NEW DELHI - Nokia has launched the Lumia 625 in the India, bringing this smartphone to the country within a month of its global unveiling. Lumia 625 holds the distinction of being the Finnish manufacturer's biggest handset so far, despite being a mid-range device. In India, it has been priced at Rs 19,999 and will take on the likes of Samsung Galaxy Grand and Micromax Canvas 4.
We did a cursory hands-on of the device at the launch event to gauge its capabilities. Here are our first impressions about the Nokia Lumia 625...
Nokia Lumia 625 is made using polycarbonate plastic and looks like a larger and thinner version of the Lumia 620. It feels good in the hand and is not too big for the palm. You can change the back cover of the phone, but the battery is not removable. Under the back cover are the sim-card and microSD slots. Overall, the device looks pretty good (better than the Lumia 620) and even though it doesn't inspire the confidence that it can survive a fall easily, it still feels pretty solid to withstand being dropped a few times.
As we saw with the Lumia 520, Nokia has cut corners in order to make the handset more affordable, starting with the screen quality itself. So, you get an IPS display that offers good viewing angles, but lacks the ClearBlack display technology that makes the black colour appear (relatively) darker, thus bringing out better hues overall. IPS panels are quite popular in the mid-range segment, but we miss the ClearBlack display that Lumia 720 (priced approximately Rs 17,000) has.
For the operating system, one gets the Windows Phone 8 that now has the Amber update. You get features like FM radio, Smart Camera app and Glance Screen with this update. Apart from that, the phone does not offer much new on the software front.
However, it is quite smooth and there are only a few games and apps that require 1GB RAM in the Windows Phone ecosystem, so 512MB RAM should prove to be enough for most purposes.
The primary camera is rated at 5MP and during our small photo shoot at the launch event did not give us many insights, mainly due to the lighting condition being far from ideal. However, the images we took show that the device produces images with a lot of details and colours are nearly accurate. Lumia 625 has the Nokia's suite of camera apps (which the company calls Lenses), such as Cinemagraph, Smart Camera etc to help you mix things up a little.
Nokia is offering a few cool things with the Lumia 625, which will help make it more of an experience than just a smartphone. While the company offers free music downloads for a year on all its smartphones, it has given free access to movies for the first time with the Lumia 625. The Finnish manufacturer is giving movies worth Rs 4,275 for free via the Your Movies app.
Going by the demo that Nokia showed at the launch event, the app seems to be designed quite well and easy to navigate. However, its actual utility will depend on the selection of films it has on offer, which we will surely look into during a full review.
The company is also offering access to free Wi-Fi at McDonalds, Cafe Coffee Day and Subway outlets, which it claims is frequented by youngsters - the phone's core audience. Giving 10GB of data over Wi-Fi for free at public places may help lure buyers, since data consumption is growing at a steady rate in India.
As with its previous phones, Nokia has tied up with a telecom operator (Tata Docomo in this case) to offer free 3G data for a period of three months.
Overall, we like the Lumia 625 and feel that it has the smarts to take on rivals like Samsung Galaxy Grand and Micromax Canvas 4 (two of the most popular phones in the sub-Rs 20,000 segment). Nokia's efforts at providing a better experience with free movies and data access is certainly aimed at making the overall user experience better.
The introduction of FM radio is quite welcome, along with the wide range of photo editing options that make it an attractive option for those who frequently update social networking pictures via mobile phones.
Android phones in this range have the advantage of better app selection and multitasking capabilities. Moreover, the likes of Galaxy Grand and Canvas 4 have the advantage of a bigger screen, even if it is by a difference of 0.3-inch. The screen quality is similar in the three phones, with Canvas 4 getting an edge due to its 720p display. However, big-screen Android handsets tend to hang frequently once enough apps run simultaneously, despite 1GB RAM.
If you are in the market for a WP8 phone, then Lumia 720 is a better option that Lumia 625, provided you are not too concerned with a smaller screen. The Lumia 720 is one of the most well-rounded WP8 phones in the market today, offering a beautiful screen and powerful camera with Carl Zeiss optics. However, its 4.3-inch display is not fit for viewing video, which is where Nokia must be hoping that Lumia 625 strikes a cord with buyers.