Eye-poppingly colourful shells, Windows Phone’s live tiles and exclusive services certainly mark Nokia’s Lumia range out from the slew of smartphones adhering fast to the 'black slab' school of design and post-iPhone user interfaces consisting of rows of apps.
But for all the good notices taht the likes of the Lumia 900 garnered in the tech press, Lumia kits are yet to find favour with the mass market in anything like the same way as Samsung Galaxy handsets or the iPhone.
Can the Lumia 925 buck the trend and crack the mainstream? Find out in our review.
One of the most oft-heard criticisms of some earlier Lumia smartphones is that their plastic builds made them feel a bit cheap. Not so the Lumia 925.
Presumably in response to those catcalls from reviewers, the Lumia 925 features a robust metal frame while retaining the range’s hallmark polycarbonate plastic rear.
That means that it feels premium. But it also means Nokia hasn’t bulked up the handset unnecessarily, with the Lumia 925 coming in at a fighting-fit 139g.
Fire up the Lumia 925 and the phone’s 4.5-inch, 1280x768 resolution AMOLED display impresses from the get-go too. More of which later.
Newcomers to the Windows Phone OS that powers the Lumia 925 might be put off by its unfamiliarity. Don't let that happen.
Although Microsoft’s live tiles design deviates from the iOS-alike layout that once seemed set in stone, it’s actually a great operating system and one that's really easy to pick up.
The blend of metal and plastic gives the 925 a two-tone look at the rear, which may or may not butter your muffin. For the record, we like it.
Squarer than most smartphones, the Lumia 925 features three on-screen pressers at the foot of the screen, namely: back, start and search. All of which will be familiar if you’ve used any kind of Windows Phone before.
The device also packs three buttons on the right, taking in a volume rocker, a dedicated camera button and ‘sleep/wake’.
At 8.5mm thick, this is a lot thinner than the 10.7mm Lumia 920 and is much more comparable – if not quite as svelte - as the likes of the iPhone and Samsung’s top-end Galaxy kits.
As with all Nokia models branded as ‘PureView’, the Lumia 925’s imaging smarts are one of its key selling points.
Equipped with the same 8.7-megapixel snapper as the Lumia 920 and Lumia 928, the Lumia 925 impressed when we used it around town for some impromptu snapping. And that went double in low-light conditions.
The Smart Camera mode allows you to take ten images and change your subjects faces/ edit them so everyone looks their best. Action Shot, which is a kind of burst-mode option, meanwhile, lets you combine shots to give you a sense of movement.
Both features will be familiar to anyone who has used top-end Android devices from Samsung and Sony. But while they’re not new, they’re still very welcome on the Windows Phone platform.
Undoing all that good work a smidgeon is the rather unwieldy camera editing app. Although packed with options, it’s not altogether apparent from the get-go how these work, especially the aforementioned burst and smart shot modes.
And if it’s not apparent to us here at uSwitch Tech after more than a few tries, you do wonder how long it’ll take others to get to grips with it.
One other little bugbear was the lack of microSD card support.
With 32GB of onboard storage on the standard Nokia and 32GB on the deluxe version that’s exclusive to Vodafone, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
But it still seems curious that Nokia thinks microSD is something only buyers of lower-end Lumia phones are interested in.
On the positive side, the Lumia 925 offers a full suite of connectivity options (NFC, Wi-Fi, GPS and 4G LTE), offers good call quality and the 2000mAh offered a full day or so of use on a single, full charge.
And then there’s the 4.5-inch AMOLED ClearBlack, Gorilla 2 Glass screen. As we touched on earlier, it’s great. It delivers some of the crispest, vibrant images we’ve seen outside of a full HD screen-toting phone and performs especially well outdoors.
The Lumia 925 runs Windows Phone 8. And while the live tiles look great on the screen, how you feel about Microsoft’s OS will largely determine what you think of this handset.
Fans of clean design and those of you who are tired of Android and iOS will likely enjoy the airport-sign-style graphics and more ‘alive’ feel that the constant information updates offer you.
As a Nokia phone, you’ll also get some stuff that’s exclusive to the Finns’ phones. Here Maps and Here Drive, for instance, are best-in-class mapping contenders and provide downloadable maps and turn by turn driving directions.
The pick up and play Nokia Music streaming service isn’t half bad either, with some neatly compiled playlists of popular artistes which you can access offline.
But for all that Nokia has tried to sweeten the appeal of Microsoft’s OS, if you’re not sold on Windows Phone, it’s safe to say that there’s nothing here to make you a convert.
The baffling camera app aside, the Lumia 925 is pretty easy to grasp. Customising the homescreen is merely a matter of manually resizing and repositioning widgets and placing them where you want them.
Sitting comfortably in your palm and can be used comfortably with one hand. The OS performs pretty smoothly too, aided by a dual-core processor that might not stand out on Android but works out just fine here. Apps also open and close quicksmart and you there's scant sign of the judder that has marred earlier Windows Phone kits.
The Lumia 925 has much to recommend it, not least its great camera, goodish screen and impressive build quality.
Windows Phone’s lack of apps compared to rival operating systems is a bit of a downer. But if you’re bored of conventional smartphone layouts and crave something a bit different, the Lumia 925 has got your number.
Thanks to Vodafone for supplying the Nokia Lumia 925 for review