When discussing iconic Lumia devices, we all remember the Lumia 800, the Lumia 920, and the Lumia 1520. All of these phones shined very brightly when they first came out, but not many people talk about the Lumia 930… Which is a bit ironic considering the Lumia 930 was a rebranded Lumia Icon from the US market!
In fact, around the time the 930 came out, all the rumors were talking about the Nokia Mclaren, a prototype phone that was able to sense your fingers even before you touched the display. Nokia was working around the clock to make the technology work perfectly for the mass market, and the Mclaren was supposed to be that halo device that brings the wow factor the Lumia 920 had. If you haven’t already, go and watch Mr Mobile’s video about the Mclaren. It’s definitely worth your time. The Mclaren sadly never made it into production…
And instead of the Mclaren, we ended up with the Lumia 930 as the flagship device. Boring right? Yes, The 930 might have been boring on paper, but it’s probably my favorite Lumia device. Ever. So why is that?
Like every iconic Nokia Lumia story, it all starts with the design. And Nokia nailed it.
When I first saw the promo video, I wasn’t sold on it… at all in fact. But when I first got my hands on it, I immediately fell in love. The design of the Lumia 930 is minimalism perfected. There isn’t a single design element that doesn’t have a purpose.
The edges were made out of a thick layer of aluminum, and that made it feel like an absolute tank. No fancy curves or chamfers, just pure, thick, smooth aluminum. I’ve actually dropped mine a couple of times, and it still holds up brilliantly. The back? Well, it was made out of polycarbonate, a Lumia trademark. Not only did it come in eccentric colors, like my absolute favourite green here and an orange version, alongside traditional black and white options, but it also meant the phone had wireless charging, and best of all, despite having a large camera sensor on the back, the camera lies flush with the rest of the body, All thanks to some very clever curves on the back that hide its actual thickness.
The front had a curved gorilla glass that seamlessly blends into the aluminum frame. And when powered on, the 5″ 1080p OLED display with Clearblack technology and Windows Phone’s dark interface and live tiles were a combination made in heaven. This, alongside the compact form factor, made the 930 a joy to hold, and a joy to look at. And windows phone, despite its flaws and limited app selection, ran like a dream on the Snapdragon 800 processor with 2 gigs of RAM. As smooth as it can get.
Then there was the 20 Megapixel PureView camera with OIS, which tried to blend between the large optics of the Lumia 1020’s 41 megapixel beast and the manageable size of the 8.7 megapixel sensor found on the Lumia 920. And it worked brilliantly. Images captured were excellent, and still hold up quite well, even in low light. The color science and cool HDR effects still work very well even today. And capturing 4k Video with Nokia’s class-leading rich recording still works like a charm. This camera sensor might not have been new as it’s the same one found on the Lumia 1520, but it was still class-leading. And it formed the base for the Lumia 950’s excellent image quality under Microsoft.
So where did it go wrong?
I think some of that comes down to timing, and a lot of it comes down to expectations. The Lumia 930 didn’t really break any new grounds unlike its predecessor’s long list of innovations. No attention-grabbing feature… like a crazy 41mp camera for example. Looking at its spec sheet for example. Its spec were recycled specs from the Lumia 1520, and its rollout to the global markets was bumpy and very late. The battery life was also mediocre for its class.
What also didn’t help was that Nokia decided to sell their Mobile division to Microsoft only a few months before releasing the Lumia 930. This was also why Nokia marketed the device very shyly, and it never got the attention it deserved. Things have already been set in stone for the Nokia Lumia brand.
Anyways, if there is a design language I would love to see on modern Nokia phones, the Lumia 930 and the Lumia 925 is the kind of direction I think they can follow. Minimalism done right and a perfect mixture of materials and colors. HMD please watch this :).