Nokia Lumia 925 brings metal design to Lumia line

The Nokia Lumia 925 is the first of Nokia's Lumia range to use metal, rather than plastic, in its construction. It shares many specs with its older brother, though, the Lumia 920.

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Andrew Lanxon
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CNET's sister site CNET UK reviewed the unlocked Nokia Lumia 925 here. Check out this 4-star review!

The Nokia Lumia 925 is the second flagship phone Nokia has added to its Lumia lineup in a week. While the Lumia 925 shares many key specs with the Lumia 928 -- screen size, processor, and camera resolution -- it sports a metal design and, crucially, will be available outside of the U.S.

It's due to go on sale in the U.K., Europe, and China starting in June, with an estimated price of 470 euros before taxes -- expect that number to vary wildly once local taxes are applied.

Following its global debut, the 925 will alight in the U.S. a few weeks later, closer to the July time frame, as a T-Mobile exclusive. Pricing has yet to be announced for the no-contract device.

I've gone hands-on with the phone ahead of its official unveiling so stay tuned for photos, videos, and more news as it happens.

The Nokia Lumia 925 CNET/ Andrew Hoyle

Rumors have been circling for months now that Nokia has been toying with the idea of using metal in its phones. Those rumors, 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 opt 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 -- particularly the Lumia 920 -- 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, I'd be extremely happy.

That's not to say 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 my brief hands on with the handsets, I found the 925 felt a lot nicer than the all plastic 928. Neither, however, offer the same luxury feel of the HTC One.

The lovely Nokia Lumia 925's metal design (pictures)

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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 offered on the 920.

The GSM radio supports 850/900/1800/1900 bands. There's also WCDMA support for 850/900/1900/2100, and LTE support for 800/900/1800/2100/2600 MHz.

The 925 packs a 4.5-inch display, which is physically the same size you'll get on both the 920 and 928. The 925 and 928 however use OLED screens, rather than standard LCD which promise richer colors and deeper black levels as they don't need to be backlit as do 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. In my demo with the 925, the screen certainly looked impressively bright and bold, but I was seeing it in a dimly lit office -- in those conditions, even a poor screen would shine like a supernova.

It has a resolution of 1,280x768-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 it's lacking pixels.

CNET/ Andrew Hoyle

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's improved the optics in front of the sensor. As well as the lightweight plastic lenses -- low weight is needed for the optical image stabilization -- 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 I can give the camera a thorough test, I 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.

I've played around with the action sequence modes on other phones and found them to be a lot of fun -- so 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.

A guide to all the Nokia Lumia Windows phones (pictures)

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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.

Nokia does throw in quite a few of its own apps including its Here Maps service -- that provides a wealth of local business information -- the turn-by-turn GPS satellite navigation service Here Drive, and various other bits and pieces too. Some of them are genuinely handy additions, but you can find the whole suite on even the budget Lumia 620, so if you just want to use Nokia's services, you really don't need to splash your cash on the 925.

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 -- Netflix, Spotify, and Skype are all 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. I found swiping around the interface to be perfectly swift, but I'll reserve judgement for the final review.

With its new metal parts, the Nokia Lumia 925 is a sleek and attractive addition to the Windows Phone 8 range. Does it excite, though? No. It shares most of its key specs with the older Lumia 920 which doesn't really stack up well against the elite competition such as the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.

We'll have to wait and see if the slight tweaks to the camera and the more sturdy build will make the 925 a serious smart phone contender.