While Windows Phone is a refreshing change from the slew of Android or iOS phones you'll see cluttering the streets, it's far from perfect. The main issue continues to be the lack of big name apps in the app store. Although there are now 140,000 apps in total, including gems like Netflix and Spotify, many popular apps like Snapseed, Instagram or games like Real Racing 3 are nowhere to be found.
Windows Phone is also typically the last to be treated to new titles. Spotify has only recently been added to the catalogue, as has Temple Run, just after Temple Run 2 was launched on Android and iOS. If you're an app addict and can't wait to compare scores of your favourite new game with your mates, you'll be better off shopping elsewhere.
To help plug some of the gaps in the app store, Nokia includes a healthy selection of its own software. They mostly revolve around Nokia's maps -- now called HERE Maps, providing local information about nearby businesses and places of interests.
Fire up the maps app and you'll be able to immediately see nearby restaurants, bars and similar. The City Lens app has been built directly into maps too. Lift the phone up as though you're using the camera and you'll see all businesses scattered around you in an augmented reality view. You can then simply walk towards the one you want to go to.
Clicking on a business name will bring up contact details, images and user reviews, if they're available.
Nokia Drive uses the same maps software, but provides turn by turn satellite navigation for use in your car. It shows a ground level view, together with 3D landmarks, with your route stretching forwards, exactly as you'd expect from your dedicated in-car sat nav.
The roads information is highly detailed and you can download maps to the phone, so you don't need to worry about your connection dropping out. Considering the TomTom app for iOS costs upwards of £40, it's genuinely a great extra for Nokia users to get for free.
Other Nokia additions include the transit app that gives live departures of local buses and trains and Nokia Music, which lets you listen to music playlists by genre, for free, without ads and with the ability to sync them to your phone for offline playback.
Processor and performance
The phone is powered by a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, which is identical to the processor found inside the Lumia 920. Those of you still playing the smart phone numbers game will be disappointed that Nokia hasn't given it a boost to compare more favourably with the slew of quad-core phones like the HTC One or .
For the most part though, the 925 doesn't really need anything that powerful. Swiping around the interface is extremely smooth and responsive and switching between open apps in the multitasking window is free of any delay.
It handled video streaming using BBC iPlayer and Netflix perfectly well and doesn't bat an eyelid with mobile games like Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds. How well it will cope with demanding games like Real Racing 3 is a moot point, as very few are available on the Windows Phone store. The 925 fares well with anything you're able to throw at it from the selection available.
It did seem more sluggish when using some of the camera software though. Nokia has bundled various camera tools, called 'Lenses' with the phone. I'll elaborate on what these do later, but I found that firing them up and switching between them was subject to quite a few delays. Whether that's a problem with the processor or the software isn't clear, but I can't help thinking that a more burly processor would handle the task better.
At the launch, Nokia spent a great deal of time boasting about the 925's camera skills. It actually contains the same 8.7-megapixel sensor found in the 920, which again won't help you win any spec wars against the other smart phone big boys. Nokia has shoved in an extra glass element in the lens which it reckons makes images more defined.
I haven't been able to do a truly exhaustive camera test, but my shots for the review so far have certainly been impressive. The delightful grey skies above London's St Paul's Cathedral were captured well, with good exposure overall. There's not much difference between the 925 and the 920 (shown below), but at full screen, the 925 does seem to have a slight edge in clarity.
Both cameras did a great job capturing the close up detail on this tree bark, with great depth of field in the background. It's very difficult to really see much improvement on the 925, but that's because the 920's was a great shot to begin with.
It's in low-light situations that the Lumias really shine though. The 920 roundly whooped the proverbial of all top-end smart phones in my recent low-light test, so the 925 has a lot to live up to. Thankfully then, it performed incredibly well. My test scene was extremely dimly lit, but you wouldn't be able to tell from the 925's shot. It's bright, evenly exposed and with very natural white balance.
The 920 did a decent job of exposing too, but it was very heavy handed with the auto white balance, giving a reddish hue to the scene. The HTC One meanwhile produced a darker scene, with much lower quality than either of the Lumias. The 925 is more susceptible to hand shake in low-light scenes, but so long as you set your shot up properly, it can deliver some superb results.
Nokia has also bundled the 925 with its new Smart Cam software. It takes 10 pictures in a burst mode, allowing you to edit them in a number of ways. It can track a moving object across the scene to either edit it out completely -- removing a 'photobomber' -- or turn the moving figure into an action sequence photo, shown below.
The photo stitching isn't as smooth as the shots I've seen from the HTC One's Zoe cam, but it looks pretty cool nonetheless. Furthermore, the 925 allows for greater control over which of the 10 shots are included and allows you to fade some of them out, giving more emphasis to your favourite part of the action.
The 925 really seems like it's capable of some impressive shots, but I'll be taking a closer look over the coming weeks. Bear in mind though that if photography is of crucial importance, you might want to keep hold of your cash. Nokia is almost certainly working on a proper PureView Lumia, pairing the ridiculous 41-megapixel sensor from the 808 with Windows Phone software.
No smart phone's battery ever really impresses, but I found the 920's to certainly be among the better efforts. Nokia quotes just under 13 hours of 3G talk time from the 925, which is similarly satisfying -- but as always, that really depends on how you use the phone.
In my early tests, I found the battery to drop quite quickly. I was using the phone heavily, streaming video and downloading apps, with the screen at maximum brightness. After being unplugged in the morning, it would be just over half gone by the afternoon. This is something of a 'worse-case scenario' test, so you'll find it much better with careful use.
Avoid streaming video when you're away from a plug and keep the screen brightness to a lower level -- or on auto-mode. You shouldn't struggle to get a day of use out of the phone which isn't at all bad, but you'll still want to put it on charge each night.
I haven't been able to perform my proper battery drain tests on the phone, so I won't give a final conclusion about how it stacks up against other phones. I'll be updating this review over the coming weeks with further tests, so keep your eyes peeled.
Nokia has taken much of the key hardware from the Lumia 920 and wrapped it up inside a slimmer, lighter and arguably more luxurious body. The addition of the glass lens makes an already superb camera even better. Sure, the screen isn't Full HD and the dual-core processor won't impress Galaxy S4 owners, but you're unlikely to notice this in everyday use.
The main drawback is still the lack of good new apps in the Windows Phone app store, but otherwise, the 925 is a brilliant phone. If you're after a truly brilliant camera though, you might want to hold onto your money just in case Nokia launches the.