Nokia Lumia 925
26th Nov 2013 | 13:22
Is this really Nokia's 'masterpiece'?
Nokia has done what we asked: released a Windows Phone handset in metal. Except it's not all metal. And it's very similar to the Nokia Lumia 920. And it's in the high-end price bracket... but does a stunning camera warrant the extra cost?
Last year's Lumia 920 was a decent handset. It married striking looks to a quality screen and an even better camera. However, while it was undeniably good there was still some room for improvement, as being a flagship phone many hoped for better specs, less weight and a more premium build.
Now the Finnish phone-smiths are back with the Nokia Lumia 925. It's only seen a small number boost in its name, and if you assumed that meant that not much had changed, well, you'd be right.
While Nokia has equipped the Lumia 925 with a similarly brilliant camera and gone some way to addressing the build of its flagship, it hasn't really improved the specs, leaving the Nokia Lumia 925 in the curious position of feeling more like a tweaked handset than an all new one.
This used to be a problem when the handset was so expensive, but it's much more reasonable at £380 (around AU$674) now, making it a much more attractive buy compared to the now discontinued Nokia Lumia 920, although the older model can now be had for under £290 through some sellers.
With a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and just 1GB of RAM the Nokia Lumia 925 matches the Lumia 920 for horsepower and trails some way behind the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4 or Sony Xperia Z - both of which have double the RAM and quad-core processors.
Arguably Nokia didn't need to go all out, since it doesn't have a huge amount of competition in the Windows Phone space - only the HTC Windows Phone 8X really poses much of a threat. But it seems like a missed opportunity to compete on a level playing field against the wider phone world.
At first sight you might almost not recognise the Lumia 925 as a Nokia handset. It has the same sharply rectangular shape that the Nokia Lumia 920 has, but where that was all brightly coloured plastic, the Nokia Lumia 925 has a shiny aluminium band running around the sides. It gives it a premium edge that is sorely lacking from other Nokia handsets, and it looks good for it.
Unfortunately Nokia hasn't gone the whole hog and made a completely metal handset like the HTC One, and instead made the back from polycarbonate. It still looks decent and the fairly conservative colour options (black, white or silver) mean that it looks a lot classier and more grown up than the Nokia Lumia 920, but it doesn't come close to the premium look or feel of the HTC One.
Despite incorporating metal into its design, the Nokia Lumia 925 is actually lighter than the Nokia Lumia 920, coming in at 139g (4.9oz) compared to the 185g (6.5oz) Lumia 920. The weight was one of our key qualms with the Nokia Lumia 920, so it's good to see that it's been addressed.
At a sleek 8.5mm (0.33 inches), the Nokia Lumia 925 is quite a bit thinner than its 10.7mm (0.42-inch) predecessor too, while the length and width remain almost identical at 129 x 70.6mm (5.08 x 2.78 inches).
It feels nice in the hand and it's generally quite comfortable to hold, though there are a couple of caveats to that. Firstly the position of the camera lens on the back makes it very easy to accidentally put your fingers over it, which is uncomfortable and could leave marks on the lens.
And secondly, the corners aren't very curved, which means they can dig into your hand if you hold the phone in a certain way. On the plus side, the polycarbonate back feels soft and warm against your palm, which is a comforting sensation.
The front of the Nokia Lumia 925 is dominated by the 4.5 inch 768 x 1280 AMOLED screen. It's not quite edge to edge but it's not far off at the sides - although there's reams of plastic above and below, which seems a trifle unnecessary. It's a good size too in our opinion, big enough to use easily without becoming unwieldy.
At 332 pixels per inch it also has a pretty good pixel density, though not one that will bother the HTC One or Samsung Galaxy S4. And in fact it's exactly the same size and resolution as the previous model, which is a little disappointing. However it does use the same impressive PureMotion HD+ ClearBlack technology as the Nokia Lumia 920.
Above the screen there's Nokia's logo, the earpiece and the 1.3 MP front-facing camera, while below the screen there are three soft touch buttons with icons for Start, Back and Search.
Flip the Nokia Lumia 925 over and you'll find another Nokia logo stamped across the middle of the polycarbonate back, while above that there's an 8.7MP Carl Zeiss camera lens and flash, and near the bottom of the handset there's a speaker.
The plastic around the lens is raised, leaving the lens itself slightly indented. That gives it a little protection when putting the phone down, but it also makes the phone less comfortable to hold as your fingers will often stray over the raised area.
The left edge of the phone consists of a strip of metal with no real features on it, while the right edge has the power button in the middle, a volume rocker just above it and the camera button near the bottom. The buttons are all quite raised and responsive, making them easy to press and easy to find by touch alone. They're also spaced out enough that there's no confusion over which is which.
The top of the Nokia Lumia 925 houses the micro SIM card slot at the left, the micro USB port and 3.5mm headphone port near the centre and the microphone to the right.
The bottom edge is left unadorned, with just the metal band running along it.
You can't remove the back cover so there's no getting to the Nokia Lumia 920-matching 2000mAh battery and there's also no microSD card slot, so unlike some lower-end Nokia handsets (such as the Nokia Lumia 520), the storage isn't expandable. This leaves the Nokia Lumia 925 with just 16GB of memory, which is half what the Nokia Lumia 920 offers - although 32GB options are apparently going to be available.
The Nokia Lumia 925 is slimmer and lighter than the Nokia Lumia 920. It also has a more premium build and a slightly improved camera (more on that later) but with the same core specs, less storage space and a much higher price tag it's got an uphill struggle on its hands.
The Nokia Lumia 925 runs Windows Phone 8, which is the latest version of Microsoft's mobile operating system, but it's also the same version the Nokia Lumia 920 runs, so it's another area where we're getting a sense of déjà-vu.
The first thing you'll see when using the phone is the lock screen. This displays a wallpaper in the background, then overlays that with the time, day and date in large white writing.
Below this you'll see your latest calendar event or reminder or missed calls, texts or emails, depending on how you set it up in the Settings screen.
At the top there's a battery bar, signal strength indicator and additional icons for any active data connections.
Swipe up to clear the lock screen and land on the start screen where you'll find the familiar tile-based layout that makes Windows Phone handsets stand out from the crowd.
