Design

The design of the Lumia 930 is an evolution of the all polycarbonate shell which first appeared with the Nokia N9, and was then evolved to become the basis of all of the unibody Lumia phones. Nokia has done a good job of evolving the design of their unibody phones since the N9 and Lumia 800 first came on the scene several years ago. Let us do a quick history on the Lumia unibody phones, since the Lumia 930 really takes a lot of design cues from past models.

When Nokia first came on the Windows Phone scene, the first phone was the Nokia Lumia 800. The Lumia 800 was a solid polycarbonate phone with a rounded glass front which was very similar to the short lived Nokia N9 running MeeGo. Then, the Lumia 900 was released which bumped the display from 3.8” to 4.3” and shared a design that was mostly similar to the 800 – rounded sides, but squared off corners. The timing of this device couldn’t have been at a worse time though with the internals not being capable enough to run Windows Phone 8 which came out later that year.

Lumia 800

The Lumia 920 was the first Nokia unibody phone running Windows Phone 8. It bumped the display up to 4.5” and leaned heavily on the look and feel of the 800 and 900 with rounded sides and squared off corners. The Lumia 920 was known for a great camera, and a robust 185 gram weight, which was quite heavy for a 4.5” phone. As a comparison, the iPhone 5 was launched just before the 920 was released, and it came in at only 112 grams. Phones closer to the size of the 920 were also lighter, such as the HTC 8X which was a positively svelte 130 grams by comparison to the 920.

In May 2013, two new devices were launched by Nokia as a retake on the 920. The first was the 928 which is a device which offers a lot of similarities with the new 930. The shape is very much the same, with straight sides and tight radius corners, and a slightly pillowed back. This phone was only available on Verizon, but certainly shares a lot of the look and feel with the 930. At 162 grams, the 928 shaved over 20 grams off of the 920’s design but kept the unibody polycarbonate design. The second phone launched in May was available to a more global audience than the 928, and that was the 925. There are two distinct features of the 925 compared to all other Lumia unibody phones – a focus on light weight, with the phone coming in at just 139 grams, and a metal band around the outside of the phone to give it a more upscale look and feel, while also serving as the antennae for the phone.

Lumia 920 (left) Lumia 925 (center) Lumia 928 (right)

The Lumia 930 combines both the 925 and 928 designs, with its sides being made of a metal frame like the 925, but rather than the rounded sides of the 920 and 925, the 930 borrows the shape from the 928 with the straight sides and tight radius corners. The pillowed polycarbonate back on the 930 is available in four colors – white, black, green, and orange – to give the owner a chance to pick something unique to them. This design, coupled with the nicely curved glass on the front of the phone, makes for a very nice looking phone. The review device I received had the orange back, and it is certainly bright and exciting.

You will also notice two bands of darker grey at the top around the headphone jack, and at the bottom around the USB port. These would most likely be non-conductive strips to separate the two antennae, but rather than make them the same color as the metal they have been used as an accent, which helps to break up the phone's appearance.

But, as is often the case, form over function can bring some compromises to the table as well. The sharp sides, which give the phone a unique and distinctive look, are a bit slippery and not the most comfortable to hold in your hand. As compared to the recently reviewed Lumia 630, the 930 is just a lot more awkward to hold than a device like the 630 with its angled sides. Devices like the HTC 8X and Moto X have been praised for their shape which conforms so well to the hand, but even with the slightly pillowed back on the 930 that is not the case here. Some of that is certainly the size, but an angled side or even the rounded sides on the Lumias of the past is easier to hold in my experience. It is unlikely the feel of a phone in the hand ever has much sway over someone purchasing it, but it is something that I did notice during my time with the phone so it was worth a mention.

As is normal with a Lumia, the volume rocker, power switch, and two-stage camera button are all located on the right side of the phone. The power button being in the middle seems to work well for one handed use, and the buttons all have a good feel to them. The power button placement is certainly in the right location when compared to a phone with the power button on the top which gets awkward to use especially on a larger phone such as this. The power button placement is important, but the Lumia 930 also supports double-tap to wake. Two taps on the Corning Gorilla Glass 3, and the phone is ready for action.

