The Lumia 925 is finally here in Australia, and it's great, but it's suffering from a weird identity crisis and a time-limit in the spotlight.
What Is It?
The Lumia 925 packs a 1.5Ghz Snapdragon processor, 1280×768 4.5-inch screen, and a familiar-looking 8.7-megapixel f2.0 camera. In other words, damn-similar specs to the Lumia 920. In fact, the biggest physical change is that metal body. Not only does it feel better in the hand, but it shaves a whopping 46g off the weight of the Lumia 920 — if you remember, the biggest criticism of that handset was its ample beer belly.
The other changes are relatively small — the screen is OLED rather than IPS LCD, and the internal storage has, weirdly, dropped from 32GB to 16GB. The only way you're going to get that 32GB of storage is to buy the phone through Vodafone, which is packing the 32GB model as an exclusive.
The Lumia 925 will be available from Optus, Telstra on plans, and outright for $699 from Allphones, Dick Smith, JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman, Network Communications, Fone Zone and Leading Edge.
Retailers will get the handset first for outright purchase on 17 July, while Telstra will get it on 30 July, followed by Optus from 1 August.
The Lumia 925 subscribes to the "if it ain't broke, why fix it?" theory. The Nokians figure that the Lumia 920 flagship did pretty well for itself a while ago, so why try harder? That's a good theory, but the Finnish phonemaker needs to be careful because, while its phones aren't broke, they do need to fix their attitude. It's starting to border on laziness.
The specs on the 925 are pretty much the same side-by-side with the 920. As a result, the phone is still fast, fluid and wonderful to use. Applications launch quickly, the phone has no visible input lag, the battery lasts all day and it's great to look at.
The only two real changes come in the form of a new metal body over the colourful polycarbonate we're used to and the improved 8.7 megapixel camera with Optical Image Stabilisation.
The camera on the Lumia — as always — is better than ever. Most Android users wish they could take photos this good.
Check out how it does compared to the competition (listed in no particular order).
Click on a photo to zoom…
Nokia Lumia 925
Samsung Galaxy S4
The Lumia 925 performs well, outshining the likes of the HTC One and equalling the brilliant results of the Galaxy S4. It's definitely on point.
The bi-xenon flash on the rear of the 925 also makes for terrific low-light shots. We haven't had a chance to take the four phones out for a late image test, but already from preliminary testing we know that the 925 is clearly on top
As you'd also guess, the metal back makes the Lumia flagship lighter than ever. The Lumia 920 seemed to be made out of a goddamn-depleted uranium shell, but the aluminium body that defines the 925 makes it a vision gunmetal grey. It's a sleek tool fit for the hands of James Bond himself.
It's also nice to see that Nokia haven't started lopping features off the phone with the weight shedding. Inductive charging is still here, and it's backwards compatible with other charging pillows, too. The Lumia 925 also has OIS and as we mentioned, a decent flash.
We've bashed the app ecosystem on every Windows Phone 8 device that has previously come across our desk, but that's finally starting to change now. The app availability on Windows Phone 8 is getting better, and we're seeing a bunch of good stuff coming out or in development for the fledgeling platform these days. Keep working, Windows Phone devs.
The Lumia 925 is plenty powerful, but it's just a shame that it's barely an upgrade from the Lumia 920. Bottom line: if you sell your Lumia 920 to get in bed with the 925, you're an idiot. That's like dumping your supermodel wife to jump into bed with her twin sister.
We've given Nokia a pretty decent serve in the past in regards to its convoluted product line-up, and it continues to do itself no favours in the arena with the addition of the 925. It almost feels like a fresh coat of paint on the 920 so Nokia can sell more of the hardware it had kicking around the factory in Finland, and that's disappointing.
To recap, on the market right now — in descending order — is the Lumia 925, the Lumia 920, the Lumia 820, the Lumia 720, the Lumia 620 and the Lumia 520, with the Lumia 1020 presumably coming soon. The differences between all these handsets — as you'll see from our extensive reviewing — is minor at best, and the devices all pretty much look and cost the same (save a few $100, perhaps). Six handsets and barely daylight between them.
The last company to try flooding the market was Samsung, and that actually worked out pretty well. Samsung didn't want to waste time with consumer marketing surveys to see exactly what sort of form factor or product type made it in the market, so any handset or gadget idea it came up with got a product sticker and a price slapped on it before being released unto the world. At one point last year, Samsung had something like 15 tablets in the Australian market alone, all with different form factors. It actually worked out pretty well for Samsung, and now Nokia is clearly trying the same strategy, except it's not really working.
Samsung has more money than God, so flooding the market with devices and marketing them cleverly has paid even greater dividends. Nokia's strategy of flooding the market comes seemingly without a decent message behind it, so confusion abounds. Go into a telco store right now and ask a sales consultant to explain the differences between Samsung's range of phones on the market right now and then explain the differences between Lumias. I guarantee confusion and the checking of a spec sheet more than once.
There's nothing wrong with trying to make a profit and more products on the market leads to greater avenues for revenue, but clearly something needs to be done about simplifying and at the same time, strengthening Nokia's product offerings.
Eliminate phones like the Lumia 620, Lumia 720 and Lumia 920 and stick with the Lumia 1020 as a flagship product, Lumia 925 as a mid-range offering and the Lumia 520 on pre-paid for even sub-$100. Then you have a simplified offering that lays out the benefits in the same way a lot of internet service providers now offer their services: small, medium and large. Simple, easy and on point.
Back in the realm of physical handset concerns, the Lumia 925 has a great camera, save one small complaint. Despite packing a great shooter on the back, the Lumia 925 is still clearly identifiable as a smartphone camera. Don't get me wrong, the camera is great for a smartphone offering, the only concern comes with where the camera decides to focus.
For some reason, the photos we took on the 925 always look a little blurry at full crop. Make sure you have a subject in the middle-distance of the frame you can lock focus on if taking a big landscape shot, for example, as the auto-focus makes everything look a little fuzzy.
Should You Buy It?
Despite our complaining about the way Nokia seems to do business these days, the Lumia 925 is still a great phone.
If you were attracted to Windows Phone through the brilliant Nokia Lumia 920, but got turned off either because of the bulk or the less than mature ecosystem, the 925 is your perfect invitation to dip your toe in the pool again.
Since the flagship 920's release almost a year ago now, the 925 has been quietly developed to improve upon and fix everything we really disliked about the first real Windows Phone 8 flagship. It's lighter, sexier, faster, fuller, better at photos (of which it was already great) and really affordable too. It's just a shame that it's only going to have 15-minutes of fame until the Lumia 1020 lands in Australia before it's superseded as the best Windows 8 smartphone on the market.