Each tile corresponds to an application and you can tap on it to launch the app or long-press it to move, resize or remove the tile.
Many of the tiles aren't just static images, instead displaying relevant pictures or information.
For example your email app might tell you how many unread messages you have, while the People app has a slideshow of contact images.
It's an attractive and stylish design, but beyond that it makes the tiles more useful than the mere shortcuts that most apps on Android or iOS use. Each tile can almost be considered a widget in its own right.
Another way in which Windows Phone 8 is different from competitors is that rather than having a series of distinct home screens that you swipe horizontally between, it has one long start screen that scrolls seamlessly up and down.
Aside from launching apps and rearranging icons there are a few other things that you can do here.
The top-right of the Nokia Lumia 925's screen displays the time in small white writing, but if you want to see anything else - for example the battery level or signal strength - then a quick tap at the top of the screen will momentarily reveal these things.
It keeps the start screen tidy but it's not something that you'd necessarily discover very quickly the first time that you use the phone, so we wish it was a bit more intuitive.
The soft touch buttons below the screen each have at least one use.
The Back button enables you to scroll back through previous screens if you tap it, but if you long-press it you're presented with an overview of all your recently used apps and can just tap one to return to it.
Similarly, the Start button also has two uses. Tapping it will return you to the start screen if you're anywhere else, while holding it for a second will bring up a voice-based personal assistant.
You can ask it to open apps, make calls, send texts or look something up on the web, and it does a good job too - though if you know your way around the phone it's not really any quicker than just doing things by hand.
Finally, the Search button brings up a Bing web search if you'd rather type your search queries than speak them. Unlike the other two buttons this one only has a single use.
Swipe right from the start screen and you'll find a list of all your apps laid out in alphabetical order.
While you can make start screen tiles for everything, you don't have to, and this list will give you access to things whether or not they're on your start screen.
If you do want to add something new to the start screen just long-press it, while tapping it will launch it as you might expect.
There's also a magnifying glass at the top that enables you to type in a search for a specific app, although as it's laid out alphabetically anyway there shouldn't be much need.
You'll find a link to the Settings screen near the bottom of this, and it's a screen that looks rather different to the start screen. Gone are the bright colours and tiles, so instead it's just a black and white list of options.
It's basic but looks nice enough, and more importantly it's easy to navigate and actually get to the options you need, which include everything from changing your ringtone to adjusting how long the screen will stay on for.
There's also a Kid's Corner option, which enables you to set up a child-friendly user area on the phone, with restricted access to apps.
While things are easy to find once you're on the Settings screen, there are certain things that we wish there was a shortcut to, for example turning 3G and Wi-Fi on and off.
If you leave the screen to time out on its own then rather than turning off completely it displays a Glance Clock, which is a screen with the time on it.
This isn't a lock screen as such, in fact it's not a screen that you can really interact with at all - so swiping achieves nothing, though a double-tap will take you to the actual lock screen.
That in itself can take a bit of getting used to, but on the whole we quite like it.
Phones are increasingly replacing watches, and if you just want to check the time then having to turn the screen on feels like an unnecessary extra step.
Thankfully if you don't like it you can disable it from the Settings screen. You'll also find options there to have it dimmed (and a rather natty red) at certain times, such as night, or set it to turn off after 15 minutes.
Actually operating the Nokia Lumia 925 is a dream, because it's generally very fast and smooth to navigate despite the fairly low specs.
Saying that though, when using the Settings screen you'll sometimes have to wait a second or two for it to load a menu, which is just not on, since things like that should be instant.
It's also mostly very intuitive, and at 4.5 inches the screen is a comfortable size to use.
It looks good too, with bright and colourful images, though the resolution isn't quite a match for many recent Android handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the difference is noticeable, with neither images nor text looking quite as sharp on Nokia's handset.
On the other hand, the screen on the Nokia Lumia 925 does have some things going for it, thanks to the return of the clever PureMotion HD+ ClearBlack technology used by the Nokia Lumia 920.
Among other things this makes the screen impressively viewable in direct light.
It still looks a bit washed out, but it's perfectly useable and that's an improvement over most phones.
It can also be used with gloves on, or at least in theory it can be. In practice we tried three different pairs of gloves of different thicknesses, and it only responded to the very thinnest, so if you have visions of taking this on the slopes and using it with ski gloves on, then think again.
Contacts and calling
In general we're quite fond of the way Microsoft handles contacts with Windows Phone 8, and the implementation on the Nokia Lumia 925 is no different.
Contacts are found in the People app, which itself has three different main screens.
The most important one is an alphabetical list of all your contacts, complete with display pictures pulled from connected social networks.
There's a plus button at the bottom of the screen that enables you to add new contacts, and there are fields for not just name, number and email but also address, anniversary, job title and more besides.
There's also a search button at the bottom of the screen that enables you to type out a contact's name to find them.
To the right of that there are three little dots that you can tap to go to the Settings screen. This contains options to sort contacts by first or last name, add accounts and choose which accounts to show contacts from.
Back on the main People screen, if you long-press someone's name you'll get options to edit their details or pin them to your start screen, making it quicker to call them in future.
A quick tap on a contact will open their details, displaying their phone number and any other information that you've filled in or that's been imported from Facebook and the like.
Speaking of Facebook, the Nokia Lumia 925 and indeed Windows Phone 8 in general do a great job of integrating it into the handset.
From a contact's screen you can see their display picture and most recent status update, and you can even write on their Facebook wall without leaving that screen.
If they have any addresses listed you can also tap on them to bring them up on a map. That's in addition to more expected options such as being able to call, text or email them by tapping on the relevant field.
At the bottom of this screen there are options to pin them to the start screen, link them to another contact - which is useful if you have more than one entry for a single person from different social networks - or edit their information.
Swiping left or right will bring you even more in-depth social network integration, since you can view What's New on their Facebook timeline or Twitter feed and reply to or like any status updates. You can also see photos they've uploaded and view any recent calls or text conversations between the two of you.
Back on the Nokia Lumia 925's main People screen again there are similar things to be found if you swipe left or right from here.
You can see a combined view of recent updates from all your contacts on a What's New screen, as well as seeing a list of any contacts that you've recently interacted with.
