In June, Microsoft released its latest flagship smartphone, the Lumia 930, in Australia.
The device was noteworthy for being the first smartphone in Australia to run the latest update to Microsoft’s smartphone operating system, Windows Phone 8.1.
Since its local release, Apple garnered a lot of attention for the release of its latest flagship the iPhone 6. However, as I discussed in a recent editorial, many of the features of the latest iPhone, such as a screen size over 4-inches, near-field communications (NFC) chips and optical image stabilisation have long been features of Nokia and Microsoft’s Lumia series.
So how does the Lumia 930 stack up, especially against the Apple iPhone 6? It’s time to find out.
Hardware and features
The Lumia 930 runs Windows Phone 8.1 with the Lumia Cyan update, and is built around a 2.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. It’s a 4G/ LTE touchscreen phone and includes NFC.
Its screen is a 5-inch Full-HD (1920 x 1080 pixel) OLED display, slightly larger than the 4.7-inch (1334-by-750-pixel) display on the iPhone 6. Similarly, the Lumia 930 has a pixel density of 441 pixels per inch, a better resolution than the 326 pixel per inch display on the iPhone 6.
In terms of memory, the 930 comes with 2 gigabytes of RAM, 32 gigabytes of internal memory and 7 gigabytes of included OneDrive cloud storage. Unfortunately, it is not expandable with a microSD card.
The front camera on the Lumia 930 a 20 megapixel PureView with ZEISS optics with an f/2.4 aperture and optical image stabilisation (OIS), shoots 1080p video at 30 frames per second. This compares to the iPhone 6’s 8-megapixel camera with a f/2.4 aperture, no OIS (it’s a iPhone 6Plus feature only), 1080p video at 60 fps, and is paired. Both devices are paired with a 1.2-megapixel front camera and dual LED flash.
The Lumia 930 comes with a range of photography apps, including Nokia Camera, Creative Studio, Cinemagraph, Panorama, Storyteller and Refocus.
In terms of battery, the Lumia 930 has a large 2420 mAh battery with integrated wireless charging, while the iPhone 6 has a much lower capacity 1810 mAh battery.
What’s it like?
In a week where one of the largest tech stories has been ‘Bendgate’, in which the iPhone 6 Plus’ propensity to warp in certain circumstances has come to the fore, it’s reassuring to note how solid the Lumia 930 feels in the hand. Nokia phones are generally known for their build quality, and the Lumia 930 is no exception.
The device features a solid back made of carbon fibre rather than easily bent aluminium, in bright orange, green, black or white. It features a metallic band around the edge, and – especially in green – is quite striking in its appearance.
A feature I noticed almost immediately upon using Windows Phone 8.1 for the first time, compared to its predecessor, is the Action Centre. Basically, by sweeping down from the top of the screen, you now get a notification screen that looks almost identical to the one in Android.
Of course, iOS and Android don’t have live tiles, which allow a user to be able to see most notifications at a glance. In that sense, it’s a feature that’s less useful than it is on other platforms. Still, especially for users switching iOS from Android, it’s a nice touch.
There are a number of other welcome improvements in Windows Phone 8.1, such as the ability to set your tiles to display a photo or image rather than have them just display a flat colour, adding an element of personality to the device. Likewise, Windows Phone now includes a swipe-style keyboard.
One of the highlights of using a Lumia smartphone is the first party Microsoft/Nokia apps that either come preinstalled, or are available through the Windows Store. These include (among others) Bing Food & Drink, Bing News, Bing Stocks, Bing Sports Here Maps/Transit/Drive+, Mix Radio, Skype and, of course, Office 365.
In most cases, these apps integrate well with the tile interface and allow you to tell, at a glance, the performance of your stocks or whether a major news story is breaking.
In terms of third-party apps, the good news is most of the ones you’re likely to look for have already been ported to the Windows Phone store. Contrary to popular myth, you’ll find the likes of LinkedIn, Yelp, Twitter, Vine, Zinio, Vyclone, Vimeo, Angry Birds, Facebook, BBM, Instagram and thousands of others are already available for the platform.
Likewise, by setting up a Microsoft account and linking it to Facebook and Twitter, Windows Phone automatically begins importing photos of friends, status updates and contact details into your device automatically. It means your device becomes personalised with very minimal effort.
One of the strong points of the Lumia series is in photography, both in terms of the lenses and the photography apps that ship with the device. For those looking to use this device for this purpose, I most highly recommend a third-party Australian app called Project Tripod.
In terms of downsides, the main complaints I had were that it does not include a micro SD card slot, or a replaceable battery. That said, One Drive is a good substitute for rarely accessed photos and files, while the 2420 mAh battery allows for a lot of use without either swapping batteries or recharging.
Should I get one?
Overall, the Lumia 930 is a solid, easy to use choice both for existing Nokia or Windows Phone users, and those looking to switch to a Windows Phone for the first time.
In terms of cameras, the Lumia range is among the best, and the 930 is certainly no exception. And, while subject to a lot less hype than the iPhone 6, it certainly holds its own against it.
This review is based on a test unit borrowed from Microsoft.