Nokia Lumia 930 Review - The New Windows Phone 8.1 Flagship Device
Nokia Lumia 930 is a long awaited device by Windows Phone fans. In terms of hardware and software specifications, it is a very impressive smartphone and we were very curious to learn how well it works. We tested it for a week and we are now ready to share our conclusions. Is this truly the new flagship Windows Phone device? Learn the answer from this detailed review.
Hardware Specifications & Packaging
Lumia 930 is the first premium smartphone with Windows Phone 8.1 and it features the best hardware you can find on Windows Phone devices: it has a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor running at 2.2 GHz, 2 GB of RAM memory and 32GB of internal storage. The display is a 5" AMOLED 1080P screen with Gorilla Glass 3, with automatic brightness control, an orientation sensor and sunlight readability improvements.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have a slot for microSD cards so its internal storage cannot be expanded.
In terms of size, this smartphone is thicker and heavier than other high-end smartphones: it has 137 mm (5.4 inches) in height, 71 mm (3 inches) in width, it is 9.8mm (4 inches) thick and it weighs 167 grams (5.8 ounces).
The rear camera is top-notch, at least in terms of specifications: it has 20 megapixels and it is capable of shooting pictures at a resolution of 4992 х 3744 pixels. It has Carl Zeiss optics, optical image stabilization, autofocus and dual-LED flash. It records videos at 1080p and 30 frames per second. The Lumia 930 also includes four directional microphones with Surround-Sound which, at least in theory, provide high-quality sound for your video and audio recordings. The front camera is a standard 1.2 megapixel camera which can take pictures and video at 720p.
The battery on the Lumia 930 is a Li-Ion 2420 mAh battery and the smartphone features also Qi wireless charging.
Lumia 930 alongside Lumia 1520 are the first two Windows Phone devices that require a nano-SIM.
For more detail, you can read the full-set of specifications here: Detailed specifications for the Nokia Lumia 930.
The packaging for the Lumia 930 is similar to that of the Lumia 630. As you can see in the picture below, the box is smaller and a lot more colourful than that used for previous Lumia smartphones.
Inside the box you will find the smartphone, the USB cable, the power adapter, the warranty and the user manual. Unfortunately the standard packaging doesn't include any headphones and you will have to purchase them separately.
For more details about the unboxing experience, don't hesitate to view the unboxing video shared below.
Design & Build Quality
The Lumia 930 is available in four colors: black, white, green and orange. We tested the black version of this device. We noticed that in many markets it is hard to get hold of the green and orange versions while the black and white versions are available in every country where this smartphone was launched.
Lumia 930 has a unibody design which means that there are no covers to detach and you cannot change the battery. This device has a metallic rim and a polycarbonate back that make it look and feel like a well-built smartphone. The weight, even though it is above the average for smartphones made in 2014, it is evenly distributed and the phone never feels too heavy.
All the buttons are found on the right-side of the device. They are easy to press and the operating system responds quickly to your presses. Their positioning is perfect and it makes it easy for you to use the smartphone with just one hand. We very much enjoyed the fact that the camera button was kept on this device. With it, you will open the Camera app very quickly.
The capacitive buttons were also kept on the bottom side of the screen. They make it easier to navigate the operating system than the software buttons used on the Lumia 630.
The display on the Lumia 930 is of really high-quality. Nokia mentioned the fact that this smartphone features some sunlight readability improvements. We can confirm that out of all the Windows Phones we have tested so far, this one has the best outdoors visibility, including on days with strong sunlight.
The levels of white and black are great, the contrast is rich and the color reproduction is generally very good. Overall, the display of the Lumia 930 is a pleasure to use. In our days of testing we have enjoyed the best reading experience we've seen so far on a Windows Phone device.
The viewing angles are also good and make this device comfortable to use for sharing the screen with your friends, for gaming, picture or movie viewing.
There's also a downside regarding the screen - it is not calibrated correctly at a software level and you have to manually calibrate it yourself. Several users and websites have reported that the image displayed has a purple tint and we can confirm this is the case with most devices. This is the result of poor software calibration and not a hardware issue. As soon as you get your Lumia 930 and set it up, you should calibrate the display in order to enjoy its true quality and have a great reading experience.
The Phone Experience on the Nokia Lumia 930
The quality of your phone conversations is good on the Lumia 930. The additional microphones and noise removal features found on this device definitely help in this regard. You won't encounter any problems with the signal strength and the smartphone is capable of using 4G LTE networks.
We were very pleased by the audio quality offered by the Lumia 930 when listening to music or when playing videos. There are several audio enhancements available which generally do a good job. For example, the Dolby dialog enhancer does a good job at enhancing the dialog clarity for movies.
There's also an equalizer available with lots of presets which will help you get the sound you want.
The quality of your pictures and video recordings is generally good, even with everything set on Auto. However, for better results, you should consider fiddling with the available manual settings. One thing that you will appreciate about this smartphone is that the picture taking experience is very fast and responsive due to the powerful hardware available. The Nokia Camera app starts instantly and it takes pictures and processes them with ease. In comparison, the Lumia 1020 which has a better camera but less powerful hardware, feels rather laggy.
The Nokia Camera app features several capture modes and it stores both the high and low resolution copies of your pictures. Both versions can later be used for post photo editing on your smartphone. The only annoyance about having two versions of the same picture is that you need to be careful and import on your computer only the high-quality version of each picture and not both, or you will end up with lots of duplicate pictures.
