Nokia Lumia 925 hands on review, pricing and availability

Reviews Paul Briden 13:02, 14 May 2013

We get to grips with the Nokia Lumia 925 and its aluminium frame at the launch event, ahead of our full review

After many months of speculation that Nokia would launch a slimmer, lighter variant of the Lumia 920 it has finally arrived as the Nokia Lumia 925. This is the first Lumia model from Nokia to be crafted from metal alloy – aluminium to be precise.

Nokia Lumia 925 hands on review: Design and Display

During the announcement Nokia acknowledged that ‘some people like metal’ and it’s certainly gone a long way to making the device considerably lighter than its predecessor, the bulky Lumia 920. It weighs in at a mere 139g and is super skinny at 8.5mm thick – that compares favourably with the Lumia 920’s 185g at 10.7mm thick.

Visually the handset is pretty stunning to say the least, it’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from Nokia with smooth, clean lines and an angular shape. The back and front panels perch nicely on top of an aluminium surround, though the rear panel is actually polycarbonate meaning you do get the best of both when holding it in the hand.

The surround has some neat contrasting lines detailing each corner which gives a bit of character and the whole metal edging actually houses the device aerials. The back panel is slightly curved and houses the PureView camera within a slight bump, while at the bottom there’s a punched speaker grille.

Meanwhile on the front, the contoured glass display panel sits squarely in the centre with an even expanse of black fascia around the edge – the illusion of edge-to-edge is there, at least and it looks pretty good all round.

As usual, Nokia’s placed the power key and volume rocker along right-hand side, which makes them easy to use, and being a camera-centric phone there’s also a dedicated shutter button. A 3.5mm headphone jack and microUSB port sit at the top alongside a SIM tray.

The display is a 4.5-inch AMOLED with a 1280x768 pixel resolution and a pixel density of 332 pixels-per-inch (ppi). It might not be Full HD 1080p but it still produces really vibrant, crisp visuals with rich colours, deep blacks and excellent clarity. This is thanks to Nokia’s PureMotion HD+ and ClearBlack technologies. Corning Gorilla Glass 2 also ensures a bit of extra durability.

Nokia Lumia 925 hands on review: Camera

The camera is still the Lumia 925’s main party trick. Despite slimming the chassis down considerably Nokia has still managed to cram in the same PureView 8.7-megapixel setup with optical image stabilisation, dual-LED flash, Carl Zeiss optics and 1080p HD video that the Lumia 920 had.

In fact, that’s not quite true, it’s not exactly the same – it’s actually a little bit better as a Nokia representative told us there’s now a sixth glass lens layer (the other five are plastic) and the ISO capability now goes as high as 1,200.

Needless to say, imaging quality is as insanely impressive as it was on the Lumia 920, but you don’t have the burden of carrying a brick around anymore.

Clarity, dynamic range, colour depth, contrast, low-light performance and all the other key points you want to be hitting with a high-end camera setup are being hit with the Lumia 925. Hard.

But it doesn’t end there. The Lumia 925 is also the debut device for Nokia’s Smart Camera app which offers a highly comprehensive set of on-device editing and sharing capabilities for your snaps and video.

In this respect it’s giving you a similar set of tools to Samsung’s Galaxy S4, the BlackBerry Z10 and the HTC One, except all with a really slick Windows Phone 8 Nokia flavour.

The interface is really fantastic. It’s very minimalist and editing involves simple taps and swipes to toggle into different modes or choose elements of a photo to tweak.

There’s a best shot mode, action shot for ‘time-lapse’ style images, motion blur, TiltShift (model village), a multi-shot mode with a face picker and a remove object mode to get rid of people who wander into your shot.

Several of the modes, such as action shot, also allow you to vary the fade levels for photo elements, so you could have a time-lapse with all sections faded except the best moment.

The implementation is great here as whatever you change the basic photos you took are all stored – you can always go back and change things around and doing so is very fluid. Everything is done from within the photo you captured so it’s seamless.

On the front is a 1.2-megapixel secondary capable of capturing 720p video and conducting video calls.

Nokia Lumia 925 hands on review: Hardware and Software

The guts of the Lumia 925 have changed little from the Lumia 920, but this is no bad thing as performance was never really an issue. It has a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor clocked at 1.5GHz with 1GB of RAM and an Adreno 225 graphics processing unit (GPU). Plus 16GB of internal storage. There’s no microSD slot though.

The phone zips along nicely through Windows Phone 8’s various tiles, screens and menus with no snagging or lag to speak of. It’s all standard Windows Phone 8 stuff and includes Nokia’s HERE Maps location services, Nokia Music and a handful of other apps bundled in, including the new Hipstamatic photo app for Windows Phone.

Naturally there’s also 4G and NFC connectivity and the Lumia 925 revives the Lumia 920’s wireless charging via optional back covers in a variety of colours – the phone itself only comes in white, black or grey with a bare metal surround.

The battery pack is a sizeable 2,000mAh just like its predecessor – again, the 920 never had a problem going the distance on a single charge and we’ve no reason to think the 925 will be any different.

Nokia Lumia 925 hands on review: Pricing and Availability

The Lumia 925 is due to go on sale in the UK in June. It’ll be  available on contract via Vodafone but will also sell SIM-free for around £400, excluding VAT.

O2 has revealed it will also carry the Lumia 925, which will be available exclusively in white and on O2's Refresh contracts, where you have seperate tariffs for the phone and SIM.  O2 will begin taking pre-orders from May 30 and the phone will become available on June 13.

Nokia Lumia 925 hands on review: Conclusion

We’re really impressed with Nokia’s 925 as it’s a sleek, refined handset with an amazing display and camera. Smart Camera is a highly usable and enjoyable setup which we’re sure plenty of users will have fun with. In a very real sense the Lumia 925 is the phone the Lumia 920 should have been, but better late than never, we suppose.

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