Nokia Lumia 925 review: First metal Lumia gets it right

The Lumia's 1080p HD video recorder also produces high-quality video that's smooth, colorful, and an adept tool to tell a visual story. For its part, the 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera adopts a wide angle, and shoots in 720p HD video. The latter is great news for video chatters like me, and the wide angle should help with those selfies.

Exposure on the self-portraits can be a little off at times, with your face looking one color and the rest cast in another. Overall, though, the images were usable. CNET's image gallery offers up some comparisons of our studio shot.

Nokia Lumia 925
The Lumia 925 pumped out plenty of bright color on this tram, but missed some details of the moving vehicle. Click to enlarge. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Nokia Lumia 925
A typical San Francisco scene. Click to enlarge. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Nokia Lumia 925
There's some detail missing from this resized image of the Ferry Building. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Nokia Lumia 925
Here's a full resolution crop of the Ferry Building's famous spire. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Nokia Lumia 925
The Lumia 925 beautifully captured these shaded blooms. Click to enlarge. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
Nokia Lumia 925
Nokia knows its way around low-light shots. Here's how it did on automatic mode, no flash. Click to enlarge. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Call quality
Nokia phones typically offer up high-quality calls, and the 925 (CDMA 850/900/1800/1900MHz) mostly stays the course, despite a few bobbles in my San Francisco tests.

Volume was strong on level 5 of 10, but voices weren't entirely clear on my end. For example, my main calling partner was intelligible, but didn't sound quite as sharp or as natural as usual. In addition to that, his voice sounded somewhat lispy and muted, almost gauzy. Still, we were able to carry on a long conversation and the line was completely clear of white noise, blips, and beeps.

On the other end of the line, volume was loud and strong. My audio came over a little distorted and mushy, my caller said, and sounded a bit flat and a tinge unnatural, maybe raspy, but not unpleasant. Again, background noise was kept at bay. He rated the phone a B+ for audio, not the top of the line, but a strong experience overall.

Speakerphone was also strong when I held the phone at hip level. Volume dropped immediately and I had to increase it all the way to 10/10. Voices sounded really tight and clean, without a lot of echo or fuzziness. There wasn't even a hint of background noise. Voices did acquire a strange robotic quality, and a little of the phone's formerly lispiness remained. Still and all, a great speakerphone.

My test partner agreed that volume dropped, but said he liked the quality. I still sounded a little mushy, and the phone did nothing to suppress echoes, but he didn't hear any distortion and felt comfortable speaking for some time.

Nokia Lumia 925 call quality sample (T-Mobile) Listen now:

Nokia Lumia 925 call quality sample (AT&T) Listen now:

While calling another cellphone indoors using the Lumia 925 on AT&T's network in San Francisco, the voice quality was impressive. On both ends, the call sounded clear, almost like I was standing next to the other person. The person I called also noted that my voice was clear even while I walked through a group of people talking loudly.

Once I ventured outside, my caller's voice sounded distorted and a bit robotic at times. Still, the overall experience using AT&T on the Lumia 925 was positive.

Performance: Speed, processor, battery life
The Lumia 925's 4G LTE performance is only as good as T-Mobile's network in your area. Here in downtown San Francisco, it's a reliable double-digit Mbps experience down and slightly less up.

Nokia Lumia 925 (T-Mobile)
Download Endomondo (3MB) 22 seconds
Load up Endomondo mobile app 4.6 seconds
CNET mobile site load 3.3 seconds
CNET desktop site load 15.2 seconds
Boot time to lock screen 27.8 seconds
Camera boot time 2.6 seconds
Camera, shot-to-shot time 2.5 seconds with flash and focusing

Nokia Lumia 925 (AT&T)
Download Endomondo (3MB) 19.8 seconds
Load up Endomondo mobile app 3.1 seconds
CNET mobile site load 3.5 seconds
CNET desktop site load 12.5 seconds

The Lumia 925 uses the same processor as its siblings, Qualcomm's 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 chipset. It's plenty snappy, although certain things do take a few beats to open. Pretty much every Windows Phone handset I've used takes a few seconds to load the camera app, for instance, and the method of capturing a photo on the native camera app stalls shot-to-shot times, which means you could miss what you're looking for.

Overall, I can't complain about the phone's navigation or data speeds.

Battery life on the Lumia 925's 2,000 mAh battery seems fairly standard, especially since it's the same ticker behind the 920 and 928. It has a rated talk time of 12.8 hours and a rated standby time of 18 days. During our battery drain test for talk-time, it lasted 11 hours.

Note that a phone's battery degrades over time, so these numbers represent the best you can expect in the phone's lifetime. In general, batteries generally carry you a full work day before requiring a complete charge.

Storage space is a bit of a sore point for some with this device. Globally, it sells at 16GB or 32GB capacities, but the US model caps off at 16GB internal storage with 7GB of free online storage with Microsoft SkyDrive. That's generally enough space for average users, but since theres's no expansion slot on this device, people who typically download tons of videos and games may run into problems. The 925 has 1GB of RAM.

The 925 has a digital SAR of 1.4 watts per kilogram.

Who should buy it?
Physically, Nokia's Lumia 925 is a sleek, 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.

The fact that the 925 also backs up its hardware with Nokia's software apps and services goes a long way toward making this a top Windows phone. Those willing to shell out significantly more for the Lumia 1020's 41-megapixel camera looming (an AT&T exclusive in the US) will find more-impressive photos for sure, but also a blockier, more utilitarian design. If you're not a photos snob, the more budget-friendly 925 will do just fine.

Then there's the question of Windows Phone as a platform. The OS can't do as many fancy tricks as Android and iOS, it doesn't have quite the same amount of top-tier apps (though Microsoft has advanced on this tremendously), and it isn't as graphical to behold. Not everyone wants or needs the full-throttle smartphone powerhouse experience where everything is customizable, and Windows Phone has a few more tucked-away features than some folks realize.

I'd say, T-Mobile and AT&T customers on the lookout for a Windows Phone device in particular, or a straightforward smartphone in general should absolutely consider the Lumia 925 . Those seeking a blow-you-away camera experience on Nokia's most advanced phone yet, cast your eyes on the Lumia 1020 instead.

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Where to Buy See all prices

Nokia Lumia 925

Part Number: LUMIA925ULK Released: Jul 17, 2013
MSRP: $529.99 Low Price: $325.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Jul 17, 2013
  • Service Provider AT&T
  • Weight 4.9 oz
  • Diagonal Size 4.5 in
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