Nokia Lumia 930: Australian Review

It's been slow-going for Microsoft's adopted little brother, Nokia, but after a hard slog, the phone maker is finally starting to gain ground. The Lumia 930 is the next great hope for Nokia. Does it have what it takes to play with the big boys from Samsung, HTC and Apple?

What Is It?

The Nokia Lumia 930 is essentially the Nokia Lumia Icon intended for Australia. It has a fancy new jacket and 4G capabilities, but it's basically the same.

The Lumia 930 has a 1080p 5-inch screen. As far as looks go, it's slightly divorced from the rounded edges and all-polycarbonate body of Lumias before it. The 930's screen and case are separated by a gorgeous silver banding with textured buttons throughout, making it easier to hold than its more slippery, rounded kin. Moulded polycarbonate makes a glorious return on the rear cover, however, which sadly is not removable.

Under-the-hood, it’s got 2.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, 32GB of internal storage, and 2GB of RAM. It sports a familiar 20-megapixel PureView camera, powered by Nokia’s excellent suite of photography apps.

The Nokia Lumia 930 will cost $729 and be released to all major carriers — Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. It comes in three colours: orange (pictured), as well as green and silver/white.

Telstra will offer the Lumia 930 on a $70 Mobile Accelerate plan for an additional $5 per month over 24 months. That plan includes $700 per month of calls, unlimited SMS and 1.5GB per month of data.

Optus, meanwhile, has the Lumia 930 starting on the $60 MyPlan for an additional $9 per month over 24 months. The $60 MyPlan tier includes unlimited national calls and 2GB of data.

Vodafone carries the device on its $70 Red plan for an extra $6 per month over 24 months. That gives you infinite calls and 3GB of data. You can also take advantage of Vodafone's new "Data Workout" feature that lets you use practically unlimited data for the first two months so you can figure out your usage.

What's Good?

The Lumia 930 takes everything truly great about Windows Phones of the past, and turns it right up to 11. It makes the Lumia 930 the spiritual successor to the frankly excellent Lumia 920.

The screen is better than ever. Standing at a sizeable 5-inches, the bright, beautiful AMOLED panel has a resolution of 1080p (1920x1080). It packs deeper blacks than we've yet seen on a Lumia thanks to the AMOLED panel, and goes right to the edge thanks to a piece of curved glass replacing a traditional bezel, making it one of the sexiest screens to look at in the Windows Phone line-up.

The 930 is also the most powerful Lumia we've yet seen. With a quad-core 2.2GHz processor and 2GB of RAM, you'll never be left wanting for grunt. Sure, it's the last-gen Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor (current flagships pack the 801), but you won't notice once the Lumia gets up to speed.

The camera is also super-impressive in well-lit environments. Boasting a 20-megapixel sensor and Carl Zeiss optics, it's no slouch. Check out a few test shots.

Click to enlarge

Nokia Lumia 930

Samsung Galaxy S5

iPhone 5s

Nokia Lumia 1020

Our only complaint is that it can oversaturate images somewhat. The low-light performance, however, leaves a lot to be desired. We'll touch on that in a minute.

On top of the amazing hardware, it's also an exclusive software experience for those picking it up in the next few months: it's the first device in Australia to ship with Windows Phone 8.1.

Windows Phone 8.1 adds in some great features like a pull-down Notification Centre, the ability to have your background shine through Live Tiles, new fonts, flatter design, new colours, new lock screens and other little tweaks designed to make the software look and feel great. At first glance, it's a lot like Windows 8.1 for your desktop or tablet, and that's awesome.

The only thing you miss out on in Australia with Windows Phone 8.1 is Cortana: Microsoft's virtual assistant. Despite the fact that software like Siri and Google Now have been out for what feels like eons now, Cortana is still bearing the dreaded "beta" tag, meaning you'll be waiting until at least next year to get it on your handset outside of the US officially. Of course, you could just use a workaround to get it right now. Here's how.

One of the principle things the Lumia brand has going for it is that it doesn't fit the mold of a traditional phone flagship. Nokia put out an ad a while ago which highlighted the problem with its competitors: they were boring to look at.

