Lumia 930 Review – Stylishly Solid

What do you get when you combine the Lumia 925’s sleek looks and the Lumia 920’s robust, tank-like body? You get the Lumia 930.

Well, sort of.

The 930 looks reasonably sleek with the metal-rimmed edges and the slightly curved screen which blends almost seamlessly with the edges, but retains an extremely sturdy and robust feeling in hand. Generally, the 930 can withstand some rough handling, and the metal band serves to add on to the structural integrity.

However, the sturdiness comes at a price of course. The 930 is rather blocky and heavy, weighing in at a hefty 167g, beating out even the likes of the HTC One (M8), which is already on the heavier side of the spectrum. The fact that the 930 is also relatively thick, coming in at 9.8mm, does not help. The phone can dig into your hand during extended one-handed operation, though it is by no means a deal breaker.

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The review unit came in a bright orange colour. I dismissed it initially, finding it too striking. It grew on me though, and I actually find it pleasing to the eye now. The Lumia 930 is also available in green, black, and white, and I honestly can’t see myself liking the green one, though that was what I thought of the orange one as well.

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To the right of the phone, you’ll find the volume rocker, power button, and the camera shutter key, all providing reasonable feedback. The layout took me sometime to get used to, as they are lower compared to the 1020, causing me to press the volume down button many times when I reached for the power button. They are, fortunately, of the same material as the edges, a cool brushed aluminium. Figuratively and literally. The metal band is no doubt aesthetically pleasing, but it is also cool to the touch on top of that, and can also help to keep the phone cool by diverting heat away from the internals of the phone.

At the top of the phone, you’ll find the headphone jack and the SIM card tray. If your fingernails are long enough, you can actually remove the SIM card tray yourself, without the need for the pesky ejector pin. (Disclaimer: I am in no way encouraging you to leave your fingernails untrimmed) In fact, you do not have to use the pin at all, just something small enough to reach in and hook the tray out. I’d definitely love to see this sort of SIM card tray implemented in other phones, eliminating the ejector pin from the equation.

At the bottom of the phone, you’ll find the microUSB port, no surprises there. You may be glad to know that wireless charging capability is integrated into the phone without the need of an external casing, but unfortunately, Nokia has not bundled a wireless charging plate with the Lumia 930.

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The slightly rounded polycarbonate back adds to the quality of the build as well. It is matte, unlike my Lumia 1020, giving off a slightly more premium feeling. However, a gripe I have with the polycarbonate back, matte or not, is that it picks up lasting dark marks from being in contact with dirty surfaces rather easily, hurting the aesthetic appeal.

You’ll also find the 20MP PureView camera and the speaker grille at the back. A pity Nokia didn’t position the grille at the bottom edge of the phone instead, though the slightly rounded back helps with the muffled sound when placing your phone down and upwards.

Under the Hood

Despite its size, the 930 only comes with a 2420 mAh battery. I had high hopes for the 930, having experienced dismal battery life on my 1020. Boy, was I wrong. While the Windows Phone OS is relatively frugal in terms of power consumption, the Lumia 930 will only get you through a day of light usage, and no more. And that’s with LTE turned off. To say that the Lumia 930’s battery life disappointed me would be an understatement.

The Lumia 930 has a quad-core 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 800 processor, and coupled with the 2 GB RAM, it handles anything I throw at it with ease even though those are specs of yesteryear. Compared to my 1020, everything just runs a little more quickly, and I rarely see that pesky little ‘Resuming…’ screen.

The 32 GB storage of the 930 is non-expandable, but it comes with free 7 GB of OneDrive storage, and any form of free cloud storage is always appreciated.

Display

The Lumia 930 has a beautiful 5-inch 1080p AMOLED screen, with Nokia’s ClearBlack technology. The sharpness is sky-high, wow-ing me when I first saw it after being so accustomed to the 768p of the 1020.  The deep blacks, coupled with the fact that Windows Phone is largely dark-based, it provides for a seamless transition from screen to bezel, proving to be an extremely pleasant viewing experience. 

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Viewing angles, while not as great as those of IPS LCD screens, are reasonably decent, should you ever need to share your screen with your friends. There may be a purple tint to the screen, but it is easily fixed by changing the colour profile in the settings.

The screen is also protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3, and coated with an oleophobic coating. The combination of the coating, which allows my fingers to glide across the screen, and the slightly curved edges of the screen which are a lot more pronounced than on other Lumias, proves to be an exceptional one. Nokia has really nailed it with their 2.5D sculpted glass, providing an unrivalled scrolling experience.

There is the notable lack of glance screen, however, and Nokia has cited the reason that the type of AMOLED screen used in the 930 lacks such capability. What a shame.

Software

One of the main selling point of the 930 is that it comes pre-loaded with Windows Phone 8.1, and the Lumia Cyan firmware. One thing I’ve really enjoyed is the real estate available on the start screen, allowing for more live tiles at one particular page. I even decided to adopt the same start screen layout on my smaller 1020, and it was not long ago when I thought that enabling more tiles to be shown on the start screen was a foolish thing to do on devices with screens smaller than 5-inch.

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Read more about my view on Windows Phone 8.1 here.

Camera

The camera on board the 930 boasts a 20 MP, 1/2.5” sensor of aperture f/2.4, identical to the one found on the Lumia 1520. While it’s definitely a decent camera, perhaps I’m just spoilt by my 1020. I found the photo quality lacking, especially in night and low light conditions, where the noise shoots up considerably.

With well enough lighting conditions, the photos are of decent quality, capturing details and colours accurately. The OIS also seems to be less reliable than the one found on the 1020. Objectively speaking, the 930’s camera is definitely one to be respected. It’s just that the 1020 does just about everything better and anything less just doesn’t satisfy me anymore. What a beautiful curse.

You also have the option of capturing ‘Living Images’, which are similar to the clips captured by HTC Zoe, though the Living Images clips only lasts for a split second.

Videos are generally up to standard, with sufficient details and relatively accurate colour reproduction, though the auto focus may not work as well in low light conditions.

The best Windows Phone to date?

The Lumia 930 seems to be the Windows Phone that can capture the heart of the general consumer.  It is the best Windows Phone available now, in terms of all-roundedness. The hardware, other than the battery, beautifully goes together with the software, and Windows Phone is finally catching up to iOS and Android with 8.1, in terms of functionality. Alas, there will always be the stigma of app selection in the general consumers’ eyes, although the app gap is closing in slowly but surely.

It is an easy recommend to users who want a Windows Phone, and though the HTC One M8 for Windows Phone would give the Lumia 930 a run for its money, it will not reach the retail shelves of our shores, unfortunately. For those who are currently on the fence, hopefully this review would help you in your decision. Do stay tuned for more news regarding Windows Phone!

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