Another interesting feature is Living Images, which allows you to see your photos as they come to life, when browsing your Camera Roll folder. It's like a short movie sharing what happened when you took the picture and it always ends with the actual picture. To give you a better understanding, imagine that you are taking a picture of your friends and you are asking them to smile. You will view a short video sharing how they moved around and arranged and started to smile and the last frame of the video is the picture you took of them. This way of viewing your pictures always creates a "Wow!" reaction from the people with whom you are sharing your pictures.
When recording videos, you can enable the audio bass filter which eliminates sound distortions created by the strong bass when you are at a concert or noises like engine noise in crowded city areas. Unfortunately we did not yet get the chance to test this feature in detail.
Below you can see a gallery with several pictures we took with the Lumia 930, using Auto settings. They were not processed in any way and they are the result of a quick photo session taken during a day with strong sunlight.
We created several quick videos that were recorded with the Lumia 930, using its Auto settings. They were not edited or processed in any way. However, YouTube does a bit of processing of their own so the end result is not 100% identical with the source.
The first video recording was made in a park in Bucharest, Romania, in a very hot and sunny day.
The second recording was made in the same location but on a different subject.
The third clip is an action oriented recording which showcases how well the Lumia 930 was capable of focusing on a moving subject.
In terms of battery life, its performance is rather average. In normal daily use, which involves taking several phone calls, a bit of GPS navigation, some web browsing, Facebook and maybe a bit of casual gaming, the Nokia Lumia 930 won't last more than a day. In most scenarios it will last around 16-18 hours of use. Only in very light usage scenarios it is capable of running for about a day and a half but that means using the phone only for taking some phone calls and checking your e-mail once or twice a day. We feel that the very powerful hardware would have deserved a more generous battery.
Some Nokia Lumia 930 users reported that their smartphones get quite hot, relatively easy. You can learn more about this issue here. Unfortunately this problem affected also the device we have tested. It got hot relatively fast, even when we were only browsing the web. It always got hot when charging the smartphone and the heat was generally concentrated in the bottom right corner of the smartphone. Some users said that a factory reset solves this issue while others reported that an update from Nokia is coming to fix the problem. However, so far there is no solution that's guaranteed to work on the devices that are having this issue.
Windows Phone 8.1 and the Nokia Apps
Lumia 930 features the Lumia Cyan update. This update "enables unique Lumia features like the PureView camera, Living Images and an updated Creative Studio editing app, in addition to optimizing the battery, performance, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, a revised Camera app and general telephony functions."
This update also includes SensorCore support for a built in pedometer and exercise features.
Other than these features, there are no new apps included. But, the collection of Nokia exclusives remains as strong as ever.
Windows Phone 8.1 runs very fast on the Lumia 930. There's absolutely no lag and everything from everyday apps to demanding games has no trouble running on this smartphone. This is literally the fastest Windows Phone device on the market.
Performance in Benchmarks
While it is clear that the Lumia 930 is a performance leader, the only way to tell by how much it outperforms its competitors is to run several benchmarks.
We started by running MultiBench 2. The CPU test highlighted the Lumia 930 as the performance leader for Windows Phone devices. In terms of graphics performance, the Lumia 930 was bested only by the Lumia 1520.
In terms of memory and data transfers Lumia 930 was again the performance leader. It beat devices like Nokia Lumia 920, HTC 8X or Samsung Ativ S by approximately 158% in the memory test and by 81% in the data transfer test.
Then, we used the WP Bench benchmark to get a second opinion.
In the CPU test, Lumia 930 was again the fastest Windows Phone. The only smartphone that had similar results was Lumia 1520.
The same trend was revealed in the tests for graphics, storage and memory. In the storage tests, the Lumia 930 was twice as fast when compared to the previous generation of Windows Phones like Lumia 920, Samsung Ativ S or HTC 8X.
Then, we used the Sunspider benchmark to quickly evaluate how fast web browsing is on this smartphone. Lumia 930 and Lumia 1520 again led the pack. Lumia 930 was about 81% faster than the "older" Lumia 1020.
We also measured how fast this smartphone starts. We consider that the faster the boot time, the better the user experience is. Lumia 930 starts, on average, in 32 seconds, which is a very good result. The only Windows Phone that's faster at starting up is Lumia 1520.
We also used the WP Bench battery test, which stresses the smartphone to the maximum and quickly drains its battery. The Lumia 930 lasted 2 hours and 52 minutes, which is an average result and it doesn't compare to the 4 hours obtained by Lumia 1520 and 1320.
The conclusion of our testing is that the Lumia 930 is the top performing Windows Phone device on the market. However, this performance is hampered by mediocre battery life. Lumia 930 should have benefited from a more generous battery.
Where To Buy
Lumia 930 is a great smartphone and the first premium device with Windows Phone 8.1 and the Lumia Cyan update pre-installed. It has great hardware specifications and the best features you can find on a Windows Phone device. The performance it offers is amazing and there's nothing that will slow down this smartphone. Using the Nokia Camera app is a great experience both when taking pictures and when recording video. While you will find other premium smartphones with similar picture quality, very few smartphones can beat the audio quality of the video recordings made with this smartphone. Unfortunately there are also a few bugs that need to be ironed out and the battery life is not exactly stellar. While Lumia 930 is not a perfect smartphone, it does offer the best Windows Phone experience you can get today.