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Nokia Lumia 930 review

Verdict

A well-priced, well-made Windows 8.1 smartphone that performs well where it counts

Review Date: 6 Aug 2014

Reviewed By: Bobby MacPherson

Price when reviewed: £345 (£414 inc VAT)

Buy it now for: £395
(see more store prices)

Overall Rating
5 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
5 stars out of 6

Performance
4 stars out of 6

The Nokia Lumia 930 was launched back in April as one of the first Windows Phone 8.1 devices, but it’s taken a lot longer than its cheaper siblings – the Lumia 630 and 635 – to arrive on shop shelves. This is by far the most interesting of the three, however. See also: what's the best smartphone of 2014?

As with the Lumia 630, Windows Phone 8.1 is definite plus point on the Lumia 930. The new dropdown Action Center makes it much easier to keep on top of notifications such as new email and missed calls. The extra column of tiles means you can squeeze a huge number of apps onto the homescreen, while a host of small touches genuinely enhance the user experience. We particularly like the ability for third-party apps, such as Facebook, to take control of the lockscreen background: having a different image displayed each time the phone is turned on – and one that’s personal to you – is a great feature.

Unfortunately, for potential UK Lumia 930 customers, there’s no sign of Microsoft’s Siri-like Cortana digital assistant yet; she isn’t slated to make an appearance until “late 2014”.

Nokia Lumia 930 review

Nokia Lumia 930 review: design and connectivity

Still, Windows Phone 8.1 is a big improvement on what went before it, and the hardware isn’t half bad either. As with most recent Nokia flagships, the design is sumptuous. It’s an evolution of the Lumia 925, with the smooth, matte-plastic rear framed by cool-to-the-touch aluminium, and an OLED display topped by gently curved Gorilla Glass 3.

It’s a much cleaner, tighter, more luxurious design than the 925, though, with a much thinner strip of exposed aluminium edges. At 166g, it’s one of the heavier smartphones we’ve come across recently, but the build is excellent. Tough and unyielding, the Lumia 930 gave nary a creak or flex when twisted.

Scattered around those squared-off edges, you’ll find a 3.5mm audio jack and micro-USB charging port. Disappointingly, there’s no microSD slot, but there is both 4G and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, plus NFC and Bluetooth 4. There’s also built-in support for wireless charging, and in further good news, Nokia is throwing in a charging plate, free for anyone who buys one of these phones.

The only thing we weren't not convinced by is the green rear panel of our review unit, which looks odd surrounded by silver with black bezels at the front. Fortunately, the Lumia 930 is also available in orange (pictured), white and black, which all look far more handsome.

Nokia Lumia 630 review

Nokia Lumia 930 review: display

Switch it on, however, and your attention will switch from the luminous colour of the rear, to the 1,080 x 1,920 OLED screen on the front. Windows 8.1 may be a less multicoloured OS than Android or iOS, but we were startled at how vivid it looked on the 930. Out of the box, we found it a little too lurid, but that’s simple to rectify using the phone’s colour-profile settings. Once we’d pulled the saturation slider over to the left, the display was even quite colour-accurate. Measured with our X-Rite i1Display Pro colorimeter, the average Delta E was 3.68.

The AMOLED screen’s perfect contrast ratio means that images have plenty of punch and the 441ppi pixel density allowed it to deliver crisp, sharp image quality with no hint of pixellation. Its one and only failing is that its maximum brightness is only 277cd/m2; Nokia’s ClearBlack series of polarising filters do a decent job of making the screen readable in bright sunshine, though.

Nokia Lumia 930 review

Nokia Lumia 930 review: performance and core hardware

Inside, the Lumia 930 has a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 running at 2.2GHz, supported by 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. It’s a pretty quick phone as a result, with Windows Phone 8.1 feeling particularly spry, and web pages scrolling and panning around like a dream.

In the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, a time of 520ms puts it ahead of the Sony Xperia Z2 and slightly behind the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Apple iPhone 5s. A result of 20fps in the GFXBench T-Rex HD test, meanwhile, marks it out as a handy pocket gaming machine, and it delivered a super-smooth performance in Asphalt 8: Airborne.

