Published: June 24, 2013 3:07 PM
By Florence Legrand
Translated by: Catherine Barraclough
Like the Lumia 920 it's designed to replace, Nokia's Lumia 925 is a top-of-the-range smartphone that's all about the camera. With this updated handset, Nokia is promising improved camera performances both in good light and in low-light conditions. Promises kept? Let's take a closer look.

Nokia is back with a new and improved version of its Lumia 920 smartphone. The camera in that particular model proved impressive when shooting in low light, capturing a higher level of detail than other high-end cameraphones. The Lumia 925 should taken things even further, as Nokia claims to have reworked the lens in order to improve image quality, both when shooting in day mode (where the Lumia 920 proved less impressive) and in night mode.

The Lumia 925 has been in our test lab for about a week now, so we've had plenty of time to put the built-in camera through its paces. Initial test results from the Lumia 925—a lighter and more stylish phone than its predecessor—are therefore online and ready to view in our camera face-off. Ahead of the full review, these results give a good general idea of the camera's performances, and can be compared with test shots from the Lumia 920 to see just what progress has been made. They can also be lined it up against sample shots from the Samsung Galaxy S4—which currently sports the best smartphone camera on the market—the HTC One, which also performs well in low light, and Apple's iPhone 5, which gives the most natural, most balanced results of the moment, and is up there with the Galaxy S4 quality-wise.
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Progress in day mode, just as good in night mode

In "standard" lighting conditions, the Lumia 920 left us wanting more—especially considering what it was capable of in lower-light situations. Nokia promised improvements with the Lumia 925, and the Finnish phone-maker has certainly delivered. Picture quality is significantly better in this new smartphone—sharpness levels have improved, there's more detail throughout the image, the white balance is better, the flash gives effective, even results ... in other words, everything has improved this time around. It would have been nice to see the image processing system give a little more emphasis to the shots, making edges stand out more crisply and giving an added dose of "oomph", but still, it's a clear improvement on the Lumia 920!
 
Barbie
Scene
 
Nokia Lumia 925

The camera is sensitive enough to handle low-light shooting well (evening, dusk, twilight, etc.). Noise remains low and well controlled, and there's a good level of detail here for a smartphone camera. All in all, the Lumia 925 holds its own. It does just as well as the Lumia 920 in low light. In fact, we couldn't spot any real improvement, although colour reproduction does look a bit more accurate. As it stands, the Lumia 920 and 925 are the best smartphones out there right now for taking photos in low light.

Face-Off: Galaxy S4 edges ahead in good light, Lumia 925 shines in low light

So how does the Lumia 925 compare with other high-end smartphone cameras? Can it hold up against rivals that are also plugging camera quality as a top selling point? How does it compare with other handsets renown for their high-level picture quality?

For daytime shooting, even though the Lumia 925 improves on last year's model and gives decent overall results, it still can't match the Galaxy S4. Samsung's phone boasts a higher resolution and the image processing system emphasises shots more effectively, giving more detailed and more flattering photos. The higher level of sharpness is visible on 4" x 6" photos (10 x 15 cm), for example, and will be particularly handy if you plan on cropping or reworking parts of the shot. The iPhone 5 gives more natural results with better colour rendition and more detail in certain parts of the shot. However, the Lumia 925 out-performs the HTC One.
 
925 bougie
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Left: Lumia 925 // Right: Galaxy S4

In night mode, the Lumia 925 and Lumia 920 are the cream of the crop when it comes to taking pictures in darker conditions. Next in line come the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5, with lower sensitivity levels but results that are generally fine for a smartphone camera. The HTC One lags slightly behind.

From our first hands-on with the Lumia 925 and the test results from our camera lab, we can safely say that picture quality has improved compared with the Lumia 920, particularly when shooting in standard, daylight conditions (which was something of a weakness for the Lumia 920). The Lumia 925 is up there with the best-performing cameraphones of the moment, even if it doesn't knock the Samsung Galaxy S4 off the top spot. The Samsung handset may not shoot quite as well in low light but it makes up for that with excellent performances in good light.

In the end, you should obviously pick the cameraphone that suits you best. The Lumia 925 will be particularly apt for users who often shoot with their mobile phone camera in darker conditions, like on nights out. That said, the day mode in this Nokia Windows Phone mobile still does a decent job. For users who tend to shoot in daylight or in good conditions, the Galaxy S4 or the iPhone 5 will do the job just fine.
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