Nokia's Latest Amazing iPhone Killer: The Lumia 930

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Every high end smartphone OEM has one phone that appears to be uniquely targeted at Apple.  These phones tend to anticipate Apple’s next phone, in this case the iPhone 6, and have a similar size, weight, battery life, and overall visual similarity with Apple’s flagship offering.   The Nokia Lumia 930 is the latest that has come to market with this goal in mind and it is an impressive phone.   The thing is it also reminds me why I’ll likely never use an iPhone.   Let’s get to that.

Look and Feel

The Nokia Lumia 930 has a very rich feel to it. Every time I hear that number I recall the Porsche by the same name which was also called the 911 Turbo, and recall that Steve Jobs based his redesign of Apple’s products partially on Porsche.  Wrapped with a frame of matt aluminum and the color of your choice on the back (personally I think the black one is the most stunning) with curves on the back case matching a radius curved screen this phone feels wonderful in your hand.  It feels rich - which is how a phone is supposed to feel if it is designed to compare well against the segment leading iPhone.  

The screen has bright colors and uses technology rather than power to work well outdoors.   This is good because military grade products typically use light output to overcome the sun for outdoor use and that path is murder on batteries and/or device weight.   Nokia is using something they are calling “sunlight readability enhancements” and it works rather well outdoors and doesn’t appear to kill the battery.  

Performance

The phone uses the top of the line Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 which gives it the capability of capturing Ultra HD video, support for the 20MP camera, DTS-HP and Dolby Digital plus audio, and the new Quick Charge 2.0 technology.  This is a quad core processor with around 2.3 GHz per core and it is bundled with Qualcomm’s 330 GPU for graphics.   The radio is where this part really shines with support for virtually all of the current generation cellular data formats including 4th generation LTE.   This also supports Bluetooth 4.0 and USB 3.0 for fast reliable local data transfer.  NFC support is built in but finding someplace to use it remains a problem in the U.S.  

What this means is the phone is fast, really fast, and will likely connect better than anything else you have ever used so far.  In my own case, I was seeing one or two extra bars most of the time I was using the phone - which is pretty handy though I discovered that even with the extra bars, AT&T still has poor service where I live, which means voice quality was still pretty bad.  At least I’m getting fewer dropped calls. 

I stream music from my phone to my cars and one of my cars has one of the new Wi-Fi radios which use Wi-Fi from a phone or portable hotspot to bring down traffic information and the media it will stream.  The tethering capability of the phone is the best I’ve tried and the music quality is noticeably improved - both very important.  

Why You Won’t Get Me on an iPhone

Here’s the deal I’ve been using the Nokia Lumia 1520 phone which has a huge 6” screen and many of my peers and my wife have been making fun of my huge phone.   So I was kind of looking forward to dropping back to something that is more reasonably sized, in this case in the 5” class.   But you know what?   Big is really better. O n the larger screen I could see more stuff, reading was vastly improved, and web sites just lay out better.   While this newer more powerful 930 is an impressive performer, clearly more powerful than the old 1520, I am really missing the larger screen - suggesting that once you go big you’ll likely find it nearly impossible to go back to a smaller phone.   Unless Apple really goes much larger then rumors are indicating (4.7”) there are a lot of us that won’t even consider an iPhone because it isn’t big enough.  I’m convinced for most folks that go large they won’t downsize by choice, however just as I’m finishing this one rumor suggests the iPhone will have a 5.5” version this time.  Though you’d think with a product called “iPhone 6” a 6 inch version would have been the way to go.   Still 5.5 inches could be tempting.   

Wrapping Up:  930 is a Great Phone, But I Want Big

For folks used to the more common form factor, which admittedly is easier to hold in your hand or put in a pocket, the 930 is a great alternative.  From a technology standpoint, it is market leading but you do have to get comfortable with the Windows Phone platform.   I’m a long time Windows Phone user and I have a number of Android and Kindle tablets and have no problem moving back and forth.  On a phone particularly, I prefer the smart tiles and I find I can’t really do without Cortana which is so much more advanced than Siri it is amazing.  Microsoft has closed the gap substantially with core applications but you will need to make sure any you depend on work before making the move.  

In the end, this is an impressive phone from Nokia but I’ll be looking forward to the update on a larger screen version in order to be really happy.  Interestingly enough size with phones, at least for me, does matter.  




Edited by Stefania Viscusi

President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group

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