Nokia Lumia 925 review: Nokia Lumia 925

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent

Average User Rating

4 stars 21 user reviews
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Slim, light design; Camera is super in low light; Bright and vivid screen; Great Nokia software additions.

The Bad Key specs haven't really improved from the older 920; Windows Phone 8 app store is still poorly stocked; Wireless charging has been removed since the 920.

The Bottom Line The Nokia Lumia 925 is essentially a slimmer, lighter Lumia 920 with a marginally improved camera. It's a brilliant all-round Lumia phone that's perfect for shutterbugs, but those of you wanting specs that challenge the Galaxy S4 or HTC One will be left wanting.

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Rumours of a metal Lumia phone were circling for months before Nokia finally took the lid off the Lumia 925. As expected, the Finnish firm had moved away from an all-plastic construction, instead incorporating luxurious aluminium into the design.

It made the phone much lighter and thinner than the previous flagship, the Lumia 920. The rest of the key specs remain fairly unchanged though. It still packs a 4.5-inch display and a 1.5GHz dual-core processor slumbers inside. Is a fresh design and a new glass camera lens enough to justify the top end price tag that comes with it?

Should I buy the Nokia Lumia 925?

With its bright, bold screen, great camera and fun Windows Phone software, the Lumia 920 was already a great bit of kit. Nokia has taken most of its key specs and wrapped it up inside a new sleeker, lighter body. It's the first time Nokia has used metal in its Lumias and it's resulted in a more mature-looking device. Those of you wanting the garish colours of past Lumias will be left wanting.

The 1,280x768-pixel display and dual-core chip haven't been updated since the 920, so don't start a spec war with a Galaxy S4 owner. In everyday use though, the 925's screen is brilliant and high res enough to do justice to Netflix and YouTube, while the processor is capable of tackling anything from the app store.

Speaking of which, the Windows Phone app store still lags far behind its iOS and Android rivals, so keen gamera and app addicts will want to steer clear.

Nokia's slight tweaks to the camera have slightly improved an already great camera so shutterbugs are well catered for. If you're really keen on photography though, I suggest waiting until the summer. Nokia is strongly rumoured to be bringing its true 41-megapixel PureView tech to Windows Phone in July which could well be the ultimate camera phone.

If you're keen for a Windows Phone device, the 925 is unquestionably the best model to go for. It does share so many specs with the 920 that if you can cope with the increased size and weight, it's likely to be a more cost effective option.

Design and build quality

The Lumia 925 is the first of Nokia's Lumia phones to use metal in its construction, rather than polycarbonate alone. Various rumours before the official unveiling pointed to an all-metal design, but instead, the 925 provides a mixture of both metal and plastic.

The phone's frame is aluminium, giving a slight nod towards the design of the iPhone 4 -- particularly with the little black lines next to the corners. The back panel is plastic, however, and isn't removable. The whole phone is one sealed unit, much like the 920. There's no microSD card slot hidden beneath and you can't swap out the battery.

Nokia Lumia 925
This is the first Lumia to boast a metal chassis, although the backplate is plastic.

The use of metal is definitely an interesting addition for the Lumia phones, which have typically boasted colourful plastic bodies. Whether you like this new approach or not is another matter entirely. I'm personally quite keen on the look, but it won't suit everyone. It's a lot more subdued than the brash yellows and reds of other Lumias, making it a safe option for those of you looking for a sensible work phone.

The downside is that it's less obviously a Nokia phone. I was very fond of the rounded body of the 920 -- and 800 before it. It was immediately recognisable as a Lumia when I saw it in someone's hands on the bus, but the Lumia 925 doesn't stand out in quite the same way. If you've been waiting for a Windows Phones device which will allow you to fit in with your Android mates, it'll suit you well. If you want to make a real statement with your phone, go find yourself a 920 in red or bright yellow -- you'll certainly turn more heads.

The matte, white plastic back of my review model is also an absolute magnet for any dirt and grime in your pockets. That's particularly important if you've recently got a pair of blue jeans as the dye from the material will soon be covering the back of your swanky new mobile. It's possible to clean it up of course, but that's likely to become a drag after a while. If you're really concerned about it always looking spick and span, you might want to opt for the black model -- it won't show the dirt quite as much.

