Windows Phone 8 software
The Windows Phone experience on the 625 is basically identical to what you'd find on the rest of the Lumia range. The colourful, tiled interface hasn't been altered to take advantage of the larger display, although you can make your homescreen tiles smaller if you want to fit more on screen at once.
Swipe to the right of the homescreen and you'll be met with an alphabetical list of all installed apps and settings menus. There's no difference in the overall Windows Phone 8 interface on any Windows phone. The real advantage of Nokia's phones, however, is the multitude of included apps.
Nokia's Here Maps contains a wealth of information about local businesses, its Drive app gives turn-by-turn GPS satellite navigation, Office lets you edit Word and Excel documents and Nokia Music lets you stream ad-free music playlists. Individually, these apps don't make Lumias particularly exciting, but all together, they're a helpful bunch that mean Nokia's Windows phones are a more attractive option than other manufacturers.
It really needs these additions too, as the Marketplace is still woefully understocked compared to its Android and iOS rivals. Some big name players like Spotify and WhatsApp are on board, but if you're keen to play the latest games as soon as they arrive, you'll be bitterly disappointed with a Windows device.
The phone also comes with some of the features of the recent Amber update to Windows Phone. It brings a few camera updates -- which I'll come to later -- as well as an FM radio player.
The phone is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor. While that's certainly not troubling the quad-core brutes like the Samsung Galaxy S4, it's very much in line with other Windows Phone devices, none of which boast quad-core processors yet. Before you feel too disheartened, keep in mind that there's little available on the WP8 app store that will really tax a processor, so there's no real need to shove a supercharged chip inside.
Indeed, the 625 provides an enjoyably swift experience. There's no lag when swiping around the home tiles or when using the multitasking tool to flick between recent apps. 3D western shooter Six Guns, a rare exception to the above rule, was rather sluggish though, with frame rates dramatically dropping in more intense scenes. Keen gamers among you won't be impressed with glossy titles, although less demanding games like Angry Birds will play fine.
Around the back of the 625 is a 5-megapixel camera. Nokia has done a great job of shoving superb snappers into its higher end Lumias (I'm looking at you, Lumia 925), but with a lower price tag, you shouldn't expect to see the same kind of performance.
Even by more budget standards though, the 625 really didn't impress. On my first shot of the CNET break area, while the image is well exposed, it's plagued with a huge amount of image noise which seriously ruins the photo. Colours were rather muted too.
The same result is evident on my second test shot too. Exposure is decent, but even the more well-lit portions of the scene are noisy and the shadowy areas are unimpressive. The 625 will do an adequate job of keeping your Facebook friends updated, but you'll really need to make sure you're in a well lit area when taking your snaps. I was generally more impressed with the Lumia 620's camera, if you can cope with the smaller size.
Nokia has popped a 2,000mAh battery into the 625 which gives a good performance. With fairly careful usage you won't struggle to get a full day of use from the phone, and maybe even more.
Like all smart phones though, the life you'll be able to squeeze out of the battery will totally depend on how brutally you treat the phone. If you spend a lot of time streaming video over 4G then you'll no doubt need to give it a boost in the evening. Similarly, if you keep screen brightness ramped to the max, you'll see the times fall. If you're a moderately heavy user then you'll probably need to charge it every night.
The Nokia Lumia 625 doesn't have the same imaging credentials as its bigger brothers, nor does it have the most impressive screen in the business. If screen size is crucial, however, and you want to take advantage of super-fast 4G networks, it's an affordable option that's worth a look.