The Lumia 930 with its awesome colour palette, curved screen, silver banding and textured buttons is everything we love in a smartphone. Other manufacturers could learn from it: we're all a little bored of black, white and gold phones now aren't we?

On top of all this, there's the price. You can get the Lumia 930 for $729, which for a quad-core-packing, 20-megapixel-shooting flagship is great value.

What's Bad?

The matte-finish on the 930's back cover looks amazing as we've mentioned (that orange...), but it can be tough to keep pretty.

As with all matte surfaces, it picks up just about every scuff, scratch, mark and smudge imaginable. Even in a week I've found scuffs and dark smudges that have been tough to remove, and that's just from keeping the phone in my pocket and bag.

And that's not the only double-edged sword we found on the 930. The camera has its problems too.

Low-light performance on the Lumia 930 kind of sucks. It's a phone that's meant to excel in low-light, but it falls short by struggling to focus on objects in the distance and dumping a whole lot of noise onto the final image.

Click to enlarge

Nokia Lumia 930

Samsung Galaxy S5

iPhone 5s

Nokia Lumia 1020

The problems are really laid bare when it's compared to the Lumia 1020. Despite the fact that the 1020 is over a year-old now, it still kicks flagship phones from 2014 up and down the park all goddamn day.

The saving grace of the Lumia 930 is that the Pro Camera app gives you adjustable settings, so fixing crappy low-light images is a cinch.

It turns shots taken in Auto from this...

...into this...

It's not perfect, but it's a right sight better than Auto settings.

The Lumia 930 also seems to struggle finding a focal point, especially in low-light circumstances. Stack all that on top of fairly significant shutter lag and it's a bit of a disappointing camera unit for a PureView-packing Lumia.

Most of these issues can be solved by just taking better care of your phone or being a better photographer, but the app gap is still undeniably terrible.

We talked above about how proud Nokia is of its designs, and it should be. But of course, Nokia could be accused of neglecting the inside of the device for as long as it's been crowing about how good the outside looks. While other manufacturers were getting amazing new apps from big players that are changing the way people interact with each other, Windows Phone has barely enough app support to keep it going.

I've complained in every Lumia review about apps, and I usually get people bitching at me on Twitter about it. Before you tweet, comment or otherwise, just take a look at Facebook's varying app support for example.

In the years it's been since Facebook released its official app for Windows Phone (which still took ages), it has released Paper for iOS, Home for Android, Messenger client for both (which eventually came to Windows) and Snapchat-clone Slingshot. That's four apps for iOS and Android compared to Windows Phone's one app release. Even with that one app release, updates to the world's largest social network are just as rare for the Windows Phone platform.

And then of course there's the apps it's still missing entirely. You still don't have a great Twitter client like iOS' Tweetbot or Android's Carbon. You don't get Snapchat, Tinder, Secret, Slingshot, Hangouts, Chrome, Drive, UP by Jawbone, Snapseed, Uber, Pocket, Feedly and a fistful of fitness and integrated accessory apps, all of which are on both Android and iOS. These aren't new apps, either. All of them have been out on both platforms for at least a year, if not longer.

Sure, the Windows Marketplace has a few apps which can do half the job made by third-party developers, but a lot of them are pretenders and even more are just flat-out terrible.

To combat this, Microsoft and Nokia will just tell you to use the apps it has prescribed for you to combat the problem. Use Skype for your instant communications instead of Hangouts; use Internet Explorer instead of Chrome; use OneDrive instead of all your other cloud storage providers; use Bing Health And Fitness instead of your expensive fitness band, and forget the rest. You didn't need them anyway, right?

By following that approach, we're left with the same problem posed by the infamous Surface 2 (or Lumia 2520) and its crappy Windows RT platform: that's not how people work. It isn't the platform's job to tell you to conform to all of its first-party nonsense. Not even Apple can get away with that these days. It's an analogue app ecosystem in a digital, cross-platform world.

