TechnoStorm

Review: Nokia Lumia 625, LTE phone for less than P14,000

Specs of the Nokia Lumia 625 (Price: P13,200):  

Qualcomm MSM8930 Snapdragon chipset
1.2GHz dual-core Krait CPU
Adreno 305 GPU
512MB RAM
8GB internal storage
microSD expansion (up to 64GB)
4.7-inch IPS display with Corning Gorilla Glass 2 (480 x 800
resolution; 199 ppi)
5MP rear camera with LED flash; VGA front camera
2,000mAh battery
Windows Phone 8

 

Reading the spec sheet, you'd believe that the Nokia Lumia 625 is more about bringing a bigger screen and a faster mobile Internet experience to emerging markets than it is about releasing yet another model in the highly competitive bargain deck.  

And you're right. The Lumia 625's 4.7-inch screenthe largest among Lumia displays, albeit by a small marginand LTE connectivity define its commercial viability. But it's reasonably priced, too, officially retailing for P13,200 on Philippine shores, thus making it the most affordable LTE phone in the country so far

There's more to it, of course. We'll detail more of what to expect from Nokia' newest product offering in our review.  

Hardware

Despite its name, the Nokia Lumia 625 bears little resemblance to the Lumia 620. Those who remember the latter will likely be pleased with the design changes. It starts with the polycarbonate casing; Nokia's latest release flaunts gentler curves on the corners and back, whereas its predecessor has tapered sides. Between the two, we prefer the Lumia 625's design, mainly because it looks deceptively similar to higher-end Lumias

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Coming in at 9.2mm thickalmost 2mm slimmer than the 11mm-thick Lumia 620the 625 is the thinner of the two smartphones, but it is indeed heavier, tipping the scales at 159 grams. Still, the weight difference doesn't make the handset more difficult to carry around. 

The handset's form-fitting rear panel wraps the edges and can be removed to reveal the sealed battery as well as access the microSIM and microSD card slots. Do note that separating the shell from the phone itself can be difficult, as it requires you to use the microUSB port as leverage to pry the shell off. 

Nokia Lumia 625
1 / 11
TechnoStorm Photos Slideshow | Photo By Ramon Lopez
Wed, Oct 16, 2013 2:00 PM PHT
 

The case comes in several color variants: black, green, red-orange, white, and yellow. All of them feature a smooth, matte finish which keeps fingerprints and smudges off the back of the device. 

What we found cool about the case is that it makes use of Nokia's dual-shot layering technique, which involves adding a second layer of colored, translucent polycarbonate on top of a base layer to produce color and depth effects. Our loaner unit comes in white, making the effect more visible, especially from the sides.  

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Like other Lumias before it, the 625's power, volume, and camera-shutter buttons sit on the right-hand side (when facing the screen). There's a headphone jack up top and a microUSB port at the bottom edge of the handset. 

In terms of build quality, we'd say the all-plastic device is as well-made as any Nokia smartphone; there's very little flex on the rear panel, and there are no gaps along the frame. The hardware keys also provide good tactile feedback.   

Display

Bigger isn't necessarily better, and the Nokia Lumia 625 is proof of that. Despite its 4.7-inch screen being larger by 0.2 inches than the one on the flagship Lumia 1020, it doesn't quite make up for its subpar picture quality. For one, the IPS screen houses the same number of pixels as its predecessor (480 x 800 pixels) while also being almost a full inch larger diagonally. The result is a low pixel density of approximately 199 pixels per inch, making icons and text appear somewhat jagged around the edges. 

Although viewing angles and sunlight legibility are serviceable and colors appear reasonably pleasing to the eye, the display is sorely missing Nokia's ClearBlack technology, as evidenced by its faded black levels. 

On a more positive note, the Lumia 625 lets you tweak the screen's color saturation and temperature to your liking. Just don't expect it to drastically improve your viewing experience. The cover glass, which slightly tapers off at the corners, is also made from Gorilla Glass 2 to protect it from falls and the occasional bumps. 

Camera

The Nokia Lumia 625 has a pair of cameras onboard: a VGA sensor up front and a 5-megapixel sensor round the back. In practice, both modules produce decent results for a low-tier device, especially when shooting outdoors and in well-lit areas. 

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Colors are bright and close to accurate, exposure is fine, and noise is generally kept under control. What's more, the built-in LED flash doubling as a focus-assist light lets you snap closer macro shots and allows for some shallow depth of field. 

We like the inclusion of a dual-stage, dedicated shutter key on the phone's right side, with the ability to wake the device and automatically fire up the camera app as well as lock focus after a half-press. The Lumia 625 also supports the Nokia Smart Cam app for taking stills in rapid succession and combining them into an action shot. 

As for video recording, the rear camera can capture 1080p footage at 30 frames per second. The front-facer is limited to VGA quality, which is okay for video chat and profile pictures. 

We've compiled samples taken with the handset for you to check out.  

Nokia Lumia 625 sample photo
1 / 10
TechnoStorm Photos Slideshow | Photo By Ramon Lopez
Wed, Oct 16, 2013 6:00 PM PHT
 

Performance

The Nokia Lumia 625 is not a premium device, but it has respectable specs: an LTE-capable Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chipset; a 1.2GHz dual-core Krait CPU; and an Adreno 305 GPU. The 512MB of RAM carries over from the Lumia 620, along with the 8GB of built-in storage and microSD expansion for cards up to 64GB in capacity. 

The kicker in the mix, of course, is LTE connectivity. The phone supports frequencies 800MHz, 1800MHz, and 2600MHz, and it works with Globe Telecom's LTE network wherever available in the Philippines. On LTE, we typically saw downloads of around 8Mbps and uploads of about 3Mbps. 

Similar to other Windows Phone-based products, this Nokia performs to our satisfaction. Scrolling is as smooth as it is responsive, and with the exception of more demanding software like App Highlights and Here Maps, there's hardly any lag when launching apps and switching between them. Loading content-heavy websites proved to be a favorable experience as well. In short, the Nokia Lumia 625 feels snappy across the board, as you'd expect from a phone running the latest version of Windows Phone 8.

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The only hitch: Some apps, mostly quality gaming titles, require at least 1GB of RAM to install and run. (Not that you'd notice as incompatible apps are generally filtered out of the Windows Phone Store.) Think Mass Effect: Infiltrator, Modern Combat 4, N.O.V.A 3, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Dark Knight Rises. We're crossing our fingers that Microsoft ditches the minimum RAM requirement in future Windows Phone iterations even if it comes at the risk of performance issues in low-end hardware. 

Battery

The Nokia Lumia 625 packs a rather sizable 2,000mAh cell, which is a little surprising considering its position in the Lumia hierarchy. The battery lasted 7 hours and 10 minutes on a single charge in our standard video-looping test, with the screen set at half brightness and WiFi switched on. Under normal circumstances, with data used sparingly, our unit got us through a full day and a half

Verdict

Overall, the Nokia Lumia 625 is a compelling package; it's a budget-minded phone done right, hampered only by two things: a low-density display and Windows Phone's RAM requirement. There's no doubt that it offers superb value for P13,200, what with its solid build quality, decent imaging package, snappy performance, reliable LTE radio, and good battery life. That said, we're convinced the Finns have a real winner in the crowded business of quite affordable smartphones.     

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