Finally there's a rooms and groups screen, which enables you to create separate groups for contacts, for example Friends or Family, and if you make a 'room' for them you can share calendars, notes and photos and have group chats with everyone in the room.
All in all it's a superb implementation, it's intuitive, requires minimal set up since most of the data is pulled from accounts that you already have and enables you to stay in touch with people through multiple channels all in one place.
Calling someone can be done in one of two ways on the Nokia Lumia 925. Either just tap on a contact's phone number from the People screen or head to the Phone screen, where you can use the dial pad to type in a number.
Unfortunately this is one of the few failings of contact integration on the handset, because the dialler doesn't support smart dialling, so even if you're calling a number that's already in your phone book it won't bring up suggestions as you type, or even link the number to a contact's name once you've typed it in full.
Similarly, although the dial pad does list letters next to each number, you can't use them to type a contact's name in.
It's not Nokia's fault, it's just how Windows Phone 8 is, but it's a fairly large oversight by Microsoft.
Aside from the dial pad, the Nokia Lumia 925's Phone screen also has an icon that you can tap on to call your voicemail, one that takes you to your phonebook on the People screen and a search button that enables you to search for a contact or number in your call history or phonebook.
Speaking of call history, that's what's displayed whenever you launch the phone app, and tapping on an entry in the history will take you to the caller's profile where you can then call or text them back.
Call quality on the Nokia Lumia 925 is just as good as it was on the Nokia Lumia 920.
There was never an instance when we couldn't hear the person at the other end of the line clearly, and they always reported that they could hear us fine too.
Even the speaker phone worked quite well, though some of the clarity was lost. We didn't suffer any dropped calls either, so all in all the handset put in a good performance.
The Messaging app is the go-to location for text messaging on the Nokia Lumia 925.
From there you can see a list of conversation threads, and if you've linked your phone up to Facebook you'll even get access to your Facebook chat conversations here.
At the bottom of the screen there are options to send a new message, delete conversations, change your chat status or go into a Settings screen where you can enable delivery reports for messages.
If you swipe right you can see which of your contacts are currently online on Facebook chat and tap on them to chat over the internet.
Of course if you'd rather be anti-social you can either change your own status to offline or turn off Facebook chat altogether.
Back on the threads screen, if you long-press a conversation you'll find an option to delete it or you can tap on it to open it and view all the messages between you and that contact.
These are displayed in coloured speech bubbles, the colour of which will match the colour theme of the phone - which in itself can be changed from the main Settings screen.
There's an empty speech bubble at the bottom of the screen that you can tap on to bring up the keyboard and type out a new message.
Just below that speech bubble (and the keyboard if it's open) there are several little icons. The one on the left is used to send a message once you've composed it, and next to that there's a paperclip that enables you to attach a picture, video, voice note or contact to the message.
And to the right of the paperclip icon there's a microphone icon that you can use to dictate a message rather than typing it. This works well, but - call us old-fashioned - we'd always rather just tap the message out anyway.
The other form of messaging on offer is email, and the email app looks remarkably similar to the text message one, with a black and white inbox listing all your emails, which you can then tap on to read.
The emails themselves are fitted to the screen, making them easy to read with minimal scrolling. There are also clearly labelled icons to reply to an email, delete it or move on to the next one.
Rather than viewing your whole inbox you can also filter emails by unread, flagged or urgent, plus it's possible to view any other folders in your email account too.
Icons at the bottom of the screen enable you to compose a new email, refresh the page, delete emails or search for a specific email. You can also get to the email Settings screen by tapping on the three white dots at the bottom-right. This has options to change your sync settings or add a new email account.
When sending an email on the Nokia Lumia 925, things are as simple as you'd hope, with a subject box, address box and an area to enter the body of the email. You then just add an attachment (if you want) and tap Send.
As with text messages, there's also an option to speak the content of the email to the phone rather than typing it yourself. It's an elegant app and it works well.
The other factor to messaging is the keyboard itself, which in the Nokia Lumia 925's case is very accurate and big enough to not be a struggle to use. It will also suggest words as you type, and take a good stab at auto-correcting any typos.
Our only real issue with it is the lack of haptic feedback, since that can really help to give the sense that you're actually pressing a button, though it has little bearing on the accuracy or overall usability of the keyboard.
Not only does the Nokia Lumia 925 support 3G and dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, but it's also 4G enabled.
Your main outlet for all these data connections will be Internet Explorer, since that's the browser that ships with the phone, and there aren't really many alternatives available on the store.
That alone might be a deal breaker for some, but if you can stomach Internet Explorer it's not actually all that bad.
There's an address bar at the bottom of the screen, which doubles as a search bar, while to the left of that there is the choice of a Stop/Refresh button, a Tabs button or a Favourites button.
Which of these there is depends on how you configure the browser in its Settings screen, but it defaults to a Stop/Refresh button. In one sense it's nice to have the choice, but one of our qualms with the mobile version of Internet Explorer is that you can only get quick access to one of these at a time, which is annoying because they're all things that we use a lot.
To the right of the address bar there are three little dots, which when tapped on display a pop-up menu with options for tabs, Favourites and/or Refresh, since whichever one has been given a shortcut on the main screen is understandably not listed here.
Additionally, there are options to add a page to your Favourites, share the page, pin it to the start screen, search for a certain word or phrase on the page or go to the main browser Settings menu.
As we mentioned above, the Settings menu enables you to toggle what action the button to the left of the address bar performs, but it also enables you to pick whether you want websites to default to mobile or desktop pages, delete your history, block cookies and pick whether your default search provider should be Bing or Google.
The Favourites screen is just a black and white list, enabling you to tap on pages to go to them. The tabs page is slightly more attractive, because it displays small snapshots of all your open tabs. It also has an option at the bottom to open a new tab.
Scrolling around pages on the browser is generally fast and smooth, and text tends to be perfectly readable, though if it's not you can pinch or double-tap to zoom in and out. If you tap on a link it will open it, while if you long-press it a little box will appear with options to open it in a new tab, copy it or share it.
Text and image-heavy pages make the failings of the screen quite clear, since its resolution is just not up to the standards that we'd expect from a flagship phone. We're not in eye strain territory and it's not even particularly ugly, but things are noticeably less sharp than they could be.
