Two years ago, Nokia wasn’t making much noise in the US mobile industry. Their first US Windows Phone devices – Lumia 900 and 920 – were less than stellar in sales and performance. The title for camera phone king rested tightly on the head of Apple’s iPhone and arguably still does. Fortunately for Nokia, they’re getting their groove back with the Lumia 925. It’s what Nokia’s first Windows Phone should’ve been: thin and light with a banging camera! Better late than never, right?
Nokia Lumia 925 Design & Performance
The Nokia Lumia 925 is exceptionally thinner and lighter than its predecessors. Its infamous polycarbonate body is mixed with an aluminum frame that doubles as an antenna and helps Nokia trim some fat off the design. The mix of materials creates a clean two-tone color scheme that looks great in every color except black.
It’s easy to grip with one hand, but you’ll have to deal with your index finger hitting the slightly raised 8.7MP Pureview rear camera – a design annoyance that I use as a way to get a better grip on the phone.
The power button, volume rockers and camera button are on the left side of the phone, while a micro-usb port for charging and transferring data, SIM card slot and headphone jack sit on top. This is an interesting design twist because 3-4 sides of the phone are usually occupied by a port or button. Where is Nokia going with this design? No buttons, one port and a SIM card slot?
Despite mid-level specs like a measly 1GB of RAM and a decent dual-core 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4 processor, the Lumia 925 can handle whatever you throw at it. It’s responsive, scrolling is smooth and it switches apps like a Ferrari switching lanes: fast and efficiently. The only time you’re likely to experience a delay is when using apps that requires a data connection to work.
Working so hard with mid-level tools makes the Lumia 925 heat up pretty quickly when used extensively. It’s not hot enough to burn, but it is uncomfortable to feel.
Nokia Lumia 925 Display & Sound
Covering the front of the phone is a 4.5-inch WXGA AMOLED (1280 x 768) display with the Windows Phone navigation keys at the bottom. This isn’t a top of the line display, but it’s one of the best you’ll find on Windows Phone.
Media looks crisp, rich and detailed from every viewing angle. Colors can seem oversaturated sometimes, but you can correct this in the Lumia Color Profile setting by adjusting the display saturation level and temperature to create a better viewing experience.
Another feature for the display is Glance. It only shows the time and notifications on the lock screen whenever you hold your hand over the display. You can also set it to show at different intervals or just leave it on. Activating it by hovering my hand over the display took a few tries and eventually I disabled this feature. Instead, I just double tap the screen to see the time and notifications.
The Lumia 925’s speakers know how to make some noise when playing media! Audio is loud and clear, though lacking in bass. A pair of Nokia Purity Pro headphones can solve that. There’s an equalizer setting with presets including one you can customize and Dolby surround sound enhancements for wired headphones. Unfortunately, these enhancements don’t work with wireless headphones.
If you can put up with the limited 16GBs of storage, the Lumia 925 is a solid media device. Microsoft also throw-in 7GBs of free SkyDrive space to sweeten the deal, though an SD card slot would’ve been better.
Nokia, The Camera King
The 8.7MP Pureview camera on the Lumia 925 is on point! Pictures and videos are crisp, vivid and amazing to look at. This camera could seriously replace a few compact point-and-shooters. The wide-angle 1.9MP front-camera is surprisingly good as well.
Even more amazing is the Nokia Pro Cam app for the Lumia 925 and 1020. The regular camera comes with the usual presets for adjusting the white balance, iso, exposure, etc. There’s also an option called Lenses that lets you jump into other photography apps that you have. Nokia has a few exclusive lenses available in the Store to add more features to the Lumia’s camera like Cinemagraph (create GIFs) and Smart Cam.
Nokia Pro Cam turns the Lumia 925 into a mini DSLR and lets you fine-tune settings in a way the regular camera can’t do.
While hanging out on my fire escape one night, I noticed a humongous cloud that looked like a wall of fog in the sky. I thought aliens were about to takeover, but just above the this cloud was a dark, clear and beautiful blue sky. I ran and grabbed my Canon T2i. Unsurprisingly, all my shots came out blurry. I just didn’t have the right lens for night-time photography.
So, I tried Pro Cam on the Lumia 925 and here is the difference in shots (Canon Shot (1), Lumia Shot (2)):
The Canon T2i’s coloring is more accurate, but I was able to take a better shot overall using a fun and interactive tutorial in Pro Cam’s options. The tutorial lets you try out various custom settings for the exposure, ISO, shutter speed and more. As you adjust the settings, a sample photo will change to reflect your changes. It’s a great way to understand how to use Pro Cam and how each setting affects a shot before you take it.
You can also reframe photos after they’re taken. Reframing is a bit like cropping a photo except you can reframe a photo as many times as you like. It works as expected, but it’s been noted that there’s a reduction in photo quality when you use the reframe feature on any photo.
To get into other features like removing objects, best shot, or to capture an action shot, grab Nokia Smart Cam.
Lumia 925 Call Quality & Battery Life
Call quality was on par with my usual experience of four bars at all times. Callers didn’t notice a difference in call quality when using the Lumia 925. I noticed that callers sometimes sounded a little robotic or metallic when talking too loudly.
Battery life is pretty good on the Lumia 925 even with heavy usage. It easily made it past 14 hours of texting, two hour long phone calls, snapping and sharing photos and tweeting with the screen on auto brightness. AT&T’s 4G LTE connection was also enabled the entire time.
Once when I started charging the battery at around 3%, the phone still died. It took a minute or two of charging to power on again, but a full charge took nearly two hours to complete! The Lumia 800, 820 and 920 all feature a Quick Charge option that charges the phone up to 40% faster. There doesn’t seem to be any sign of this feature in the Lumia 925, which is pretty disappointing.
If you’re into wirelessly charging, you can add a wireless charging cover to the back of any Lumia 925 and wirelessly charge it with a stand or dock. But is it really wireless charging if you still need to place your phone on a charger?
A Bright Phone With A Cloudy Future
What I like most about most Lumia phones is how Nokia develops their own features instead of waiting on Microsoft to do something with Windows Phone. Samsung does the same with Android, but at least Google can keep up with Samsung. Microsoft cannot keep up with Nokia, and Nokia can only pull a giant like Microsoft so far on their own.
Microsoft has to move faster and they can’t without help. That’s probably why Microsoft is acquiring Nokia’s Devices & Services business and licensing the use of Nokia’s patents and mapping services. They’re buying the heart of what makes Nokia the number one choice on Windows Phone. I still think there’s something else Microsoft could be doing to move quicker.
AT&T’s Lumia 925 is $99.99 with a new two-year contract and a reasonable $429.99 out of pocket. I would grab the Lumia 925 for the camera alone. However, when you take Windows Phone into consideration, you run the risk of purchasing a phone that will be obsolete in less than a year – a common pattern for most Windows Phone devices.
Still, that doesn’t make it easy to pass on the Nokia Lumia 925’s improved design, dazzling screen, great performance and powerful camera to match.