Nokia Lumia 925 preview: First look

GSMArena team, 20 May 2013.
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Nokia Lumia 925 360-degree spin

Nokia has been favoring polycarbonate unibody as the design of choice for its high-end phones lately, but the Lumia 925 is an exception - it's the first Nokia phone in a while to feature exposed aluminum. The latter, combined with the new AMOLED screen, has brought the phone's size down - not width or height, but thickness and weight.

The Nokia Lumia 925 is 8.5mm slim and weighs 139g, down from 10.7mm and 185g for the Lumia 920.

Design and build quality

In terms of looks, the Nokia Lumia 925 is closer to he Lumia 720 than the 920. It's a rectangular phone with rounded sides and a tapered back to hide some of the thickness. The sides are made of bare aluminum, while the back is polycarbonate.

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Nokia Lumia 925 and 720 side by side

The metal vs. plastic debate has been heating up in Android land, but the Lumia 925 is somewhere in between. It's not a bad choice as Nokia's polycarbonate has always been top notch and the aluminum still gives a solid, premium feel.

The aluminum also has another function - it serves as an antenna. The external antenna design became infamous with the iPhone 4, which suffered from the so-called "death grip". That's when touching the metal bands would compromise reception.

Nokia has promised that the Lumia 925 is immune against it and, indeed, we didn't experience any loss of signal. We'll try harder for the review, just in case.

The polycarbonate on the back has a soft touch finish and will come in three different colors at launch - White, Grey and Black. Such a monochromatic color scheme is uncharacteristic of the Lumia line, which offers bright colors like Red, Yellow or Blue.

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Nokia Lumia 925

The Lumia 925 is wider than most phones with 4.5" or so screens - the bezel is pretty thick and the the screen has 15:9 aspect ratio, making it wider to begin with. It's also taller than usual, but at least that leaves enough room around the capacitive keys to prevent accidental touches (which are not uncommon on the Samsung Galaxy S4 and others).

That affects the handling - it's certainly not a deal-breaker (it's on par with the Lumia 920), but narrower phones are more comfortable to hold. Pocketability, however, has soared in part due to the reduced thickness but mostly because of the lower weight. 185g is phablet kind of weight, while 139g is virtually the same as the iPhone 4S which many people carry in their pockets without complaint.

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Nokia Lumia 925 in the hand

We should note that the Nokia Lumia 925 lost some body fat by dropping the wireless charging support of the Lumia 920. You can add that back with a thin back cover that connects to the three pogo pins above the loudspeaker. Nokia has not announced the combined thickness or weight of phone + cover.

Display

For its latest iteration of a Windows Phone flagship - the 925 and 928 - Nokia chose AMOLED over LCD. AMOLEDs have a number of advantages over liquid crystals - deeper blacks and better contrast, lower power usage in some scenarios (especially on WP, where most of the time the background is black) and great viewing angles.

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Nokia Lumia 925 has a 4.5" WXGA AMOLED screen • next to the 4.3" WVGA LCD of the Lumia 720

The display on the Nokia Lumia 925 is a 4.5" AMOLED of WXGA resolution (768 x 1280), which is the maximum supported by the OS at the moment. The display has 332ppi pixel density and its matrix has a PenTile arrangement. That's not ideal, but the screen is slightly better in terms of sharpness than the Samsung Galaxy S III (PenTile Super AMOLED HD with 306ppi pixel density).


Windows Phone is the platform that suffers the least from low pixel density – most of its interface consists of rectangles and large type. It's tiny fonts and lines at an angle that go fuzzy on PenTiles.

The Gorilla Glass 2 covering the screen is slightly beveled at the edges, which makes it fit better with the aluminum frame around it. This makes swipes from the side of the screen (common in WP) more comfortable.

The screen has excellent contrast thanks to the deep blacks. That's typical for AMOLED but what isn't is high brightness. Nokia advertises 600nits, which is slightly higher than we measured, but this is still one of the brightest AMOLED screens around.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Nokia Lumia 925 - - - 0 522
Sony Xperia ZL - - - 0.44 575 1294
Sony Xperia Z - - - 0.70 492 705
HTC One 0.13 205 1580 0.42 647 1541
HTC Butterfly 0.14 173 1200 0.45 501 1104
Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4 0 201 0 404
LG Optimus G Pro - - - 0.41 611 1489
Nokia Lumia 920 - - - 0.48 513 1065
Apple iPhone 5 0.13 200 1490 0.48 640 1320

Another common complaint about AMOLEDs is the colors - too saturated for some people's liking. The Nokia Lumia 925 has an extra setting allowing the user to choose one of eleven saturation levels.

The color temperature option is great too - it has 11 settings too and goes from cool through neutral to warm. On LCD phones you're usually stuck with either a cool screen or a warm screen, depending on your preference it's either good or bad, it's a matter of luck hitting the right one. Having control over that takes chance out of the equation.

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Nokia Lumia 925's screen settings menu

The AMOLED display on the Lumia 925 is laminated to the Gorilla Glass 2 and that reduces screen glare (some of which is caused by the air gap between glass and screen). Nokia's proprietary ClearBlack tech reduces glare even further and the 925 has one of the best screens in terms of sunlight legibility.

The screen on the Nokia Lumia 925 uses the Super sensitive touch technology that debuted on the 920. It can respond to fingernails or car keys, and will detect touches even if you're wearing gloves. You can set the sensitivity to Normal or High and we found even the Normal setting to be capable of working through thin gloves or with nails.

Nokia's tweaks to the display don't end here - there's a feature called Glance, which displays a clock on the lockscreen while it's off (like on the Symbians of yore). That doesn't waste a lot of energy due to the nature of AMOLED and by default it's set to turn the screen completely off after 15 minutes.

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Nokia's Glance feature makes it easy to check the time

There's an option to leave it always on (or turn it off completely) and to dim the clock's brightness in a certain interval (it makes it more comfortable to look at in the dark).

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