Almost Perfect: Nokia Lumia 930 review

Lumia 930 lockscreen

The Lumia 1520 held the title of the most powerful, most versatile and most capable Windows Phone smartphone in existence. It had the best display as well, outstanding battery life, and a 20 megapixel camera that beats most competitors. It was very difficult for me to find anything bad about the Lumia 1520. The Nokia Lumia 930 is everything that is in the 1520 minus the microSD card slot and outstanding battery life, but has a better display and is wrapped in a stunning, precision-crafted body. But here’s a good summary for you.

Pros:
– Excellent design and good feel
– superior performance
– Exceptionally good display
– Wireless charging built in

Cons:
– average battery life

You can access the complete Lumia 930 specifications here. If you have read my Nokia Lumia 1520 review, you can stop right here and you won’t miss a thing.

Lumia 930 Review: Hardware & Design

Lumia 930 bottom
The Lumia 930 is a looker. Carry one around and you are bound to get attention. It has a nice aluminum frame around the sides/edges and a polycarbonate back. This unit is white in colour, and we are all agreed that it is stunning. Both the front glass and the polycarbonate rear are curved at the edges, giving the 930 a very nice feel.

The 1520 had perhaps the most gorgeous display on any smartphone – with Gorilla Glass 2 protection and Nokia’s renowned. ClearBlack display. Now, with the same properties packed into a smaller 5-inch AMOLED display and Gorilla Glass 3, the 930 has pushed the Lumia 1520 to second place in terms of display quality. The display is great for web browsing, video watching, picture viewing, reading, and anything else you can come up with. True to AMOLED’s reputation, blacks are really deep and as black as you can get.

The display is 441 PPI pixel density. By way of comparison, the iPhone 5s has a 326 PPI pixel density and the Samsung Galaxy S5 has 432. Lastly, sunlight legibility is far better and in fact one of the very best in the market. The super-sensitive display also means that you can use anything – keys, a pen, bare fingers, gloved hands, et al, to operate it. It doesn’t get better than this.

The Lumia 930 has 32GB of built-in storage. There is no microSD slot though. The nicely-crafted body does not have a removable back panel, so there is no way to open up the smartphone. The SIM slot is at the top of the device. There are volume buttons, power button and a camera shutter button on the right edge.

Lumia 930 Review: Software

Nokia Lumia 930 runs Windows Phone 8.1 out of the box. That means, it has the new drop-down Action Centre, the new Internet Explorer 11 which was also recently heavily improved, the new swipe WordFlow keyboard, Start screen backgrounds with parallax motion, and Battery Saver, among others. You can go through all the details of Windows Phone 8.1 here. But the OS is sleek and much more functional than ever, able to hold its ground against both Android and iOS, and edging them in some ways.

Lumia 930 Review: Camera

Lumia 930 rear white
The 930 has a 20 megapixel PureView camera with Carl Zeiss optics. It is exactly same as the unit on the 1520. With optical image stabilization, autofocus, and dual-LED flash, the Lumia 930 has one of the best cameras on any phone in its class. The camera lets you zoom 2x without compromising image quality. It produces both down-sampled 5MP images and the full 20MP files. The down-sampled files are of great quality (the PureView effect), while the full images give greater detail. While the dual-LED flash is not on the same level as Xenon, it is very powerful – better than what I have seen with other phones.

Here is an example of how detailed the Lumia 930’s camera is, a mid-morning shot of a tyre:
Lumia 930 camera tyre cropped
You can see the level of details. Click on it to see the full crop.

The camera also has very good sharpness and colour rendition. In a shootout against the HTC Desire 816 and TECNO Phantom Z, the Lumia 930 produced the most accurate colours with and without flash. Here is a comparison with one of the competitors. The Lumia 930’s captured image is on top:
Camera comparison
You can see the level of details captured, the differences in colour rendition, and sharpness. You can click on the image to see the full crop.

