The Lumia 920 put Nokia back in the high-end playing field. But the phone was too heavy and too bulky. SEAN BACHER takes the Lumia 925 for a ride to see if these issues have been addressed.
When Nokia launched the Lumia 920 in September last year, its camera came with PureView technology, which allowed it to take great pictures in some very dark environments. It used a fast processor, had ample storage space and had an astounding battery life. These features put the company in the Samsung and Apple league. But the phone had one major drawback which deterred many people: its bulky size and weight. This 185g of weight meant that even though the phone’s insides were protected by an ultra-hard polymer chassis, most times a drop would rattle something loose – turning the phone into a rattle box.
But now there is the Luma 925, an update on the 920 and, at first sight, a phone that looks like Nokia learned from its previous mistakes. We put it through the Gadget Ten Question Task Test to see just to see how much Nokia has evolved.
1. General look and feel (aesthetic judgement, differentiation in look and feel)
The Nokia Lumia 925 uses a unibody design, meaning that it doesn’t have a removable battery or back-plate. At the top is a micro-SIM slot, 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro-USB input. The right side sports the standard Volume Rocker, Power and dedicated camera button.
The phone follows the standard layout of all current Lumias, so users migrating from older versions will have no problem getting comfortable with the 925.
The phone looks great, feels comfortable to hold and is easy to use with one hand.
2. Slippability (Weight and size, ability to slip into a pocket unnoticed)
The Lumia 925 is 46g lighter then the 920. The screen sizes are exactly the same, yet the 925 is slightly shorter than the 920. Furthermore, the 925 is 8.5mm thick compared to the 920, which measures 10.5mm. All this adds up to a phone that is easier to handle, easier to pocket and less prone to rattling apart when dropped.
That said, it’s not all good for the 925. The rear camera does not sit flush with the body, giving it an annoying bulge when slipped into your shirt pocket. This also causes the lens to scratch a little when you lie it flat on the table.
Being able to cram the same sized screen into a smaller, more petite body shows that Nokia has rectified its previous mistakes, but the protruding camera still needs a little work.
3. General performance (speed, responsiveness, multi-tasking)
The Nokia Lumia 925 runs Windows Phone 8, but with the Amber update. At first, the only difference from a phone running without Amber is that the time and date are not displayed when the screen is locked. But a little more digging through the menus reveals that the update lets you flip the phone over when you want to silence a call. New features are also added to the camera. A Data Sense app lets users monitor and control how and when data is used – both on Wi-Fi and the data bundle on your contract. The Amber update also lets users set SMS and call filters, allowing the user to control which SMS can be automatically deleted and which calls will go straight to voice mail.
A dual-core 1.5GHz processor the exact same processor used in the Lumia 920 powers the phone. The phone comes with 32GB of internal storage and 1GB of RAM, with no option to upgrade and, once again the same as the 920.
Multitasking is handled beautifully: hold down the Back button and swipe and end apps with ease. Endless apps were opened and run at the same time, but at no time did the phone show any signs of slowing down. It was always responsive and never needed a reboot except when an operating system software update was installed.
The Lumia 925 performed well. Its multitasking was seamless and there was no sign of it giving when too much work was thrown at it.
4. Life as we know it (How’s the battery life?)
The 925 model number is quite fitting for this Lumia as the 2 000mAh Li-Ion batter will last from nine in the morning to five in the evening, and then some. Even if features like LTE, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are turned on all the time, the phone will put in a good 12 hours of graft before it starts moaning for a charge.
5. Vision of the future (picture, video and browsing quality)
The rear 8MP camera takes stunning images outdoors, the colours are rich, the contrast is perfect and the optical image stabilisation features gives the best shots, even when bumping around in a game vehicle. When it comes to night time images, the PureView option, which keeps the aperture open longer in order to absorb more light, really makes a difference when switching on the flash, as so much detail is often lost when the flash activates.
The front 1.3MP camera is more than adequate for video conferencing. Its high quality, along with the various filters you can apply to the photos, will really spruce up those ‚”selfies‚”.
6. Talk to me (quality of audio)
The Lumia 925’s speaker is at the rear, meaning that tunes are sometimes not always heard perfectly as the sound is pushed away, instead of being directed to the front of the phone. This also causes a bit of a problem when making video calls, but can be quickly remedied with the 3.5mm headphone jack, which incorporates Dolby Headphone sound enhancements.
However, when on a normal voice call, quality is perfect and there is no distortion even when the volume is turned all the way up.
There is an integrated FM radio but like many other phones this will only work when a set of headphones is plugged in as it doubles up as an antennae.
Overall, there is nothing special in the sound department and so the phone gets an average score.
7. Message in a bottle (range, speed and efficiency of messaging solutions)
Setting up e-mail, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and Nokia accounts are all done in a central E-mail and Accounts option under the Settings menu. This really simplifies the initial setup of the phone, as users won’t need to hunt or download any additional apps to get them set up.
I was, however, really disappointed when trying to use the Transfer My Data option, as it only transfers local contacts and a few images. It would have been great if all my settings and accounts could be sent to the new phone at the same time.
8. Keep control (How effective are hardware and software controls?)
The hardware buttons on the side of the phone are all easily identifiable in the dark. Furthermore, even though they do not sit flush with the phone, they won’t accidentally get pushed when in a pocket.
The Search, Windows and Back button below the screen are also easy to use and identify and the tactile and sound feedback the phone gives when tapping out an e-mail or text message ensure that the user knows if the correct button is pushed or not.
9. The new new (innovations, unique features)
The Nokia Lumia 925 offers nothing new when compared to its predecessor. In fact, the 920 is better in one regard, and that is wireless charging. The 925 can only charge wirelessly with the addition of a wireless charging cover. Almost seems like a step back for Nokia.
10. The wallet test (Is it competitively priced?)
With a cash price of R8 999, the phone is in line with other high-end phones, like the Apple iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S4.
Overall, the Lumia 925 is easy to use, fits more comfortably in a pocket and is less clumsy to use than the 920. It also has a great battery life. So it looks like Nokia has corrected most of its mistakes. Now, all it has to do is find a way to include wireless charging.
Total score: 76%
Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher
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