It's not the fastest at loading pages either, since desktop sites often took over 20 seconds to fully load using Wi-Fi.
In fairness you can start reading them while they're still loading, and it's often just adverts that are taking the time, but it still seems slow.
However, mobile sites only take around six seconds to load on the Nokia Lumia 925, which is much more tolerable.
Using 3G caused mobile sites to take about twice as long to load (so roughly 12 seconds), though surprisingly the impact on desktop sites was minimal, only adding two or three seconds to the overall load time. Unfortunately we weren't able to test it on 4G, since we didn't have a compatible SIM card available.
Ultimately the Nokia Lumia 925 delivers a solid browsing experience, but one that's held back from excellence by a slightly underwhelming screen resolution and a lack of browser choice.
The Nokia Lumia 925 has an 8.7MP snapper. That might be some way south of the 13MP Samsung Galaxy S4, but don't count it out yet. For one thing, it uses Carl Zeiss optics, which should be enough for camera fans to sit up and take notice. But it also has a bunch of clever options and features. It's also excellent - and we mean excellent - at low light snaps.
There's a dedicated hardware camera button that makes taking photos a breeze and minimises camera shake when you take them. It can also be used to launch the camera from any screen on the Nokia Lumia 925 - even the lock screen - so you'll never miss the chance to capture a moment.
It's worth noting also that the ability to see the screen in bright sunlight can help no end with taking photos, because it makes it a lot easier to compose a shot when you can actually see how things look on the screen.
If you just launch the main camera app things look fairly normal. You can tap to focus and there are a few scene modes to choose from such as sports, night, close-up or auto.
You can also turn flash on or off, change the ISO, exposure value, white balance and aspect ratio, but that's all become more or less a staple of smartphone cameras. That said, it's quick and easy to change options and settings and it takes pretty good pictures even when you stick to this mode.
Things get a lot more interesting, though, when you delve into the Lenses menu. This is nothing new for Windows Phone 8 - essentially each lens setting adds new features or options to the camera - but the Nokia Lumia 925 comes with more than most.
First up there's Bing Vision, which can be used to scan barcodes and QR codes - so it doesn't actually take photos but it can be quite useful in its own right, and in our experience it quickly and easily scanned anything we threw at it.
Then there's Cinemagraph, which combines photo and video to create a short clip. Essentially it captures several seconds of footage that then loops to make a moving photo. You can tweak it by adjusting the start and end point, changing the speed or adding filters and then you can share it over social networks or by email.
It's undoubtedly a gimmick, and we're not sure it will get much serious use as the result is pretty lo-res, but it has the potential to add an extra element to photographs - bringing life to an otherwise static image.
Up next there's Panorama, which creates a wide panorama shot of your surroundings by taking multiple photographs and stitching them together. It works quite well too.
Finally there's Nokia Smart Cam, and that's really the headline feature of the camera. Essentially it takes a series of images in quick succession and then chooses the best for you to save. This is really handy, since your first picture isn't always any good, and it means you don't have to manually take several pictures of the same thing.
But that's not all. If your pictures contain movement it can also create an action shot by splicing the images together to create a sort of motion trail where you can see the same action at different points. So far example if you made an action shot of someone riding a bike it would feature them and their bike several times over in different places.
In practice it seems to require quite a lot of movement for it to even think about creating an action shot, and if there's even a small amount of camera shake it can mess up the image. But it's still a nice feature.
Nokia Smart Cam can also pick out faces to ensure that the image you end up with always captures the moment when people have their eyes open and are smiling.
Finally it can also remove unwanted movement from a shot, so if for example there's a car or cyclist in the background of your picture - which not only might be in the way of the view but could also be causing motion blur - the camera can remove them.
You can choose to have Smart Camera enabled by default, which helps to get the best out of the top-end features. It's the same as HTC's Zoe feature in a way, which snaps three-second clips instead of a photo and allows you to do the same thing - albeit far more effectively.
One insanely annoying feature is that the Smart Camera will show you previews of removed objects or action shots, and yet when you tap to open them, the Lumia 925 decides it can't do it. We wanted to scream 'JUST SAVE THE PREVIEW, YOU STUPID CAMERA', but we might have been judged by passers-by.
The biggest problem with all of these lenses is that it can take a while to capture images with them, and even longer to process them afterwards, which can be a pain. We can't help but wonder if the mediocre processing specs in the Nokia Lumia 925 are partially to blame for this.
Once you've taken a photo you can edit it in the Creative Studio. As well as giving you options to crop, rotate and remove red eye this also features a number of filters that you can add to an image, and even enables you to remove colour from certain sections while retaining it in others, and to blur parts of the image to draw focus to the non-blurred areas.
For a bundled piece of software, there's a lot more to it than you'd expect.
There's also a secondary 1.3MP front-facing camera, which is likely to be of more use for video than photos, since it can be used for Skype and other video call services.
If you've updated the Lumia 925 to Windows Phone's Amber software then you're in for a treat: Nokia's now added its Pro cam app into the mix. This extends the ISO range of the phone as well as letting you control a glut of other features manually.
All in all the camera on the Nokia Lumia 925 is one of, if not the, best we've ever come across on a smartphone. The combination of a wealth of shooting modes and editing tools alongside strong general performance and particularly impressive low light and night time performance makes it a great all-round shooter.
Cinemagraph shots are basically short looping videos. We're not sure how useful they are, but they work.
Panoramas come out well, but not really any better than on most other phones that can take them.
Lumia 925 vs Lumia 920 - which camera is best?
Nothing stays the same for long in smartphone world, and as sure as night follows day the Nokia Lumia 920 has been succeeded by the Nokia Lumia 925 in the 'normal' smartphone market - we're not talking about the high-power Lumia 1020 or Lumia 1520 here.
"Night" is apposite here, because the ability to take clear photos in dim light without flash, while supposedly bettering rivals, is what the marketing hype surrounding the Nokia 925 has focused on - if you'll forgive the pun.
