Nokia Lumia 930 – Review

930-box

It’s nearly two years, yes two years, since Nokia released their Lumia 920 Smartphone supporting Windows Phone 8.0 to the world, and now here we are with the follow up, and the Windows Phone 8.1 flagship, the Lumia 930. But, the big question needs asking, is the Lumia 930 all it’s cracked up to be, and can it live up to the hype of the Lumia 920, well let’s have a look shall we.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Nokia Lumia 630/635 and Lumia 930. Image: The Verge
Nokia Lumia 630/635 and Lumia 930. Image: The Verge

Back at Build 2014 when Stephen Elop took the stage to announced both the Lumia 930 as well as the Lumia 630/635, we we’re very excited about them both. The 930 was that perfect sized ‘smaller 1520’ everyone wanted, whilst the Lumia 630/635 offers that 520 successor everyone was waiting for! Whilst we do intend on reviewing the Lumia 630/635 in good time, right now we’re focusing on our Lumia 930, and let us just say, what a device it is!

Of course, some people may have noticed a very striking difference between the Lumia 930 and the Verizon Wireless exclusive device (US), the Lumia Icon, and that’s because they’re identical devices. Minus some mic improvements and wider array of colour options, realistically you could also class this as a Lumia Icon review as well.

The Lumia 930 just screams quality hardware, which is especially emphasised by our white model, which just looks incredible. With its, Gorilla Glass 3 coated, 5″ 1080p display, metallic aluminium sides, and curved polycarbonated rear, this thing really is a thing of beauty. Of course, being a metallic device does offer its drawbacks in terms of feel in the hand, that familiar ‘sharper’ feel in the hand we’re used to from devices like the iPhone 5HTC One and the One M8, for example, makes a return. But, it’s nothing you don’t get used to over time, then, once you have, you can continue to just appreciate the device for the jewel it really is.

DISPLAY

If you had to push me to give the one best features of the Lumia 930, I’d be tied between the Camera, Design and this, the 5 inch Full HD display! The 1920 x 1080 display is just a beautiful display to use, especially due to the technology in the display which actually turns the pixels off for black content, a factor you’ll find everywhere on Windows Phone, which just makes it perfect!

The display itself is housed inside curved Gorilla Glass just like the Lumia 920, but with the 930, everything just seems to pop right out of the display that so much more, which again, just boosts the already beautifulness of the display in general. So, in short the display is great, but, of course, head to your local phone retailer and get a look at it yourself to truly appreciate what it has to offer.

Tiny rant alert:

The colours have been reported, by some, to being off slightly, which from our tests and comparisons with devices such as the S5, One M8 and iPhone 5S, we have to say we disagree with the findings, especially as the Lumia 930s display more than competes with all this devices, and in others exceeds, but there’s always one isn’t there! Also, I know people are going to be shouting “WHAT ABOUT 2K???!!!!” … ok, let’s put this in perspective, this display has a pixel density of 441PPI, which is already at the point where you’re never going to see a pixel! Why pointlessly waste battery life on a 2K display you’ll never be able to appreciate? Ask any LG G3 user if they appreciate their 2K display for its battery life and brightness problems.

DESIGN + EXTRA COLOUR OPTIONS

Nokia-Lumia-930-Beauty2

As we mentioned above, the Nokia Lumia 930 highly resembles the Lumia Icon in terms of design language, and that’s generally because they are more or less the identical Smartphones, but one of the big differences we mentioned was the greater colour options. Where the Lumia Icon can boast the same black and white finishes, the Lumia 930 can also boast an Orange or Green finish too. Whilst we personally think the Orange version is an insult to the human eye, the Green certainly looks very cool and in person really good, but not an option, personally, I’d go for … too bold for me, but the option is there, and it’s nice to see a flagship device offer major colour options … and no Apple and everyone else, gold isn’t a colour!

Lastly on the general design of the Lumia 930/Icon, if their was one word that always springs to mind, from the first time we looked at the Lumia Icon/930, to now as we hold it in our hands, is ‘classy’! The device just looks professional and stands out. One awesome thing about the Green, or Orange options, if you’re in to that, as well is that you’ve a two-tone device, the classy looking phone at the front, with that fun side to it at the back!

CAMERA
Disclaimer: This image has been reduced in size for better page load.
Disclaimer: This image has been reduced in size for better page load.

