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Nokia Lumia 625 review: Value for money with a twist

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The Nokia Lumia 625 is the latest affordable Windows Phone handset to come out of Nokia.

Sporting the same vibrant colour schemes as the rest of the Lumia family - plus specs including 4G connectivity and a decent 4.7-inch screen - it looks to be a great mid-range phone. So, should you pick one up? Read on to find out.

> Nokia Lumia 625 for UK release this month

Design and hardware

There aren't many manufacturers that put together phones quite as nicely as Nokia. The bright colour schemes and matte soft touch plastics used all add up to create premium-feeling products.

The Lumia 625 is no different. Up against more expensive handsets like the HTC One Mini, the 625 easily matches its rivals in terms of build quality.

Nokia Lumia 625

© Digital Spy

Nokia Lumia 625



Nokia has opted to return to the days of interchangeable covers with the 625. Owners can swap between orange, green, yellow, white and black coloured backs.

The phone we tested came in a bright orange colour. While this might not be to everyone's tastes, it certainly makes a change from the usual black, white or blue that other smartphones ship in.

The ability to swap the colour of your phone on the fly is definitely a nice thing. You can keep the phone feeling fresh and new simply by picking up a different coloured back. It also brings about a bit of personalisation to the handset.

Swapping the back out doesn't require fingernail-breaking amounts of effort either, as they can be simply peeled off from the outer edge.

All those vibrant colours do mean, however, that the phone can start looking grubby quickly. While the matte plastic doesn't pick up fingerprints, it does easily grab dirt and dye from your clothes.

As for the design of the phone itself, the volume and lock screen buttons have a satisfying click, while the dedicated camera key is handy.

The major letdown we can see with the 625 is in its screen, which is really what gives away the mid-range price tag.

The 4.7-inch WVGA display sits at 201ppi, which means it can appear fairly soft compared to 720p handsets. Viewing angles and colour reproduction could also be better.

Making up for the screen however are features like microSD support, so you can get more space than the 8GB of included storage.

The phone also doesn't feel hugely underpowered thanks largely to Windows Phone 8, which only needs a 1.2GHz dual-core processor to keep the Lumia 625 feeling snappy.

Cameras come in the form of a 5-megapixel snapper on the rear and a VGA front facing unit, but more on those later.

User interface and software

Nokia vice president Bryan Biniak recently asked Microsoft to up its game when it came to Windows Phone 8 and apps.

The fundamental flaw of the operating system, Nokia appears to now have the hardware side of things nailed, but WP8's lack of apps continues to make the product fall short of greatness.

The same can be said of the Lumia 625, which is easy to use and well made, but lacking in apps.

The phone retails at £179 on pay as you go. With such a low price tag, it will likely be a door opener into the world of smartphones for many.

Nokia Lumia 625

© Digital Spy

Nokia Lumia 625



As such, the simplicity of Windows Phone 8 lends itself to the Lumia 625 perfectly. The problems only arise when users want to take the experience far beyond what WP8 offers at its core.

Out of the box, the 625 is easy to use. Windows Phone 8's customisable 'Live Tiles' mean you can set up the home screen exactly how you want it, while things like email and messaging are also very easy to get started.

Nokia's included applications are very good. Here Maps and Here Drive more than rival what Android and iOS have in terms of navigation.

We also like Nokia Xpress, which uses clever technology to help you browse the web faster while keeping data bills down.

We can see why Nokia is so frustrated with Windows Phone 8 and its apps. What is on offer out of the box with the 625 is very good, but a lack of fundamental applications like Instagram or Vine might become irritating.

Gaming is also only covered in a basic form by classic apps like Plants vs Zombies and Angry Birds. iOS and Android heavyweights like Real Racing 3 are missing.

Nokia Lumia 625

© Digital Spy

Nokia Lumia 625



The smartphone savvy will likely feel limited by the UI and software on the 625, but for the beginner, this is a perfect handset to get started with.

Camera

Nokia knows what it's doing when it comes to smartphone cameras. The Lumia 1020's 41-megapixel sensor is so far ahead of the competition, that Nokia is running away with it somewhat when it comes to imaging.

For the 625, most of Nokia's sensor technology is missing. What is present however is a good selection of apps to help with mobile photography.

The stock camera app is easy to use, but we prefer Nokia's own 'Smart Cam' app, which allows you to easily do clever things with your mobile photography.

Smart Cam will rapidly snap a sequence of shots when you hit the shutter button. From this selection of images you can then select the best, remove moving objects and even swap people's faces around.

Nokia Lumia 625

© Digital Spy

Nokia Lumia 625



Sadly though, despite all the good software tweaks, the included 5-megapixel camera just doesn't cut it. It captures noisy and soft images, which lack any of the pop of Nokia's more expensive phones.

Admittedly a lot of this is likely to do with the phone's price point, so we can forgive Nokia to a large extent here. We just hoped imaging would have been a bonus point for the 625.

Music and movies

We already mentioned that the 4.7-inch screen on the 625 wasn't great. It is however nice and big and bright, especially in direct sunlight.

As such, watching movies on the go is good, but you'll want to swap to another device for viewing when at home.



Nokia Music is included with the phone, which opens the door to a large amount of music to download and stream. Then, there is the Xbox Music store as well as the Xbox Music Pass, which brings unlimited Spotify-style streaming for £8.99.

There is a Netflix app for Windows Phone 8, which brings plentiful video content to watch with it. Alternatively you have the Xbox Video store which you can download content from directly.

The competition

Currently pricing for the Lumia 625 sits at around £21 per month, or £179. Being a 4G-ready phone, it will work with the soon to be launched O2, Three and Vodafone high-speed networks. It will also run on EE.

Competition only really comes in the form of HTC's 8S, which has a smaller screen and lacks 4G.

Android alternatives like the Samsung Galaxy Mini cost around £200, while an iPhone 4 is £319 unlocked from Apple.

Really then, the 625 stands out as very good value for its price.

Verdict

We really like the Lumia 625. It represents outstanding value, has a fun customisation element and is simple enough for it to be a great starter handset in the world of smartphones.

Phones like the Nexus 4, which admittedly do cost a fair bit more, are better than the Nokia in most ways. But then this is more than enough phone for the money.

It could do with a better screen and a bit of an improved camera sensor, but in the end we can't fault Nokia for its efforts.

All we need now is some apps and then Nokia will be onto a roll with its Windows Phone devices.

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