In fairness, though, this does appear to have a grain of truth, and matches our testing of the Nokia 920. That handset came off slightly better than average in lower light when viewed as a standalone digital image capture device, and ranged against the likes of the iPhone 5, Sony Xperia S and newer Sony Xperia Z, HTC One X and plain HTC One, along with the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Samsung Galaxy S4.
So, in comparing the newer Nokia 925 with the earlier Nokia 920, which phone comes off best overall for use as a camera phone? Let's find out.
Build and handling
In terms of handling, there's less to get to grips with on the Nokia 925 when compared with the earlier Nokia 920, since Nokia has made the overall handset shorter, narrower and thinner, if only by a millimetre or two here and there.
The Nokia 925 measures 70.6 x 8.5 x 129mm (2.8 x 0.3 x 5.1 inches) to the Nokia 920's dimensions of 70.8 x 10.7 x 130.3mm (2.8 x 0.4 x 5.1 inches).
The Nokia 925 also weighs 139g (4.9oz) as opposed to the Nokia 920's 185g (6.5oz) - which makes the Nokia 925 the more portable of the two for carrying around, and it certainly feels lighter in the pocket.
The aluminium build of the Nokia 925 and the grey-backed version with metallic bezels we had also helps the newer model to stand out and look a little more stylish than the Nokia 920.
While size and weight reductions are good news in terms of comfort, they're not necessarily fantastic in terms of the Nokia 925's use as a camera compared to the Nokia 920. Generally speaking a heavier and wider body, as well as providing you with something to get a firmer hold on, can also reduce hand shake and resulting blur.
Weighing the two phones up in each hand, the weight difference, though only a few grams, is noticeable.
Though there's less movement in the Nokia 920 when held between both hands to take a picture landscape fashion - which is preferable - the Nokia 925 certainly feels the more comfortable of the two when held portrait fashion, so it's horses for courses. Going on looks alone however, out of the two, the Nokia 925 would be the camera phone we'd want to own.
The slimmer profile of the Nokia 925 hasn't resulted in the removal or re-positioning of any important controls either in terms of functionality and its use as a camera.
Though you can fire off a shot by tapping the screen, the side-mounted controls remain identically positioned to the Nokia 920, so we have a physical shutter release button on the handset too, which does contribute to the operation feeling more obviously camera-like.
Both the Nokia 920 and Nokia 925 are protected to a small degree against camera shake via optical image stabilised PureView technology.
Lens and sensor
It's not just the number of pixels crammed onto the sensor (8.7 million in both camera phones), but also the physical size of the lens that's important when considering any camera.
While the porthole housing the lens on the back is larger and more prominent on the newer Nokia 925 than on the older Nokia 920, the optics at the heart of both are equally tiny, for all the talk this time around of 'six lens elements'.
The lenses of both phones' cameras are Carl Zeiss-branded, and since sensor size and resolution hasn't altered, you would think the lens hasn't either - although the good news is the lens on the 925 has been tweaked to improve clarity and sharpness.
Maximum aperture for both the Nokia 925 and the Nokia 920 is a bright f/2.0, which is respectable, and compares well with most fixed lens dedicated compact cameras. As does a wide fixed focal length of 26mm with an 8cm minimum focus range.
Should you have to use extra illumination, then dual LED flash is provided with an operating range of 3 metres. Again this performance is identical for both Nokia Lumia handsets.
The autofocus JPEG-only camera resolution hasn't been hiked between the Nokia 920 and Nokia 925 either, so an 8.7 megapixel, 1/3-inch backside illuminated sensor remains.
Of course, more pixels on the same sized chip can lead to image noise - visible as grain-like speckles - appearing in shadow details, so with the Nokia 925 being sold partly on its low light claims, not bumping up the pixel count between models has a degree of justifiable logic.
Naturally the bright f/2.0 aperture lens and the fact that the sensor is back illuminated also helps with the light gathering abilities of both the older and newer smartphone.
The display used for framing and reviewing images - and navigating all the rest of the phones' non-camera features - is also identical on both handsets at, 4.5-inches, with a 1280 x 768 pixel display resolution.
This also uses the Puremotion HD+ ClearBlack display, meaning pictures are superbly clear and crisp on the screen (providing you took them that way, that is).
Also the same for our pair is the front-facing camera for self-portraits, which here offers 1.2 megapixels (or 1280 x 960 pixels) - so HD rather than Full HD.
It also boasts an almost as bright aperture of f/2.4 and results in some solid selfies.
On the Nokia Lumia 925 (and now with the Lumia 920 thanks to a software update), as with so many camera manufacturers currently, Nokia is referring to its built-in camera as being 'smart'.
In our experience this is more a fancy marketing term than any tangible change up of gear, but the claim here partly refers to the ability to shoot a sequence of shots to end up with one you might actually want to keep.
By doing so, you then have the ability to excise moving objects from your frame that are ruining the shot - there's always someone walking by as you're trying to photograph that eighth wonder, after all - as is likewise offered by the HTC One's Object Removal function. Just tap the Nokia's screen to prompt this in-camera Photoshop-like piece of magic.
Alternatively you can combine the sequential frames into one shot, zoetrope-style. Cool, but not a valid reason for buying/adopting the Nokia 925 or 920 alone, and it is slightly irritating that this is the camera's default setting upon power up, when you might not always want a burst of images.
Other abilities include being able to add motion blur to shots, change faces and generally enhance the quality of the snap you're getting. The processing qualities of both phones isn't stellar though, meaning on more than one occasion we had to retry the same set of snaps in Smart Cam mode to get the camera to admit it had enough imagery to create these effects.
Fortunately if you don't want the camera to rattle off a sequence you can select regular single shot capture mode with a couple of further screen taps.
Here you can switch between 16:9 aspect ratio images that fill the handset screen or 4:3 ratio ones, which is the most common default setting for a standalone digital camera.
Video is also identical on both cameras, in being the industry standard Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixels at 30fps.
Low light shooting
Something that has actually changed here, however, is that instead of selectable light sensitivity settings running from a standard ISO 100 to a modest ISO 800 on the Nokia 920, Nokia has now upped this to a maximum ISO 3200 on the Nokia 925, which is approaching point and shoot digital camera territory for specification.
Update: With the addition of Nokia's Pro cam application, the 920 and 925 are both capable of ISO 4000.
