By Michael Fisher | May 14, 2013 10:40 AM
The Nokia Lumia 925 broke cover at an announcement in London early this morning, putting the icing on a busy season of announcements from everyone’s favorite Finnish phone fabricator.
An intermediate update to Nokia’s WP8 family, the Lumia 925 doesn’t pack a mind-blowing feature set. That’s no surprise given its minor numeric increase over last year’s flagship, and a look at the spec sheet confirms that the new 925 shares a lot of DNA with its predecessor. We’re looking at the same dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4, the same 1GB of RAM, and the same display size of 4.5″ – though here it’s AMOLED instead of LCD. Running atop that hardware is the same Windows Phone 8 we’re familiar with, though both the 925 and the 920 will support the “Nokia Amber” update due as a part of GDR2 this summer.
What’s different about the 925 is pretty well summed up in our hands-on treatment from the launch event: it’s all about the aesthetics.
That comparison might seem inapt, as the more-common reaction to the Lumia 925′s aluminum chassis might be to match it up against the all-metal HTC One. But the 925 ‘s relationship with the Samsung flagship is more interesting: the Nokia device is the Samsung phone’s exact anti-universe counterpart. It’s an aesthetic repackaging of the same internals, rather than the other way around. As commenter Rodaz puts it:
As an abstract thought experiment, the difference between the Lumia 925 and Galaxy S 4 in terms of how they’ve one-upped their respective predecessors is interesting to see. Also compelling is the a window this opens into the disparate philosophies driving Nokia and Samsung, and the very different pressures of the Android and Windows Phone worlds – not just in terms of manufacturer tactics, but audience attitudes as well.
The Galaxy S 4 was praised for its feature improvements, but many criticized it for failing to incorporate more significant build improvements over its progenitor. The Lumia 925 will likely suffer the exact opposite backlash – but Nokia fans will be quick to point out that it’s predominantly Windows Phone limitations keeping the spec sheet progress to a minimum.
Plus, it’s important to remember just how badly the Lumia 920 needed a refresh. Not because it’s an ugly device; it isn’t. But at 185g, it is a bit … unwieldy. No amount of tired weight-lifting jokes in comment sections can change the fact that it’s heavier than Samsung’s massive Galaxy Note II, and no amount of payoff from the device’s PureView camera seems to be able to quiet detractors who say the 920 is too heavy for them.
So the build improvement was a necessary one in at least that respect. At 50g lighter than the 920, it might even be too light to some. But other hardware improvements will probably protect it from the dreaded “cheap-feeling” moniker: that aluminum frame looks nice, and our guy-on-the-ground reports that it feels nice as well.
The Lumia 925 improvements don’t completely diverge from those of the Galaxy S 4, of course: for a proper mirror universe twin, you need to be “the same, but different.” The biggest commonality here: the camera improvements, which are mild on the hardware side (just an additional lens added, with no bump in resolution), but elaborate in terms of software. Jaime Rivera puts it succinctly in his earlier news story:
Probably what Nokia invested more on is in camera software as their Scalado acquisition is seen in the unique software included for the 925. The device takes 10 photos when you press the camera button, which allows you to get a “best photo” feature, Action Shot (which combines several images of a moving subject to create a stop-motion single shot) and Motion Focus (which adds a simple motion blur to everything that’s not moving).
It’s nice to see the one-upsmanship in the smartphone space migrate to the camera arena, which for a time sorely lagged behind other features in terms of innovation. With its strong background in imaging, Nokia is just the company to give Samsung a run for its money in the features department here – an area the latter company has been focused heavily on for the past few generations of Galaxies. It’s nice to see this battle taking place on devices that, in other respects, are so very different.
We’re still absorbing our impressions of the Lumia 925 as it relates to the Galaxy S 4, the HTC One, the Lumia 920, and every other device on the market. We’ll be engaging in a team Hangout shortly to bounce ideas around, so if you’re interested in a bunch of geeks loitering in a virtual room talking about their gadget feelings -and you know you are- stay tuned for that. In the meantime, sound off in the comments below and tell us how excited/enraged/indifferent the Lumia 925 makes you feel!