Nokia Lumia 930 : Best Windows & camera phone

Lumia 930 is the successor to Nokia Lumia 920 which was released in late 2012. Lumia 920 for the first time brought OIS and great low light performance into smartphone cameras, and was one of the best camera phones at the time. Being the successor and latest flagship, we see how 930 improves and fares.

Hardware Specifications

For a flagship, the hardware specifications seem bit dated:

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Quad-core 2.2GHz Krait CPU, Adreno 330 GPU
  • 5 inch Clearblack AMOLED Multi-touch Display screen with 1920 X 1080 Resolution
  • Gorilla Glass 3 for protection
  • 2GB RAM, 32GB Flash Storage, no micro SD extension
  • 20 MP PureView OIS Camera with Carl Zeiss lens, 0.9 MP front camera
  • Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • nano-SIM
  • 2420 mAh Battery
  • Qi wireless charging

Form Factor

The phone looks good, Nokia/Microsoft has taken the design from 920 and added metal casing to it on the either sides of the device. Also, it carries a curved Gorilla Glass 3 on top. The dimensions are 137 x 71 x 9.8 mm. It is not thick or thin at 8.5mm and feels solid to hold in a hand. The sides made of aluminum, bit curvy at the edges and the back panel make it easy for the user to grip the phone and it feels like you are holding a premium metallic flagship. At 167 grams, it feels bit heavy on the hand. The phone is quite easy to operate in one hand since the screen size is not more than 5 inches.

The buttons go on the right side with volume rocker on the top followed by the power/lock-screen button and the dedicated camera button further downwards near the end. A 3.5 mm audio jack and a nano-SIM slot are on the top of the phone. There is a micro USB slot for connecting and charging at the bottom portion. Below the screen, you can find the 3 touch buttons for back, start and search which are standard for every windows phone.

The 5” AMOLED screen with a Full HD resolution (1920 X 1080) produces a great 441 ppi display with colours that are crisp, which is a treat to look at. The polarizing ClearBlack technology makes the screen display deep blacks more effectively and outdoor visibility is best in its class. You can actually use the phone for even watching movies in direct sunlight. And this screen is protected by Corning Gorilla glass 3, which means it can take quite a lot of punch. It also packs a super sensitive touch mode, which allows user to use the phone even with the gloves on, which would be a handy feature at times.

Interface

Lumia 930 runs Windows Phone 8.1 with Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 2.2 GHz quad core processor with 2GB RAM. It shows while operating the phone because the UI is very fluid and buttery smooth. Windows Phone 8 UI in itself is very smooth. The animations and transitions play out without any stutter. The UI of WP8 is very user friendly, without any hassles and simple to use. Windows Phone 8 has a new home screen, wherein you can customize the home screen by resizing the tiles in 3 different sizes. With 8.1 update, you can also group the tiles together which expand on tapping them. Although the UI is very good and all, we are yet to see lot of choices for apps on Windows Phone Store, when compared with iOS and Android. There are some popular apps like Angry Birds, Facebook and Twitter etc. and the number is still growing and has a long way to go before it catches up with Android or iOS. You won’t be disappointed with the UI for sure.

Media

The built in video player (Xbox Video) comes with quite a few codecs and hence plays most of the videos out of the box. Lumia 930 supports HD videos upto 1080p, which played without any hitch or glitch. The playback was very smooth. The other downside that we found was that the built in video player does not support .mkv files. Other than that, it managed to play all the files we threw at it: .avi, .mp4, .wmv, .m4v etc. There are some 3rd party apps in the store like VLC Player, CCPlayer which do play other formats.

The default app for music is Xbox Music. The music is arranged according to artist, albums, genre, playlists and all songs. Nokia has also given a 7-band equalizer, which, sadly is not accessible in the music player and can be accessed on the settings page, which makes it little inconvenient because you have to navigate every time there whenever you have to change those settings. Also, the equalizer settings work on the loudspeaker too, not just the earphones. The Music can be accessed using the default app or the MixRadio app, which also allows you to download songs from MixRadio Store, which has pretty good collection, and also allows you to stream songs, which can also be downloaded for offline listening, which is a nice feature given that we don’t have good internet connectivity while on the move.

It also has a FM Radio, which requires you to connect an earphone, which doubles up as an antenna for signal reception.

Connectivity

You are left with 3G or EDGE. Wi-Fi (dual band) support is also there and so are NFC and Bluetooth for data transfer, it can also act as your personal Wi-Fi hotspot with the internet sharing feature, allowing you to tether up to 8 devices at once. Wi-Fi is also useful for sharing via DLNA using the PlayTo app.

