A well-designed Windows Phone 8 handset, but not enough of an improvement over the 920.
Nokia has achieved quite the tricky task with its Windows Phone smartphones over the past year or so – it’s made them stand out, by equipping them with eye-catching colours and solid, polycarbonate shells. Its latest phone, the Nokia Lumia 925, aims to move the design on a stage, introducing aluminium to the range.
Ostensibly, it’s Nokia’s new flagship – the follow-up to the Lumia 920 – but it couldn’t look more different. While its predecessor had a chunky plastic chassis with a high-gloss finish, the 925 has a slender, silver metal frame with a coloured plastic panel at the rear.
On the positive side, the 925 feels very comfortable to hold; it’s far from the bruiser its predecessor was. It weighs a pocket-friendly 139g and measures only 8.5mm from front to rear. It sits in your pocket far more comfortably than the bulky 185g Lumia 920. On the negative side, the fit and finish of the rear panel isn’t particularly impressive, with uneven gaps running around its full circumference.
As with its predecessor, the battery is sealed in and there’s no microSD slot for expanding the onboard storage. Nokia has also toned down the palette of colours available – the Lumia 925 is only available in understated white, black and grey.
The camera is the only other area that has seen an upgrade – the number of lens elements has increased from five to six, promising increased sharpness. The resolution is the same at 8.7 megapixels, as is the aperture of f/2, and the phone retains the optical image stabilisation of its forebear.
In terms of image quality, the changes aren’t major. The Lumia 925’s camera is still excellent. It produces the cleanest images we’ve seen from a current smartphone, with lower grain and less noise even than the superb HTC One. Its optical image stabiliser helps it to capture super-smooth 1080p video handheld, and images are generally crisp and full of detail.
Nokia’s Smart Camera software adds features similar to those on the Samsung Galaxy S4: it shoots a burst of photos, then allows you either to choose the best shot, remove moving objects, produce an “action shot”, or select the best faces in a group photo.
There are issues, though. The camera has a problem with flare when the sun is just out of shot, reducing contrast, and its auto-white balance often gets things wrong. On balance, we prefer the HTC One’s camera.
The Lumia 925’s screen is the same size as the 920’s and has the same resolution, at 4.5in and 768 x 1280. As you’d expect from an AMOLED display, maximum brightness is pretty low at 270cd/m2, but with perfect blacks and contrast, it’s as easy on the eye as the 920’s screen. Elsewhere, there’s a dual-core, 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and 1GB RAM.
Gaming performance is less impressive. There are no titles as demanding as Real Racing 3 available, but even less demanding titles such as Real Racing 2 and Asphalt 7: Heat didn’t run completely smoothly. Running the GFXBench T-Rex benchmark backs up these impressions, with an average of 6.3fps, short of the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One, which achieve 16fps and 15fps respectively.
As with its stablemate, the Lumia 925’s biggest problem is its battery life. After completing our 24-hour rundown test, the Lumia 925 had only 30% remaining, a result that leaves it well short of the competition. Both the Samsung Galaxy S4 and HTC One gained a significantly better 60%.
Overall, the Nokia Lumia 925 is a capable, high-end smartphone that’s enjoyable to use. It crams core components from the Lumia 920 into a slimmer, lighter body, and has an improved camera along with fun extra features. We can’t, however, recommend a phone with battery life this poor, no matter how much we like it. And with its minimal changes over the 920, we can’t recommend it as an upgrade to its predecessor, despite the lighter, sleeker design.