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Nokia Lumia 920 vs Lumia 928 vs Lumia 925, is the 925 worth an upgrade?

on July 13, 2013 – 1:50 pmNo Comment

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Nokia has launched three flagship models on the three main US carriers, with two models being a global version. The 920 launched first, with the 928 and the 925 following it up with some improvements here and there. The 925 being the latest one with some improvements, the only question that props up is, is it good enough to be an upgrade from the other two? Lets find out. Watch the video for a quick look and jump past the break for some detailed camera comparisons and stills.

Design wise, there has been a change in all the three phones. The Lumia 928 stays almost true to the original design philosophy by sporting a full polycarbonate body and overall pretty similar to the 920, but the 925 is quite a departure from both the devices. With a mix of aluminium on the sides and polycarbonate for the back, the new design is pretty striking in person rather than in photos. The materials too are a welcome change, with the premium feel taken up a notch, with a very nicely textured matte polycarbonate back. Overall a refreshing change for a Lumia design, but it is conservative too, by losing the colours the Lumia 920 is known for.

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Regarding some small design decisions, the Lumia 928 has the advantage of not requiring a pin for opening the SIM card tray, which, we find, is helpful in constrained situations. Not sure why Nokia chose not to include a similar arrangement in the 925.

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In terms of dimensions, all three phones are almost the same height with the 925 alone shorter by a couple of millimetres, but the thickness is where things get interesting. Sporting an impressively thin build, the Lumia 925 is just 8.5mm thick, while the 920 is 10.7mm thick and the 928 is 10.1mm thick. Put side by side, the 925 is ridiculously thin making the other two look way chunky.

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And in terms of weight, the 925 impresses again with a lighter build, weighing in at just 139g while the 920 weighs a good 185g with the 928 coming in a bit lighter at 162g. After using the 920, the 925 felt hollow.

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Coming to the Display, the Lumia 920 has a 1280×768 4.5 inch LCD screen with a RGB stripe while the 928 and the 925 have an AMOLED screen with a Pentile type pixel arrangement. Out of all the three, the 920 has the best legibility in terms of pixel density and the 925 has the best colour reproduction(thanks to the built-in colour profile setting). The 928 felt warmer and too saturated for our tastes.

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Coming to the camera, all the phones have a difference in features. The 920 being the base, was improved upon by the 928 with a Xenon flash which works rather well in capturing and freezing moving objects while the Lumia 925 adds an extra lens element in its Zeiss lens to improve on sharpness and clarity. In daylight, not much difference can be noted, but at acute angles, the 920 and the 928 produce a defocusing blur which, even after several takes, was visible on the photo, but the Lumia 925 handled it amazingly well, with great clarity and sharpness overall. Here is a collection of all the photos taken on the 925, 920 and the 928, separated in each of the galleries.

Outdoor

Lumia 925 – Lumia 928 – Lumia 920(take note of the order, it will stay the same for all samples)

Closely examining the three photos, the Lumia 920 and the 928 produce extremely similar photos while the Lumia 925 produces a cooler(in terms of white balance) mushier photo. Simply said, the algorithms change is not that apparent but it shows, especially with noise reduction even in the seemingly dull photo above.

Day light (Indoor)

This is a foosball table, and the Lumia 925 pretty much blows the other two out of the water. Trust us, we tried very hard to take a non defocused shot on the Lumia 920 and the Lumia 928, but even after trying again and again, the image was defocused and we think that’s a problem of the OIS unit on these. Which makes me believe that they have massively changed the algorithms for the OIS unit too, in the Amber update. The Lumia 925 is extremely sharp here, does this signal the end of defocusing issues on a Nokia Lumia 92x? Probably.

Extreme low light (without flash)

This was the most excruciating test of all these low light cameras. While all the other cameraphones would have sucked in this extremely low light photo, these three hold their own. But looking at the EXIF data, all have the same shutter speed of 1/5 but the Lumia 925 alone has taken the photo at ISO 1600, as it can go up to 3200 in comparison to the ISO 800 on the other two. This introduces a LOT of noise into the photo, but having taken a real close look at the photos, we feel that the Lumia 925 is the most natural to the actual scene while the other two were over saturated and over compensated in detail. Look at the 100% crops here, you’ll notice the difference -

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The Lumia 925 is more natural here and doesn’t have those bad colour aberrations that are prevalent in both the Lumia 920 and the Lumia 928.

ISO 800 – 3200 comparison (Lumia 925 – Lumia 928)

Since the Lumia 925 has a ISO 3200 mode, we pit it against the Lumia 928′s ISO mode in yet another extremely low light scenario, and here’s how it went. The one on the top is the Lumia 928 with ISO 800 and the one on the bottom is Lumia 925 with ISO 3200.

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Weirdly enough, both had the same shutter speed, but with different ISOs. The Lumia 925 obviously ended up being the noisiest, with an apparent loss in detail, but it should have compensated for over exposure with a faster shutter speed. That didn’t happen here. Very weird, and the 928 obviously has the better photo of the two here. Nokia should fix this.

(with flash)

The Lumia 928 has a Xenon flash, enough said. On a serious note, the Lumia 925 produced the worst picture of the lot, which means that the flash on this phone is weaker than the one on the Lumia 920.

OIS Videos

As we noted earlier, the OIS unit seems to have some improvements too. Since the 920 and the 928 are practically the same, we decided to do a side by side video stabilization comparison from inside a car between a Lumia 920 and the Lumia 925 and here are the results.

Nokia Lumia 920 -

Nokia Lumia 925 -

Unfortunately, we forgot to change the resolution on the Lumia 925, so it was by default set at 720p(1080p should be default :|), but that doesn’t change the OIS performance for sure. The video quality is not up for discussion thanks to our screw up, but listen to the audio, it is much less muffled on the Lumia 925 than the Lumia 920 and the OIS seems to be better. To explain our setup more, I held both the phones to the car window, but leaning them against it. No effort was made to stabilize the both and naturally both experience the same amounts of bumps. From the outputs above, we feel that the Lumia 925 has improved a lot in audio as well as OIS, what do you think?

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Moving on to other aspects on hardware, when it comes to internals, all the phones have the same chips, boards etc except for the wireless charging circuits that have gone missing on the 925. However there are three contacts in the Lumia 925′s back that can let you experience it by just adding a shell. Other than that, the phones have varying internal storage capacities and none of them have a removable storage option, which sucks.

Coming to software, the Lumia 925 differentiates itself(for now) with the latest Amber upate. We had already done a piece on this, so watch the video to know the new features, and read the blog post for more information about it.

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In the end, the Lumia 925 in indeed a Substantial improvement in build and design. In other aspects such as internal hardware, the clarity is improved thanks to the six element lens but the lack of in-built wireless charging is a step back. In software, the current advantage of better camera algorithms and an updated OS lie with the 925 but since the 920 and the 928 are getting it too, it’s not really much.

So, does the design and build warrant an upgrade to the 925? Yes, in case you are not a fan of the old 920 design or its hefty dimensions.

That’s about it for the comparison then, do hit our YouTube channel for more videos like the one above and stay tuned for our full review of the Lumia 925.

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Bharadwaj is obsessed with technology and is a self taught designer who covers news, writes features, reviews, loves to take photos and produces videos. He is currently using a review unit.
You can follow him on Twitter @bharadc23 and on Google+