Nokia Lumia 925: Hands on with the flagship Windows Phone
Nokia's new flagship Lumia 925 is more an iterative upgrade than a revolutionary leap into the unknown.
Like rival smartphones, the Windows Phone 8-based device will come with a premium price tag of €469 (before taxes or subsidies) when it is released in Europe in June.
The Lumia 925 is undeniably cut from the same cloth as the Lumia 920 and 820, which were launched towards the end of 2012, and that's no bad thing. But it has been on a diet and shed some weight along the way.
The reason for Nokia's foray into 41 megapixel-equipped smartphones is now clear and the Lumia 925 continues the company's push on services and features rather than hardware differentiation, most notably focusing on the camera functionality.
Of course, given that it uses Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 mobile OS, the 4.5-inch WXGA AMOLED (1,280 x 768 pixels) display greets you with a home screen populated by live updating, resizable tiles.
The Lumia 925 feels very much a Lumia 920 in a new slim line aluminium shell, indeed, it shares many of its tech specs with the previous model. While the front and sides of the chassis are crafted from a single piece of aluminium, the rear is still polycarbonate, so it's not quite a unibody design.
For example, it uses the same 1.5Ghz dual core processor, has 1GB RAM and has 16GB of internal storage as standard. Some operators, such as Vodafone, have exclusivity on distributing certain variations of the device. In the case of Vodafone UK, customers will be able to get their hands on a 32GB version of the Lumia 925.
Official measurements of the handset are 129mm x 70.6mm x 8.5mm and it weighs in at 139g. To put this in some perspective, the Lumia 920 is 10.7mm thick and weighs 186 grams.
Disappointingly, none of the variants include the option of a microSD slot to expand onboard storage, so the majority of the devices are limited to 16GB plus 7GB of free SkyDrive storage. This leaves it somewhat constrained in comparison to other devices.
The location of the charging slot has moved from the bottom of the phone (where it is on the Lumia 920) to next to the headphone socket on the top of the chassis for the Lumia 925. Volume, power and dedicated camera shutter buttons remain on the side of the handset.
The camera hardware is also mostly the same as the Lumia 920 (although it uses a 6 lens Carl Zeiss arrangement rather than a 5 lens) meaning that it has an 8.7-megapixel sensor with optical image stabilisation and dual LED flash.
Naturally, there's autofocus too and the ability to capture 1080p HD video at 30fps.
There's also a front-facing 1.2-megapixel camera for video calling or still pictures.
Many of the upgrades to the camera come in the form of software tweaks, largely delivered under the umbrella of Nokia's new Smart Camera mode/app.
Essentially, the app brings a host of new preset modes to the phone, such as Best Shot or Action Shot or the ability to remove moving objects.
Best Shot allows you to choose from one of ten frames taken for every photograph so you can select your favourite, or the most in focus, of the bunch. Similarly, Action Shot uses the same ten-frame approach, but allows you to select or deselect how many you would like to show to create an 'action' effect; there's also a mode that allows you to blur the background, or removing any moving objects from a picture.
The launch of the Lumia also brings the previously seen Data Sense app to the handset as standard. Although first announced at the launch of Windows Phone 8 at the end of 2012, the data usage tracking app has not been readily available in the UK.
Other notable Nokia apps, such as Nokia Music and its HERE Transit, HERE Drive, HERE City Lens, HERE Maps are all still present on the phone, adding some value.
While the device has lost some weight and depth, it also omitted the wireless charging features found on the Lumia 920. Instead, the Lumia 925 can still use Qi-compliant wireless chargers by adding a wireless charging case to the device.
A spokesman for the company confirmed to ZDNet that the wireless charging shells would be sold seperately but could not confirm what they will cost at the time of publication.
Once added to the phone, unlike some other third-party wireless charging products, the Lumia 925's shell doesn't add too much weight or depth to the phone and is only visible from the front on the four corners it clips on to.
A worthy successor?
I only spent half an hour or so with the device, but overall the Lumia 925 strikes me, essentially, as what the Lumia 920 should have been in terms of hardware design. Nokia's handsets, Lumias included, have been striking, but ultimately a little on the large and heavy side to bring them into contention with other best in class devices.
The 925 rectifies this, slimming down and losing some of the weight, adding in extra camera capabilities along the way. Fans of Windows Phone 8 or Nokia will likely welcome the addition of the 925 to the Lumia range, but beyond its design, much of what you get in the 925 can also be found in other models such as the 920.
As a result I can't see many owners being tempted to upgrade from the 920, perhaps Lumia 800 owners would find the jump more worthwhile, though.