Windows Goes Budget: The Nokia Lumia 625

Windows phones have somewhat of a bad reputation on the market, and it’s true that they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. Older versions of Windows mobile were clunky, difficult to use, and frankly, unattractive as well. To be fair though, Windows 8 isn’t a bad mobile operating system. It’s much smoother and more intuitive than older incarnations, and it is low on memory use as well, meaning that you get more usable space.

One of the problems with Windows phones is that they’re so expensive. A top end Windows model is going to cost you around the same as a top end Android model, and Windows just can’t compete with Android at that level, so you end up paying more money for a worse phone. Nokia have apparently cottoned on to this though, and have begun producing some pretty solid and affordable Windows models in their Lumia line.

The new Lumia 625 is either a top end budget phone or a low end mid-range phone, depending on how you see it. It is definitely one of the most affordable Windows models we’ve seen though, and we’re pretty impressed with it. We took a closer look at what the 625 has to offer and how it competes with what else is out there. Fancy a decent and cheap phone? The Lumia 625 might not be a bad choice.

The Basics of the Lumia 625

This isn’t a top end phone, and we’re not expecting top end specs, but the 625 does have a couple of surprises in store. It’s running a dual core 1.2 GHz processor, which is around average for this price point. It’s got a 5 MB camera and an 8 GB internal memory capacity, again pretty average. Where it excels though is in screen size. It’s got a 4.7 inch display, larger than any other Windows phone screen currently on the market. Sadly, it’s only running 512 MB of RAM, which is pretty paltry.

In looks the 625 is vaguely reminiscent of the old HTC Desire models, all rounded corners and rubbery plastic. This isn’t a metal bodied top end phone, and it doesn’t look like one. The casing is plastic, but it seems pretty durable, and the 625 looks like it could survive a drop or two, and it also comes in nice bright colours, making a change from all the boring black smart phones on the market right now.

Button quality is pretty good, and we like the nice click that the home, camera and volume buttons make when you use them, it’s both satisfying and a sign of good build quality. Our only real reservation is how darn difficult it is to remove that back panel to get to the battery and SD card slot; it’s going to break more than a few fingernails…

What’s the Competition?

Put up against other mobiles on the market, the 625 does a surprisingly good job, much better than we expected. Compared to its predecessor, the older 620 model, the 625 gets a larger screen, better battery and faster processor. What it doesn’t get is a better quality display, in fact the 620 has both higher screen resolution and more PPI (pixels per inch) giving it a much brighter and clearer display than the 625.

The only two price comparable models right now both come from Samsung. Up against the Galaxy S III Mini the 625 gets a better processor and bigger screen, but misses out a bit on internal storage, the S III Mini having a 16 GB memory. Against the Galaxy Ace 3 the 625 does extraordinarily well, beating the Ace in everything except Bluetooth support (the Ace runs Bluetooth 4.0, the 625 only the old 1.0 version). All in all, the Lumia 625 is a very good phone indeed.

What Will You Pay?

Part of the reason that we’re so satisfied with the Lumia’s performance is because of what you can expect to pay for it. The 625 retails for around £230 SIM free, as compared to the 620 model at £190, the Galaxy S III Mini at £220, and the Galaxy Ace 3 at £260. It really is a bit of a bargain, particularly for a Windows device.

Your cheapest incentive contract option on the 625 is going to be with T-Mobile and will cost you just £7 a month. That does have a low 250 MB data limit and requires a £200 down payment on the phone though. Talk Mobile will up that data limit to 500 MB for the same down payment for £7.50 a month.
For zero cash down phones your cheapest bet is Vodafone, where you’ll get the 625 for no money up front on a £13 a month contract, but that’s with a low 100 MB data limit. O2 will give you a 500 MB data limit for £17 a month, Orange a 1 GB limit for a massive £38 a month, and T-Mobile will give you unlimited data for a much more reasonable £28 a month.

Worth Paying For?

We have two problems with the Lumia 625. The first is the low RAM, the 625 really isn’t as fast and responsive as we’d like to see, and there’s certainly a noticeable difference in performance between the 625 and something like the Galaxy S III because of this. It’s not necessarily a huge issue for a regular user though you might get a little lag occasionally, that’s all.

The second problem is in display quality. Such a large screen is definitely a boon on a Windows model, but poor resolution and low PPI really affect picture quality quite a lot. It seems a shame to have such a big screen and such poor display quality.

The Lumia 625 is still an excellent buy though. A budget Windows phone used to be unthinkable, but Nokia have proved that not only is it possible, but it’s possible to do pretty well. For its price, the Lumia 625 is a great little phone, and well worth buying.

 Phil Turner decided on the Nokia Lumia 625 windows phone as a gift for his mother after viewing some positive reviews online on sites such as uSwitch.

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