TECH REVIEW: My journey with the Nokia Lumia 925 – Penang, Perak, Jeju Island and Hong Kong

It’s been a while.
The Windows phone had wondering and pondering if it may work, if it could any more interesting or any more fun to use than the ubiquitous Android. The opportunity came for me to toy around with a Windows gadget when Nokia dumped a Lumiz 925 on my lap.

lumia 925 set

Now I used Vernon’s LG Windows phone for a short stint before at about the time when it was first launched. Needless to say it was a short stint because I couldn’t get used to it. Anyhow, the Lumia 925 is a solid device with an uncanny ability to grow on you. The device feels right in the hand and sturdy to hold. The sense of comfort took root almost immediately.
Next the superb finish had me proudly showing it off to friends and acquaintances who cared to ask.

the phone

My major concern was the camera since that was one of the key selling point of the phone. Another is the famous HERE Maps (previously Ovi) which is great for the navigational-ly challenged; ie people like me!

Anyhow the feature I used the most was the camera. The Lumia 925 went on a trip with me to the North – Penang and Ipoh and all the way to Jeju Island, Korea then Hong Kong for the #EscapersHK scavenger hunt. The people at Hong Kong are very Apple-centric, but nevertheless they were mighty impressed with my shot of the famous traditional junk – the Aqua Luna Cruise.

Gorgeous? Thanks to the Lumia 925!

aqua luna cruise - hong kong - escapersHK

Specifications of camera:

specs camera 1

specs camera 2

Here are some of the shots I took (minus any edits). I tested it out purely for low lights/dim settings without any flash. Another thing that I looked out for was the colours. I like my pictures to be as “natural” as possible minus the oversaturation that I personally felt in Samsung cameras.

So here goes.

This is an image taken in Burps and Giggles Ipoh. This little cafe has many corners and are shrouded in shadows in some areas. The pictures turned out fine enough. One thing I noticed about the camera is that it’s smart to detect the lack of light and will automatically illuminate the whole subject without a flash. So no harsh overexposed pictures! What I can’t figure out was why at some circumstances there’s a “blu-ish” hue around my picture.

Ipoh - cronut at burps and giggles

Ipoh - fish and chips at burps and giggles

I moved on to the open house dinner hosted by Tourism Malaysia. It was a large field and while the inside of the covered canopy is bright, you can see the “illuminating” power of the Lumia 925 versus the iPhone.

LUMIA 925:

WP_20130420_084

iPhone 5:

night comparison

Here’s a shot of the outer area from the tent. This area was frankly, 90% darkness! The result was amazing. And rest assured that the flash on my Lumia 925 wasn’t activated at all.

Ipoh - Raya Open House by Tourism Malaysia 1

But one thing that the Lumia is not very good at is for motions. The slight lag when you touch the screen to take a shot to the time the image was captured always affects the outcome especially for moving objects.
So as you can see below, the camera did managed to capture the area which was in almost complete darkness but just a little blurry for the moving objects (humans).

Ipoh - Raya Open House by Tourism Malaysia

Yes, very few smartphones can beat the iPhone 5’s camera (ok I might be biased) but after 3 weeks with the Lumia 925 I must admit that it rocks when tested on low or almost no light.

Almost no light? You heard me right.
In Jeju Island, Korea, I was in 3 lava caves; 2 in Hailim Park and then lastly the Mangjuggul Lava Tube. There were barely any light except for some spotlights at the side of the pathway.

lumia 925 - lava caves on Jeju Island-012

lumia 925 - lava caves on Jeju Island-001

The spotlight was purely to shed some light so the visitors can see the formations, but just barely. For cameras, unless you have one with an amazing sensor you can kiss any memory photos goodbye.
My media friends used flash (those with compact cam) and frankly the pictures were sad as there were all overexposed and couldn’t convey the deep, mysterious vibe of the caves.
Of course at this part here I had to gloat about my Lumia 925. 🙂

Below: Absolute darkness in parts of the caves. This is a shot taken from inside to outside.

lumia 925 - lava caves on Jeju Island-010

Inside the lava caves.

lumia 925 - lava caves on Jeju Island-006

I took about 50 – 100 pictures. The only issue I had was sometimes it won’t focus!
So that was frustrating as we were in a group and our guide would hurry us along. Another was pesky tourists (ok, I’m obviously in their camera sight too) that kept getting into my pictures.
There is a feature in the Lumia 925 camera that allows you to remove unwanted objects from the shots but hey, if I could I’ll like to get it perfect the first time. Saves post-editing hours you see!

lumia 925 - lava caves on Jeju Island-030

You would notice that every curve, nook and hole and jagged surface are in sharp focus though this was under extreme low light conditions. The pictures it produces are noticeably brighter but didn’t spoil the entire “feel” of being in the caves. At least it illuminates enough for sharp cameras but no overexpose work here.

lumia 925 - lava caves on Jeju Island-004

lumia 925 - lava caves on Jeju Island-007

This was a zoomed shot.
It was high above me and I had to zoom. Another notable advantage of the Lumia 925 is its ability to not lose sharpness or focus even during zoom. I can tell you that zoom on the iPhone 5 is bad and pictures turned out really blurry if you attempt the zoom.

lumia 925 - lava caves on Jeju Island-015

As I looked back at all my pictures now while drafting this post, sitting on the balcony overlooking the hills & sea in my Ambong Ambong Langkawi suite, I could really literally transport myself back into those chilly dark caves again. A good photo brings back memories more vividly than possible.

lumia 925 - lava caves on Jeju Island-009

lumia 925 - lava caves on Jeju Island-021

lumia 925 - lava caves on Jeju Island-005

The grounds are uneven so we had to walk carefully. Lucky my Lumia 925 cum camera is lightweight and thus it was no added bulk! 🙂

lumia 925 - lava caves on Jeju Island-003

lumia 925 - lava caves on Jeju Island-002

I love some of the mood shots that the Lumia 925 produces. This is one taken at Kimberly Street in Penang, on my way to yet another char koay teow hunt. As I walked from the car along the road, I looked up and saw this spectacular sight. Out came my Lumia and I managed to capture it exactly how my eyes saw it.

Penang - evening

Another simple test I use for cameras are taking “fire” shots. Especially for grills and wok/charcoal fire. I love it when I can capture a good image of “shots” of fire firing up and bright from its source.

This was successfully captured after a few shots.

convent dato keramat char koay teow - jalan johor hawker centre-005

The satay one was a bit more challenging. I couldn’t capture the shots of fire when the vendor doused some grease on the sticks. And he didn’t do it again so there goes my chance. Did you notice the blu-ish hue of the photo? Or is it just me?

Penang Raya Open House - tourism malaysia

Last but not least is the apps. Everyone laments about the lack of apps for social networking, etc on the Windows smartphone. Just a week ago the instagram client for Windows Phone 8; 6tag was launched.
Link to download HERE. Now no more complaining that you can’t instagram on a Windows phone! 🙂

On top of it here are the other camera apps to try out as you get acquainted with the phone.
lumia 925 pic

Conclusion:
Pros: Nice built, lightweight, unique design, beautiful screen, competitive pricing. Great camera for low light conditions. Cool “lenses” like Panorama, Cinemagraph.
Cons: Quite a pain to navigate the WP interface. I blame it on habit, I’m too used to IOS and secondarily Android.

The Lumia 925 in a nutshell:
Price : RM 1599
Specifications:

specs

Or surf over to : http://www.nokia.com/my-en/products/phone/lumia925/