The Nokia Lumia 925 has finally landed in Australia after launching in June for the UK, and earlier this month in the US. While Nokia has listed an RRP of AU$699 — fairly comparable with the £499 and US$655 pricing — both Telstra and Optus have priced the device at AU$624 outright.
On plan, Optus has the Lumia 925 for AU$60 per month, with no handset repayments, 1.5GB of data and a minimum cost over 24 months of AU$1440. Telstra has the phone for AU$60 per month, with AU$6 handset repayments, 1GB of data and a minimum cost of AU$1584 over 24 months. Other plans for the Lumia 925 also exist.
Rumours have been circling for months now that Nokia has been toying with the idea of using metal in its phones. Those rumours, it seems, were bang on the money, as the 925 is built with metal at its core. The chassis on which all the crucial components are mounted is metal, with thick metal banding present around the edges of the handset.
Rather than opting for an all-metal design, though, the 925 has a polycarbonate back plate. It's a shame not to see a single-piece metal construction. We've already seen this on the HTC One and iPhone 5, both of which are unquestionably stunning phones.
Some of Nokia's previous Lumias boast single-piece bodies, albeit made from plastic, which do have a certain luxurious feel to them. If Nokia could have mimicked the slick, rounded body of the 920 in metal rather than plastic, we'd be extremely happy.
That's not to say that the 925 doesn't look good, though. Far from it. The metal edging feels firm and curves nicely to join the rounded edge of the screen. The back panel doesn't give much flex when you press on it, making it feel much more solid and secure than the plastic body of the Samsung Galaxy S4. In our brief hands on with the handsets, we found that the 925 felt a lot nicer than the all-plastic 928. Neither, however, offer the same luxurious feel of the HTC One.
The Lumia 928 has roughly the same dimensions as the 920, but, at 8.5mm thick, it's slightly slimmer and quite a lot lighter. At 185 grams, the 920 was something of a beast to hold, but the 925 knocks off 46 grams, which should help it be more comfortable to hold for long periods. The matte surface texture is also slightly easier to grip than the high-gloss coating on the 920.
Around the sides, you'll find a volume rocker, power button and dedicated camera shutter button — all metal — with both the headphone jack and micro-USB port stuck on the top. There's 16GB of internal storage, which is enough for the essentials, but it's sad not to see the same 32GB that's offered on the 920.
The 925 packs a 4.5-inch display, which is physically the same size that you'll get on both the 920 and 928. The 925 and 928, however, use OLED screens, rather than standard LCD, which promise richer colours and deeper black levels, as they don't need to be backlit like cheaper screens.
Nokia already has good form for squeezing vibrant screens into its phones, though — its "ClearBlack" technology on the 920 and other phones is excellent. The AMOLED 4.5 inch screen technology means colors pop bright and blacks look rich and deep. Microsoft's graphical Windows Phone design looks great in this treatment, and so do photos, videos, games, and images on Web sites.
It has a resolution of 1280x768 pixels, which again is the same as you'll find on the 920 and 928. It's a shame not to see a push for a few more pixels — it would help the 925 stand out as a clear flagship against its brothers — but it did make the Windows Phone 8 interface look extremely crisp, so it would be wrong to suggest that it's lacking pixels.
Nokia has given the 925's camera a couple of small tweaks, too. It uses the same 8.7-megapixel sensor as its predecessor, but Nokia explained that it has improved the optics in front of the sensor. As well as the lightweight plastic lenses — low weight is needed for the optical image stabilisation — the 925 uses a sixth glass lens, which Nokia reckons gives better clarity, especially in daylight.
Nokia has also apparently improved its camera firmware to give better noise reduction in low-light situations. Until we can give the camera a thorough test, we can't comment on whether these tweaks are worthwhile. The Lumia 920 was already an excellent low-light performer, so let's hope Nokia hasn't messed around with that too much.
You will find some new camera software on-board, chief among which is called SmartCam. This app (also integrated as a camera lens) takes a burst of 10 images that you can then edit into an action sequence, change the faces or choose the best image from the bunch to save. We've seen these functions already on the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4. Unlike the Galaxy S4, though, you choose how to edit the images after you've taken them, rather than choose a setting to shoot in beforehand.
We've played around with the action sequence modes on other phones, and found them to be a lot of fun — as long as you have a particularly exciting scene to capture. Nokia's effort seems to work in much the same way, but with what seems to be a more stripped-down, easier-to-use interface.
You can set the camera to automatically load in SmartCam mode, or you can pin the icon to your home screen to get access to it quickly.
Windows Phone 8 software
As part of Nokia's Lumia range of phones, the 925 will be running on Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 software. Manufacturers can't skin the operating system like they can with Android, so if you've used Window Phone before, you'll find the same large, live tiles on the home screen with apps in a long list to the right.
One thing you will need to bear in mind, though, is that the Windows Phone 8 app store is still very understocked. You can find the odd jewel — Spotify and Skype are available — but many big titles are missing, and WP8 devices are generally at the end of the queue for receiving new apps.
The 925 is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, which — surprise, surprise — is the same engine that's inside the 920 and 928. It's easy to argue that Nokia needs to ramp up its processor if it wants to properly compete with the quad-core phones, but given that there's very little you can find in the Windows Phone store to tax a phone, it probably doesn't need to. We found swiping around the interface to be perfectly swift, and browsing using the mobile version of Internet Explorer was suitably fast.
We tested on Telstra's 4G in the Sydney CBD area. Data download speeds averaged out around 35-40Mbps, in keeping with what we expect for the network. Upload speed hovered between 2-3Mbps. We downloaded the Endomondo app in just under 20 seconds, and the Lumia 925 was able to open the app and have it running in around 3.5 seconds. In all, the phone made good use of the data speeds and felt comparable to a quad-core experience.
Call quality on the network was good, but our call receivers noted that while background noise was minimal, our voices tended to sound a little flat. Speakerphone was excellent, both to make calls and for the people on the other end.
With its new metal parts, the Nokia Lumia 925 is a sleek and attractive addition to the Windows Phone 8 range.
Physically, Nokia's Lumia 925 is a good-looking, tailored device that proves Nokia is adept at making phones with understated elegance, not just statement pieces. Indeed, Nokia has had a long history with design, and its chops show.
There's also the issue of Windows Phone as a platform. It's weaker in terms of capability than Android and iOS, it doesn't have quite the same amount of top-tier apps and it isn't as graphical to behold. However, not everyone wants or needs the full-throttle smartphone powerhouse experience where everything is customisable, and Windows Phone has a few more tucked-away features than some folks realise.
The price is certainly right for the overall build quality of the phone. and people looking for a Windows Phone experience as opposed to an Android or iOS one should definitely put the Nokia Lumia 925 on their shortlist.