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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

NOKIA LUMIA 925 (review)

 The Nokia Lumia 925 is the second flagship phone Nokia has added to its Lumia lineup in a week. While the Lumia 925 shares many key specs with the Lumia 928 -- screen size, processor, and camera resolution -- it sports a metal design and, crucially, will be available outside of the U.S.

It's due to go on sale in the U.K., Europe, and China starting in June, with an estimated price of 470 euros before taxes -- expect that number to vary wildly once local taxes are applied.

Following its global debut, the 925 will alight in the U.S. a few weeks later, closer to the July time frame, as a T-Mobile exclusive. Pricing has yet to be announced for the no-contract device.
Rumors have been circling for months now that Nokia has been toying with the idea of using metal in its phones. Those rumors, it seems, were bang on the money as the 925 is built with metal at its core. The chassis on which all the crucial components are mounted is metal, with thick metal banding present around the edges of the handset.

Rather than opt for an all-metal design though, the 925 has a polycarbonate back plate. It's a shame not to see a single-piece metal construction. We've already seen this on the HTC One and iPhone 5, both of which are unquestionably stunning phones.

Some of Nokia's previous Lumias -- particularly the Lumia 920 -- boast single-piece bodies, albeit made from plastic, which do have a certain luxurious feel to them. If Nokia could have mimicked the slick, rounded body of the 920 in metal rather than plastic, I'd be extremely happy.

That's not to say the 925 doesn't look good though. Far from it. The metal edging feels firm and curves nicely to join the rounded edge of the screen. The back panel doesn't give much flex when you press on it, making it feel much more solid and secure than the plastic body of the Samsung Galaxy S4. In my brief hands on with the handsets, I found the 925 felt a lot nicer than the all plastic 928. Neither, however, offer the same luxury feel of the HTC One

Nokia has given the 925's camera a couple of small tweaks, too. It uses the same 8.7-megapixel sensor as its predecessor, but Nokia explained that it's improved the optics in front of the sensor. As well as the lightweight plastic lenses -- low weight is needed for the optical image stabilization -- the 925 uses a sixth glass lens which Nokia reckons gives better clarity, especially in daylight.

Nokia has also apparently improved its camera firmware to give better noise reduction in low-light situations. Until I can give the camera a thorough test, I can't comment on whether these tweaks are worthwhile. The Lumia 920 was already an excellent low-light performer, so let's hope Nokia hasn't messed around with that too much.

You will find some new camera software on board, chief among which is called SmartCam. This app (also integrated as a camera lens) takes a burst of 10 images that you can then edit into an action sequence, change the faces, or choose the best image from the bunch to save. We've seen these functions already on the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4. Unlike the Galaxy S4 though, you choose how to edit the images after you've taken them, rather than choose a setting to shoot in beforehand.

I've played around with the action sequence modes on other phones and found them to be a lot of fun -- so long as you have a particularly exciting scene to capture. Nokia's effort seems to work in much the same way, but with what seems to be a more stripped down, easier to use interface.

You can set the camera to automatically load in SmartCam mode, or you can pin the icon to your home screen to get access to it quickly.

 The Lumia 928 has roughly the same dimensions as the 920, but at 8.5mm thick, it's slightly slimmer and quite a lot lighter. At 185 grams, the 920 was something of a beast to hold, but the 925 knocks off 46 grams which should help it be more comfortable to hold for long periods. The matte surface texture is also slightly easier to grip than the high-gloss coating on the 920.

Around the sides you'll find a volume rocker, power button, and dedicated camera shutter button -- all metal -- with both the headphone jack and micro USB port stuck on the top. There's 16GB of internal storage which is enough for the essentials, but it's sad not to see the same 32GB offered on the 920.

The GSM radio supports 850/900/1800/1900 bands. There's also WCDMA support for 850/900/1900/2100, and LTE support for 800/900/1800/2100/2600 MHz.

The 925 packs a 4.5-inch display, which is physically the same size you'll get on both the 920 and 928. The 925 and 928 however use OLED screens, rather than standard LCD which promise richer colors and deeper black levels as they don't need to be backlit as do cheaper screens.

Nokia already has good form for squeezing vibrant screens into its phones though -- its "ClearBlack" technology on the 920 and other phones is excellent. In my demo with the 925, the screen certainly looked impressively bright and bold, but I was seeing it in a dimly lit office -- in those conditions, even a poor screen would shine like a supernova.

It has a resolution of 1,280x768-pixels, which again is the same as you'll find on the 920 and 928. It's a shame not to see a push for a few more pixels -- it would help the 925 stand out as a clear flagship against its brothers -- but it did make the Windows Phone 8 interface look extremely crisp, so it would be wrong

The performance of the Nokia Lumia 925 in our time spent with the new phone seems the same as the Nokia Lumia 920. That's no bad thing, as Nokia's past champion in no slouch. In reality, if you're a 920 owner, then all you really miss out on is design and a lens element, whilst you get built-in wireless charging and more internal storage. The Nokia Smart Camera that the Lumia 925 will come to the 920 too in a future update being called "Amber".

Overall, from what we've seen so far, the Nokia Lumia 925 is a flagship phone that screams quality. It brings strong design to the fight, fused with Nokia's enhancements of Microsoft's mobile OS, giving you the best of Windows Phone.

We were hard on the Nokia Lumia 920 when it launched because of its size and weight. We preferred the slimmer and more managable Lumia 820. The Nokia Lumia 925 is the handset we wanted last November and we're glad it's here. The Nokia Lumia 925 will be available in June 2013.


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