Lumia 625 Sports Larger Screen And 4G Connectivity

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Key Features: Dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon CPU; 512MB RAM; 8GB storage, microSD slot; Windows Phone 8; 4.7-inch 800 x 480 pixel screen

Can you make a ripper budget phone based on the
Windows phone mobile platform? Nokia reckon so and hence the Lumia 520 and 620s
were born.

But the bar has been raised now with the launch of
the 625, with a larger screen and 4G connectivity. But as always, there are a
few trade-offs.

Nokia Lumia 625 – Design

On the surface, the Lumia 625 looks like a 620 on
steroids with its larger 4.7″ screen.

The Lumia 625 also features the same battery cover
as the 620. The Lumia 625 has a plastic shell that covers the rear and sides of
the phone, so there aren’t any obvious seams to see on its body. 

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It also shares the dual-layer finish style and the
outer part of the plastic shell is translucent plastic. Colours available
include the Lumia-staple red, green and yellow, alongside white and black for
those after a more serious look.

Although it borrows design elements from the Lumia
620, the Lumia 625 isn’t quite as good-looking a phone. There are visible dots
on the plastic case, under the translucent part, that spoil the look a bit, and
the high-contrast black buttons have been dropped in favour of a more innocuous
colour-matched ones. The larger handset size ensures it’s simply not as cute
either. 

It’s a bit like a child actor who has grown up, but
retained enough of their childish looks to appear a bit weird as an adult. The
Lumia 625 – it’s the Fred Savage of the budget phone world. Of course, all of
that is avoided if you opt for the black or white models.

Ergonomically, it’s sound too. The Lumia 625 is
9.2mm thick and its lightly curved back leaves no harsh edges for your fingers
to grip hold of. It’s heavier than most phones at 160g but not enough to become
a serious issue.

As we expect from Nokia, build quality is good too.
The plastic used in the Lumia 625 is thick enough to avoid suspect creaks in
normal use

Its 8GB of internal storage is one of the signs
that the Lumia 625 is a budget phone. However, under the cover you’ll find a
microSD memory card slot for easy and cheap storage expansion.

 

Nokia Lumia 625 – Screen

Another feature of the Lumia 625 that makes it feel
like a blown-up Lumia 620 is the screen. It’s a 4.7-inch display with the same
480 x 800 pixel resolution as both the Lumia 520 and Lumia 620. 

This is a very low-res display for such a large
screen. To put it into context, the screen on the HTC One has more than two
million pixels. The Lumia 625 fewer than 400,000. 

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The screen is not very sharp. Windows Phone 8 tries
to combat the problem with clever text smoothing in the main interface. This
makes the Lumia 625’s display appear soft, rather than blocky. Fundamentally
though it doesn’t look great. The disappointing screen resolution shows up even
more in parts of the phone Microsoft has a little less control over – such as
playing video or browsing the web. Small text can also look very blocky.

It uses a basic LCD panel that has none of the
“Clear Black” claims attached to Nokia’s pricier phones. When turned
at certain angles, the Lumia 625 screen turns greyish. More importantly, colour
and contrast in general just aren’t particularly 
good. Disastrous? No. Images do
not pop in the same way they do on other Lumia phones. Side-by-side, the Lumia
625 screen appears worse than that of either the Lumia 520 or Lumia 620. 

That said, the anti-reflective coating of the Lumia
625 is superior to the Lumia 520 – it’s fairly usable outside at maximum
brightness.

Nokia Lumia 625 – Software

The Nokia Lumia 625 runs Windows Phone 8, just like
all of this year’s Lumia-series phones. If you’re upgrading from a Windows
Phone 7 phone, you’ll notice it looks pretty familiar. 

One of the most obvious upgrades in this version of
Windows Phone 8 is that you can use smaller shortcut icons on the home screen.
This comes in extra handy with a large-screen phone like the 625.

