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May 14, 2013

Nokia’s first metal Windows Phone arrives. Meet the sexy Lumia 925

Nokia’s design team is on fire lately. Just days after unveiling a sleek new addition to its Windows Phone 8 flagship line—the Verizon-bound Lumia 928—the company today took the wraps off another innovative new model at a highly-anticipated London press event today. (Watch the replay.)

There’s a lot to say about the new Lumia 925, but let’s start here: The first Windows Phone to incorporate aluminum into the design is something to hold and behold. The second thing to know is that the phone will come with the latest Windows Phone 8 update that adds FM radio support and a handful of other goodies—extras that existing Windows Phone 8 owners will ultimately be offered, too. (More on that in a moment.)

The Lumia 925, which also includes an advanced new camera, will debut in June on Europe’s Vodafone network, then head to China Mobile and China Unicom. It’s scheduled to launch on T-Mobile in the U.S. later this year, Nokia said. In Europe, the phone will cost around 469 euros before taxes and subsidies.

Nokia Lumia 925

Why metal?

All of Nokia’s Windows Phone 8 models to date have been made with sturdy polycarbonate plastic. Adding metal to the mix opened up a new world of design possibilities for Nokia engineers. Metal supplies strength, saves weight, and allows designers to sculpt a thinner, more tapered edge. It also helps deliver better antenna performance, Nokia says. (Learn more about its construction.)

The new Lumia 925 sports many of the same specs and hardware that helped earn its sibling, the Lumia 920, Smartphone of the Year honors from Engadget this year. It has a 4.5-inch AMOLED WXGA touchscreen with curved Gorilla Glass 2, 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 16 GB of internal memory, and a beefy 2000 mAh battery. Nokia Lumia 925 will be available in white, grey and black matte. Wireless charging snap-on covers will come in white, black, yellow and red. Here’s a little peek at how it all comes together.

Introducing Nokia Smart Camera

But the real star of the show is the phone’s 8.7 megapixel PureView camera with optical image stabilization and dual LED flash. The Lumia 925 continues to evolve this critically-acclaimed camera and push the boundaries of what’s possible on a smartphone, thanks to its advanced new lens design and new imaging algorithms.

I never realized that a smartphone lens is actually a sandwich of glass, but the Lumia 925’s camera now includes a sixth physical lens—an industry first. This means the phone’s Carl Zeiss optics are able to take in five times more light than competing smartphones for sharp, naturally-colored images and 1080p HD video, even under challenging conditions. The video above offers a glimpse of how this new lens is constructed. The Lumia 925’s onboard imaging software algorithms have also been tweaked to help make the camera perform even better in low light, and to improve color reproduction and reduce noise in shots.

Another cool innovation in the Lumia 925 is its new Smart Camera feature, which captures ten 5-megapixel shots in a short burst and then lets you edit them using one-touch editing options like Best Shot, Action Shot, Change Faces, and Motion Focus. Check out the video below to see what I mean. Then head over to the Nokia Conversations blog, which has an even more detailed post today showing how Smart Camera works. Another nice touch: The Lumia 925 lets you set Nokia Smart Camera as your default camera interface so you can open straight to it just by pushing the camera button.

Nokia says Smart Camera—as well as the new under-the-hood imaging algorithms—will roll out to all its Lumia models with Windows Phone 8 as part of a future update the company is calling Nokia Lumia Amber.

Windows Phone 8 update coming this summer

Speaking of updates. As I mentioned earlier, the Lumia 925 comes with the latest update to the Windows Phone 8 operating system that includes a small number of improvements and upgrades. (It’s similar in size to the one we delivered earlier this year, which brought new Wi-Fi and messaging improvements like the ability to text a reply to an incoming call.)

The new update, which is expected to start rolling out to existing Windows Phone 8 phones later this summer, brings back support for FM radio (we heard you!) and makes the Data Sense feature of Windows Phone 8 available for more carriers to offer. The update also makes it easier to select, download, and pin tunes in Xbox Music and improves the accuracy of song info and other metadata—something I know music fans will appreciate. (FM Radio and Data Sense availability depend on your phone model and carrier.)

The update includes hundreds of other small quality improvements. One final one worth highlighting, as we announced earlier, is that the update also ensures Windows Phone continues to work with Google services by adding support for the company’s newest sync protocols—CalDAV and CardDAV.

Make sure to check out Nokia’s official blog for more coverage and photos of the new Lumia 925.