The Lumia 625 is big, quick and has a good camera, the display isn't the best but it's now very cheap
Windows Phone 8, 4.7in 800×480 display
The Lumia 625, released just before Nokia was bought by Microsoft, is a surprising handset. It’s not just an update to the upper-budget Lumia 620 (there are so many Lumia handsets now that we keep having to make up new categories), it was once the biggest Lumia handset available, with built in 4G at a very reasonable price. Anyone after a big screen Windows Phone device might now head towards the Lumia 1320 phablet or flagship Lumia 930 smartphone, but if you’re on a budget there are certainly reasons to consider the 630.
Recently a load of refurbished Nokia Lumia 625 handsets have appeared for sale online, mainly from O2. At just £70 for the handset, which should come as new and has a 12-month warranty, it’s something of a bargain. That around a third of the price it was selling at only recently, and the large-screened, colourful handset feels far classier than that price might suggest. If you’re after a Windows Phone handset – and it really is a good operating system, despite some UK-specific apps such as banks that are still missing – then this is a great buy.
The 625 has a large 4.7in screen, which is even bigger than the 4.5 inches of the Lumia 925. This makes the phone quite a handful, but it’s still possible to use one-handed; particularly as, unlike Android, you don’t have to pull menus down from the top of the screen – at least until you install the latest Windows Phone 8.1 update which includes a notification centre. It’s also fairly heavy at 159g, which is 20g more than the Lumia 925, if nowhere near the weighty Lumia 920.
Unlike most handsets with screens this large, which tend to have at least 1,280×720 pixels, the Lumia 625 betrays its budget nature with its 800×480-pixel screen. By current standards, this is very few pixels to stretch across such a large screen, and leads to a low 201ppi pixel density figure.
Image quality from the IPS panel is also reasonable. Whites are bright and even and colours look accurate, but the Lumia 625 doesn’t have the Lumia 620’s ClearBlack coating, so doesn’t have as deep blacks or vibrant colours; on the 625 the red of BBC News doesn’t have the punch we’re used to, for example.
As you’d expect, the 625 comes with Nokia’s HERE Maps and Nokia Music apps. These give you worldwide offline mapping, turn-by-turn navigation and a large number of free music tracks, organised by various playlists. The offline and navigation features of HERE Maps can be found on Android phones in Google Maps, but HERE Maps lets you store entire countries offline rather than just sections, and we found Nokia’s maps to be sometimes more detailed. Nokia Music is an excellent selection of high-quality free music.
Unlike more expensive Lumias, the 625 does do without the Nokia City Lens app, which overlays points of interest on the camera display, so you can navigate in 3D to the nearest cashpoint or pub. This is a significant loss, as there isn’t really an alternative app for Windows Phone; AroundMe can plot points of interest on a map, but you’ll have to do without the augmented reality aspect.
Although it arrived with Windows Phone 8.1 installed, Nokia has since released the Cyan over-the-air (OTA) update which adds the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system to the handset. This includes user interface tweaks, an Android-like notification drop-down menu, the ability to search through the entire device using Bing and the Cortana voice assistant for US owners. We’re stuck with a localised accent here in the UK, rather than the voice actress behind the Halo character on which Cortana is based, but it has at least been updated to recognise local sports teams and the London Stock Exchange rather than baseball, NFL and the New York Stock Exchange.
Windows and your apps all run smoothly, partly thanks to the excellent work Microsoft has done with Windows Phone, and also due to the capable dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 chipset inside.
The Lumia 625 has a 5-megapixel camera, and Nokia’s impressive Smart Cam app. This takes several photos at once when you press the shutter (7 photos on the 625, compared to ten on more expensive Lumias). As well as letting you choose the best shot, having more than one photo of the same scene lets the 625 perform some fancy effects. Action Shot, for example, overlays an object moving past the camera on a single frame, so you can see the progression across the photo. The Remove Moving Objects function does what you’d expect, such as removing a passing bus from a shot of a landmark. A feature we haven’t seen before is Motion Focus. This puts a moving object in the middle of the frame, and blurs the background to make it look like it’s moving at high speed; we used it to make us look like The Flash when walking across the office.
You lose detail when you zoom in, but basic image quality is great
Despite its relatively low megapixel count, we were impressed with the quality of the Lumia 625’s photos. Colours were accurate, without the very slight green tinge we saw in the Nokia Lumia 925 images we used for comparison. However, the lower resolution means you quickly lose detail when you zoom in. Low-light shots were reasonable, but the Lumia 625 showed significantly more noise than the Lumia 925 in very dim conditions. It’s an impressive camera for an inexpensive phone.
Some noise in very low light, but it’s far from the worst we’ve seen
It’s refreshing to see such a large phone at the budget end of a range, so if you’re keen on a big screen and 4G the Lumia 625 will certainly appeal. It’s also fast and has a good camera. We’re not convinced it’s better than the Lumia 620, though, which has a smaller display but the same resolution, so doesn’t suffer so much from pixilated text and also has deeper blacks and punchier colours thanks to its ClearBlack coating. However, we’d happily buy whichever was cheaper at the time.
|Main display size||4.7in|
|CCD effective megapixels||5-megapixel|
|Memory card support||microSD|
|Memory card included||0MB|
|Operating frequencies||GSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 900/2100, 4G|
|Operating system||Windows Phone 8|
|Microsoft Office compatibility||Word, Excel, PowerPoint|
|Accessories||headphones, data cable, charger|
|Talk time||24 hours|
|Standby time||23 days|
|Price on contract||0|