WP8.1 comes with IE11 which has full support for HTML5 and browsing is smooth and easy, with no issues. There are a few alternatives like UC browser on the app store if you don’t like IE11. Setting up accounts is quiet easy. WP8 supports Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Nokia, Yahoo, Google accounts for now. It also supports e-mail accounts via POP and IMAP. Setting up these accounts is clutter-free and it automatically pulls contacts and calendars from Facebook, although you would need the Facebook app to be installed in order to do so. The social integration with the phone is unmatched. You can link the same contact from Twitter, FB, and LinkedIn into one contact, which is quite handy. Email and the social accounts sync very well without any problem.

GPS with GLONASS support is also thrown in for the location based services and apps like HERE Maps, HERE Drive, City Lens etc. HERE Maps also offers maps to be downloaded onto the device so, that you can use the maps in offline mode, which is a very useful feature wherein you can use the maps where there is no network coverage.

Other Features

WP8.1 comes preloaded with Office Suite with OneNote, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The downloaded games can be accessed through Xbox game tile. Microsoft has thrown in a number of exclusive apps for its Lumia phones in Windows Phone Store like Lumia Camera, OneDrive etc.

Apps corner – It is a kind of guest mode where you can make only some select apps appear there, which is useful if you are sensitive about the data in your phone and have to give a small demo kind of thing to somebody else.

Kid’s corner – As the name suggests, it allows for parental control of the content and apps, music, games etc.

Backup – You can set auto backup to back up your settings, installed app list, photos, videos to OneDrive storage, so that you can restore it in any of the devices linked to your Microsoft ID.

Motion data/sensor – It collects the motion data like number of steps etc. which can be used by fitness & health apps that are installed, like Bing Fitness & Health, adidas miCoach etc.

Double tap to wake – This is a neat feature to wake your phone by double tapping on the screen instead of pressing the lock button on the side. It feels more intuitive than pressing the button.

One of the disappointing things of Lumia 930 is that there is no glance screen feature, which is there in Lumia 830 and 1520.

Camera

Lumia 930 comes with 20 Megapixel Carl Zeiss lens with OIS (Optical Image Stabilization). The main camera, with f/2.2 BSI lens takes some good photos in low light conditions, which easily exceeds many high end flagship phone cameras. Add OIS to this and what you get is a camera that puts many point & shoot cameras to shame. Microsoft packages a very good app called Lumia Camera which is the default camera app in Lumia phones. This app allows lot of control over how you can shoot the picture. It allows you to change most of the settings like exposure, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, etc. This is the best mobile camera app out there in any platform. It allows for manual focus. The UI for this app is very intuitive, with all the dials where you drag the along the arc to change the values. Very slick.

There is also a LED flash, which is OK for snapping a picture in a medium sized room in total darkness. It is not a powerful flash though. It won’t illuminate objects satisfactorily at a distance of more than 10 feet. The built-in picture editor offers some basic features like rotating, cropping and an auto-fix option. The Lumia creative studio is a better option at that. There are also Adobe Photoshop express and many more such apps available at the windows store which offer more options for post processing. The 0.9 MP front secondary camera is ok for taking selfies in wide angles and skype calls.

Video recording allows for capturing in 720p and 1080p resolutions on main camera, with 30fps. Video details are very good & crisp. You can switch on Surround sound recording for the video recording, which will record videos with Dobly Digital Plus 5.1. The audio recorded in the videos with these setting switched on is stellar, it captures audio from multiple directions and you can feel it when you play it back on using an earphone. The OIS works very effectively at cancelling out small shakes & nudges while shooting videos from the main camera. Front camera only allows 720p video capture.

There is a firmware upgrade (Lumia Denim) which is rolling out to Lumia 930, Icon and 1520 which will enables 4K video recording and brings much more enhancements to the camera department.

Battery

Lumia 930 packs in a 2420 mAh battery, which lasts almost 1.5 days on moderate usage, which is ok for a smartphone, but being a flagship, much more battery life is desirable. With heavy usage it will just make it through the day. There is also a battery saver mode which automatically kicks in at 20% which turns off live tile animations and background apps to save the power, which will extend the battery life by few more hours.

Price & Verdict

Lumia 930 has been launched for Rs. 38,200, but should be available for around Rs. 36k. For this price it is one of the good phones you can buy, but for a flagship, we feel it should have bit more updated hardware, which android flagships have. It should have been priced some 3-4k less. The hardware seems bit dated for the price though, but it makes up for that with best camera and a great design at this price. It’s a great all round phone with great multimedia performance. The issue with this is that being a Windows Phone, you won’t find all the apps that are in Android or iOS. It’s a good buy at this price if you are particularly looking at a great design and best smartphone camera.

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