Nokia Lumia 925 User Review

*This device is a loaned review unit from Nokia Malaysia*

After my last review of the Nokia Lumia 920, I was more comfortable with using a Windows Phone 8 smartphone. I like the WP8 OS and think it has a lot of potential, but far from being a strong competition to the iOS and Android OS right now. The interface is intuitive and the notifications are less in your face.

See Also : Nokia Lumia 920 User Review

As a hardware, Nokia phones continue to impress me. Nokia continued to build great phones. Yes – the material is still polycarbonate, same as the Samsung and other mid range phones in the market. Somehow, Nokia managed to make it more solid than the plasticky feel of a Samsung, for example.

Then, the PR folks of Nokia Malaysia contacted me to ask if I’m interested to review the new Nokia Lumia 925.

In case you missed it, I blogged about the Lumia 925 going on sale in Malaysia earlier this month. Now, holding the Lumia 925 in my hands, I’m excited. The phone has a much better build quality. Yes, colour me more impressed. The camera tech that impressed me in the Lumia 920 is improved even more.

So, I used the Nokia Lumia 925 for a couple of weeks to give you my full user review.

 

Hardware Overview

Nokia-Lumia-925-low-light-photo-jpg
Nokia Lumia 925

In case you missed it, here’s a quick specs overview of the Nokia Lumia 925:-

  • 4.5″ AMOLED WXGA PureMotion HD+ display with Gorilla Glass 2 (1280 x 768)
  • 1.5 GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 processor
  • 16 GB internal storage (FREE 7GB SkyDrive cloud storage, no expandable microSD slot) + 1 GB RAM
  • Powered by Windows Phone 8
  • 8.7 megapixel “PureView”  rear camera with Carl Zeiss lens (1080p video), 1.2 megapixel front facing camera (720p video)
  • 8.5 mm thin, weighing 139 grams
  • 2,000 mAH non-removable battery (12.8 hours 3G talktime)
  • Connectivity : 4G LTE/HSPA+, WiFi, Bluetooth 3.0, NFC
  • Available in Black, White and Grey colours

For more information, do check out the Nokia Lumia 925 Product Page at http://www.nokia.com/my-en/products/phone/lumia925/

Nokia Lumia 925 Review - LTE, NFC, Storage
The Lumia 925 comes with 4G LTE and NFC on board

 

Unboxing Lumia 925 & build quality

Nokia Lumia 925 - Unboxing
Unboxing the Nokia Lumia 925

Inside the box, you’ll see the Nokia Lumia 925 device, along with your usual USB power adapter, USB to microUSB sync/charge cable, in-ear standard headphones (with extra earbuds), and user manuals.

Charging the Nokia Lumia 925. Will be reviewing this next. Stay tuned to WinnirKepala.com #gadget #review #lumia925 #wp8

A photo posted by Winnie Chen-Head (@winniekepala) on

The build quality of the Lumia 925 is impressive, as expected. Instead of polycarbonate (aka plastic) like in Lumia 920, this time Nokia used better materials to give the phone a more premium and solid feel. The Lumia 925 has an aluminium frame wrapped around a polycarbonate body.

Aluminium, you say? Yes, the phone has a metal body that feels so much more premium and high end. Befitting for this high end phone indeed.

Nokia Lumia 925 in hand
Nokia Lumia 925 in hand

In my hands, the 4.5″ screen definitely fits very comfortably. The back has a nice rubbery type finish that gives you a good grip. There really is no need to use a case as well, the phone is beautiful on its own.

Nokia Lumia 925 - Hardware 1
The front and back of the Lumia 925

As with the Lumia 920, there’s no hardware button on the front of the device, just 3 capacitive soft button at the bottom for “Back”, “Start” and “Search”.

Nokia Lumia 925 - Hardware 2
Hardware overview of ports and buttons

Nokia switched things around for a bit, the top of the device holds the microSIM tray (accessible with a pin provided in the box), micro USB sync / charging port as wella s the 3.5 mm headphone jack. The bottom and left side of the device is completely free from any ports or buttons. Smooth curves. The right side you get the volume rocker at the top, power on/off button in the middle and… a dedicated camera button at the bottom.