Yes, regular viewers maybe disappointed by the emission of that Elephant we normally use for our Photo samples, but in this review we have Larry, which actually brings up something very important I want to point out too, oh yes! This photo of Larry was taken whilst he was moving rather quickly, and actually captured a very split second he was in a decent Photo taking position, so it’s fair to say this Camera takes Photos very well.

The Camera itself is, more or less, the same 20MP sensor found on the Lumia 1520, which is most certainly not a bad thing, that Camera was highly regarded for its consistency and quick capture in ways that we’re more than experiencing with the Lumia 930 as well, something we highly appreciate. The Camera is backed up by Dual-LED Flash, which we actually recommend keeping on automatic, rather than generally switching it on or off, something we rarely recommend in general, but Nokia’s software just does that job better than the competition.

On the front of the Lumia 930 you will find a 2.1MP Front Facer, which whilst we would also share a picture taken on that, we are by far not Selfie fans and quite frankly the Camera is to the point where it might show a bit too much detail for you to continue reading this review… but at the same time, that is probably a very good advertisement in itself for just how good the Camera is.

PERFORMANCE + SPECIFICATIONS

You will not be disappointed by the performance of the Lumia 930, this is a flagship device at its best and doesn’t disappoint, even in the spec department its keeping up with Android chums as well, specs shown below.

Whether its browsing the web, launching HD games like Asphalt 8, Modern Combat 5: Blackout, to other games like Sparkle 2, to social browsing, it just flies through them all. So, if you’re worried about anything on the Lumia 930, it certainly won’t be performance.

  • 5 inch Gorilla Glass 3 1080p display (441PPI)
  • 2.29GHz Quad-core SnapDragon 800 with Adreno 330 Graphics
  • 2GB RAM
  • 20MP PureView Camera with Xeiss Optics, OIS, Dual-LED, 1080P Video Capture with Directional Audio Recording powered by 4 Dolby Digital microphones.
  • 32GB Flash Storage
  • 4G LTE
  • NFC
  • Bluetooth 4.0LE
  • Wi-FI 802.11AC
  • Qi Wireless Charging capable 2420mAh Battery
BATTERY LIFE

Battery Rating 3 Average

As we’ve literally just mentioned, the battery on the Lumia 930/Icon is a non-replaceable 2420mAh battery, which whilst in the spec department for the device it is, is rather average, the performance has been OK but no the best to be honest. In our average day of usage, we took the phone off charge at 8AM, by the end of the day at 12AM, the battery averages around the 25% mark after moderate Gaming, Social updates, music, messaging, calls, general Smartphone use basically, which is more than fair for any Smartphone. We’re rather confident if you’re only a casual user that end of the day percentage could be much better, but as all Smartphones seem to fall in, the 930 does need daily chargers over night. The reason we opted for Average though, is that the device does occasionally drain incredibly quickly for random reasons.

To repeat something we mentioned on our 920 review, these still hold true for the 930, plus a few extras *updated for 8.1*, this is our 5 things to do to get best Battery Life.

  1. Disable NFC when not in use (Settings > NFC > off) This will lead to Tap to send not appearing on Send dialogues and you won’t be able to receive NFC connections, when you do, enable again.
  2. Disable Super Sensitve Touch, this really kills battery (Settings > display+touch > Normal)
  3. Disable Bluetooth when not in use (Settings > Bluetooth > off) This will lead to Bluetooth not appearing on Send dialogues and you won’t be able to receive Bluetooth connections, when you do, enable again.
  4. If not in 4G coverage, lower highest connection rate to 3G (Settings > Mobile Network > ‘Highest connection speed’ set to 3G)
  5. Wireless Charging It’s too convenient to not when you can
  6. Check Brightness Level Is your Brightness pointlessly on High or Medium. For most users Low will be adequate, if not set Automatically.
  7. Check background tasks Like iOS 7, Windows Phone 8.1 greatly increases what apps can do in the background. Launch Battery Saver and view Apps using most battery, tap them and you can either allow or disallow background use if they’re really over stepping their mark.
  8. Turn off Location Services Yes, Cortana may require them to work, but when you’re not wanting to use them, or Cortana, it will be worth turning them off, maybe have a quick toggle in Action Centre, as this in particular is a bit of a battery drainer.
WINDOWS PHONE 8.1 UPDATE 1 + LUMIA CYAN

WindowsPhone8.svg

We previously covered Windows Phone in brief on our Lumia 920 review with mention of just the progress the platform had made since Windows Phone 7, and my god if you thought that was progress moving forward, you need to check out Windows Phone 8.1 which literally takes it to the next level … and then some. Don’t be fooled by the 0.1 style of the release, this is Windows Phone 9 practically, but likely called 8.1 for transparency with Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 Desktop OS.