As soon as the Windows Phone store catches up to the competition with apps like Instagram, Vine and Facebook Messenger, the game changes again. Now that Nokia is under Microsoft's roof, things need to speed up. And I'm guessing they will. 10 per cent market share is nothing to sniff about, and Microsoft is no stranger to throwing money at a problem to make its consumer division bets work. Look at the Xbox 360 for example.

Should You Buy It?

Look, that app thing sounds bad, but it's a problem that's getting better. That's common of the whole platform, too: the problems are all getting better, to the point that I'd almost be happy living with the Lumia 930 as my everyday device. That's thanks to the excellent camera (for day shots), the good looks and functionality of Windows Phone 8.1 and its incredible screen and design.

It's also a cheap outright purchase when you consider that the Android and iOS flagship competition will all cost you between $100 and $300 more.

App-lovers switching to the Lumia 930 are in for a hard time here, given everything that's still missing, but those just getting into the smartphone game, or even those who don't care too much about apps that just want a good Windows-based phone to fit into their existing Windows lives will love the Lumia 930. It's the best piece of hardware we've yet seen from Nokia.

If you're going to buy a Windows Phone flagship in 2014, you'd be mad to ignore the Nokia Lumia 930.


    Heading down to AllPhones at lunchtime to upgrade my 920 to a 930 (they have it for $679 until the end of the month). You forgot about the Dolby Digital surround audio in videos, otherwise good review. Also, the app problem is annoying (and really hasn't shifted sinced I got my 920) but I don't feel anything is missing once you get a decent third party app... except for Google's apps. I used to be a huge Google fan but the way they continue to treat Windows Phone users gets my hackles up. I understand they are attempting to protect Android but I had considered buying a Nexus tablet in the past but won't now due to their childish behaviour. Anyway... happy day, 930 in 1.5 hours.

    Strange that you focus on the camera? I just switched to the Nokia 520 from a Galaxy S3 and for $128, I couldn't be happier. Touch screen is great and camera does the job for phone camera. The number one winner with my "cheap" phone is the battery life, twice as long as the galaxy. App's, sure they're isn't as many in store, but the main ones, 90% of what people need are there and work fine from what I can tell.
    Can you let us know what the battery life is like on the Nokia 930 compared to the competition in real life use? Cause I for one and sick of running out of battery after a day, having to charge it all the time and not being able to make calls or texts late at night or at th end of the day...

    The bad news for Telstra customers are that they have delayed (yep as with the 920 and 1020 before), their release of the 930 to 5 August at this stage. This is due to internal QC test failure. *Curse the Telstra bloatware*

    I got the information last Friday from a 24x7 chat with their support guys, here is a screenshot of what I was told:

    Existing WP user (L920) reading this review - happy with the apps I use (I also own an Android, so I know what I'm "missing out on") and happy with the review - though the low-light comments have piqued my attention.

    Now, just to wait for Telstra to sort out their damn supply problem and get some stock for an upgrade. Can't compromise on network and switch back to Optus just to get it 3 weeks earlier.

    How about how brilliant Lumia's are in direct sunlight compared to the opposition, after all most of us do text and take photo's outside ( happy 920 user, contract ending Nov. Maybe McLaren will be out then?)

    "I’ve complained in every Lumia review about apps, and I usually get people bitching at me on Twitter about it. Before you tweet, comment or otherwise, just take a look at Facebook’s varying app support for example.

    In the years it’s been since Facebook released its official app for Windows Phone (which still took ages), it has released Paper for iOS, Home for Android, Messenger client for both (which eventually came to Windows) and Snapchat-clone Slingshot. That’s four apps for iOS and Android compared to Windows Phone’s one app release. Even with that one app release, updates to the world’s largest social network are just as rare for the Windows Phone platform."

    So what? If those apps allowed you to do things you could not otherwise do, you might have a point but every smartphone has an internet browser, which means the apps might be handy but they are by no means essential, or even important. I don't know a single person, not at work, not amongst my friends or neighbours, who use Hangouts. OTOH, I'm on Skype half the day at at work. And on the browser front, anyone who thinks they must have a particular browser is an idiot. They are all the same, they all work as well as one another and if one comes with your device there is zero value in bothering to install another. I got over that years ago.