However even before this update the photos we got out of this device weren't noticeably different, with a pleasing level of detail delivered when focus gets it spot on.
However, for both camera phones we did notice a tendency for auto white balance to wander between shots taken in succession in single shot (non 'smart') mode - with daylight providing a blueish colour cast, for example.
Where the duo again came off slightly better than rivals was when shooting in lower light without flash, which was due in part once again to the twinning of a bright aperture f/2 lens with a back illuminated sensor.
Both the Nokia 920 and the Nokia 925 offer a limited degree of image editing accessible - such as the ability to rotate, crop and auto enhance your shots.
Plus a Creative Studio feature enables you to turn pre-captured images to black and white (here referred to as 'Silver' - a nod perhaps to silver halide) or give them toy camera-like colour filter effects such as 'Jade' and 'Amber'. Again this is a fun feature, if non-essential.
Auto and manual white balance settings are equally accessible on the Nokia 925 as they are on the Nokia 920, with exposure compensation of +/- 2EV identical too.
A focus assist light can also be activated if desired, while on the Nokia 925, as on the Nokia 920, flash settings are restricted to a functional rather than elaborate auto, on or off.
Nokia Lumia 925 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
Nokia Lumia 920 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
Nokia Lumia 925 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
Nokia Lumia 920 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
Nokia Lumia 925 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
Nokia Lumia 920 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
Nokia Lumia 925 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
Nokia Lumia 920 (Click here to see the full resolution image)
Verdict: which has the best camera?
There's a lot about the Nokia 925 that has stayed the same in terms of camera specification and performance when compared with the earlier Nokia 920 handset.
So much so that we have a hard time justifying the Nokia 925 as markedly better, since it wouldn't be worth upgrading your phone for the camera and its attendant features here alone.
But largely the pluses (along with most of the camera spec) remain the same for both cameras: a bright f/2 aperture lens, Windows operating system, 8 megapixel camera, image editing tools, large and bright screen, Carl Zeiss optics and back illuminated sensor are all excellent features.
However, the Nokia Lumia 925 has no media card slot and was pricier on launch than the largely identical Nokia Lumia 920, making that earlier phone currently the better buy.
The Nokia Lumia 920's drawbacks are that it's marginally larger and noticeably weightier than the Nokia Lumia 925, and it's easy to inadvertently select functions at the far-left and right extremities of the screen when turning the phone on its side to shoot in landscape orientation.
Our end conclusion then isn't one that was hard to make. With differences being minor tweaks rather than a major overhaul, if you come across the Nokia 920 at a much lower price, then currently that older handset is definitely the better value buy.
The main camera on the Nokia Lumia 925 can shoot video in 1080p at 30fps. It also has a front-facing camera capable of shooting 720p video at 30fps. That's all par for the course on a flagship phone, and video in general doesn't impress quite as much as stills, but it puts up a reasonable performance.
When you launch the camera app you'll find options to adjust the white balance, turn continuous focus on or off and switch the video quality between 1080p and 720p. You can also turn the video lamp on or off.
Unlike the main camera there aren't any scene modes or fancy features, but that's fine, since such things are less often used on videos.
As with the stills camera, you can use the hardware camera button to start and stop recording, which is a lot easier than tapping around on the screen, particularly as doing the latter can cause camera shake.
The Nokia Lumia 925 makes a fairly good media player, with a big screen for video content and some solid built-in media apps.
The biggest problem it faces is that there's only 16GB of built-in storage and no option to expand that (although a 32GB option is available), meaning that you'll have to think very carefully about which songs and videos you want to store on your phone, because it won't fit many.
We'd wager that music is the multimedia activity that will get the most action on the Nokia Lumia 925, and we're pleased to report that it's handled well.
There are two places to listen to music from.
First up there's Microsoft's Music + Videos app, in which you'll find all of your music sorted alphabetically by artist, song and album and you can also view and create playlists.
The player supports MP3, WAV, eAAC+ and WMA files.
It's not the most attractive media player we've ever seen, since everything is laid out in simple lists, but you do get album artwork in the album view, and it is very easy to navigate.
You can tap on a song to play it, and there are then further options to favourite a track or shuffle the order that songs will play in.
Tapping an icon at the bottom-right of the screen will enable you to share the song over Hotmail or save it to a playlist, and if you have an Xbox Music account you can also start a smart playlist of similar music.
There are also basic lock screen controls enabling you to pause or skip the track without unlocking your phone, though we wish there was a way to control the music from any screen, like the notification screen controls on Android smartphones.
When playing music through the Nokia Lumia 925's speakers you can get it up to a decent volume, but as with most phone speakers outside of the HTC One the quality just isn't all that, leaving music sounding flat and lifeless.
Also, because the speakers are on the back you'll probably want to place the phone face-down when listening to music to maximise the volume.
However, the vibrations coming from the speakers at this orientation cause the phone to slowly shuffle along whatever surface it's on, which could end in a fall if it's on a table or other raised surface.
Listening to music through headphones leads to much better sound quality and also gives you access to a bunch of audio settings that aren't otherwise available.
These include the ability to choose a preset for the equaliser or customise it yourself, along with an enhancement that you can enable if you're using Dolby headphones.
That's all well and good, but to actually get to these settings you need to leave the player, go into the main Settings menu and scroll all the way down to Audio. A shortcut from the player would be much appreciated.
Thankfully the other player - Nokia Music - does have in-built access to these settings.
Aside from that it's both visually and functionally very similar to the Music + Videos player, though it has its own store and Mix Radio.
This has loads of radio mixes, such as Rock or Dance, and also enables you to create your own mix of music that's similar to that of a specific artist.
It doesn't just use your own music for these mixes either, it uses Nokia's own library of songs and you can listen for free.
There is also a premium version of the service - called Nokia Music+ - that enables you to download mixes, skip as many tracks as you want and more for £3.99/US$3.99 per month.
Back in the main Music + Videos app there are a few other options too, such as a link to the store where you can buy new music, with individual tracks usually going for around 99p / US$1.29 / $2.19, while albums tend to cost around £7-8 / US$8-12 / AU$13-15.