The 930’s 2,420mAh battery was distinctly less inspiring. In our looping-video test, with the screen set to 120cd/m2, it used up capacity at a rate of 11.3% per hour; meanwhile, streaming audio over 4G with the screen off dropped capacity at 7% per hour. These aren’t terrible results, by any means, but in both tests the Lumia 930 falls well behind the Android competition: the Samsung Galaxy S5, HTC One (M8), and the Sony Xperia Z2 will all last longer between charging sessions.

Nokia Lumia 930

Nokia Lumia 930 review: camera

Things pick up again with the Lumia 930’s 20-megapixel PureView camera, however. It produces fantastic pictures: crisp, clear and packed with detail in both good and poor light. When it gets really dark, you can use the dual-LED flash without worrying about it spoiling image quality. It’s powerful yet unobtrusive, illuminating images evenly without going overboard and creating a horrible ghostly glare.

The video camera can’t record at 4K as those on the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 can, but quality is still excellent. Optical stabilisation helps to smooth out shaky hands and the resultant footage is sharp and vibrant.

Our one major gripe with the camera is that, although the Nokia Camera app is largely excellent, providing quick access to advanced settings such as exposure compensation, ISO sensitivity and white balance, there’s still no means of locking exposure down in video mode.

Nokia Lumia 930 review: verdict

The Nokia Lumia 930 is the best Windows Phone-based smartphone yet. Windows Phone 8.1 provides a welcome boost, the design is among the best in the business – as long as you don’t choose the green version – and the camera is a real cracker.

The OS update can’t help with Windows Phone’s one critical flaw, though – its lack of apps and games. And nice as the hardware is, there are a couple of weak spots, notably a lack of microSD expansion and average battery life. Ultimately, we can’t quite find it in our heart to recommend the Lumia 930 over any of its major Android rivals.

Author: Bobby MacPherson

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User comments

the article forgets to mention you are tied into bing data. this is really poor the uk. it also fails to mention of the apps that exist, they are frequently 3 or 4 generations behind their android and ios brothers and sisters. The os its self is fab, but its the only strong point out of the trifecta of data, apps. os that makes the core if a decent smartphone experience. avoid!

By wyson on 26 Jul 2014

Apps and Bing

You can always use Google as your search engine, although the search button is fixed to Bing AFAIK.

As to the Apps, it is getting better. All of the apps I use are pretty much on a par with those on Android and iOS - the updates appear at the same time or within a few days of the other platforms.

That said, I only use a few mainstream apps and don't really play games - although Hill Climb Racing has caught up, it got the latest level pack within a couple of days of Android, it used to be a month or so behind.

By big_D on 28 Jul 2014

Apps & Bing #2

The "lack of apps" on WP 8.1 is I suspect largely a self-sustaining myth.
Indeed I'm always tempted to ask "which apps?" when people trot this out.

It depends, of course, upon the individual. For my mix of Social\Business activity WP 8.1 has everything I need apps-wise, but someone more interested in the latest games would probably have a different view.

Finally (lest we forget) the Lumia 930 is excellent value-for-money.
It has top-notch hardware, a slick, fast O\S, and a brilliant camera. Not bleeding-edge, perhaps, but "bleedin' good!"

By wittgenfrog on 28 Jul 2014

Oh, and the colour...

The green is FAB!!!

By wittgenfrog on 28 Jul 2014

Apps

Can I start the missing app list with Dropbox. there is no native dropbox app.

By MaXsEnDq on 28 Jul 2014

Dropbox

There might not be a client from Dropbox, but there are some very competent alternatives.

That said, I use OneDrive myself.

By big_D on 28 Jul 2014

Windows Phone missing apps during 2013 at which point frustration led me to switch to android.

1) Fully functional Google maps client. Gmaps for Windows phone didn't have turn by turn nav for example
2) Dropbox
3) Turn by turn sat nav (copilot was just released as I was switching, no TomTom etc.)
4) ewallet
5) scores on the doors
6) paybyphone
7) quizlet

apps with limited functionality
1) WhatsApp - v slow, didn't have full emoticon set, functioned like the android app from 2010.
2) kakaotalk - missing voice call feature.
3) wechat - missing voice call and video call features. no way to buy custom stickers.