The Lumia 930 has one glaring omission, and that is there is no support for Nokia Glance screen. As I showed in the Lumia 630 review, Nokia Glance is a feature in almost all Windows 8 Lumia phones which allows the clock, alarm, vibrate, and notifications to be displayed on the screen when the smartphone is in standby. As an owner of a Lumia 1020, I have certainly become accustomed to Glance, and trying to move to a phone without it is challenging to say the least. It was forgivable on the Lumia 630 due to cost constraints, but not forgivable on a flagship phone such as the 930. If you are a new customer to Nokia, you would obviously never miss one of the best features they have ever implemented, but if you were a former customer with any of the Nokia devices which supported Glance, you would quickly find it uncomfortable. As to why the 930 lacks Glance, according to an interview by wpcentral.com, the Lumia 930 display lacks memory, which most likely would be used for Panel Self Refresh in order to keep the power costs of having some of the display on at all times to a minimum. As this is a hardware feature that is missing, do not expect it to show up in a future update, but perhaps something can be done on the firmware side.

Lumia 1020 showing Glance

Other features in the design of the phone include a nice nano-SIM tray which can be opened with just a fingernail, a dual-LED flash beside the PureView 20 MP camera, a rear mounted speaker, a micro-USB 2.0 port at the bottom and a 3.5 mm jack at the top.

Overall, the Lumia 930 has a solid design which includes great materials, but has some in-hand issues as far as comfort. The lack of a key feature of previous Lumia phones is disappointing though, with Glance Screen easily being one of the best features of Nokia Windows Phones.

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  • Myrandex - Tuesday, September 09, 2014 - link

    You realize the high end Lumia 1520 has SD card slot support...as well as Glance support that was a major loss in the authors eyes right? Too bad it was never reviewed at AT. That LCD screen on it is really nice. Reply
  • Luke4 - Thursday, September 11, 2014 - link

    Just buy the upcoming 730 instead. Reply
  • Chriz - Monday, September 08, 2014 - link

    Will the 930 support T-Mobile LTE? It wasn't really clear which provider Brett was using to test with. Reply
  • Brett Howse - Monday, September 08, 2014 - link

    I was testing on TELUS, but as it was an international phone it did not support all of the LTE bands for North America. The specific LTE bands this phone is capable of are listed in the specs on page 1. T-Mobile appears to use band 4, which is not available in the 930. Reply
  • krutou - Tuesday, September 09, 2014 - link

    The Lumia 930 (aka Lumia Icon in the US) is a Verizon exclusive. There will be no US GSM versions (ATT&TMobile), aside from international editions of the 930. Reply
  • Myrandex - Tuesday, September 09, 2014 - link

    The 1520 supports TMo LTE though ;) Reply
  • Boogaloo - Monday, September 08, 2014 - link

    About the wifi graph on page 7: If I'm reading this correctly you tested the 930 with a router that only supports up to 802.11n despite the fact that the phone supports ac, and then published a graph that includes phones that were tested with routers that DO support 802.11ac.

    Let me know if I understood correctly please.
    Reply
  • Brett Howse - Monday, September 08, 2014 - link

    Yes, I only have access to a 802.11n router. I updated the graph to point out the connection speed was based on 802.11n. I hope to get a 80.211ac router soon but I have been waiting for the new wave of ac routers that are just starting to appear. Reply
  • jenesuispasbavard - Thursday, September 11, 2014 - link

    Still isn't clear that the other phones were tested with 802.11ac... Reply
  • georgehan - Monday, September 08, 2014 - link

    I went to the Microsoft store last week, and every single Lumia Icon on display had a ridiculous amount of mura. Solid colors had a rough linen texture even at high brightness levels.

    Maybe Samsung's selling Nokia rejected Galaxy S4 panels?
    Reply

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