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Nokia Lumia 925 Review

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Windows Phone 8 has already been reviewed on the site and it’s not worth rehashing all of the details again. Microsoft has ensured that the user experience (UX) across WP devices is consistent so it is for the most part in the hardware that differentiation takes place. But to summarize, WP remains a beautifully-designed operating system. Beyond a consistent UX across devices the consistency within applications whether built-in or third-party, is commendable.

The user interface (UI) is very simple, with the user greeted with the start screen, somewhat synonymous with the home screen on Android devices, and a swipe to the left bringing up the alphabetized application list. The start screen itself is a vertical scrolling page with live tiles for various apps and services displaying relevant information, current conditions for a weather applications tile, or number of interactions for messaging applications.

Windows Phone 8 Start

With a somewhat substandard implementation of system wide notifications, the live tiles are important for keeping abreast of what’s going on. If enabled, a user is notified via transient toast notifications. The lock screen can be enabled to display notifications for up to six applications, one detailed and five in the form of quick status updates. It just about works but a notification centre should be high up on Microsoft’s list of updates to the OS.

Windows Phone 8 Lock Screen

WP comes with a decent amount of applications out of the box, with a great productivity experience complete with Microsoft Office and a great email client.

Windows Phone 8 Office and Email

A lot of noise is made about the integration of a number of social networks services but I simply find the standalone applications offer a much more compelling experiences with the limited feature set of the built-in services. Internet Explorer offers a decent browsing experience, while the management of multimedia is actually quite good, especially with the ability to drag and drop files to and from the device. And we mustn’t forget Here Maps and Drive, still an outstanding mapping and navigation solution.

Windows Phone Nokia Here Drive

Functions like multitasking work well enough on the device, however in some instances, like when downloading offline map data with Here Maps, the user is required to keep the application in the foreground. An often-repeated flaw with WP is the use of a global volume control, meaning unrelated applications like alarms and multimedia share a common volume. Short-sighted implementation from Microsoft. Something else taken for granted by Android users (and corrected in iOS 7 by Apple) is the ability to toggle key settings quickly like Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and so on. With WP, one has to continuously dive into settings to do this.

The GDR2 and Amber updates brought some interesting updates to the OS, sadly no notification centre yet. With Google switching off ActiveSync support, anyone using the search giant’s email, calendar and contacts services, was left in the lurch but with the addition of CardDav and CalDav support, this was remedied successfully. Indeed my contacts and calendar synced seamlessly to my device and with respect to calendars, this includes support for multiple calendars. My Nokia account synced easily too as did a test Yahoo! account and my Outlook.com account.

Windows Phone CardDav and CalDav

Data Sense is really useful for some of us with very limited or expensive data just for keeping track of where data is going. This was of particular help for me as there was an issue with People Hub using a lot of data, and I was able to spot this before further damage was done. Other being able to set a data limit, Data Sense offers little control otherwise. Hopefully in the future, Microsoft will allow for the manual control of background syncing for individual applications and services.

Windows Phone Data Sense

Implementation of FM radio is welcome but curious to say the list. Like everything else with the OS, it is minimal, but perhaps too minimal. The UI is nothing more than a side-scrolling station selector, a button to add station to favourites, a pause button and another to view favourites or presets as they are called.

Windows Phone FM Radio

Glance screen is an old favourite from Nokia’s Symbian devices and the N9, that turns the display into an always-on clock. And lifted straight from the N9 is the ability to unlock the phone by double-tapping the screen.

One (valid) criticism of WP devices is that they are typical a generation behind competing devices from a hardware perspective. This however does not hurt the devices in action. Having used the Lumia 925 side by side with a Galaxy S4 it would honestly be difficult to tell which one was the better specified device, which is high praise for the optimization of the OS for the hardware. On the mid-range devices there were some apparent stutters particularly with text input but on the Lumia 925 every operation is as slick as can be.

Battery life was decent. With minimal use I could get up to 40 hours on a single charge but with my normal use I was averaging around 16-18 hours, so nightly charging was required.

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By , Columnist, Johannesburg office

Published on Nov 7th, 2013 GMT +2

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