The Nokia Camera (now renamed Lumia Camera) also has another very nice feature, Living Images. Before you take a photo, the camera automatically captures some images a few seconds before you do. Now, when you browse through your Camera Roll or the StoryTeller app, you see your photos animated. That is Living Images, and it is a really cool feature.

There is a 1.2 megapixel front-facing camera, but with a hardware shutter button available, I do not bother using it for selfies. The shutter button makes it easy to use the main rear camera for all my photography needs.

The Lumia 930 records very rich video too. There are four high-performance omni-directional microphones in the Nokia Lumia 930. The result is super rich stereo audio recording when shooting video. It is outstanding when you play it back.

Lumia 930 Review: Multimedia

Music playback on the Lumia 930 is lovely. The music app now has a search function (yaaay!), and the mono loudspeaker at the back of the phone is really good. Of course, it is no match for front-facing stereo speakers, but it really is good. Combine that with the stunning display and you can imagine that watching videos on the Lumia 930 is a very pleasant experience.

FM Radio is also here and requires headphones to be plugged in for use as antenna.

Lumia 930 Review: Network, Calls & Internet

The Lumia 930 is a single SIM device and uses the nano-SIM standard, so chances are that you will need to go do a SIM swap to use it. Network-wise, in addition to GPRS, EDGE, 3G, 3.5G, and 3.75G, there is LTE and WiFi.

Traditionally, Nokia has a track record of making phones that hold on to a signal well. The 930 does not disappoint. Calls are very clear, and in-call volume and quality are really, really good. It is the best of any device I have used till date.

Internet sharing is available, and you can setup your VPN on the device too.

Performance

Lumia 930 AnTuTu

Because the Lumia 930 packs the same 2.2 GHz Quad-core Krait 400 processor and 2GB of RAM as the 1520, but with a smaller and better display, it can be argued that the 930 is now the most powerful and most advanced Windows Phone smartphone in the market. In other words, the same power but less screen size to run. Performance is silky smooth.

AnTuTu benchmark app is now available for Windows Phone, but note that its benchmark isn’t the same as Android’s. The Lumia 930 scored 25,122.

Lumia 930 Review: Battery Life

Unfortunately, unlike the Lumia 1520, the 930 is not outstanding in the battery department. With a 2420 mAh capacity battery, it has just average battery life. This means that I regularly have to charge it at least twice each day.

What About the Apps?

Lumia 930 Review  - Lumia 930 front on table
All the popular apps that you need are fully available on Windows Phone – GTBank, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Google Plus, Dropbox, Evernote, Foursquare, Messenger, LinkedIn, Shazam, Quickteller, Skype, Spinlet, Youtube, WordPress, and more are all available, sometimes with 3rd party apps that provide much better functionality than the official apps.

BBM is here now. Even Uber is available. Opera Mini is in beta. Only people with niche needs may find Windows Phone apps inadequate now. Everybody else is covered. Still, its your call.

Let’s not forget Nokia’s suite of apps: HERE Maps and HERE Drive+, Data Sense for managing your data consumption, Nokia Creative Studio, Nokia Refocus, Nokia Video trimmer, and others. Microsoft’s suite is here too, including OneDrive, OneNote, Office, etc. Windows Phone now has an official file manager, Files. Call + SMS filter is also built-in to help you screen incoming calls and SMS.

Cortana, the built-in virtual assistant for Windows Phone, is not yet available for this region (Nigeria), but you can get access to it if you switch region to the USA. I did that back in April to get acquainted with Cortana. You can follow the link for details.

Lumia 930 Review: My Verdict

The Lumia 930 is a perfect smartphone in many ways. It is stunning. It is handy and comfortable in one hand. It is powerful. It has a 5-star camera. But it is let down somewhat by that small battery. As a heavy user, I will certainly be using a power bank with mine. The Lumia 930 comes highly recommended. It retails for around N99,000 in the market.

Award-winning Content creator, Digital marketing consultant, Trainer, Conference speaker, and Nigeria's pioneer and foremost mobile phone reviewer. Legend.

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