The Nokia Lumia 625 is launching into a hotly contested place in the market – the mid-range. In this space is Hauwei, Samsung and HTC are all fighting for share. The commonality with Nokia’s competitors is they all run on Android – an operating system I am not too fond of.

The Lumia 625 is different. It runs Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8. Currently, this OS has a very small share of the market but combined efforts of Nokia and Microsoft are looking to change this. The strategy from the pair is combining the rather solid OS by Microsoft with the free services like Nokia Music and Here Maps from Nokia, in a well-priced, nicely   designed product.

 

Aesthetics & Build Quality

Like Nokia’s of old the Lumia 625 has a changeable polycarbonate back cover. Beyond Nokia making some money with after sales customization, it is really cool that when you get tired of one colour you can simply change it for another. Or if you drop the Lumia 625 an unscratched version is just a purchase away.

That brings me onto the colours the 625 cases are available in, and there are many. The review unit is ‘Traffic Cone Orange’ (That is my completely made-up name for the colour, I think Nokia call it ‘Orange’.). It does garner some attention, so if that’s not your thing covers are available in yellow, green, black and white.

In terms of quality, the cover clips on extremely snugly, to the extent that it feels part of the phone. Altogether, the Lumia 625 is a very well put together device. It feels solid in the hand and all the buttons have great feedback.

There are only two gripes I have with the aesthetics of the Lumia 625. Firstly, it is a tad large – yes it is the largest screen of any Windows Phone 8 device but this makes it heavy and some cases a bit cumbersome. Secondly, Nokia left off the anti-smudge coating on the screen, unlike its more expensive brethren, resulting in this very large screen appearing a bit grimy… All the time!

 

The Insides

The Lumia 625 is not a powerhouse. That said, the performance was adequate with almost every app tested and transitions between apps was smooth. The advantage of this is the battery life is brilliant. After a day of streaming music via Bluetooth, listening to music with (big) headphones, messaging, calling and taking pictures the Lumia 625 made it through to roughly 20:00 – being taken off charge at 07:00.

The camera is also adequate, not brilliant, but more than adequate in low-light and direct sunlight. The app I used extensively with the camera was the third-party Instagram app for Windows Phone  6Tag and it performed suitably well.

 

OS – Windows Phone 8

I am a big fan of Windows Phone 8. It is a very stable, well sorted OS, with the small issue that the app store is somewhat lacking. Microsoft is working on this issue, very hard, but there is no denying that there are less useful apps available in the Windows Phone Market Place compared to iTunes App Store and Google Play store.

The app issue aside, Windows Phone 8 runs smoothly on the Lumia 625. Interestingly, there is no notification centre in Windows Phone 8, the OS relies entirely on the live tiles to display the notification for each app. This is where the large screen size of the Lumia 625 plays a brilliant role, allowing a large number of live tiles to be available at one glance.

It takes a little while to get into the thinking of Windows Phone, especially if you are coming from BlackBerry, iOS or Android. The reason for this learning period is Windows Phone 8 is a very different OS to that of its competitors. The apps all work in more-or-less the same “flowing” way in which the OS is designed, this creates a uniformity that once gotten used to becomes very comfortable and familiar.

 

Conclusion

The Nokia Lumia 625 is going to retail in the mid-3000 ZAR category. Pick up the Lumia 625 and there is no way you’ll be able to feel that this is a mid-range smartphone. It is built superbly, looks awesome, sits well in the hand and despite lacking a few apps runs a smooth and well organised OS. Right now, for the money, there is nothing to touch it.

Brendon Ambrose – Managing Editor | About Me – Consultant at Strategy Worx a technology consulting firm in South Africa, WITS Commerce Graduate and a law student; Started Writing Tech: 2005 for Gadget.co.za; Favorite cereal: Frosties; Find me on: Twitter & Facebook
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