Dedicated camera button is one of the features I really like about most Windows Phone 8. Me likey.

The Lumia 925 is definitely slimmer than the Lumia 920. This phone sits at 8.5 mm thin (and that is slim) versus the Lumia 920 that is a bulky 10.7 mm. It’s lighter, too at 139 grams, versus a hefty 185 grams on the Lumia 920. Great work, Nokia for making the phone sleeker.

Nokia Lumia 925 - micro SIM tray
The micro SIM tray only pulls out and doesn’t come off completely

 

Software Overview

Nokia Lumia 925

Nokia Lumia 925 is (obviously) running on Windows Phone 8 OS. Nokia also recently released a new software update to their Lumia series phone, called the “Amber” update. The “Amber” software update makes some good overall improvements on the user experience, better app support, longer battery life and some additional apps and features.

Here are some killer features to the Nokia Lumia 925:-

  • Low Light Photography – with award winning PureView technology and Carl Zeiss lens with Optical Image Stabilisation
  • Nokia Smart Camera – takes 10 burst shots of pictures, then select the best one (ala Samsung’s Best Photo/HTC Zoe) with “Action Shot” to stitch images together to create one picture of a moving action sequence, and so much more
  • Other features – Microsoft Office, Nokia Music, Nokia HERE Maps and more
  • Qi Wireless Charging
Nokia Lumia 925 Review - Menu, Navigation, Browser, Keyboard
The same tile based homescreen & notification, good default browser and accurate keyboard

The tile based homescreen, in case you don’t know, also serves as your notifications. You see a number on the tiled app shhortcut on the homescreen when you get a new message. Microsoft wants it to be non-intrusive, unlike Android’s pull down shade notification or BlackBerry Hub’s constant beeping. Unfortunately though, for me, I occasionally miss some notifications or messages. I need to scroll through the tiles to search for numbers on the tile showing me if I have a notification.

See Also : Nokia Lumia 920 User Review

The default browser is good and responsive, supporting tab browsing and pinch to zoom. On screen default keyboard is accurate with prediction and auto correct.

Nokia Lumia 925 Review - Nokia Apps Highlights
Nokia Apps is a pre-installed showcasing highlighted apps

 

New apps with “Amber” software update

Nokia Lumia 925 Review Data Sense App
Data Sense app is now pre-installed to help you manage your mobile data usage

Check out these links to read more about the new Nokia “Amber” software update:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XwKBy_yf7CA

 

Camera

Nokia Lumia 925 rear camera
8.7 megapixel “PureView” rear camera with Carl Zeiss lens

A lot of the Lumia “Amber” update comes with improvement of the camera technologies. Remember in my Lumia 920 review here, I raved about how much I love the camera, especially in low light photography?

Nokia Lumia 925 has improved the camera’s low light photography capabilities even more. And I’ll show you…

Dedicated camera button on Lumia 925
Did I also mention how much I love the dedicated camera button?
Nokia Lumia 925 - Nokia Smart Camera
Nokia Smart Camera app

Nokia included some interesting apps including Nokia Smart Camera which gives you a host of features like:-

  • Action Shot – stitch a series of pictures into one shot of actions (ala Samsung’s Action Shot as well)
  • Remove moving object – magically erase objects or people walking into your shot (ala Samsung’s Eraser)
  • Change Faces – select the right face that’s smiling and not blinking to craft your perfect frame (ala Samsung’s Best Face)

Check out this video showing you all the great features of the Nokia Smart Camera.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZAZF70wk4o

Nokia Lumia 925 - Nokia Creative Studio
Nokia Creative Studio is a photo editing app with some simple editing, filters and effects

Low light photography is an area that has been improved. In my previous Lumia 920 review, I told you how impressed I was with the camera’s capability in low light condition. I even shared a comparison picture between the Luma 920’s low light picture versus the HTC One’s low light picture.