    Which brings me to another point. I've read half-a-dozen 930 reviews and yours is the first not to bother mentioning how good the improvements in IE 11 are. It's also the first to have a problem with low light photography (maybe there's a problem with your review unit). You are also the first person I have ever come across who thinks that matte surfaces mark easily. I can show you the back of my matte white Lumia 925's charging shell and you will see that in 10 months it hasn't picked up the tiniest mark or scratch, despite spending 5 or 6 hours a day in my pants pocket without any protection.

    Back on apps, I can honestly say that in the three years or so I've been on WinPhone, I've only installed one app that I use on anything approaching a regular basis, Weather & Surf Australia, and it was available the first time I switched my Samsung Focus on in 2011. Every day I spend a few minutes looking at featured apps. I install a few every week but none of them every get used. In fact, I read somewhere today that 80% of apps in the Apple App Store have virtually zero users, which makes the entire "my app store is bigger than yours" argument a complete waste of time.

      Love your reply.

      Its so true that even though Apple & Android have more apps, whats the point if less than 20% are regularly used. What annoys me about most people is that they will tell you "iPhones are the easiest phone to use" or "I'm used to the iPhone", my response is a) what did you use before you used your iPhone? You got used to the iPhone, you would get even more used to Windows Phone if you gave it a try.

        Exactly. The reason I bought my first Windows Phone was that I went into a Telstra store and spent 20 minutes or so doing a side-by-side comparison between an iPhone 4 and an HTC Mozart. I found that WinPhone 7 instantly made more sense and I was able to do a lot more with it in that 20 minute test run than I could with the iPhone. Maybe iOS is easy to learn but it is not really easy to work out from scratch. It also lacked a lot of out-of-the-box functionality compared to the Mozart, which is quite possibly why reviewers tend to over-emphasise the importance of apps.

    The app problem should be an article of its own, it really shits me that it's basically left to Rudy Huyn to fill the shortfall for apps like snapchat, instagram etc.

    And thanks Telstra you fucking jerks, maybe I should just get a 1020 instead...

      Who is Rudy Huyn?

    hey, it comes in black too...

    my 920 screen finally cracked after it fell really hard on my driveway (dropped it so many times before) so now I have an excuse to upgrade to this :) regarding apps, all rudy huyn's apps are much better than official ones anyway

    apps on the wp8 phones?
    no issue what so ever!

    i use twitter on my phone, i use the facebook app on my phone, instagram? i don't need stupid filters for my photo's, i just take good ones and don't need to hide them.

    As the person above said:

    What about battery life?

    My dad has a 920 and the battery is shocking, it constantly overheats and (on another tangent) as much as he tries to say that the Nokia navigation app is awesome, I still prefer google maps, it's just more polished and user friendly. That and it crashed all the time and wouldn't find routes.

      I get two to three days on my Lumia 925 and I find Drive Maps more than cover all my needs. Better still, I can pre download all the maps I am going to need before I head out, so I don't have to worry about spotty 4G coverage when I actually need the maps. TBH though, being a man I always know where I am and where I am going so I rarely, if ever use any navigation on my phone.

        That's an absolute Pissa! I agree, but my wife rolled her eyes.

    Just upgraded my Lumia 920 to the Lumia 930. The only dissapointing thing is it doesn't have glance screen functionality that my 920 had. I loved that feature :-(. Otherwise it is a great upgrade. I disagree with this review going on about missing apps. I have all the apps I need. Infact a lot of the apps are better than what is availbale on Android or iOS. My friends all look at MetroTube (Youtube for Windows Phone) and love the interface and wish they had it on Android. Also we have full Office with excel, word on our Windows Phones. It is really handy for updating my spreadsheets on the go. Dont think you can do that on iOS/Android can you?

