Should I Upgrade? – Lumia 925 VS Lumia 930

Welcome to another installment of should I upgrade, where we compare successors to their predecessors to see if the upgrade is worth it. This week we take a look at the recently launched Nokia Lumia 930, and whether Lumia 925 users should make the upgrade.

The Nokia Lumia 925 was announced in July last year as a new iteration of the behemoth Lumia 920, bringing the flagship Windows Phone experience into a slim and lightweight shell. Despite its positive reception, the Lumia 925 had outdated internals when it launched. At that time, WP8.0 GDR3 wasn’t out yet so Nokia couldn’t take advantage of the latest quad core processors and 1080p screen, which unfortunately meant that the 925 had exactly the same 1.5 GHz dual core processor and Adreno 225 GPU as the Lumia 920, which was released as far back as late 2012.

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Despite its shortcomings though, the Lumia 925 redeemed itself with its iconic aluminium design, which was a first for Windows Phone. The slim, sexy looking form factor and great low light photography made up for its shortcomings on the processing front.

Windows Phone has evolved since then. The introduction of GDR3 meant that devices such as the Lumia 1520 were made possible. And the recent release of WP8.1 (and not to mention WP8.1 GDR1) makes Windows Phone a much more pleasant operating system to use than the days of yore.

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In comes the Lumia 930, almost a year after the 925. Clad in aluminium and polycarbonate like its predecessor (albeit in a much boxier form), the Lumia 930 strives to bring the best of Nokia’s design language into a form which is more handable than the mammoth 1520, yet just as powerful.

The Lumia 930 may not have everything going for it though, despite seeming like a worthy successor on paper. It has the same internals as the 1520, which was launched way back in September last year. And it’s still huge and heavy, though not as tank-like as the 920.

First lets dive into the specs comparison:

Specifications

  Lumia 930 Lumia 925
Display 5 inch 1080p OLED display (441 ppi), Gorilla Glass 3 4.5 inch 720p AMOLED display (327 ppi), Gorilla Glass 2
Processor 2.2 GHz Quad-core Snapdragon 800 1.5 GHz Dual-core Snapdragon S4 Plus
Front/Rear Camera 1.2MP, 720p/ 20MP PureView, [email protected], Optical Image Stabilisation 1.3MP, 720p/ 8MP PureView, [email protected], Optical Image Stabilisation
RAM/ Storage 2GB/32GB 1GB/16GB
Battery 2420mAh 2000mAh

Design and Build

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At first glance, the Lumia 930 appears similar to the 925. It’s got the same metal frame and polycarbonate back. But pick the two phones up and you’ll notice the difference immediately. At 167 grams the 930 is noticeably heavier than the 139 grams of the Lumia 925.

Aside from the weight, the Lumia 930 offers flat, sharp edges, a departure from the subtle curves of the 925. Some people may prefer this boxier design, but personally, I find it less of a delight to hold. Don’t get me wrong, the 930 has a premium build. But if you’re a 925 owner most likely you enjoy the lightweight, slim profile of the 925, and this is lacking in the 930.

In terms of design, the 930 feels more like an upgraded 920 due to its tank-ish nature, and it’s something that I wasn’t particularly fond of.

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On the up side, Nokia has managed to slim down the bezels on the 930, and the curve on the gorilla glass 3 front panel is much more pronounced, making swiping gestures a please. The added heft also does come with some benefits though, as Nokia was able to squeeze in built-in wireless charging into the device, though this may be too much of a niche feature and most users would likely never utilize it.

Performance

This is probably the biggest selling point for the Lumia 930: its Snapdragon 800 processor. Compared to the measly 1.5 GHz dual core chipset on the 925, the 930’s 2.2 GHz quad core processor is beastly. And of course, with double the RAM, you can expect the 930 to have much better performance than the 925.

This may not be very noticeable in day to day operations, given the general smoothness of the Windows Phone operating system, but it becomes more noticeable when playing graphically intensive games. Even on something like Raman Fiesta Run, the Lumia 925 lags on certain more graphically-demanding stages. You’ll notice none of this with the 930. Apps also load up significantly faster with the improved chipset.

