The Lumia 930 packs a powerful camera and improved operating system.
Every mobile operating system needs a hero product to highlight the brand. The Nokia Lumia 930 is exactly that, representing the four-year-old Windows Phone operating system.
A 5in Windows 8.1 Phone smartphone and the successor to the Lumia 925, the Lumia 930 is meant to compete with other top tier phones and boasts several improvements across the board.
Look and feel
It has a build quality that impresses with a clear heritage that harkens back to Lumias of old.
Our review unit by the way was neon orange, though it is also available in black and white versions if you want something less eye catching.
The combination of a metal frame that wraps around the body and polycarbonate back is nothing new, but it does give the phone a really premium feel and pleasing to the eye.
That being said, the Lumia 930 is a tad bit chunkier and heavy for a smartphone in 2014. While most phones are getting slimmer and lighter, it is strange that Microsoft decided to go in the opposite direction.
It features a larger 5in full HD Amoled display, protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 3 so the display can survive a pocket full of keys.
At a glance it delivers crisp and vibrant images with deep inky blacks that look great especially when viewing the Live Tile homescreen.
Take a look around the Lumia 930 and you will see that it has a rather conventional button and port layout.
You will find the headphone jack on top with a fairly well hidden nano SIM card slot near the jack. Don’t worry, you don’t need a pin to open it up as you can pry it open with your fingernails alone.
The micro USB port is located at the bottom while the volume rocker, on/off button and dedicated camera button sit on the right side of the device.
There is no expandable memory slot sadly, which may disappoint die hard Android fans, so you are going to have to learn to live with the provided 32GB of storage.
The small speaker to the rear of the phone is surprisingly loud for a speaker of its size. The quality is not to say great but it gets the job done.
Kudos to the curved back design as this makes it less likely of accidentally blocking the speaker when holding it.
All in the OS
In terms of software, the Lumia 930 runs on Windows Phone 8.1, an update to its smartphone OS that brings some much requested features including a drop-down notification bar or Action Centre as Microsoft calls it.
It brings together all your notifications as well as some quick settings that you can toggle such as setting screen rotation lock, flight mode, Internet connections and a shortcut to the main settings menu.
The four quick settings are a start though we wished Microsoft could have included space for more settings and the option to customise frequently used settings.
Other incremental changes to Windows Phone 8.1 include the ability to organise Live Tile apps into folders and a new keyboard that uses Word Flow, that enables gesture typing like some third party keyboards for Android and iOS.
Now you can use gesture typing by swiping over letters to type words. We found it quick and easy to type using the method though understandably this method may not be suitable for everyone.
Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana is also included in the latest Windows Phone OS. Though it is not officially available for Malaysia, you can always set your region to the United States to give it a test spin.
We gave Cortana a try and it works pretty well, sounding more natural than Siri or Google Now.
We used it to set reminders, make phone calls, get the weather report and some fun questions like sing us a song or tell us a joke.
While Cortana’s recognition of local sounding names and locations like Jalan Ipoh, One Utama or KLCC were predictably spotty, it could tell us things like where the nearest clinics, petrol station and bus stops were.
It is however uncertain when Cortana will be available in Malaysia.
With a quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor for a heart and complemented by 2GB of RAM — which admittedly may not be the speediest processor on the market — but for all intents and purposes, the Lumia 930 handled apps perfectly fine, running smoothly without any noticeable lag.
The 2,420mAh capacity battery hidden beneath its shell provides decent enough battery life — it lasted us at least a full day with some light game playing, Web surfing and messaging.
However, considering the size of the phone, we expected Microsoft to include a larger battery and we were frankly underwhelmed by the phone’s battery life.
The Lumia 930 comes with a pretty solid camera offering a 20-megapixel Pureview sensor with dual LED flash.
The camera’s autofocus speed are generally quick and snappy except when shooting in low light.
We really liked the experience of shooting with the Lumia 930, thanks to its two stage shutter button that lets you focus with a half press and takes the picture when fully pressed.
If you are into macro photography you will be pleased to learn the Lumia 930’s camera takes pretty sharp and stunning close ups.
You also get optical image stabilisation with the camera that helps reduce blur when you snap pictures in low light and also keeps videos stable during recording.
Strangely there is no HDR mode to be found in the Lumia 930’s camera. This seems to be a serious omission on Microsoft’s part considering HDR is increasingly common feature in similar premium phones.
The full HD video quality is good and sharp but what really impressed us was the directional audio recording. Thanks to the four directional microphones on the Lumia 930, the camera picks up ambient noise and voices around, giving your videos a surround sound like audio quality.
The included VideoTuner app comes in mighty handy too if you want to edit videos on your phone. Apart from trimming and joining videos, you can also add slow motion effects and music to give your video that extra layer of polish before you upload it online.
The Lumia 930 may not be as fast or fancy as other smartphones on the market, but it has its good points. The full HD Amoled screen is pretty good looking, the camera takes nice sharp photos and it offers very smooth performance.
However, there were some things that we did not like about it namely the rather chunky design, not so great battery life and the lack of a HDR mode.
Windows Phone 8.1 finally manages to at least catch up with its rivals offering features that are long overdue but there is still room for improvement and Microsoft really needs to gather more developer support for the ecosystem.
Overall, the Lumia 930 is possibly the best Windows Phone experience out there. So, if you are a true blood Windows Phone fan, this is the phone for you.
Pros: Great looking screen; solid build quality; terrific camera.
Cons: No Expandable memory; lack of HDR camera mode; disappointing battery life; Cortana still not ready for Malaysia.
Windows Phone smartphone
NETWORK: 4G LTE, 3G HSPA+, GSM/WCDMA 850/900/1900/2100MHz
OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows Phone 8.1
DISPLAY: 5in OLED (1,080 x 1,920 pixels) at 441ppi
CAMERA: 20-megapixel PureView rear camera with dual LED flash, 1.2-megapixel front camera
CONNECTIVITY: Micro USB
PROCESSOR: Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 Quad-Core 2.2Ghz processor
MEMORY: 32GB internal memory, 2GB RAM
EXPANSION SLOT: None
OTHER FEATURES: Active noise cancellation with dedicated mic, Wireless charging
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 137 x 9.8 x 71mm
RATING: 3 Stars
Review unit courtesy of Microsoft