Nokia Lumia 930 Review

Thanks to Nokia Australia, I was given a new Nokia Lumia 930 to try out. It’s Nokia’s latest flagship Windows Phone running Windows Phone 8.1 straight out of the box, and it’s running on some pretty nice hardware. Here’s my thoughts on it: (also I have to give the phone back at the end of an 8 week trial, so I wonder if they’ll fall for the original phone box full of sand trick?)

For some history, I’ve used all of Nokia’s flagship WP8 devices being the Nokia Lumia 1520, 1020 and 920 (I think that’s all of them). So, how does the 930 compare to the previous models, and if you have one should you upgrade?

Screen

Skipping the Windows Phone 8.1 side of things (as I’ve talked about this previously), the 930 at first glance seems to be a pretty looking phone. The screen is 5″ 1080p which after trying the 4.5″ 1020 and the 6″ 1520, I think the 930 is the sweet spot for a smart phone display. It’s not so big that you have to wear pants with big pockets, and not so small that basic web browsing requires excessive amounts of pinching and zooming. The screen seems a bit glossier than others, I’ve noticed light reflections. It also has a bit of a curve near the borders which isn’t off putting when using the phone, but noticeable when the screen is off. The screen itself shows vibrant colours while seeming very clear to me.

One drawback of the 930 is that they’ve dropped Glance. This gave you simple information such as the time and your last email, even when the screen was in standby mode. It meant you could check to see if you had any messages without pressing anything, just a glance at the screen. According to WPCentral, this is because of the type of screen used on this particular model. I miss this feature, but really it just means I have to double tap the screen or press the screen unlock button to see what’s going on… not a deal breaker.

wp_ss_20140904_0001Screenshot of my 930 running WP8.1

Hardware

The Lumia 930 has 32GB of storage built in which should be enough for most people. It’s really snappy to respond, and going back to the 1020 I notice the difference. It’s powered by a Quad-core 2.2 GHz CPU with 2GB RAM.

Wireless charging is built into this model, which  the 1020 didn’t have (unless you bought a a cover that supported it). Not having wireless charging is something you miss once you’re used to it. If you haven’t used wireless charging before, just think about how many places you put your phone down – at work on your desk, next to your bed, in the car. If each of those places had a stand where you could just put your phone and it’s charging without any effort, you get used to that luxury. Taking away the stands and having to plug in a ‘right way’ USB connector into a tiny slot is tedious. First world problems I know, and I’m surprised myself how used to it I am. I had a brief encounter with a Samsung Galaxy S5 recently which reminded me of this.

One missing feature is a MicroSD slot, which has appeared on some Lumia phones while not on others. It would be nice if they just added it to all phones, but personally I don’t keep enough data on my mobile to need more than the inbuilt memory. Auto saving of photos to OneDrive means I can just get the photos from the cloud anyway (even though it logically pains me for my data to go via a long path around the world and back, just to move it 1 metre away).

Note that this phone takes Nano-SIM, while most other Lumias are Micro-SIM meaning you’ll need to swap SIM cards when you change over.

Camera

The Lumia 930 sports a 20mp camera, which is more than enough for a smartphone. Below I’ve zoomed in on a part of a bigger photo, and the zoomed in version looks of high quality. The original version is only 3mb in size.


wiggles
Cropped version

WP_20140831_15_43_01_ProOriginal Version

I’m not a camera enthusiast, and the Lumia 1020 was a bit of overkill for me. It’s good to have a point and shoot device that seems to take great photos, and doesn’t have the protruding lens that the 1020 is so well known for. The camera has a dual LED flash, which works great as a flashlight.

Nokia have built a bunch of apps to supplement the inbuilt WP8 experience, such as Lumia Storyteller which creates a video clip with music based on photos and videos you select, montage style and Lumia Cinemagraph which I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, allowing you to make wacky animated gifs based on a few seconds of video.

Cover

There’s only one official Nokia cover at the time of writing, which is the CP-637 Nokia Protective Cover. I tried one, and didn’t like it. It does what it should – protects, but it’s really bulky too. I don’t like having the flap over the front of the phone, and it won’t actually fit in the official CR-200 Nokia Wireless Charging Car Holder (link indicates there’s an updated version of it for the 1520, unsure if this makes a difference.. and why did the keep the same model number?) which lead me to order a cheap $6 cover off eBay – fits perfectly around the back of the phone and even came with a screen protector. I’d highly recommend a 3rd party one compared to the ~$40 official cover, unless you really want one in that style.

Other Bits

Colours – they’ve gone with the options of Bright orange, bright green, white and black. Mine’s black, but it’s good they’re giving options for the conservative approach as well as letting people use the phone as a safety device in case they get lost in the woods.

Charger – 1.5a output which is more than the standard 1a, maybe to decrease charging times?

OS Name – I’m a bit confused if I should be calling this a WP8 device, or a WP8.1 device. Still, anything that used to run WP8 can run WP8.1

Apps – WP8(.1?) still lacks apps, but less so – the gap is closing. Do you really care though? I don’t use that many apps, and there’s enough stuff in the Windows Store to keep me occupied. A free game that’s just come out is Tentacles: Enter the Mind which is an interesting platformy type game.

Should I Buy One?

If you’re on an older Windows Phone… maybe. If you want things to feel smoother and faster, or you’re running certain things that could do with more grunt, then sure. If you want a bigger screen but don’t want a giant 1520, yes, you’ll be happy. Otherwise, there’s no leaps and bounds in this phone vs the older Lumias. It’s better for sure, but maybe not worth paying hundreds of dollars for when you’ll still have a pretty good experience on the device you have.

If you’re on another device and looking for a change, the Lumia 930 is a reasonable time to jump. You’re probably going to miss all your apps, but are they mostly just timewasting apps anyway? You’ll find new ones. The hardware is solid, and the OS is creeping closer with features that I can’t think of anything glaringly omitted vs iOS and Android. Maybe you’ll like your old phone better though, or live in an Apple ecosystem where it’s going to be painful to have a non iOS mobile. I would be surprised if anyone would strongly dislike the WP8 experience, but the same can be said about iOS and Android. You’ll just need to decide for yourself!

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