While some perceive them as still playing catch-up, Nokia has been making great current-generation smartphones for at least a couple of years.
Their industrial design has been widely praised ever since the N9. The Lumia 900, 800 and 920 all have received decent reviews. The 41-megapixel camera in the recently announced Lumia 1020 has won a lot of fans, and they're making strides in the mid-range too. If you were being generous you'd say that with this legacy of design, and even growing sales, Nokia is no longer a turnaround story but is making a genuine shot at the title. (Or at least extending their lead on third place).
With that in mind, the fact that in the Lumia 925 the Finnish former-King of Mobile has come up with another well designed, thin, light and beautiful device is not all that surprising.
What's still an open question is whether the phone can match its Android and iOS rivals on the other aspects that matter: apps ecosystem, services and price.
So how far does the 925 go to giving a decent answer?
- Great, stylish metallic design
- Fantastic low-light camera
- Straightforward, focused OS
- Windows Phone still lacks apps
- Below-par battery life
The Lumia 925 has a 4.5-inch, 1280 x 768 pixels display, the maximum resolution that Windows Phone 8 supports. It's powered by a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chip, Adreno 225 graphics and comes with either 16GB or 32GB of storage - with no SD slot. And bear in mind that 16GB really means 12GB of usable space.
In design terms the phone feels thin light and precisely machined, with a combination of aluminium on the sides and a white-ish or black-ish plastic back and three buttons - volume rocker, sleep/wake and a dedicated camera button. It doesn't have the same feeling of zen-like perfection as the iPhone 5 or HTC One, but its close.
The 2000mAh battery on the Lumia 925 is decent, but not staggering. We managed just about a day of full use - which is roughly equivalent to phones like the Samsung Galaxy S4, but still a bit of a disappointment.
And then there's Windows Phone. We've written about our reservations with the platform before - which roughly revolve around a general lack of games, key apps like Google's Chrome or Instagram, and an overwhelming sense that it wants you to be constantly working, talking to friends and sharing pictures, but not really having all that much fun.
Still, if you're prepared to buy into Windows - and an increasing number are - it's never been a better moment. The addition of Skype is important, and more apps are being added all the time.
And then there's the camera. Which is really what this phone is all about.
The 8.7-megapixels 'PureView' sensor is dramatically large, at 0.33-inches, and the result is that the phone really is stonkingly good in low light. Nokia's made a big play about emphasising that, and we've written about it before, but it really does bear out in testing. The Carl Zeiss lens is excellent too.
While the Smart Camera app itself can be a bit tricky - apparently lacking a tap-to-focus feature, for instance, and taking a while to cycle through ten shots to pick the best one - the pictures it produces are noticeably brighter, and the number of options and software tech involved does make it stand out from the pack. Of course you can also switch back to the normal camera app - though that sort of defeats part of the object.
Overall the Lumia 925 is a great option if you want to move to Windows Phone, but it's not a straightforward choice. The Lumia 1020 has a better - if ridiculous - camera, for instance, while iOS has more polish and both it and Android have more Apps. And the future of Windows Phone itself seems a little bit murky. But at least the pictures you take with the Lumia 925 won't be.
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