The Lumia 925 is the latest in Nokia's range using Microsoft's Windows Phone software.

Durban - A few weeks ago I got to play, all too briefly, with Nokia’s new flagship smartphone, the Lumia 925, at its South African launch in Johannesburg. Based on that fleeting encounter I described it in this column as the best Windows Phone 8 handset currently available on the local market.

I’ve since had a chance to spend more time with 925 and I’m happy to report that I found nothing to disprove those initial, largely positive, impressions.

The first thing you’ll notice is that it breaks with the Finnish phone-maker’s tradition of encasing its Lumia handsets in bright, primary coloured plastic – although Nokia prefers the term “polycarbonate”. The 925 is, by contrast, a sophisticated, super slim aluminium banded phone.

The back is still made of plastic, but it’s a pleasingly subtle eggshell colour and helps keep the weight of the phone down to a 139g, pretty good for a gadget this size – 129mm long and 70.6mm wide and just 8.5mm thick.

The 4.5-inch HD display is superb, offering wide viewing angles and clearly readable even in bright sunlight. The touchscreen is delightfully responsive, thanks partly to it being super sensitive – you can even use it wearing gloves – and partly to the touch optimised nature of Windows Phone 8.

The stand-out feature is its 8.7 megapixel camera which incorporates Carl Zeiss lenses and scaled down elements of Nokia’s PureView imaging technology pioneered in the 41 megapixel 808 handset.

The pictures I was able to take ranged from very good to stunning. If you’d told me just a year ago that they’d been snapped with a cellphone camera I’d have said you were lying. And thanks to the optical image stabilisation, videos were refreshingly devoid of the camera shake that usually bedevils amateur efforts like mine.

I haven’t had a chance to test the Sony Xperia Z1 with its 21 megapixel camera nor Apple’s new iPhone 5S which brings a host of improvements to an excellent camera, but the snapper in the Lumia 925 trumps most, if not all, of the best currently available.

Making it an even more attractive proposition are Nokia value-added features and services like free streaming music and voice guided navigation. The main drawback for me is the still rather limited number of applications available for Windows Phone 8. But that’s changing rapidly and I doubt it’ll be long before all the most popular iOS and Android apps will be available.

It’s available on contracts from around around R430 a month and the recommended selling price for a prepaid unit is R9 000, steep given that you can get Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 for the same price. - Sunday Tribune

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