Wrap Up: Nokia's Best Smartphone to Date

The Lumia 930 is not only Nokia’s best smartphone to date, but it’s also the best Windows Phone. Since the last standard-sized flagship, the Lumia 925, the company has managed to improve numerous aspects of the hardware to make it a true competitor to other smartphones on the market today.

The Snapdragon 800 might not be the latest SoC from Qualcomm, but its performance still falls at the top end of the spectrum. The Lumia 930 is undoubtedly a speedy device, assisted greatly by Windows Phone’s supreme hardware optimization that consistently delivers a smooth experience. Internet Explorer 11 may not be the fastest mobile browser going around, although I hear many rendering issues have been resolved with the latest update.

Once again, Nokia has brought a fantastic camera to the table. The 20-megapixel optically-stabilized unit delivers great results in nearly all conditions, which is a feat not many other smartphones can claim. When the smartphone manages to meter conditions correctly, images are accurate and vibrant, and support for RAW capture is definitely welcome.

There are still some areas for Nokia to work on though, which makes me lean towards the conclusion that other devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 pack marginally better cameras. For one, metering is occasionally way off the mark, especially in terms of color tone, so you don’t always get a shot that’s as awesome as you’d expect. The camera hardware itself also tends to produce soft images, which can make results look less sharp than its competitors’ despite a high resolution.

This is largely just nit-picking though: the Lumia 930 camera is still one of the best going around, and will almost certainly satisfy a budding mobile camera photographer’s needs.

I’m a fan of the Lumia 930’s part-metal construction, which is sculpted to match the design language of the OS it runs. In typical Nokia fashion, the Lumia 930’s body feels tough and pleasant to hold, thanks to the use of premium materials. I don’t think it’s the most ergonomic device going around though, and its thickness doesn’t appear to have facilitated a particularly large battery inside.

Nokia’s 1080p AMOLED display used on the Lumia 930 displays vivid images with extraordinary contrast and deep blacks, which is great for Windows Phone’s mostly-black interface. Thanks to its high resolution, it fits right in with the current crop of smartphones on the market.

Windows Phone is an interesting proposition. Since the last time I used the platform, Windows Phone 8.1 has hit, bringing a multitude of great updates including a notification center (finally!), Cortana, an improved Start screen, and a stronger set of enterprise features. The app issue is slowly being resolved as well: there’s an app for pretty much everything you want to use, even if the quality isn’t as good as what you’d find on Android or iOS.

That said, I’m still unconvinced that Windows Phone provides enough of an upgrade over iOS or Android for someone to make the switch. There are many aspects that are truly fantastic – the information-dense Start screen is one – but Microsoft continues to simply match what other platforms provide, rather than offering something innovative and killer. Their vision is certainly bold with Windows Threshold in 2015, so there’s plenty to look forward to; right now, though, it’s still not quite as polished as I’d like.

So how does the Lumia 930 stack up against the competition? Part of the fight comes down to iOS vs Android vs Windows Phone, and in that respect, I’ll leave you to decide. If it’s just on hardware, the Lumia 930 offers a similar package to most of what’s on the market, with the latest crop of Androids edging it out slightly on features.

All in all, if you’re after a Windows Phone or just an all-round capable high-end smartphone, the Lumia 930 from Nokia is a solid choice.

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Pros: Windows Phone is constantly improving. Solid hardware, from a fast processor and great camera, to a beautiful AMOLED display. Attractive design is Nokia’s best yet.

Cons: Camera metering is often dodgy. App quality continues to be Windows Phone’s Achilles’ heel.