Since we last spoke about Windows Phone 8, Windows Phone 8.1 has delivered more or less all of our annoyances fixed or offered a solution to everything we’ve missed, what more can you ask for than that. Whilst this isn’t a Windows Phone 8.1 overview, this is a phone review, we’re just going to bullet a few Windows Phone 8.1 features we think have enhanced our experience on the Lumia 930.

  • Action Centre

Windows Phone fans stressed out at managing Notifications for apps not pinned, be that way no more with Action Centre. Is it perfect, no, but does it offer a clean solution that works, absolutely. View all your missed Notifications in a clean laid out fashion, and as a bonus 4 (or 5 on 6″ devices like the 1320/1520) customisable hardware shortcuts.

  • Health and Fitness

OK, we’ll admit we’re mentioning this as it has to be mentioned rather than its what we use, but for the Lumia 930/630/1520/1320/Icon its important to mention. Whether it’s Apple with iOS 8, or Google with Android L, the big focus right now in mobile is Health, and Health and Fitness is Microsoft’s take on it. Whilst any Windows Phone 8 user can download the Health and Fitness app, certain 8.1 device users can use much more features within the app, such as step counting and health analytics provided by Motion Data tracked by the Smartphone itself and synced with the app, which is ideal for those wanting a great fitness device. Failing that, products such as a Fitbit offer an alternate solution now Fitbit app is out for Windows Phone 8.1 & Windows 8.1.

  • Cortana

Microsoft’s Virtual Assistant is likely going to be the big headline feature of the platform, but it has to mentioned it is a very fair working client which offers well needed functionality to the platform. The only thing we aren’t keen on is requiring Location Services active to use it, other than that we’re very happy with Cortana, and Quiet Hours (Do Not Disturb) is another great service enabled by Cortana.

  • Start Backgrounds

You can finally customise your Windows Phone even further with custom backgrounds, whether it be from the Backgrounds folder to one of your own choice, and thanks to select transparent tile applications you can see your Photo parallax whilst scrolling down, which just looks incredible.

  • Live Folders *8.1 Update*

This is a massive feature in Windows Phone 8.1 *Update*, Live Folders. Live Folders allow you to place multiple pinned items within the space of a single tile, which can expand to reveal the collection. Where Live Folders differ from a Folder experience on iOS or Android though, is massive. A Live Folder still updates and displays live information provided by the Tiles even when inside its smaller condensed placement, and information still animates. Whilst we were at first sceptical whether we’d ever touch this, we’re hooked!

Summary

PROS
  • Incredibly 5 inch display which just shines on Windows Phone 8.1
  • Classy design that’s guaranteed to strike you the second you see it. Plus, with the incredible build quality should continue the same durability from the Lumia 920
  • The phone just feels incredibly fast at everything we throw at it
  • Windows Phone 8.1 finally feels like a complete operating systems
  • 32GB storage, yes not expandable but more than enough for anyone
  • Instead of opting for an IPS display, Nokia have chosen an AMOLED displays with ClearBlack, which is perfect for the Windows Phone UI
CONS
  • Not the most comfortable device to hold in the hand. The metallic sides, whilst look awesome, can be rather sharp in the hand. We’ll man up in time though!
  • The speaker on the rear … think that covers it to be honest. With devices like HTC’s One series all featuring front firing speakers, a rather average rear speaker is a downgrade, even from the bottom speaker on the Lumia 920.

Price

£450 *RRP = SIM Free

£349 = EE Pay as You Go *best price we’ve found*

Free on Contract

Summary

 – The Lumia 930 defines the Windows Phone 8.1 story, its clean, polished, looks great, and the phone just feels premium and performs like a champ. When we first purchased its predecessor, the 920, we had bugs, this thing has just sprung up to the challenge and performed.

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