Metal is understandably considered a more luxurious material than plastic, but I'm not sure it really shows on the 925. It's not that the 925 doesn't feel expensive -- it definitely does -- but the solid, rounded build of the 920 felt equally so. I have no worries about the build quality and longevity of the 925 -- the display is made from toughened Gorilla Glass 2 and the plastic back offers absolutely no flex.

Gorilla Glass 2 is toughened to withstand small attacks from keys in your pocket, but it's not impervious to all scratches. I found this out first hand when sliding the phone across the table to show it to my colleague Luke Westaway. I picked it up to find several quite unpleasant scratches across the display. I can't hold this against the 925 as the same will happen to most phones, but it's a valuable lesson to bear in mind if you don't fancy investing in a case or screen protector.

Where it really trumps the 920 though is in its physical size. Both phones pack 4.5-inch displays and are roughly similar in terms of dimensions, the exception being that the 925 is slimmer and much lighter. It weighs 139g which is a big step down from the 185g of the 920. It might not seem like a lot, but it's extremely noticeable when you hold both in your hands. The 925 is much less weighty when tucked in your jacket pocket, and is considerably more comfortable to hold up for a while if you're watching Netflix.

Around the sides you'll find a micro-USB port for charging and data transfer and a 3.2mm headphone jack. 16GB of storage is provided as standard, with a 32GB model being exclusive to Vodafone for now. There's no expandable memory, so you'll want to keep a fairly close eye on how many big videos you're storing on the phone.

There are three little metal contact points on the back. These connect to a case that gives the 925 wireless charging when used with one of the Nokia charging pads. Wireless charging was built into the 920, meaning you didn't have to spoil the nice look of your phone with a case. It's slightly annoying then that it's not built into the 925, but it's an acceptable compromise in order to make the phone slimmer and lighter.

Display

The 925's 4.5-inch display has a 1,280x768-pixel resolution, giving it a pixel density of 334ppi. That's the same size and resolution as the 920, so it's perhaps a bit of a shame that Nokia hasn't seen fit to boost the pixel count. It would certainly help differentiate the 925 as a flagship mobile.

Still, it's far from lacking in pixels as it is. The Windows Phone interface looks incredibly crisp, with no fuzziness around the tiles. Small text on Web pages is perfectly comfortable to read for long periods and high-resolution photos look great. More pixels might help it play specs Top Trumps against the Full HD Galaxy S4, but I'm not sure it would really make much difference in everyday use.

It has the same Clearblack screen technology from the 920 too. It makes black levels very deep, resulting in lusciously rich colours and satisfying contrast. The colourful Windows Phone tiles look gloriously vivid and it helps make Netflix movies and YouTube clips look great.

Nokia Lumia 925
The 925's display looks very crisp, despite hoarding fewer pixels per inch than its main Android rivals.

If you find it a bit too rich for your retinas, jump into the settings menu. In there, you're able to change the brightness, colour temperature and saturation of the screen.

Nokia's also boosted the sensitivity of the screen, allowing you to swipe around while wearing gloves, using a fingernail, or in fact by using any conductive metal. I was actually able to navigate the phone using the metal back of an HTC One .

Windows Phone software

Like all of the Lumia range, the 925 is running Windows Phone, Microsoft's own operating system for phones. If you're only familiar with iOS or Android, then Windows Phone, will come as quite a surprise.

The homescreen is made of various bright, colourful tiles, each showing live information. You can resize them and move them around to customise it to the way that suits you best. Any apps you don't want to give pride of place on the homescreen will be put into an alphabetical list of apps, found when you swipe to the right.

Nokia Lumia 925
Windows Phone is colourful and easy to use.

Once you learn a few of the little tricks -- like pressing and holding the back arrow to show the multi-tasking screen -- Windows Phone is pretty easy to use.

My favourite aspects are the People and Me hubs. They link together your Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin accounts, as well as your contacts' phone numbers and email addresses, allowing you to see all updates in one place, and post to your own networks without having to switch between different apps.

You can also create groups of people that allow you to easily send group texts or emails. The social butterflies among you will appreciate the speed at which you can send out quick invites to meet at the pub after work.

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Nokia Lumia 925

Part Number: 6880342
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