Top positive review
13 people found this helpful
Awesome phone, still held back a bit by Windows Phone 8
on 21 July 2013
First windows phone worthy of a 'flagship' title, in my opinion!
I recently purchased a Lumia 920 to replace my old Lumia 710 but had to return it due to issues with display. Tried getting another 920 from the local store but its GPS was broken so I gave up and ordered the 32GB sim-free from Soteluk. Scared by previous experiences I reluctantly opened the package and was really amazed how much better it looks and feels compared to Lumia 920 - it's substantially lighter and thinner, has a nice metal frame with nice-feeling metal buttons. It might sound silly but the weight difference is just enough to make it easy to read from using one hand, while 920 made my little finger hurt after a while.
AMOLED display looks amazing. It's actually not as good as the display on 920 in some aspects: 920's IPS LCD has a better refresh rate / update speed, which is really noticable when scrolling text (where AMOLED on 925 appears a bit blurry) but not noticeable when watching videos or otherwise. 920's display, although exact same resolution and size, doesn't have the 'Pentile' pixel pattern that makes text appear a tiny bit fuzzy on 925. I must stress that these are really minor issues.
In everything else AMOLED on 925 is equal or better: amazing contrast, blacks are truly blacks, ability to use Glance because it's more power efficient, no backlight bleed (which is noticeable on 920 and more or less on all LCDs), etc.
Also, my biggest fear that the display wouldn't work well in sunlight proved to be completely unfounded - it is surprisingly bright and completely usable (this used to be a big problem with my old iPhone when used as a satnav during sunlit days).
Camera is just awesome, possibly the best all around on all current phones (although this depends on the usage scenario). With Optical Image Stabilisation (lenses actually move to compensate for hand-shake induced movement on X and Y axis - no other phone camera does this, except HTC One but apparently not as well) and high quality sound recording it can capture all around best 1080p videos. It excels in night photography (where again HTC One can be equal and better in some cases but iPhone 5 and S4 are far behind), but bright daylight performance is better than HTC One or similar compared to the rest of the top-end crowd (and, in my opinion, not as good as Samsung Galaxy S4 where S4's 13MP sensor really shines).
Battery life - quite good for me, at least a day, usually more, and I'm a heavy user. However, if you plan on travelling the whole day and using 925 as a satnav, which it does surprisingly well, make sure you have a suitable car charger.
HERE maps - Lumia 925 comes with Nokia's free HERE Drive+, which allows you to download maps of most parts of the world for offline use (which are shared with HERE Maps) so you don't need any data connection to get around. Camera and this are arguably the main reason bought this phone.
- HERE Drive+ works really well and is constantly being updated with new features - it is my main Satnav and it replaced my old Navigon which now rests unused in the car storage compartment, just in case.
- HERE Maps are, on the other hand, a bit glitchy, slow to open, and functionality arguably isn't as good as Google Maps in some cases so I've downloaded free Google Maps app (which confusingly can use both Bing and Google maps database) to fill in the use gaps. Don't get me wrong, offline maps are awesome (shared with Drive for reduced storage use - I've downloaded half of the world with countries that I'll probably never go to and it takes less 2GB of storage space), compass finally works (albeit a bit glitchy), directions, local stuff, etc, and every few weeks there seems to be an update which brings functionality and updates.
- Nokia Music - I ignored it initially (I've got albums of most of the music I love, ripped into mp3s and copied for offline listening) but there's lots of free streamable music and a nice mix radio thingie - what's not to like?
- Office with Word, OneNote, PowerPoint - started using it recently and it's becoming quite useful for work. It's one of the few areas where WP really excells over iOS/Android.
- The ability to just copy your mp3s, videos, documents or any file from your PC to the phone using just the windows explorer (no apps needed), and use them (or use the phone as a very expensive thumb drive) is purely awesome. I had to jailbreak my old iPhone to just be able to barely do this (without music/video/photo integration).
- 32GB of storage is more than enough for me. 16GB would probably be enough but I'd always be reluctant to put too much on the phone, but with 32GB I don't have to worry (I've got maps, pictures and videos, few movies, some game trials, lots of other stuff on it, still around 15GB free).
So, why 4 stars?
I personally like the ease of use, stability and speed of WP8 - otherwise I wouldn't get it. But in many areas it lacks functionality compared to iOS and Android, and the updates so far were far in between and lacking in improvements. Why do I need to get through 5 long steps to get to brightness settings or connect to local wifi (go to start screen, hit settings 'modern' pinned icon, scroll down to find WiFi, click WiFi, set up a new connection and then hold back to get the active processes and go back to your app - while you could, for example, just two-finger-swipe down from any app, which would open a quick settings menu with access to few customizable most-commonly used settings icons like WiFi, Brigthness, Flight Mode, Battery Saver)?
Sometimes the problems are maddening:
- Watching a movie in dark and want to make it less bright - I have to stop the movie, go to settings, find brightness, set to low, task-switch back to the movie (which makes BBC iPlayer reset the position for some reason), only to discover that it's brighter than the automatic and there's no way to go lower - and the worst bit, start/windows/search buttons remain distractingly brightly lit making it difficult to concentrate on the movie (hack-fix for this is to enable battery saver which turns off backlight for buttons but it's hardly user friendly).
- Podcasts simply don't work nearly as good as on iOS, Android and surprisingly WP7.5+Zune. There is no native podcast support non-US marketplace and the available podcasts apps are buggy. Zune, is obsolete and doesn't work with WP8 and the Windows Phone Desktop app doesn't have the same functionality.
After a lot of effort that involved changing my windows live / xbox / whatever region to US and factory-resetting the phone and setting it up from scratch again (that's another story), I managed to get native podcasts support in Store - which is good enough (I used to simply use my old Lumia 710 until now). However, even native support isn't nearly as good as on iOS for example, as it has basic functionality (which is at least it's very stable and glitch-free) and not all feeds are available on the WP store (it doesn't read from iTunes store and feeds can't be added using a link).
- Restoring the phone from the backup doesn't work over wifi. It just doesn't. You can only restore it after the reset, and before you can get to wifi settings. Once you're past that point, 'restore from backup' isn't an option. So if you don't have cellular data because you're on a trip, or you need to get into settings to set up cellular data, and you've resetted/just purchased the phone, you're out of luck - you have to set up all your apps, favourites and settings from scratch.
I'm not fussed too much about lack of apps - I don't really use many and the ones I do have appeared on WP (like the BBC iPlayer).
But for the things I do use, it took lots of effort to get some just barely working on Windows Phone 8 which is surprising given that some used to work on my old WP7.5 phone!
Don't get me wrong, I'm more than happy with the Lumia 925 and somewhat satisfied with the Windows Phone experience but because of the issues I've got with WP8 I just can't give it 5 stars - at least until the things like podcasts support improve (get fixed).