[Opinion] Sweet Apps on Sleek Metal; first impressions of the Lumia 925

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…Aaaaaaaaaaand here it is! T-Mobile exclusive, aluminum-polycarbonate hybrid, extra lens and camera functions, AMOLED, yay! So… what of it?

Yes, we have yet a third Lumia 92X model on our hands, one that sheds nearly 50 grams of weight and is made to take on the smartphone-world competition with that much more power in its punch. The noted improvements otherwise include an aluminum exo-frame hybridized with a polycarbonate back, a bulging camera with six photic lenses, OIS, and software improvements abound. There’s a lot to talk about, or at least to think about, when it comes to what Nokia revealed Tuesday morning.

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I Think It’s Ugly.

Surprised, readers? Well, that’s genuinely what I think. I don’t think I’ve seen a Nokia product made in the last few years (for example, the 2003 N-Gage makes my list) that, upon the very first glance, made me think, “No. That does not work. That does not look nice. I don’t want that.” Of course, the same for me goes for the HTC One, a device that supposedly makes most reviewers’ jaws drop. I must have an allergy to aluminum or something.

To start, I think there are too many fragmented elements. From the long, skinny speaker to the dual-LEDs at the top, none of the placement seems to make sense, besides the vertical symmetry. There’s no pattern in how each label or component is spaced from another, so everything just kinda looks thrown on the back where it could fit. While I think the rounded corners of the polycarbonate back section help create front-to-back symmetry on the device, what was the decision to make it polycarbonate based off of? That one isn’t so much of an issue as it is a question.

The biggest problem I have, as well as the biggest I had with the One, are those horizontal lines on the aluminum rim (see: light lines that streak horizontally across the back of the One). I genuinely don’t see how they add to the design, unless you count a distraction of the eye and a disfiguration of the rectangular form of the device as “additions.” Right behind that is the shape of the camera region: Yes, we know it’s a crazy camera, but that bulge? Ewww, it looks like some sort of skin growth.

Are there positive points? Definitely. As they have moved the USB port to the top and speakers to the back, the bottom is a completely clean surface. The phone looks gorgeous from that angle. They also got rid of a lot of the bezel offset that made me a very confused Lumia 920 owner; the screen is now almost smack in the center, rather than a centimeter or so north of it. Something suspicious to note, though, is how well this evens out the design range of Nokia’s 3 flagships; The 925 is a very curvy and feature-laden look, the 928 is a chiseled block, and the 920 tries to find a median with its “smile” chassis and focus on smoothness of the features. Perhaps Nokia sees its loyal customer base as guinea pigs for their design department? That wouldn’t surprise me.

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All-In-One Camera App

This one is a big deal to me because of the way the product fits into the “duh, why didn’t I think of that 5 years ago” category of design. Nokia put its Smart Camera picture mode on display at the event, and while those nice features like Action Shot and Motion Capture are nice, here’s what’s important; it’s one app. It doesn’t matter who comes up with special camera functions; Samsung, Nokia, Apple, whatever; the trick is to actually get me to use all of these features. The problem is that I have to launch the camera, decide which Lens or Mode or whatever might be best, then take the shot.

What Nokia Smart Camera does is take the picture (a series of 10, no matter what), and that just secures the fact that you have shot that will work. Then, you have the option of flicking through any of the pictures you just took to decide on your favorite, or creating a frame-by-frame Action Shot crop or blur-effect Motion Capture shot. The fact is, I just don’t think instinctively, “Oh, that’s a fast moving object I’m trying to take a picture of, let me turn on my camera and then switch to this mode and then tick a setting.” Smart Camera is some serious innovation in the software department, and I’ll definitely be setting it as my default camera program when it hits the Store.

Well, that’s what I’ve been thinking about. And of course, I’m already thinking about what’s coming up for the rest of the year. How will GDR2 and Nokia’s firmware updates go down? Is Windows Phone going to start gaining serious traction in America? And what about EOS? Well, at least the Instagram debacle is reaching a close.

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Instagram! Heavy! Instagram! Heavy!

It’s clear that Nokia has placed the two undisputed champions of 920 criticisms and reviews as their top priority, and for a mid-cycle refresh on design, the results are spectacular. How one shaves 25% of the weight off of a phone with a 6-month timeframe is beyond me. This is great news for people who wanted a Windows Phone bigger than a four-incher but wouldn’t, or couldn’t, ever get used to over half a pound in their palms.

The other elephant in the room has also been dealt with. Hopefully. Hipstamatic Oggl is expected to be ready-to-go in time for the 925’s release date, not to mention the fact that the app will be available to all WP8 handsets, not just to Lumia devices. Hipstamatic is a fresh creation; it is a photo-sharing app focused around creative photography, and it enables users to upload to a number of social media sites, including Instagram. Just last week became available on iOS and has yet to migrate to Android.

There is a charge, however, of $10 per year or $1 per month, in order to use Oggl’s entire editing catalog, though a small number of filters will always be available for free. But hey, what can stop users from taking a pic, using another program like Fhotoroom to add effects or filters, and then uploading that picture through Hipstamatic’s service? Of course, we should really be waiting until the application is available for the new platform. Windows Phone users might wind up paying the same price, or, who knows, users might get a deal like Pandora worked out for customers.


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