Review: Nokia Lumia 930!

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The Lumia 930 has been slow in coming, but would have to be the most anticipated Windows Phone, mainly because the availability has been on and off again, not only locally. It seems supply cannot meet demand, at the moment. What most people see as an update to the Lumia 920, it surpasses the old device in  style and hardware specifications. In fact it is more akin to the Lumia 1520.

It is a powerful device as the specs denote, a 2.2 Ghz quad core Snapdragon 800 processor, combined with 2 Gb of ram, and 32 Gb of on board storage. Definitely enough power to run Windows Phone 8.1, and of course it comes with the the Cyan firmware, that optimises the hardware software combo.

Marry those innards with the 5 inch form factor, full HD, 1080p clear black display, a sculpted gorilla glass face, that offers a symmetry with the vivid polycarbonate back panel, surrounded by a clean aluminium body. It reeks of lasciviousness, almost lewd in it’s fluorescent guise. I would have to say that the shape, not only of the 930, but the 630/635, brings something reminiscent of the Surface design to these first phones to come out of the stable since the Microsoft Nokia merger.

The expected PureView camera, rated at 20 mega pixels, and the impressive suite of imaging software bring a completeness to the package that we have come to expect from a Nokia handset. Top that off with a 2420 MAh battery, 4G LTE, wireless charging, there’s a lot to like.

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More than ever Windows Phone[8.1] offers a comparative experience to Android, and iOS. In numerous reviews of the Lumia 930, there was mention of “the App Gap”. One review going as far as to describe the Windows Phone store as a wasteland. Maybe in 2010. If you are invested in the Microsoft ecosystem, and with most major apps available on the platform, whether from the source or third party developers, it is less of a problem than a lot of people continue to propose. Not to say that the lack of support for the OS hasn’t been an uphill slog where banks, services, and government agencies in Australia* are concerned.

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Being the first WP8.1 phone released locally, the 930 brings a slew of new features into play. If you haven’t trialled with the Windows Phone Developer Preview, there are features like notification centre, Word Flow keyboard, start screen backgrounds with transparent live tiles, new animated lock screens, Cortana if you want to enable it,[although it is still regionally, officially unavailable for Australia] and lots of nuances that the Cyan firmware adds to the OS.

Like the new USB settings, that allow you to chose between data and a pure charge connection when connected to a PC,

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and motion data settings, that work with the Bing Health and Fitness app to allow for step tracking, pedometer functionality.

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Another new feature is the inclusion of Nokia’s SensorCore tech, which allows applications [like Bing Health and Fitness} to take full advantage of the sensors packed inside its devices. Moreover, as Nokia explains, they will be able to do so without worrying that they could drain battery life, which should greatly improve the experience that users receive from their smartphones.

Building on Windows Phone 8.1, Lumia SensorCore SDK beta offers new APIs that developers can use to create contextual apps. It enables them to easily incorporate real-time monitoring and storing of data such as steps taken, as well as automatic route tracking and activity recognition – all without majorly impacting battery life, unlike traditional motion sensors and GPS. This means that the smartphone experience for Lumia owners will continually evolve, with smarter apps that are more in-tune with its user’s daily life

It means the phone will know when you are walking, running, your GPS location and be able to store that for utilisation with apps. Turning your phone into a device that can monitor your fitness activities is nothing new, but it is a “step up” [bad pun intended] for Windows Phone.

All that technical stuff aside, that isn’t what drives the average user, what are the killer features that will sell the Lumia 920.

Nokia has been known for there camera-centric approach, and moving from Symbian to Windows Phone didn’t change that focus. People have come to expect a hassle free point and shoot experience from the cameras in Lumia handsets. Add the evolution of Nokia’s imaging software, and a whole bunch of people the want something like a DSLR experience from devices like the Lumia 1020. There’s a really high bar to reach, for any new, premium device from Nokia. The 930 can’t be held to a different standard, and although it’s a new hardware combo, and the software continues to evolve, out of the box,the camera doesn’t disappoint.L930_harb_

 

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The twenty mega pixel shooter on the 930 is definitely more responsive than previous cameras, in launch and elapsed period between shots. The focus rate also seems better. Close up imagery is more difficult, there is a threshold to how close the lens can actually be to to subject before you have to switch to manual focus. Results can be saved in 5 megapixel, 16 megapixel or both, the former being more economical for social sharing. There is also the option to save the larger format in jpeg or raw formats, depending on what level of post processing you want to to proceed with.

The results are spectacular, and having used the Lumia 1020 for the last six months, the images hold up really well. The only noticeable difference between the two is the depth of colour, and that correlates directly to the amount of pixels in the images in my mind. The 930 colour vibrancy is slightly less, and in low light conditions the images show more grain, noise, definitely no deal breaker though. People have become much more demanding of their smartphone cameras, and whether you are a selfie junkie, happy snapper, or after a more meaningful artistic experience, the 930 definitely offers you the range to do both.

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Probably the most important feature of any phone these days is battery life, unfortunately the specs on paper, often do not match the real world performance of a device. After the initial flush f new device usage, and once the battery settles in a bit, you get a much better idea of whether you can get a full day, or longer out of a phone. The 930 seems surprisingly robust, and I’m not a light user of any phone. With 4G/LTE fired up all the time, the screen brightness set to automatic, and an average of 3 to 4 hours of browsing, social networking and reams of photos a day, I haven’t had to top up charge the phone. In fact for the last week, I seem to be only using between 40 to 60 % of the total charge, with plenty left over.

On a day like today where I took the phone off of charge just after 7.00 am, and popped it back on charge just over 12 hours late, with a god 50% power left, it would seem that I could leave the phone on standby overnight, and still be good to go for a while in the morning. Also the charge time, or quick top up time for the battery is one of the best that I have seen. 2 to 3 hours to return the phone to full charge is a great.

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In fact the battery life stands out, because you do not find yourself thinking about it.

 

The Lumia 930 has been criticised for not being the Windows Phone Super Phone to take us into 2015, but in the circumstances, finalisation of the MS Nokia settlement. What is the first premium handset of a company in transition needs to be solid, not niche or gimmicky.

What you do get, for a reasonable price, is a solid phone, with a bit of “piss and vinegar”, that will appeal to a wide range of consumers. The fancy photographer, the social gamer, twitter elite, business owner, music lover. It offers the best and latest combination of Windows Phone Hardware/Software in what is for the purist, still a Nokia phone. If you have been waiting for an upgrade for your older windows phone, It’s here.

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