This time, I was smart to take screenshots to show you what I mean with the “wow” factor in Nokia Lumia 925’s low light camera tech.

Nokia Lumia 925 - Low Light Camera
(Top) Screenshot of what I see on screen; (Bottom) Snapped picture with the impressive Carl Zeiss lens at work

Here are some sample pictures taken from the Lumia 925, including the said low light photo. All photos are untouched, unedited, and not resized, so click to see enlarged version.

I can’t stress again, how impressed I am with the Nokia Lumia 925’s 8.7 megapixel rear camera in low light conditions. In daytime, the photos are nice and clear as well, with good contrast and clarity.

The front camera, however, is not exactly impressive. With only a 1.2 megapixel shooter, images are a bit noisy but still works relatively well in low light as well.

 

Battery Life

The Lumia 925 comes with a 2,000 mAH non-removable battery.

Nokia Lumia 925 Review - Battery Life

As mentioned, I have turned out to be a light to moderate smartphone user. I am almost always on my ultrabook and carry a tablet for meetings and reading. My smartphone is used for less than a handful of short calls, social media browsing, occasional web browsing and photos.

Throughout the couple of weeks reviewing the Nokia Lumia 925, I managed a good 15 – 18 hours with more battery juice to spare. I even managed more than 1 full 24-hour day in very light usage. Of course, I learned from the Lumia 920 to keep the “Battery Saver” mode on, plus the longer battery life feature on the “Amber” software update, certainly helps save battery a whole lot.

I was disappointed with the Lumia 920’s poor battery life. This Lumia 925, on the other hand, is back at an acceptable battery life for a high end smartphone.

 

Pricing and Availability

Snapped this #selfie with the Nokia #Lumia925 earlier & can't believe how "bulat" my face is. Sad face. Time to exercise.

A photo posted by Winnie Chen-Head (@winniekepala) on

The Nokia Lumia 925 is now available on sale since early August 2013 at the Recommended Retail Price (RRP) of RM 1,599.

Unfortunately though, at the time of writing, none of the local telcos have any plans to allow you to purchase the phone at a discounted price.

See Also : Nokia Lumia 925 Launched in Malaysia

 

Conclusion

In summary, the Lumia 925 as a high end range phone in Nokia’s Lumia series, it doesn’t disappoint. The build quality is great (aluminium, baby), the camera is superb, the battery life is so much more improved.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iCu9JrWhww

On the flip side, Windows Phone 8 still has some ways to go. While the selection of apps is improving, I tend to feel like some apps I’m used to in Android are not available or have a decent alternative in Windows Phone Store.

Also, while I got used to the WP8 tile based homescreen, the missing dedicated notification centre (like in iOS, Android and even BlackBerry with their BB Hub) can get a little annoying after some time.

Speaking of this silent notification style, I did experience some delay in certain push notifications. As pointed out by a Twitter follower, this issue is apparently present for messaging apps with push notification like WhatsApp, Line, WeChat, etc.  I want to confirm this – I did experience some delays in my WhatsApp messages. It wasn’t too bad, though cos I check my phone, including WhatsApp, every hour. I can imagine though, how a missing or delayed WhatsApp notification can be a problem for some.

The other disappointing thing, as well, is the delay in Skype chat notifications. This, I feel, should be unacceptable. Considering Microsoft now owns Skype. I hear though that Skype will likely be more embedded into the OS in future updates. Or was that for Windows 8 desktops? Oh well.

Want a high end Windows Phone 8 smartphone with great low light camera and premium build quality, along with being first in line to get new “Amber” update out of the box, get the Nokia Lumia 925 now.

While it’s a good Nokia Lumia WP8 smartphone buy for now, the more savvy techies out there will know about the Nokia Lumia 1020 with the crazy 41 megapixel camera that is going to hit the Malaysian market very soon. You can either wait to play around with that, or (if you agree with me) that no one needs a 41 megapixel smartphone camera, then just go look at this Nokia Lumia 925.

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