A couple of weeks ago, Nokia officially launched their second Windows Phone 8.1 handset, the Nokia Lumia 930, in the Philippine market. I liked its smaller brother, the Lumia 630, especially given the price point. Realizing that its older brother might turn out to be the last phone to be branded as a Nokia phone before we see Microsoft Mobility etched onto the subsequent ones, I hoped it’ll blow our minds.
I’ve used the Nokia Lumia 930 for more than a week since then. Will it be a good last hurrah? Is it worth owning? Join me, and let’s explore what this phone has to offer.
Nokia Lumia 930 Specs
- 5-inch AMOLED Full HD resolution (1080×1920 pixels), at ~441ppi
- 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor with Adreno 330 GPU
- 2GB RAM with 32GB internal non-expandable storage
- 20-megapixel PureView main camera, with autofocus and dual LED flash
- 1.2-megapixel front camera
- Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS + GLONASS
- Windows Phone 8.1
- 2420mAh battery with wireless charging support, non-removable
- SRP: PHP29,990.00
Specs aren’t too shabby, but won’t hold a candle to the current crops of flagship phones sporting octa-core CPUs and quad HD resolution. Then again, Nokia (and Microsoft, for that matter) never fight their battles in the spec wars, anyway. They’re more concerned with making the software work seamlessly with a set standard hardware (it’s a double-edged sword, as everyone should know by now). However, at their asking price, you’d be forgiven if you’re expecting for something more. But, like its smaller brother, Nokia make sure that the star of the show is the OS, and as its carrier, the Lumia 930 does so in spades.
Packaging and Accessories
The new box design is the same as what we’ve seen with the Lumia 630. It’s just as simple and elegant. Like the 630, I still find it witty that they have the clock in the packaging image set to the phone’s model, in this case 9:30.
Unfortunately, the number of accessories the phone comes with leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn’t even come with the usual assortment. The phone only comes with the required charger and cable, and that’s about it. The should-now-be-a-standard pair of earphones is nowhere to be found, which is a shame as Nokia’s headsets are pretty good. In fact, they’re better than what the competition supplies, including Apple (IMHO). Again, the price point of this phone comes into play here, with you wishing for more bang for your hard-earned cash. Then again, the lack of one shouldn’t be a deal breaker, and anyone who’d consider it as such is out of his/her mind.
Design and Build
Nokia have never disappointed us when it comes to build quality, and this phone is no exception. Its outer body is a good combination of polycarbonate and metal, so not only does it look good, it feels good to use it as well. Also, it seems that Lucius Fox distributed the review units, because mine came in black! And, boy does it look so classy!
Unlike the Nokia Lumia 630, this phone sports a dedicated camera button, which is good. If you recall, it’s one of my caveats with the 630. It’s located at the right side, along with the volume rocker and the power button. The back only has the camera, the dual LED flash, and speakers.
With a unibody, non-removable shell, the nanoSIM port is located at the top, just beside the 3.5mm jack at its center. Thankfully, the port is accessible without using a pin. I hope that trend follows suit for their subsequent phones. The bottom has the microUSB port.
While you’d expect by now for Nokia to make such wonderful phones, looking at it never gets old.
Display and Touchscreen
5-inch is pretty much standard for flagship phones nowadays, with some models adding a few more millimeters. However, Nokia’s screen is good, epecially coupled with their ClearBlack technology. It displays colors beautifully with black parts being truly black. At 1080p, the screen resolution is appropriate for its size. I had no problem watching high-resolution videos, whether it be 720p or 1080p. Reading with this phone is adequate as well. I never had problems with font sizes despite the high resolution.
Touchscreen controls are expectedly smooth and responsive, a hallmark of the platform. Whether it be surfing, navigating, or playing games, I never experienced any lag.
As said before, the hardware can go toe-to-toe with most high-end phones. Unlike its smaller sibling, we’re given a generous amount of RAM fitting for a flagship device. Internal memory is standard for non-removable devices being 32GB and all that. However, it’s still lamentable that it’s non-expandable. 32GB would be inadequate, especially if you’re media-centric, which is what this phone is supposed to be.
As for battery life, I found it to be adequate, but not stellar. I’m able to get at least a full day’s worth of heavy use with the phone, and that includes using it as a GPS device (2 hours worth of driving) and it gave me enough juice to last a whole wedding + reception of taking photos and a few minutes of video.
With Windows Phone 8.1 at the helm, it performs remarkably well, especially given the generously high-spec’d hardware.