Windows Phone 8 is a slick-looking system that
looks and feels consistent whether you’re using a budget phone or a top-end one
like the Lumia 925. This consistency is one of its greatest strengths.

Flicking through the fully customisable home screen
and the apps menu feels classier than it does in Android. It’s full of swish transitions
and it’s a highly stylised look.

It comes with the HERE suite of apps, which
provides a decent maps app and a GPS navigation app for use in the car. 

Nokia Xpress is on board as well. This is a browser
software that used to be a big deal on Nokia’s cheapy smartphones, but has made
a return here. It’s designed to reduce the battery life and data you use while
surfing. It does so by giving you easy-access shortcuts to your favourite
websites, and weaving articles from them into a digital magazine. It means you
need to spend less time trawling around the web manually.

Windows Phone 8 is also strong at incorporating
content from a host of different sources. In the settings menu you can plug in
your login details for email accounts and social networks including Facebook
and Twitter. All your emails, DMs and tweets will then be drawn into the People
hub, where they’ll be linked to their respective contacts (People doubles-up as
your phone book in Windows Phone 8.)

It’s neat, but we did find that we reverted to
using social apps rather than relying on Windows Phone 8’s built-in
features. 

 

Nokia Lumia 625 – Apps, Games and Performance

Apps are not the Lumia 625’s strong point. Windows
Phone 8 has the weakest apps and games selection of all the major mobile
platforms. 

If you’re a mobile gaming fiend, stay away. If
you’re just after the app basics, the Nokia Lumia 625 does have most bases
covered. Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, news reader apps – you’ll find them all on
the Microsoft Store. 

However, you’ll often find that the apps aren’t all
that good. For example, the Nokia-optimized YouTube app is nothing more than a
link to the YouTube mobile site.

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You’ll need to live with a few of these issues with
a Lumia 625, or at least be willing to spend longer looking for half-decent
apps. The limited number of high-end games makes having a fairly good mid-range
processor feel a little pointless.  None of our usual benchmarking games –
Real Racing 3, Dead Trigger, Epic Citadel – are available on Windows Phone 8. 

The Nokia Lumia 625 has a dual-core Qualcomm
MSM8930 1.2GHz CPU, the same used in the more expensive Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini.
It only has 512MB RAM, where the top-end Lumias have 1GB, but you generally
wouldn’t notice this deficiency day-to-day. 

The phone feels fast, with no hint of the budget
compromise that the display suffers from.

Nokia Lumia 625 – Cameras

Nokia makes some of the best phone cameras, but the
Lumia 625 has a pretty bog-standard lower mid-range camera setup. It has an
f/2.4 lens (not particularly fast) and a 5-megapixel sensor of unremarkable
size. Crucially, though, it does have an LED flash, making it far more
versatile than the flash-less Lumia 520.

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In good lighting, performance isn’t too bad either.
Despite the similar specs, photo performance is significantly better than the
Lumia 520. You can expect cleaner photos and better colour reproduction
suggesting the Lumia 625 has a better-quality sensor or lens (or both).
Exposure is pretty even too, resulting in some surprisingly good-looking
shots. 

Comparing images with ones taken with the Nokia
Lumia 925, though, it’s pretty clear this isn’t a high-end camera. You can
clearly see the rainbow noise caused by the close-knit lines of the building
near the Gherkin building. It’s a sign that it’s not a terrible camera, which
would have reduced it to mush but demonstrates the Lumia 625 does not have the
same ability to resolve detail as the Lumia 925.

Turn the lights down and the Lumia 625’s camera
performance predictably fails pretty badly. Low-light photos are very noisy,
and the flash does not have the even coverage of a higher-end or dual-LED
flash.

Perhaps the Lumia 625’s biggest camera success is
how simple it is to use. A tap on the subject both focuses and takes a snap. Alternatively,
you can use the physical shutter button, on the phone’s side. This is a
two-stage button that focuses on a half-depress and takes a snap when fully
pressed down. 

