Nokia Lumia 925 Review

88/100

WhistleOut
09 August 2013

Design

The Lumia 925’s design is superior to its predecessor’s – the Lumia 920 – in many ways. It’s slimmer, lighter, feels more classy thanks to its metal frame and, despite being just about the same size horizontally, the bezels somehow look thinner.

This is all fantastic news, as the bulky form of the 920 was definitely one of its greatest drawbacks.

What the Lumia 925 lacks is the vibrant colour options of its older sibling, being available in just White, Black and Grey.

The metal finish, while definitely adding to the impression of quality when held, actually ends up being a drawback in terms of utility. It’s just too smooth. It doesn’t feel particularly secure in the palm and we actually found it slipping out of our pockets on so many occasions that it caused some concern.

Be this as it may, the design of the Lumia 925 represents some definite steps in the right direction for Nokia and we think it’ll appeal to a wider range of customers. We hope that the Finnish company will find a way to merge this new approach with its more established colourful Lumia look.

Display

The display on the Lumia 925 is one of its particularly strong suits. It’s not a full-HD, weighing in with just 720p resolution. Still, it offers vibrant colours, crisp shapes and impressively inky blacks. We’ve never seen blacks handled this well on a smartphone display, except perhaps with the 920. This is an especially key feature thanks to the Windows Phone black-background default theme.

HD video looks fantastic. Frame-rate was good, colours were accurate and images were sharp. On a less-happy note, video-viewing did highlight the otherwise unnoticed thickness of the bezels. Once again Nokia would have benefitted here from focusing on either extending the screen or reducing the overall size of the phone around the display.

User Experience

The Windows Phone 8 UI is our favourite in terms of aesthetic design, ranging from eye-catching to elegantly simple without suffering from the stark contrast in between. It’s smooth, elegant and still truly unique in the face of an ever-growing sea OSes based on grid icon designs.

That being said, there are still a few kinks we’d like to see ironed out.

On occasion we had serious difficulty downloading media messages, specifically pictures. The Facebook messenger, too, lacks the ability to send or even receive images. Uploading as a public post is fine, but sometimes you want something a bit more private.

Music, too, can be a bit of a drag. For the most part listening to music is fine and Xbox Music is a fantastic subscription service, but pausing a song for more than a minute or so usually meant that we were unable to then restart the track from the same point. This meant that the shuffle function was also reset, leading to a lot of duplicate play-throughs.

The last main issue was with Internet Explorer and its page-wrapping, or lack thereof. Smartphone browsers are supposed to resize web pages in order to fit the screen size. Currently there’s a bug in the WP8 IE client that prevents this from happening some of the time. The end result is that the screen displays a zoomed-in view of the top left of some web pages, forcing you to zoom out every time a new page loads.

This bug has been around since WP8 first came out. Microsoft is well aware of it and we’re scratching our heads as to why it hasn’t been fixed.

Other than this browsing works very well. Pages load quickly and text renders smoothly. If the wrapping problem were addressed it’d be one of the better browsing experiences out there.

Camera

The Lumia 925’s PureView camera is comfortably among the best we’ve used. Our own Pete Ottery did a more in-depth Lumia 925 camera comparison a short while back, so for a detailed view be sure to check that out.

In a less-experienced photographer’s hands the end results were similar. The 925 takes great photos during the day and is particularly impressive at night. However, despite being great in both these fields, it is the best in neither.

We would say that the 925 offers both the second best well-lit and low-light shots on the market, behind the iPhone 5 and HTC One respectively.

In well-lit scenarios the 925 tends to take longer to focus than the iPhone 5 and takes pictures of slightly lower detail.

In low-light shots it has quite a bit of trouble with movement, takes longer to focus than the HTC One and doesn’t handle light-bleeding nearly as well. On a better note, light-bleeding is nowhere near the problem it was on the Lumia 920, over which the 925’s night shots are greatly improved.

There’s something to be said for being a jack of all trades. A camera that rocks during the day and takes pretty damn good shots at night is nothing to turn one’s nose up at. If only it would focus a little faster this could be the most viable camera on the market.

Overall

The Nokia Lumia 925 is, hands-down, the best Windows Phone 8 device we’ve laid our hands on. It’s fast, sports a fantastic display and the physical design is much improved – albeit with some sacrifices.

In terms of camera quality the 925 can go toe-to-toe with any smartphone on the market.

All this being said, the Windows Phone 8 OS hasn’t seen an update in a while. The little niggling imperfections that just seem to stick around have no place in the modern OS market. This is an unfortunate case of Nokia making a really solid device and being let down by insufficient patches from Microsoft.

The Lumia 925 is still a great phone despite these issues. It’s not our favourite flagship of the season so far, but it’s by no means an unsatisfactory handset. If you’re a Windows Phone fan you can’t go past this one. If you’re coming from another OS then you may find that you like the WP8 experience, but we’d recommend you find a friend who has one first and have a play around for yourself.


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