I had to constantly carry around my iPad when I had Windows Phone. After switching to android, my iPad stays at home.

By wyson on 28 Jul 2014

oh and youneedabudget is another app windows phone doesn't have.

By wyson on 28 Jul 2014

1 week in

Having had a L930 for a week now, a few observations.
Hardware. The phone is a beautiful piece of kit. Whatever colour it is (orange is the new back)
The battery lasts much better than the L920 that it has replaced. That maybe feint praise to some, but it lasted me Friday night to Sunday morning out in the wilds with no signal but in regular use for gps tracking and taking photos.
The camera is as good as any I have seen on a phone.
Software. 8.1 is just a bit different from 8, enough to make me stop and think what its doing at times. All a learning curve. The obvious changes are all good. Notification area is very welcome, the swype style keyboard amazingly accurate, cortana we shall see when it arrives (I expect good things given the quality of the rarely commented on voice recognition already in Bing)
The App debate is beyond boring now. Everything I need to do I can do. The big missing things are those apps from media providers (bbc itv etc) who still live on their own Apple obsessed little Planet. None of which I care about anyway.
All in all, very pleased.

By nickallison on 28 Jul 2014

1 week in

Having had a L930 for a week now, a few observations.
Hardware. The phone is a beautiful piece of kit. Whatever colour it is (orange is the new back)
The battery lasts much better than the L920 that it has replaced. That maybe feint praise to some, but it lasted me Friday night to Sunday morning out in the wilds with no signal but in regular use for gps tracking and taking photos.
The camera is as good as any I have seen on a phone.
Software. 8.1 is just a bit different from 8, enough to make me stop and think what its doing at times. All a learning curve. The obvious changes are all good. Notification area is very welcome, the swype style keyboard amazingly accurate, cortana we shall see when it arrives (I expect good things given the quality of the rarely commented on voice recognition already in Bing)
The App debate is beyond boring now. Everything I need to do I can do. The big missing things are those apps from media providers (bbc itv etc) who still live on their own Apple obsessed little Planet. None of which I care about anyway.
All in all, very pleased.

By nickallison on 28 Jul 2014

um, android has all the apps from the media providers. so an apple and android planet.

By wyson on 28 Jul 2014

lets also look at it the otherway round.. . windows phone apps unavailable on Android after I switched... um none.

By wyson on 28 Jul 2014

it makes me laugh, you call the lack of apps on windows phone a non issue and then give examples missing apps you would like to see, but "don't care about". lol. i wonder what bias kahneman would call this...

By wyson on 28 Jul 2014

Why would anyone want to use Google maps when nokia maps is free on nokia phones has no data usage and has turn by turn?

By colinday2 on 28 Jul 2014

@colinday2

does nokia maps have live traffic? can you make a map on your pc and then navigate it on your phone? can you just look up the name of a place and navigate there without faffing around with post codes and town names? can you be searching for a place in your web browser and then in 2 clicks star navigating there? not sure if nokia drive has these features... my friend told me it doesnt do live traffic... I use google maps navigation for this feature alone... its really accurate around London and has saved me countless hours... its not so good on less driven roads, the data is patchy.

By wyson on 28 Jul 2014

Apps, Apps, Apps

I'll just add my tuppenceworth on apps.

On my Lumia 820 I've got FB, Twitter, The Trainline, Kindle and a torch app - it's honestly all I need.

I know apps are a big thing for some people, but for others - less so.

I also have an iPad & iPhone, I download & try loads of other apps and end up removing them after a month or two as I honestly don't see the point in them.

Each to their own I suppose.

By bronven on 29 Jul 2014

Nokia maps does have Traffic

But more importantly for me I can use it worldwide with no charges, just download the relevant map before going abroad.

By colinday2 on 29 Jul 2014

@wyson

Yes, Nokia Drive+ does have live traffic, and you can get to turn-by-turn voice navigation to any address in your address book or searched for via the search button in two clicks.

