Nokia Lumia 925 review

Is this really Nokia's 'masterpiece'?

Nokia Lumia 925 review
Getting down with the Nokia Lumia 925

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The Nokia Lumia 925 is something of an oddity. For a phone that is presumably meant to be Nokia's latest flagship - as the name and £500 (around US$785/AU$820) price tag would suggest - it's been approached rather conservatively.

The specs are for the most part identical to last year's model and are really starting to feel a bit dated in the face of quad-core powerhouses such as the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4.

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, let alone one commanding such a high price tag.

We liked

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.

We disliked

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.

Final verdict

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. Even if you don't, you might be better off buying the Nokia Lumia 920, since it's substantially cheaper at around £330/US$400/AU$420 SIM-free.

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.

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.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.