Nokia’s latest Lumia takes all the best bits from the 920, and refines them and scraps the negatives in favor of elegance. There’s no hiding the fact that its predecessor was very bulky. Chunky, brightly colored plastic has been replaced by a sleek and slim aluminum chassis with an unusual, soft touch polycarbonate back panel. Its camera takes center place on the back, with contoured plastic rising up to meet the glass-protected lens. On the bottom is the wide pill-shaped speaker grille, thoughtfully designed to finish of the symmetrical look.
Despite the similarities with the the iPhone 5, it still manages to be completely different. Although the iPhone is incredibly light, slim and elegant, the Nokia’s metal body’s curved edges invite you to hold it, while the soft touch plastic on the back is incredibly gratifying. For right handed users, the volume rocker and power/lock key are perfectly positioned for the thumb. The Lumia’s look is finished off by a glassy, black front surface, giving the illusion that the display covers the entire surface. Any sensors and cutouts are carefully hidden or understated as are the Windows Phone soft touch buttons on the bottom.
Both phones are very well made, and well designed, and I’m torn between them. If I was going with which looked nicest, I’d go with the iPhone 5. For how it feels in hand, I’d go Nokia. It’s a little wider, so those of you with smaller hands will need to consider that. Personally, I struggle to use the iPhone to type anything, I had no such struggle with the Lumia.
Let’s get this out there: I’ve always loved the crisp and sharp Retina displays, but they’ve always been a little too small and poor outdoors, especially on a bright day. It’s why I was so torn when comparing the displays of the Lumia and the iPhone 5.
In daylight, the Lumia’s display was fantastic. It wasn’t quite as good as it was indoors, but it was still obviously clearer and more vivid than the iPhone’s LCD-based display in bright conditions. I noticed it particularly when I went out to shoot some photographs. I could barely make out what was on the iPhone’s screen and where objects sat in frame. No such issues with the 925. It was great. Of course, it’s enhance further by the user interface which – by default – is high contrast. The blacks were black and the colors popped.
Get them indoors though and my opinion switches more in favor of the iPhone. Despite the high pixel count on the Lumia, you could tell just from looking at it that the display was PenTile based. What that means in essence is that each pixel isn’t a “true” pixel. Red, green and blue end up sharing sub-pixels making color reproduction slightly imperfect, and text doesn’t look as sharp as it does on Apple’s flagship.
Once more, I end a section of a comparison with different answers. For outdoor use, and the larger, more comfortable size for typing on, I’d go Lumia. But for clarity, sharpness and indoor use I’d go with the iPhone.
I did an in-depth camera comparison last week, so I’ll keep this section short. In summary, the iPhone produced great daylight shots with much more depth to the color and contrast, giving a more natural finished look. But, in lowlight conditions the Lumia outshone the iPhone 5, and made its sensor look decidedly average. All in all, I’d have to go with the Nokia overall. I’m not shy to edit the contrast, light and color levels to make it match the iPhone in daylight.
In terms of daily use, switching apps, browsing, messaging and the usual, both phones are fantastic. Even with the beta version of iOS 7 running on the iPhone, it’s still snappy and smooth. The Nokia, likewise, handles its operating system with ease, with a pleasing animation between screens and menus. It’s in other areas that the phones show potential kinks in their otherwise faultless armor.
For the Nokia, it’s low point was the poor signal performance. I tried both EE and Vodafone SIMs in both phones, and often found the Lumia without service, despite being in an area where I usually would get cell coverage. It was more noticeable with my EE SIM, I could rarely pick up any reception. The iPhone was much better in that regard. It’s not normally something I’d mention in a comparison, but it was very noticeable and affected daily use.
Battery life on the other hand was a different story. I could get the 925 through 2 days of moderate use without sweating. I’m lucky if I get a day out of my iPhone.
I’ve tried and tested a good few phones in my time here at TiP. It’s no surprise that so many of them have been Android, and some of them are fantastic pieces of hardware. I was very impressed by both the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4 earlier this year, but they both ran Android, which I can never get on with for too long. I have to admit HTC’s One almost replaced my iPhone for a while, but in the end I get fed up with not being able to have it as I wanted and the lack of uniformity and standard of quality within the user interface and apps.
The Lumia 925 is the first phone in a long time that’s almost tempted me to switch away. Part of that is Windows Phone. Its design, although three years old, is much fresher and is different in look and feel to everything else on the market. Whichever way you look at it, BB10, Android and iOS have all got similar basic elements in terms of app icons. Windows Phone with its live tiles and user interface is different to all of them and it makes for a refreshing change.
Couple that refreshing change with an incredible piece of hardware and you’re left with a device that more people should consider. It’s well made, it works brilliantly and has a fantastic camera. The only thing lacking is apps. WP8 is yet to catch up with the likes of the iOS App Store and the Google Play Store. There’s certainly less free garbage in the Windows store, but there needs to be more quality apps in there. I’ve loved using it, and will certainly regard it as one of my top 4 phones available on the market right now.