We’re also glad to report that the Lumia 625 uses
the LED flash to aid focusing when it senses it’s in poor lighting. Not all
phones do this. 

 

Once again, Windows Phone 8 fails a bit on the app
front. The native camera app is pretty lean on features, relying instead on
things called Lenses – additional camera modes that are downloaded separately
(from within the app). 

You get one Nokia-made extra Lens with the Lumia
625 called Smart Cam. This is a burst mode-based lens that lets you pick the
best facial reaction of your friends, remove moving objects from a scene and
more. It seems conspicuously designed to make the Lumia-series cameras keep up
with the feature-packed snappers of phones like the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy
S4. 

However, in reality it’s only useful for fiddling
about with for fun. It takes shots at significantly lower resolution than the
‘standard’ camera, making them pretty useless for anything beyond a quick
Twitter post. Even for Facebook snaps we’d strongly recommend using the
standard camera. 

As already mentioned, the standard Lumia 625 camera
app is dead easy to use, but is almost entirely bereft of additional modes.
Most notably, there’s no panorama and no HDR. Both of these seem like staples
for a modern camera phone. You can plug them in with additional lenses, but
we’d really like to see these staples incorporated in the basic app. Lenses can
feel a little clumsy, and many are paid-for.

Nokia Lumia 625 – Call Quality and Sound Quality

The Lumia 625’s earpiece speaker is of fairly
decent quality. It’s reasonably loud, but sounds a little scratchy at top volume.
Although we were unable to pin-point it when scouring the phone, there is a
secondary microphone used to remove ambient noise from the call signal before
it reaches whoever you’re talking to. 

From sound quality of calls to music quality, Nokia
Lumia 625 has a pretty poor internal speaker. It’s a mono speaker that outputs
from a hole on the phone’s rear. For a phone of its size, the scale of the
speaker’s sound is disappointing. It’s tinny and brash, and not particularly
loud. 

Some consideration has been put into sound quality
in another respect though, as there’s a Dolby mode that purports to alter sound
for the better by creating a ‘virtual surround’ sound stage. You can turn this
on when using headphones.

It’s a bit too invasive for music, but it works
fairly well for films, making the soundstage sound appear more expansive (if
not any wider). Thanks to the clean headphone output, microSD memory card slot
and the decent integrated music player app, the Lumia 625 makes a handy little
music player. 

Nokia Lumia 625 – Battery Life

It’s not the perfect road warrior, though. The rear
may be removable, but you don’t have any access to the battery. It’s a 2,000mAh
unit that’s locked into the phone. 

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Battery life is good, though. Naturally, if you’re
using 4G (or even 3G) a good deal, you will need to charge this phone every
day. However, with light use it will sail through a couple of days’ use without
a charge, thanks to the relatively battery-efficient way Windows Phone 8 can
operate. The low screen resolution also helps too. 

The Lumia 625 will play video for about 10 hours
constantly off a charge, although as already noted the low resolution means
it’s not really as good a video jukebox as the large screen size might
suggest. 

Should I buy the Nokia Lumia 625?

The Nokia Lumia 625 is yet another solid value
Lumia phone. Set to sell for around $399 without a contract, it’s one of the
most affordable routes to 4G land (forgetting the pricey 4G contracts). 

However, it is not a miracle. The screen really
doesn’t have enough pixels for its 4.7-inch size, and it’s particularly
noticeable when watching videos or browsing the web – both areas where a
large-screen phone should excel. Specs-per-pound, this is a cracking phone. But
in the flesh there are some real compromises to deal with.

Verdict

The Nokia Lumia 625 is one of the cheapest 4G
phones you can get. It’s colourful, stylish and has the same Windows Phone 8 OS
as other Lumia phones. However, the screen is disappointingly low in
resolution. With a 720p screen this would be a corker. In its current form this
is a cheap 4G smartphone that’s not quite the finished article.

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