When Nokia released the Lumia 920, it was packed with some of the best hardware you could find in a Windows Phone, such as the fantastic optically-stabilized camera, PureMotion HD+ display and an OS fresh from Microsoftís update center. But many reviewers, including myself, found that the thick and heavy design wasnít representative of Nokiaís best effort, and didnít give the fantastic hardware the body it deserved.

Nokia Lumia 925 - $590 (unlocked)

  • 4.5-inch, 1280 x 768 AMOLED display (334 ppi)
  • Super sensitive touch, Gorilla Glass 2
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960 chipset
  • 1.5 GHz dual-core CPU, Adreno 225 GPU, 1 GB RAM
  • 16 GB internal storage
  • 8.7 MP camera, Zeiss f/2.0 lens, dual LED flash, OIS, 1080p video
  • 2,000 mAh, 8.4 Wh internal battery
  • LTE, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, NFC
  • Windows Phone 8
  • 139 grams, 8.5mm thick

Enter the Lumia 925, Nokiaís answer to the complaints. It ditches the thick polycarbonate shell, hefty slab of glass and space-consuming LCD display for a mostly aluminum body with an AMOLED screen. In the process of changing a few components and materials, the Lumia flagship has shed some weight, dropping to 139 grams and 8.5mm thick (from 185g/10.7mm), giving it an all new breath of life.

Aside from the size, a few other aspects of the phone have been optimized, including a some cool software tweaks by Nokia, and revamped camera firmware that should take better advantage of the 8.7-megapixel rear camera. But are the changes too late? Is this the Lumia we should have had at the launch of Windows Phone 8?

The Nokia Lumia 925 unit used in this review was kindly provided by MobiCity. Check them out for the latest smartphones unlocked and off-contract.

Design

When I first pulled the Lumia 925 out of its retail packaging, I was somewhat disappointed in what I was holding, after using the HTC One for the better part of a month. The Ďaluminumí design is in some respects strange, as the back panel is a soft touch plastic while the only actual metal is around the edges of the phone. At a first glance it looks odd, not as solid as the Lumia 920ís design or as refined as the even better Lumia 720.

All the ports on the phone are crammed into the top section, which also looks a little strange. Right next to a somewhat loose SIM card tray (it pushes in like a button) is the microUSB charging port and the 3.5mm headphone jack, leaving the bottom panel completely blank. Itís not of great importance, but the top section of the phone looks crowded for a design that otherwise is well spaced.

The front panel is dominated by a remarkably smooth Gorilla Glass 2 panel protecting the 4.5-inch display; a panel which also protects the three soft-buttons, front-facing camera and a few sensors. Compared to other high-end phones available today, the display doesnít use as much of the deviceís face as you might like: itís just 8mm shorter than a Galaxy S4 and is actually a few millimeters wider, but has a display half an inch smaller.

The back panel is a piece of plastic that you canít remove, and mainly houses the rear camera situated unusually far down from the top. The camera module protrudes from the phoneís back by around 1mm, delivering a maximum thickness of 10.2mm. Nokia deceptively advertises this phone as being 8.5mm thick, but as far as my measurements go the body is actually mostly 9.2mm thick, and the back panel exhibits around 0.5mm flex, so itís likely the piece of plastic isnít laying flush against the internal components.

On the right hand side of the phone are the physical buttons: the volume rocker, the power button and the camera button going top-to-bottom. Itís a typical Nokia arrangement that works best on a phone of this size, as the power button is in a very comfortable position. Unfortunately the camera button isnít as solid as Iíve seen in some of Nokiaís past designs, making it a little hard to distinguish between the focusing and capturing stages.

I mentioned earlier that initially the phone disappointed me with its design as it looks a little strange. But as I put it through its paces as my daily driver for a week or so, the design and construction began to grow on me. Itís not as nice as the Lumia 720 Iíve used previously, but the Lumia 925 is a significant step-up from the Lumia 920; the lightness and relative thinness is refreshing, making it feel like a phone having undergone a rigorous weight-loss routine.

Most importantly, though, is that the design is very comfortable. The curved edges donít lend themselves well to making the phone look slim, but they really help with making the phone ergonomic. Combine this with materials that feel really nice in the hand and Nokia has drastically improved the usability of their flagship Windows Phone offering with the 925. After a week of use I basically forgot about the designís visual oddities, because itís simply a great phone to hold.

I tested the black model of the Lumia 925, which uses aluminum that isnít quite black, tending towards purple. If I was selecting a color of 925 to purchase, the others being white and grey, Iíd likely choose white as it uses aluminumís natural color for the metal edges, which looks a little better. Unfortunately the use of aluminum means Nokia couldnít produce the phone in their usual range of vibrant colors, though optional wireless charging backs do come in red and yellow.

Compared to the Lumia 920, the Lumia 925 is a huge step forward in the design department, producing a phone thatís ergonomic and decently attractive. The loss of weight and thickness improves how the device feels in your hands and pockets, although I still lean towards the Lumia 720ís polycarbonate unibody as having the nicest Lumia body thus far.