There's a reasonable selection on offer and it's easy enough to navigate, plus you're not locked in to using it as it's perfectly possible to hook the phone up to your computer and copy music across or buy music from Nokia's store.
There's also an FM radio option in the Music + Videos app, which will work just as long as you've got some ear or headphones plugged in.
It's very basic though, so you can swipe across the tuner to find stations and once you do you can add them to your favourites for easy access later.
But that's it, there's no easy to navigate list of stations, stations aren't named even once you tune in to them, it can't record and there doesn't appear to be any way to listen to it through the phone's speakers.
As you probably guessed, video is also handled by the Music + Videos app. There's a lot less to this than there is to the music - all you get are images of any videos on your device, which you can then tap on to play.
The phone supports MP4, H.264, H.263 and WMV video files, and once playing something you can pause it, skip to the next video or fit it to the screen, but that's all you get.
There aren't any real options to play with and you can't download movies or anything from the store, so you'll have to either film them yourself or copy them across from a computer.
The Nokia Lumia 925 is not a bad little device to watch videos on, but we've definitely seen better. At 4.5 inches the screen is a reasonable size, but while it strikes a good balance between usability and portability it's obviously not quite as good for video as the likes of the 5-inch Samsung Galaxy S4, let alone the 5.5-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
We're also left wishing once again that the screen was just a little higher resolution to give us a better HD experience. However, the ability to view the screen in direct sunlight does give it an edge as a portable media player, since you're only likely to use your phone for video when you're out and about..
The lack of storage could be a bit of a killer for video though, since with only 16GB to split between everything you're not going to fit many films on it. At least that's not a problem for streaming videos over YouTube or Netflix, but there aren't any built-in streaming services, so you'll have to turn to the store to get them.
Photos are handled by the Nokia Lumia 925's Photo app, funnily enough. This sorts photos by album, date or people in them, or gives you the option to just view everything on your camera roll.
Plus you can also quickly view any favourites, see any new photos uploaded to Facebook by friends or launch any photo apps that you have installed on your phone.
When viewing a photo you can share it via picture message, social network or email, rotate it, 'fix' it, crop it, save it to SkyDrive, set it as your lock screen background, add it to your favourites or delete it.
Photos look quite good on the screen, with bright yet generally quite natural colours, but yet again we long for a higher resolution.
Out of the box there are two additional photo apps installed on the Nokia Lumia 925. There's PhotoBeamer, which enables you to display your images on a friend's phone.
Then there's Creative Studio, which enables you to edit the photos that you've taken beyond the basic cropping and fixing options found in the gallery. There are quite a few options available here, to start with you can add a filter to your photo - for example Silver or Opal.
Then you can add blur to certain areas of the image or focus in on a specific part. You can also make part of the image black and white while retaining colours in other areas using a tool called Colour Pop.
You can make a collage of multiple images, change the colour balance, brightness, clarity and vibrancy, and you can crop and rotate images and remove red eye.
It's definitely one of the fullest featured photo editing studios that we've ever seen on a phone and it's quite easy to use too, enabling you to make fairly precise alterations by zooming in to the area you want to edit. With Creative Studio onboard, the Nokia Lumia 925 handles photos well.
Battery life and connectivity
The Nokia Lumia 925 has a 2000mAh battery, which is exactly the same size as the battery found in the Nokia Lumia 920. Unfortunately we weren't too thrilled with the battery life of the Nokia Lumia 920 and you can't remove the battery either, so if you had thoughts of carrying around a spare that won't be an option.
The good news is that in practice we didn't find the battery to be too much of a problem. It's not brilliant but we reckon it's an improvement over the Nokia Lumia 920.
The battery stats released by Nokia support that too, since they claim it can manage up to 440 hours of 3G standby time or 12 hours 40 minutes of 3G talk time, both of which are higher than the corresponding figures for the Nokia Lumia 920.
Curiously though, it apparently can't manage to play music for quite as long, coming in at 55 hours compared to 67 hours on the Nokia Lumia 920.
When testing the Nokia Lumia 925 we found that the battery would just about get through the day, but only just. To be fair though we were using it a lot more than most people probably use their phones on a day to day basis.
With more frugal use you might get a day and a half, but we'd be surprised if you manage more than that unless you really don't touch it. Nokia has seen fit to include a battery saver option though, which when activated will turn off most background processes to conserve battery.
We played a 90 minute video on the handset with Wi-Fi turned on, the screen at full brightness and emails and social networks set to automatically push to the phone. The Nokia Lumia 925 started at 100% battery and dropped to 83% by the end, which is reasonable but not amazing. It matches the likes of the Galaxy S3 though, which many have found to be an adequate companion for all-day use.
We'd say the battery isn't really a liability, but if you're a power user you're going to want something with more juice.
The Nokia Lumia 925 has most of the connectivity options you could hope for. There's dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, DLNA support, the ability to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot, GPS, 3G and even 4G. There's obviously also Bluetooth, though it's version 3.0 rather than 4.0, which excludes any future low-power BT sensors.
Then there's NFC support, enabling you to share images, websites and more with other NFC-enabled devices by tapping them together, or more precisely by turning NFC and Bluetooth on, selecting Share, then Tap + Share, then tapping them together, so it's not quite as seamless as we'd like.
The only features notable for their absence are an infrared port - which we weren't really expecting but which some other high-end handsets, such as the HTC One, have started including - and wireless charging, which was a feature of the Nokia Lumia 920 so it's a shame that it's not included here too. However, removing it likely helped get the weight down, which was probably a worthwhile trade off.
All the connectivity options can easily be turned on and off from the Settings screen, though we wish that it was possible to toggle some of the more frequently used ones either from the Start screen or better yet from anywhere, since it's a pain to have to dig into the Settings screen every time you want to turn something on or off.
Getting content on and off the phone is made as straightforward as possible, since it's basically just plug and play - connect the phone to a computer then you can copy and paste or drag and drop to your heart's content. A massive improvement over Windows Phone 7.
Maps and apps
The Nokia Lumia 925 comes with HERE Maps, which is Nokia's own mapping solution.
It's a pretty good offering, with options to get directions, view traffic data, public transport information or a satellite view of an area.
It will also list nearby places, and you can download maps for offline use, which is very handy when you're travelling. It never had any problem locking on to our location either.
