Hands On: Nokia Lumia 625

By Pat Pilcher

9 comments

It seems these days that there's a Nokia Lumia for every occasion, and now the Finnish (erm American?) phone giant has launched the Lumia 625 which is a budget 4G Windows Phone device featuring a roomy screen, pleasing design and as would be expected from Nokia, solid build quality.

Look and Feel
The 625 looks, sports a roomy 4.7" LCD capacitive multi-touch screen, and has a colourful swappable outer case (the review unit I tested came with a funky road cone orange cover), which handily also means that there's no obvious seams or joins on its body. This made figuring out where to plunk a SIM and micro SD card an interesting exercise until I finally relented and engaged in some RTFM (reading the flipping manual).

The Lumia 625 is available in a range of seriously vivid colours ranging from orange, red, green and yellow, as well as a more business-like black or white. The vivid covers not only make it next to impossible to lose, but also means that it bears a close resembles to the soon to be launched iPhone 5c and is a real attention grabber. Lots of people asked if they could take a gander at it.

Even though it is on the big side for a smartphone, the 625's smooth rounded back meant that it felt comfy. From ergonomics perspective it also ticked a lot of boxes - even if at 160g it felt a tad heavy compared to similarly sized devices such as the HTC's One X. In practice, its curved back and seamless edges meant that there was plenty for my fingers to grip and extended calls were conducted in relative comfort.

In Use
The Lumia 625's build quality was great - even though it is clearly a plastic budget phone. Unlike other similarly priced Android handsets, the 625's thick plastic body didn't creak or flex with normal use and about the only real hint of the 625's budget parentage was its relatively tiny 8GB of internal memory.

Thankfully flipping off the 625's outer shell also revealed a microSD slot. As handy as this is, having to cough up extra cash for storage is annoying, especially when memory is such an affordable component and budget buyers simply don't want to spend extra because, well, they're on a budget. So how about it phone makers? More memory please.

Grizzles about storage aside, the 625 definitely impressed. Even though its 4.7-inch display is a relatively low res 480 x 800 199ppi affair, it was still bright and roomy (which made typing on its touch screen keyboard a hassle-free undertaking).

I also discovered during one particularly cold Wellington day that the 625 also supports Nokia's glove-friendly Sensitive Touch technology, meaning the 625 is smitten with mittens. Sadly the 625's display doesn't have what Nokia calls ClearBlack. As a result blacks take on a bluish hue, and viewing angles could also be better. On a more positive note, the 625's screen performed brilliantly under direct sunlight.

The 625 also sports an FM radio, and nicer still, the Data Sense makes sure you don't bankrupt yourself with mobile data. The 625 also has another feature that'll appeal to dollar conscious surfers in the form of the Xpress browser which compresses data on the fly to save money, speeding things up.

The 625 also packs the Smart Camera app which did a reasonable job of choosing optimal shooting settings. Annoyingly the Angry Birds Roost store app was installed which given the relatively tiny amount of memory the 625 has to spare was just plain annoying. Thankfully it was easily uninstalled.

The 625's rear shooter has a 5-megapixel image sensor and an LED flash. Its front-facing camera is VGA (640 x 480). These are pretty standard fare for budget phones; however Nokia also thankfully included a Glam Me app so you can tweak selfies taken with the front facing camera. Using the dedicated camera button I was also pleased to note that the 625 sports a pretty snappy shutter response time and I was able to capture about two shots per second.

Under the hood
Where most budget Windows phones tend to have a 1GHz single core processor and around 512MB of RAM, the Lumia 625 offers up a dual-core 1.2GHz CPU (a Snapdragon S4 Krait) with an Adreno 305 GPU. As mentioned above there's also 8GB of internal memory plus 7GB of free SkyDrive space thrown in for good measure and a 2,000mAh, non-removable battery. I'd still have preferred another 8GB of memory, but in use the 625 ran smoothly, being lag-free with most games.

One area where the 625 gained some serious brownie points was its roomy battery which seemed to last for ages. With typical use I'd usually wring a day and a half to two full days. The other big positive for the 625 is its 4G support. While I have yet to test it on Telecom's 4G network (which hasn't been deployed in my area yet), it is great to see a decent budget phone packing 4G. At home its Wi-Fi a/b/g/n performance was solid, and when outside I was also pleasantly surprised by its speedy GPS lock-on.

Verdict
Many reviewers have become so enamoured with high-end handsets that they've forgotten about handsets that us mere mortals can afford AND would want to own.

Thankfully the folks at Nokia are keeping things real, and the Lumia 625 offers great looks, decent usability, and a solid build plus reasonable specs.

Tech specs
RRP$ Varies with mobile plan
2G Network GSM 850/900/1800/900
3G Network HSDPA 850/900/2100
4G Network LTE 800/1800/2600
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot
Bluetooth Yes, v4.0 with A2DP, LE
Dimensions 133.3 x 72.3 x 9.2 mm
Weight 159 g
Display IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors (480 x 800), 4.7" (199 ppi)
Memory microSD (up to 64 GB), Internal 8 GB, 512 MB RAM, (incl 7GB free SkyDrive storage)
USB microUSB v2.0
Camera (Front) 5 MP, autofocus, LED flash, Geo-tagging, touch focus, Secondary (rear) VGA
Video 1080p@30fps, check quality
Chipset Qualcomm MSM8930 Snapdragon
CPU Dual-core 1.2 GHz Krait
GPU Adreno 305
Radio FM radio
GPS A-GPS support and GLONASS
Battery Li-Ion 2,000 mAh

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