As I said in the Lumia 630 review, the new OS version is a step into the right direction for the platform. As with Nokia’s past WP-based phones, the experience you get on one phone is extremely similar on the other. One difference I did notice is that you get an extra column of tiles in the Nokia 930, perhaps attributed to the higher resolution.
It’s still a joy to see the Notification Center in the platform, though I still favor the Fastlane from the Nokia X family.
The platform’s app selection is vastly improving, with majority of the high profile apps getting an equivalent in the platform. In fact, we’re starting to see more high profile games that take up a lot of space, such as Gameloft’s popular Modern Combat 4. The improvements aren’t just in games, though, as many of the apps that I couldn’t live without in Android can now be found here as well, such as feedly, which now my go-to RSS reader since the fall of Google Reader. However, that doesn’t mean that it can hold a candle to the competition. Beyond the high profile apps, there really isn’t much going for it in the Marketplace. One of the fun things I do in Google Play is discovering new apps, and that’s where the platform still falls short. However, if you’re not an app junkie, then it’s a non-issue. Also, I still feel that the Marketplace app has a lot of rooms for improvement in terms of usability.
The platform does have a lot of personalization options. For example, you can now set a wallpaper. Unfortunately, it’s not implemented as well as I liked as not all tiles do that, specifically most of the tiles for the “system apps” (i.e. OEM apps).
Even the lock screen can be personalized, with some third-party apps jumpinh in on the personalization bandwagon. For example, the Facebook app lets you periodically change the lockscreen wallpaper with your synced photos.
As a phone, the Lumia 930 does very well, as expected from a company that seldom disappoints in this category. Audio clarity is great, provided you have good reception. Microphone also does well. I’ve also hadn’t encountered any difficulty sending text messages. The default keyboard does remarkably well as well (which is a good thing since you can’t change it).
As an entertainment device, Nokia Lumia 930 is excemplary. The larger screen and resolution make it a very pleasurable experience to watch videos in. The phone is also equipped with Dolby Surround Sound, which you’ll appreciate when paired with a good set of headphones. I paired it with my Panasonic Bluetooth headphone and listened with a few high quality MP3s and they sounded great. I also watched a high-res movie and its audio was good as well.
With the games library slowly improving, the platform is slowly becoming a viable gaming platform. Of course, it also helps that controls run smoothly. I’ve never encountered any problems in terms of control sensitivity and overall responsiveness. I tried Real Steel this time around and it ran smoothly.
But what really made me love the phone is its camera performance, both for video and still pictures. As I mentioned before, I used it in a wedding (my cousin’s), and it worked well in both low light and ambient lighting conditions.
Photos taken are adequately sharp for the most part, although under the default settings, I found the colors to be a bit bland. However, being a PureView phone, Nokia privides a plethora of high quality photo-related apps. One very notable feature of the phone, though, is its ability to record audio in Dolby Digital format. I gave my cousin a recording of his speech and he was wowed by the result (he didn’t want me to share it, though).
As a GPS device, it performed as well as the software that runs it. Nokia Here+ is still the King of the Hill, the gold standard by which all other offline navigation apps in ANY platform seem unable to equal, let alone surpass (especially free ones – although one in Android comes close). It does eat up a lot of battery juice, though not as worse as what I experienced when I used the Lumia 630.
Overall, I have to say that using the Nokia Lumia 930 was such an enjoyable experience. If this is the Nokia brand’s swan song, then I have to say that it doesn’t get any better than this. It’s also indicative on what we would expect out of Microsoft Mobility phones. However, I don’t think that this is the best smartphone that Nokia’s done. That distinction still belongs to the great Nokia Lumia 1020. It is at my top three (1020, Lumia 1520, and this phone).
Like the 630, it seems like that the x20 and x25 series of phones will also get the Windows Phone 8.1 update, it means that the few advantages it has over its predecessors are negligible. But you do get the Dolby recording and playback, and for the media-centric users out there, you will find more merit with this phone.
With those in mind, will I recommend this phone? Well, yes and no. It’s the best native WP8.1 phone, but that’s not saying much as it doesn’t have a lot of competition. If you’re invested on the WP platform, then you won’t go wrong with this phone. The biggest reason why I have hesitation recommending this phone is its hefty price tag. Personally, I’d rather get either the Lumia 1520 for the larger screen and microSD support with almost the same internals (the CPU, GPU, and RAM are the same), or the Lumia 1020 for the still-unbeatable camera (albeit you get lower specs in terms of CPU and GPU).
Having said that, I’m still completely impressed by this phone, and I’m sure you’ll love it too if you buy one.