Alongside it there's also HERE Drive, which is a free sat nav app, and is similarly useful.
Like the maps app it can download maps for offline use, plus it can also display maps in either a 2D or 3D view.
Once you set a destination and start driving it will give you both spoken and written instructions, as well as displaying an estimate of your current speed and even an estimated arrival time.
You can change between metric and imperial units, and there are useful extra features such as the ability to show petrol stations and car parks on the map or set an alert to go off if you exceed a certain speed. All in all, for a free offering it's a hugely accomplished app.
Completing the triumvirate of HERE apps, Nokia has also included HERE City Lens on the Lumia 925, which uses your phone's camera and compass to overlay the outside world with markers for places of interest and lead you to them, be they restaurants, museums or shops.
Nokia loves this app, but we're less impressed. We don't need to see where it is, just a list of what's around - the augmented reality element seems more gimmick than useful. It's no better than Google Maps at giving local treasures, so we'd like to see more from the app in the future for us to call it a boon.
The Nokia Lumia 925 doesn't fare quite so well with other, non-mapping, apps. Most fall into the category of the expected - such as a calendar, a calculator and an alarm clock, all of which are perfectly functional but don't do anything out of the ordinary, or the useless - such as Angry Birds Roost, which is basically just Angry Birds news, ringtones and wallpapers.
Similarly useless is World of Red Bull, which presents news and videos about athletes and sporting events that are sponsored or hosted by Red Bull.
Extreme sports enthusiasts may get some enjoyment out of it but we doubt many people will ever even open it. Plus it doesn't include Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull Racing in F1. What? Why?
It's not a total app write-off though with the Lumia 925, because you also get Data Sense, which is a handy tool for keeping track of how much data you use and ensuring that you don't go over your monthly limit.
There's also Microsoft Office and OneNote, the mobile versions of which while not quite as full featured as their desktop counterparts are still as much as you could ever hope to get from a phone app.
Since many businesses use the desktop versions, having the same software on your phone could come in handy for working on the move.
The biggest problem with apps on the Nokia Lumia 925 is the app store itself, since it's just not all that well stocked.
If we hadn't been spoiled by Apple's App Store and Google Play we might not have minded, but we have and we do.
A lot of major apps are covered, for example you can get YouTube and Facebook, but there's nowhere near the number or variety of apps that we'd like to see.
As we explained in the Introduction page, the way apps are organised on the Nokia Lumia 925 is impressive, though.
Apps are represented by Windows Phone 8 tiles, many of which display live information or pictures, such as the number of unread emails in your inbox or a slideshow of your contacts' photos.
Tap on a tile to launch the app or long-press it to move, resize or remove it.
The Nokia Lumia 925 is something of an oddity. For a phone that is presumably meant to be Nokia's flagship for the masses - as the name would suggest - it's been approached rather conservatively.
In fact, in a few ways it's actually worse than the Nokia Lumia 920, because it has less built-in storage and no wireless charging.
There have been a few improvements, for example the build quality is now much more premium (though still not up to the standards of the HTC One) and the already great camera has been slightly improved. But that only amounts to two real changes, which isn't much at all for a new flagship phone, although at least the lower price tag is attractive.
The Nokia Lumia 925 is a great looking phone. It's slimmer and lighter than the Nokia Lumia 920, the metal band running around the edge does wonders for it and it's the first phone the Finnish company has made in a long time that looks like it was designed for adults.
The camera is superb too, not only in terms of its raw performance but also in the sheer number of options, modes and effects you can play with. Some of it is gimmicky, sure, but there's so much there that you're bound to find something to love. It's not re-inventing the wheel though, as Nokia has lobbed this functionality in with the 920. It is better-packaged, though.
Nokia's HERE Maps and HERE Drive navigation apps are brilliant additions to the stock Microsoft offerings, while Nokia Music's Mix Radio puts millions of tracks at your fingertips for free.
Like all Windows Phone 8 handsets, the Nokia Lumia 925 also does a great job of contacts, messaging and social network integration. And it's a minor point, but we are quite fond of the Glance Clock, despite feeling like a lock-screen-on-top-of-a-lock-screen.
The processor and screen resolution on the Nokia Lumia 925 are both distinctly lacking. Neither has seen any upgrade since the Nokia Lumia 920 and both are starting to feel decidedly mid-range. It's noticeable in use too, where things just don't look as sharp as they could and the phone will sometimes struggle with even minor things, such as navigating the Settings menu or rendering Nokia's Smart Camera... the latter particularly frustrating.
That aside, there's little else to dislike beyond the fact that it just hasn't seen much of an upgrade from the Nokia Lumia 920. By far the biggest improvement is build quality, but it's also a departure from the bright iconic colours Nokia has become known for, so it might not be to everyone's taste.
Even if you love the new build it's questionable whether that's really enough to justify the premium price tag, especially when the Nokia Lumia 920 can now be had for a lot less.
We're also really disappointed to see that in some ways the Nokia Lumia 925 is actually inferior to the 920, since its storage has been halved to just 16GB and wireless charging has been removed.
There's no microSD card slot either, despite the fact that even low-end models such as the Nokia Lumia 520 feature one, so you really are stuck with just 16GB of memory.
The Nokia Lumia 925 is undeniably a great phone in its own right, but it's just not a big enough improvement over the Nokia Lumia 920 for there to be any reason to buy it if you own last year's model - although that is quickly being phased out.
With dated specs the Nokia Lumia 925 is definitely a case of style over substance. If it was priced around the same as the Nokia Lumia 920 that would be fine, but it isn't. And while it's still one of the best Windows Phone 8 handsets available, it's still got a long way to go to catch up to the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S4, the HTC One and even the iPhone 5, unless you're a particular fan of Windows Phone.
And now there's the Lumia 1020 and Lumia 1520 on the market we'd suggest you check those out too - they might be bigger or more expensive but both have massive plus points over the Lumia 925.
Some call Windows Phone refreshing, but it does still come with limitations and lacks a certain fluidity that Nokia hasn't managed to fix with the Lumia 925. This is a good phone, sure, but as a flagship we need to have our socks blown off, and at last check they were still firmly on our feet.
First reviewed: August 2013