Based on performance alone, the 930 is certainly a worthy upgrade.

Display

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The Lumia 930’s display has been bumped up from that of the 925’s. It offers a sharper 1080p 5” display covered in the latest and strongest gorilla glass. For some, the 441ppi is a long-awaited breath of fresh air, but there are those like me who don’t really see the difference between 327 and 441. I’m satisfied as long as I don’t see the pixels. They’re just numbers people, move on.

Unfortunately though, for some reason Nokia is unable to enable Glance Screen on the Lumia 930, which is a bummer since it is a really neat feature. Apparently, it has something to do with the lack of “display memory”, and that means that the 930 will never get Glance Screen. Ever. Now that’s something you should add into your consideration.

Camera

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Nokia has always been at the pinnacle of mobile imaging, and the Lumia 925’s shooter lived up to that. Though a mere 8.7MP, Nokia’s PureView technology and Carl Zeiss optics give great shots, while the optical image stabilization and f/2.0 lens provide for one of the greatest low light performance in the industry. The 6 element lens also gives its photos a great deal of sharpness and detail.

The Lumia 930 improves on this with its 20MP camera, the same unit as the one found on the Lumia 1520 phablet. While the bump in resolution is impressive, I wouldn’t say that it’s miles better than the 925’s. Of course, if it were a free upgrade I’d go with the 930’s camera. But considering the premium that you’re paying for it, I’m not sure if the upgrade’s worth it. If you’re not megapixel-crazy, the 925 should more than please you with its camera.

Battery life

Unless you’re one of the lucky few who own a Lumia 1520 – and chances are, if you’re reading this article you aren’t – you would’ve experienced terrible battery life on your Windows Phone. The 925 will be able to last you a day on moderate usage, but no more.

Unfortunately, the same can be said for the Lumia 930. The battery life is rather terrible, and it apparently suffers from the same heating issues as the Lumia 925. Yup, it runs in the family.

This is a real bummer. The sub par battery life that the Lumia 930 ships with is enough to put many people off. If you want a real upgrade in terms of battery life, you might want to consider the 1520 instead.

Wrap-up

I’m a proud owner of a Lumia 925, and I’ve had the privilege to have spent several days with our Lumia 930 review unit (which is currently with Yi Heng who’s working hard on the review). I can say that while the Lumia 930 is an impressive piece of hardware, I wouldn’t trade my Lumia 925 for it. For one, the bulk and heft of the 930 certainly do not appeal to someone who’s been using the feather-light Lumia 925. The departure from curved sides to sharp edges also makes the 930 that much harder to hold. And while performance in terms of raw power and the camera has been bumped rather significantly, its battery performance remains just as sluggish.

I’m not putting down the Lumia 930 as a handset not worthy of your consideration. If you’re coming from a 920, 820 or lower, the 930 will certainly impress you. But for those who’ve had the taste of the Lumia 925 and higher, the 930 probably just isn’t worth the upgrade. It just doesn’t have the same great feel that the 925 has, and that alone is enough to put me off.

So if the 930 isn’t a worthy upgrade from the 925, what is? I’ve been eyeing the Lumia 1520 ever since I first got my hands on a review unit a year ago (Read: Lumia 1520 review). The 1520 impressed me with its slim profile, gorgeous display, excellent performance, and, above all, its legendary battery life. When I reviewed the phone I said I couldn’t bring the battery down to zero in a day no matter how much I tried. That beast still sits comfortably at the top of GSMarena’s battery life table. Unfortunately though, given the age of the handset, all Singaporean carriers have discontinued it. But in my eyes it’s still the best Windows Phone to date, and it’s the one you should go to if you want a Windows Phone experience like you’ve never had before.

lumia-1520-selection

Of course, if you don’t mind the added bulk of the 930, or the fact that the battery life is rather terrible, go ahead and upgrade. If not, stick to your 925, get a 1520, or wait for the Lumia 935.

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