    Last edited 23/07/14 1:43 pm

      I agree... my mum had a Nokia Lumia 800 which had started to become buggy over the last few months. I presume that is partly because her phone can't be updated to Windows 8. Anyway she wanted to get a new phone and she didn't want to get a Windows phone again. I have a Samsung Galaxy for work running KitKat 4.4, I have also used iPhone 4S running IOS 7 and I have my own personal phone a Nokia Lumia 625 which was given to me. As it is I have loved my Nokia 625 the most, especially after the 8.1 update 1. So I asked her what does she need out of her phone. And after a comparison she went for the Lumia 930 for these reasons:-
      1) Calling/Contacts - She found the new phone menu easier to navigate
      2) Maps/Here Drive+ - With an Android phone, she has to use data or buy a proper GPS app with maps to use off line. Sure she can down load an area on Google maps but it is limited and you still need data to down load it in the 1st place
      3) Office Docs - No need to pay for a 3rd party app to edit word/excel etc on a Windows phone
      4) All the apps she wants to use, banking, Facebook, messaging etc are all on Windows and do the job for her
      5) Easy to setup her the phone the way she wants with her tiles etc to really give her personal touch
      6) Camera - The Nokia 930 has a dedicated camera button and takes great images

      Yes there are some great features on the new Samsung Galaxy 5S but there are also some great features on the Nokia 930 like City Lens and location based reminders with Cortana that are extremely useful.

      Any way I can't wait for her to get her 930 and have a play with it myself in the next few days.

        i am still using my lumia 800 and still love it 3 years on i will most likely get this new phone as i am anti apple and android is on so many other devices and i am a win phone fan.

    Yet to read a non biased review of a lumia phone! Better than most but you can still read between the lines and tell when the reviewer is an apple or android devotee!

    I have to agree with 'Some Idiot' above too. App count is pointless, you only use a handful of apps each day. I have trialed 334 WP apps over the last 2+years and I am more than satisfied with what I use to get through each day. App cat argument is drowning!
    See my personal review of the MATTE WHITE NL930 I just bought 3 weeks ago here:

    To me it is just a question of whether you are a nerd or a geek or a phone user. We users need a few apps to do our work and if they are available, we are fine. And for most of us, what we really need are available. If you are a geek, you don't have a day job and you spend your time comparing apps.

    i got my lumia 930 today and i am stoked with it so easy to use camera is awesome and the phone is as well everything is easy to use just a bit of learning going from the lumia 800 but it is fun.

    Can anyone tell me if Nokia has an app for ANZ. I currently use iPhone and will need ANZ if I switch over to Nokia Lumina.

    I really want to get the Lumia 930 after the Lumia 920. But will get iPhone 6. For one reason... The camera. I love the windows phone experince, I love the design of everything on the Lumia the usability and asthetics and I plan to go back to them later maybe for the windows phone non Nokia branded one. But right now the camera in all it's mega pixels is slow and not as user friendly as apples, neither is Skype compared to FaceTime. I can luckily get all my windows onedrive to work with Apple (that's why I can easily come back to them later) but the camera and FaceTime shits on windows and Nokia experience... Nokia/windows phone is better in all ways apart from the one advertised way.... The camera.. Test it in the shop.... Don't read reviews. As far as apps the apple market place has too much crap to sort through and windows much nicer apps... It's like everything online is the opposit of the experience. I have had iPhone 3g. 4 (wife 5s) Galaxy Note, Lumia 920. I have also close experience with Galaxy s5. Windows is behind but gaining ground. I hate reviews acting like it should topple Apple in one hit, as even though I don't like Samsung phones they are the real king. Ms is working on different methods to innovate, Samsung is leading diversification and apple continues to first steal then come close to perfect great ideas (and that doesn't bother me, they should all do it).

    The Lumia 930 is Nokia's highest-specification smartphone today, as beyond its software and camera.

    My wife wants a Nokia phone for Xmas as she is sick of her iphone. Her boss has a Nokia 1020 and loves it! The 930 will cost about $110 more to purchase outright, but is it a better phone than the 1020? The 1020 seems to get very good wraps - but it is becoming hard to get.

    I would love some advice please as I am new to these phones.


    Don’t bother getting the Nokia Lumia 930. My screen burnt out in less than two weeks and Nokia are still “trying to repair it” after 5 weeks of them having received it at their service centre. What a waste of money.

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