You are clearly bound up in Android and having difficulty seeing any other way of accomplishing the tasks you do in that operating system, so this won't help you really, but it does bring some balance to the discussion.

By alynsparkes on 29 Jul 2014

@alynsparkes

lol not at all. I was thinking Nokia drive was pretty impressive, that I might have been less frustrated with Windows Phone if I got a Nokia, rather than a HTC handset which doesn't come with Nokia drive. Having tried IPhone, Windows Phone and Android, for me and the apps I use, Windows Phone is by far the weakest platform. I suspect this will be the case for the majority of people out there... hence their tiny market share? of course wp will suit some.

By wyson on 29 Jul 2014

@alynsparkes

lol not at all. I was thinking Nokia drive was pretty impressive, that I might have been less frustrated with Windows Phone if I got a Nokia, rather than a HTC handset which doesn't come with Nokia drive. Having tried IPhone, Windows Phone and Android, for me and the apps I use, Windows Phone is by far the weakest platform. I suspect this will be the case for the majority of people out there... hence their tiny market share? of course wp will suit some.

By wyson on 29 Jul 2014

Absolutely lovelly phone

Microsoft does need to make the Nokia map apps available on other windows devices. The navigation is at about 95% Tomtom level whereas Google seems to be at about 80%.

By simplefruit on 29 Jul 2014

Battery life

How's the battery life?

By Surya on 29 Jul 2014

Battery life

How's the battery life?

By Surya on 29 Jul 2014

Battery life

How's the battery life?

By Surya on 29 Jul 2014

All this nonsense over apps. I believe Windows now has over 250,000 - just how many do you need? I begin installing all the apps I had on my android phone on my 930 today and so far haven't found any I didn't have on android. And as the Windows apps promo video says (about Android), "Do you really need over a thousand apps just to turn on the flashlight?"

By coolcity on 30 Jul 2014

@wyson

To clarify.
I find the fact that the WP platform is totally ignored by the mass media as frustrating and annoying. "Tiny" market share is also a no longer relevant hyperbole, and no excuse. Personally, not been able to "clap along on x-factor" doesn't bother me in the least bit. There are many for whom that will be a decisive factor.

By nickallison on 30 Jul 2014

@surya

Battery life, so far, has been very favourable, compared to any other smartphone that I have used. Not yet been worried that it wont last the day.

By nickallison on 30 Jul 2014

More missing Windows Phone Apps

9) O2 Wifi
10) O2 Priority
11) Pleco

O2 Wifi app has saved my bacon a number of times out in the sticks.

O2 Priority, well, not so essential but I have gotten a free cookie and a £1 lunch out of it.

Gosh, this list keeps growing... as I use my phone I keep I finding myself using apps that aren't on WP.

By wyson on 30 Jul 2014

Yet another missing Windows Phone app continued

12) Financial Times app.

By wyson on 30 Jul 2014

@wyson

There's no Sky Wifi app either but I have singularly failed to not manage to connect when required just using the WiFi settings and WiFi sense, all in the OS.
What's the FT app do that m.ft.com doesn't?

By nickallison on 30 Jul 2014

O2 wifi app

This is more of a problem with using O2. I work in a o2 'blackspot', when in the crew room I can pick up Orange or use our works wifi on my 1520, the lads with a s2,s3, and s4 on o2 cannot get either mobile signal or a reliable wifi signal.
There is only one app that I cannot get on my windowsphone that I would like, and thats viewranger, although they do it for everything else including blackberry, kindle fire, and symbian!

By colinday2 on 30 Jul 2014

O2 wifi app

This is more of a problem with using O2. I work in a o2 'blackspot', when in the crew room I can pick up Orange or use our works wifi on my 1520, the lads with a s2,s3, and s4 on o2 cannot get either mobile signal or a reliable wifi signal.
There is only one app that I cannot get on my windowsphone that I would like, and thats viewranger, although they do it for everything else including blackberry, kindle fire, and symbian!

By colinday2 on 30 Jul 2014

@nickallison

the ft app stores upto 50mb data on the phone so you can read it offline, say on the morning commute to work on the tube. this is essential for me.

