and 59 minutes with 3G turned off! This was done to test whether 3G was the issue or something else. With 3G turned on, and apps eating into the battery – this phone was fairly poor in the battery department. Maybe it’s because the device is a review unit, maybe it’s because it’s been used a lot before me – but the battery was the weakest point of my experience with the phone. Generally, I installed the same apps as on my Lumia 920, kept the same settings, but even as I slept – over a period of 8 hours the battery drained itself by 30% without the screen being turned on once.
During the day, with normal usage like the 920 had before it – the phone lasted around 5-6 hours. While not awful, I know that I tended to have to charge the phone every day before the end of the day with regular usage of the phone.
Video performance in the battery department is good however, as you can get 8 hours of playback out of your phone watching videos. But background tasks do drain a lot out of your battery. Something to consider when purchasing this device.