Check out the Nokia Lumia 625. Its 4.7-inch screen is the biggest you'll find with Windows Phone on board. Better yet, it can use 4G data networks for super speedy downloads. At £200 on pay as you go, it's among the most affordable 4G phones around right now.
The Lumia 625 is available now and you can get it free from £26 a month on a two-year contract, or SIM-free from £310.
Should I buy the Nokia Lumia 625?
If screen size above all else is important to you, you need 4G data speeds and you fancy swiping around the colourful tiles of Windows Phone, then yes. It's the biggest Windows Phone device to date, with plenty of room for photos and videos. Make no mistake though -- the 625 is a budget phone with specs to match.
The low resolution display doesn't impress and the dual-core chip struggled at times with more demanding tasks. The camera also isn't good enough for anything more than the most casual of tasks and the Marketplace still receives apps long after Android or iOS.
Still, Windows Phone is simple and quite fun to use, and with its affordable price tag and 4G gubbins, the 625 is a fair option. Alternatively, check out the Acer Liquid E2 -- although the screen is slightly smaller, it has a decent processor, loads more apps and a similarly affordable price.
Design and build quality
Its 4.7-inch screen size makes the Lumia 625 not only the largest of Nokia's Windows-based phones, but the largest Windows Phone device from any manufacturer currently. That naturally means that the device itself is on the chunky side.
It measures 133mm long, 72mm wide and comes in at 9.2mm thick. That's longer and wider than the Lumia 920, but slightly undercuts its thickness. At 159g, it knocks almost 30g off the 920's weight, too. If you want a phone to slide more easily into your jeans then you'd be better off looking at the Lumia 620 or even splashing out slightly more on the 720 -- its smaller size makes a surprising difference when you hold them in each hand.
Visually, there's no question that the 625 is part of the Lumia family. Its rounded edges and brightly coloured plastic body give it the same toy-like aesthetic present on most of Nokia's current phones. It's fairly attractive -- assuming you appreciate bold colours -- and is more suited to a party with cheap vodka in paper cups than expensive bubbly in crystal glasses. If you want a Lumia to match your sleek suit, you might be better off with the aluminium-clad Lumia 925.
The stiff, one-piece plastic back means the 625 feels very sturdy. There are none of the usual creaks and clicks when it's squeezed that you might find on cheaper big phones. The volume, camera and power buttons have a satisfying click to them, too. It won't survive a three-storey drop, but it's unlikely to crack in two if you plonk it on your desk too aggressively.
Around the edges you'll find a 3.5mm headphone jack and a micro USB port. Pop the case off -- a very awkward thing to do -- and you'll find slots for your SIM card and microSD card. I should note that you can't install apps to the microSD card. The phone has 8GB of storage, which is plenty of room for the essentials, but if you plan on storing a lot of music then you'll need to save it to an external card.
The Lumia 625 might be a lot bigger than the regular 620, but Nokia hasn't seen fit to increase the pixel count with it. It has the same 800x480-pixel resolution, but as they're spread over such a large area, it results in a pixel density of only 198 pixels per inch. Even up against the Lumia 620 (245ppi), that doesn't impress and against the Nexus 4's 320ppi, it's pretty laughable.
Unsurprisingly, fine text isn't very sharp. The Windows Phone tiles, while usually crisp and clear, have a fuzziness to their edges that's hard to ignore, particularly if you've spent much time with higher resolution devices. While the sheer size of the display gives plenty of room for videos and photos, the low amount of pixels means that high resolution pics lack the same eye-popping clarity you might hope for.
Its colours aren't awful but they really don't have the same richness seen on other Lumias. For the relatively affordable price, it's about what you should expect though. If you want a big screen to enjoy YouTube clips and the odd bit of Netflix and don't want to spend a lot, it'll be fine, but if you're after rich videos and luscious-looking movies, you won't be impressed.
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.