By wyson on 31 Jul 2014

@wyson

Having just migrated from an iPhone to a Lumia 930, I was a bit nervous about lack of apps, but I've been pleasantly surprised. The DropBox and Box alternatives have been very good, EE provides apps that work just as well as their iOS counterparts, and syncing to my iCloud account has worked well. Nokia Drive+ is on a par with Google Maps.

However, if there are apps that want but which don't exist, you need to complain to the company providing them - contact the FT and ask why they don't have a WP app.

I agree that the app support isn't as good as on iOS/Android, but it is getting better. Having used the 930 for a week now, I find it hard to go back to my iPhone 4 - it's so small.

FT have a Windows 8 app, so unsure why they wouldn't release a WP version - it'd be very similar code.

By DournP on 31 Jul 2014

Very happy with my Windows Phone

Just wanted to answer a few things:

I was originally going to buy an android phone but I preferred the UI of windows phone and having a proper satnav in the form of HERE maps sold me on a Lumia. I was worries about the app situation but I didn't need to be worried.

I know there are apps missing from windows phone that are on the iphone and android but for me there is nothing I feel I am missing out on. I have way more games installed on my phone than I will ever have time to play and every time I go searching for an app to do something I find it. I should clarify by saying I sometimes have to use a 3rd party app to do what I want but I always can do what I want in the end.

@nickallison: Make sure your store is set to the UK as there are BBC and iTV player apps for windows phone but these are only in the UK store.

@Wyson
does nokia maps have live traffic?
Yes

Can you make a map on your pc and then navigate it on your phone?
Sort of. You can go to HERE maps on your pc and look at routes etc but what you send to your phone is locations not a whole map. So you could add several way points to a collection which is synced with your phone and then navigate to each in turn.

Can you just look up the name of a place and navigate there without faffing around with post codes and town names?
Yes

Can you be searching for a place in your web browser and then in 2 clicks star navigating there?
3 Clicks but the extra click is that you need to select which "collection" to add it to. You can have multiple "collections to keep eg work and personal addresses separate.

As an added bonus with HERE maps you can download maps for most countries in the world at no charge so you can have turn by turn navigation while on holiday without needing a data connection.

Just to balance this post I do have one gripe. In windows phone 8.1 the games have been added to the main app list making the list very long and not as easy to navigate as before. In 8.0 apps were in the app list and games in the games hub. This was much better in my opinion.

By shmaun on 31 Jul 2014

Great phone

Had mine for couple of weeks, really like it, great interface, good battery and all the apps I need.

I don't need dropbox - with my Office 365 subscription I get a massive amount of space on Onedrive and its built in so no app needed at all.

Use the Nokia maps when abroad to keep down data charges but use Waze in the UK which has community updates as well as live traffic so better than Google.

For WiFi I really like the fact that my WiFi details sync between all my devices automatically via my live account. Enter details once on my laptop, surface or phone and they all pick it up, easier for me than any app!

The only apps I miss are some of the banking apps, shortly going to make NatWest either launch an app for my account or lose me as a customer.

By Jamie_C67 on 2 Aug 2014

@Jamie_X67

There's a NatWest app already, and very good or is too. Is it your particular account that doesn't work with it?

By nickallison on 4 Aug 2014

I currently run an Andriod phone (Moto G) and a Lumia 925, and have run parallel phones for several years.
My next phone will be a single Lumia 930.
I have become disillusioned by Google Maps, which hiccups on a regular basis, asking me to sign in, then not doing so, with a feeble 'Something has gone wrong, please try later' message. Google Maps itself will not accept my home addres, but sends me to a consultancy about half a mile away, called (interestingly) MHA!!
Nokia Here+, always fires up, always remembers my previous places, and does update itself, giving the length of delays due to traffic.
I dare say that some will yearn for a 'missing' app, but for gods sake, find an alternative!
E.G. the Andriod WeQ4U is useful on occasions, but simply add a number into the memory and dial the required 0800, 0845 or 0870 number after it to get the same result.
To summarise, having wieghed things up over several years of personal comparison, I will be going Windows Phone 8.1 (which by the way is sooo much better than WP8) from now on.

By PaulQT on 10 Aug 2014

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