We have no choice but to put aside the Microsoft deal, the value of stock and the aftershocks in our evaluation. Simply put, the Nokia Lumia 625 has the timing - but not the substance - of a swan song.
That said, it would be a massive injustice to burden the phone with such responsibility. The Nokia Lumia 625 is a simple package with a simple purpose - to offer a big screen experience on a budget. And it delivers on that quite alright, with the usual give or take.
By sheer screen size, the Lumia 625 is well into - even beyond - flagship territory. Not even the 1020 can match the 4.7" diagonal. The screen quality is a completely different story - it's a garden variety LCD, which doesn't even use Nokia's ClearBlack tech. The screen is only average in all aspects, including the pixel density. The resolution is spread quite thin on that screen diagonal but the Windows Phone interface doesn't make this terribly annoying.
After all, if the Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8 got away with qHD on 5.8", which is even less pixels per inch, then the Nokia Lumia 625 isn't beyond redemption. We should note that a high contrast setting helps by making text more readable - the flipside is it disables some background images and you'll lose the solid color of the homescreen tiles. The screen itself has lively colors, though only average contrast and viewing angles. It also lacks Nokia's Glance Screen feature, but on the positive side it's a super sensitive display too that can even be used with gloves.
Microsoft and Nokia have been consistently proving that Windows Phone 8 would run happily on what in Android terms is considered lower midrange hardware. The bad news for gamers is that many titles won't run on less than 1GB of RAM, so the Lumia 625 doesn't offer a mind-blowing gaming experience despite its big screen.
Yet, it's a well-built phone, which looks fresh thanks to those exchangeable battery covers. Its camera shoots very good pictures and video, and you get free life-time voice-guided navigation, be it for just a single country, which is the standard Nokia deal in the lower midrange. Arguably the best document editing on a phone and SkyDrive integration are things that may tip the scales the other way though.
Yes, phones like the Lumia 625 are all about the right balance between price and equipment. The Finns are not exactly keeping it a secret - the marketing of the 625 is riding on the big screen and affordability. At a little north of €200, the Lumia 625 is targeting users who would go for the screen estate regardless of the compromise they'll need to make elsewhere.
That said, a number of big-screened droids are worth checking out. The Samsung Galaxy Grand runs on a dual-core processor with Jelly Bean in charge, and boasts an 8MP camera with 1080p videos. There's dual-SIM support, but no LTE obviously. The Galaxy Grand is not shy in stretching the same WVGA resolution on an even bigger five-inch diagonal.
The LG Optimus F7 readily matches the LTE connectivity of the Lumia 625 and the screen diagonal. But trumps it with 720p resolution, as well as an 8MP still camera. This one however is probably going to cost a bit more though.
The 4.6" Sony Xperia SP has a 720p display too, and is powered by a more recent Snapdragon chipset with higher-clocked Krait cores. LTE, NFC, an 8MP camera and premium build are among its highlights and it's an overall package that's hard to beat - the usual solid job by Sony in the midrange.
In the Lumia lineup, the 625 is the intersection of the 820 and the compact 620. It's kind of hard to speak of influences actually, considering the Lumia 625 has the biggest screen in the family, beating even the reigning flagship. Anyway, by going for the screen estate, you'd need to sacrifice the NFC support of the Lumia 620, the AMOLED screen and the 8MP Carl Zeiss-certified camera of the 820. And to be honest, the Lumia 720 is probably the best-looking option in the Finnish midrange.
At the end of the day though, we're talking a phone portfolio that will soon be Microsoft's to worry about. Screen size is what makes the Lumia 625 stand out without drawing all the attention to itself. It's just a regular squad member filing in a blank spot. But it could well be your kind of phone if you want all the screen real estate you can afford.