Nokia Lumia 625 review

£179
Price when reviewed

The Lumia 625 rolls off a Nokia production line that has delivered an avalanche of different handsets of late. We’ve seen big phones (Lumia 920), small phones (Lumia 520), a phone with a ridiculously high-quality camera (Lumia 925), and even one with a specification that dropped out of 2004 (Asha 501). Now we have the Lumia 625: a sizeable slab of a smartphone with a not-so-hefty price tag.

Don’t be fooled into thinking the enormous 4.7in display will deliver the kind of sumptuous resolution we’ve grown accustomed to from similarly man-sized devices such as the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One and Nokia’s own high-end Lumias. The 625 offers a resolution of only 480 x 800, which results in a visible graininess. Text looks ever-so-slightly blurry, while photos and videos lack crispness. That said, it’s by no means a show-stopper – in fact, those who haven’t previously used a Retina-grade screen may not even notice – and there are advantages to having fewer pixels to throw around the screen.

The biggest advantage is battery life. The Lumia 625 had 65% left after 24 hours in our standard battery benchmark, but anecdotally, we found the 625 lasted much longer than the average smartphone with fairly intensive use of 3G services. Certainly, this isn’t one of those handsets that’s going to be gasping for the mains by early evening. Nokia’s decision to clamp the battery under screws smacks of an artificial limitation to tempt buyers towards more expensive handsets, though.

The other advantage of a comparatively low-resolution screen is that it helps Nokia keep costs down with lightweight components. The dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon processor and 512MB of RAM are baseline specifications by today’s standards, but there isn’t even a suggestion of stutter in Windows Phone 8, and even relatively demanding games such as Asphalt 7: Heat run without complaint. A SunSpider benchmark score of 1,123ms is about 25% slower than the 895ms recorded by the high-end Lumia 925, but is no cause for embarrassment.

The photos produced by the 5-megapixel rear camera aren’t shameful either. Indoor shots have a tendency to look a little washed out and grainy, and when left in automatic mode, the flash tends to fire more than it should. However, options to take control of ISO settings and exposure compensation are more than you can reasonably expect from a budget smartphone, and the vast majority of outdoor shots were well balanced, with closeup shots proving particularly well detailed.

Nokia Lumia 625 test photo

Video can be captured in both Full HD and 720p modes, and we have no serious complaints about the quality: autofocus is responsive and it handles varying light conditions well – although of course you’ll need to upload the video to another device to get the high-definition viewing benefit. Seamless uploading of both photos and video to SkyDrive help on this score. And while we’re talking of storage, don’t be too concerned by the modest 8GB of supplied storage – there’s a microSD slot to supplement that with up to 64GB more.

Overall, Nokia has managed to squeeze an awful lot into the Lumia 625 for such a modest price. The screen is huge, if not high-resolution; the battery will definitely last all day; and the regular bundle of Nokia apps – including turn-by-turn satnav, free music streaming and a battery of photo tools – add value to what was already a compelling package. It’s 4G-compatible, too, which is exceedingly rare among budget smartphones. With the phone to be given away with even modestly priced contracts, we have no hesitation in giving it a richly deserved Recommended award.

(The Nokia Lumia 625 goes on sale on 28 August.)

Details

Cheapest price on contract Free
Contract monthly charge £21.00
Contract period 24 months

Physical

Dimensions 72 x 9.2 x 133mm (WDH)
Weight 159g
Touchscreen yes

Core Specifications

RAM capacity 512MB
Camera megapixel rating 5.0mp
Front-facing camera? no
Video capture? yes

Display

Screen size 4.7in
Resolution 480 x 800

Other wireless standards

Bluetooth support yes
Integrated GPS yes

Software

OS family Other

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