Nokia Lumia 930 review: A cheaper alternative to iPhone 6, Galaxy S5

The company's latest attempt to compete at the high end brings a competent handset with an impressive camera.

The Nokia 930 has a 20 megapixel camera. Courtesy Nokia
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While Nokia is increasingly focusing on the lucrative mid-range and budget smartphone segments, it hasn’t by any means abandoned the high-end market. The Lumia 930, launched in the UAE in July, is one of the latest in the company’s attempts to compete with the likes of the iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Straight out of the box the Lumia 930 looks great and feels nice in the hand; its 5-inch Oled display looks beautiful, with deep, crisp colours. The build quality of the handset is impressive, with a silver trim and a choice of green, orange, white and black backings.

While Nokia’s recent high-end models have pushed the envelope in the camera department, the 930’s 20MP sensor is the same as that offered by 1020 before it, far below the 41MP offered by the Lumia 1020. Nokia will argue it’s not the size of your sensor but what you do with it that matters, and they have a point: at the end of the day the 930 takes great pictures.

The handset marks the high-end debut of Windows Phone 8.1, the newest iteration of Nokia’s owner Microsoft’s mobile operating system. The OS has come a long way in four years, its tile-based user interface becoming increasingly friendly and intuitive. It still doesn’t have the range of apps of Google Play or Apple’s App Store. But given that traditional favourites like Instagram, Angry Birds, WhatsApp and Spotify are all available, most people are unlikely to mind.

It’s not without its minor flaws, with the user interface still falling a little short. Despite a dedicated button on the side of the handset, the camera was noticeably slower to launch than my iPhone 5. More noticeably, the user interface still feels a little rough; this was most noticeable when surfing the internet, with several of my most commonly used websites failing to load properly.

But at Dh2,199 the Lumia 930 is still a very good high-end smartphone and excellent value for money, particularly given its generous 32GB built in memory. It’s not quite up there with the Galaxy S5 and the newest iPhones, but you feel that Nokia is getting closer all the time.


So the Lumia 930 runs Windows Phone 8.1? Does that mean that it’s noticeably better?

Well, it certainly has some nice new features. And while it doesn’t set the world on fire it brings it in line with many of the features that are standard in Android and iOS. For one, swiping down from the top of the screen opens a notification centre (it looks remarkably similar to the Android notification centre) which shows your most recent updates and gives you easy access to Bluetooth and WiFi controls.

Sounds useful. What else is new?

The other key feature for me is the World Flow text input system, similar to apps like Swype and Swiftkey on Android, that allow you to enter text by sliding your finger over the keyboard rather than tapping every single key, making text input so much faster.

Interesting, but what if I want to interact with my phone only via voice?

Windows Phone 8.1 also introduces Cortana, a voice assistant which many are saying is better than Apple’s Siri. Sadly however, it’s not yet available here in the UAE.

All of that sounds good, but at the end of the day Windows Phone still doesn’t have many apps does it?

It’s still a long way behind Apple and Android, which each have more than 1 million apps available. That being said, there are now more than 300,000 Windows Phone apps, so “doesn’t have many” is a bit disingenuous.

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