Why Nokia's Lumia 930 is still a great Windows phone in 2017

It's not like we're getting any new Windows phone hardware right now, so I thought it'd be a good idea to go back in time and re-review one of my favorite Windows phones, the Lumia 930. I've rocked many Lumias in my time, including the 925 the 1520 and of course, the 950. But my all-time favorite Windows phone is the Lumia 930. So after three years, how is it holding up?

Lumia 930 tech specs

As a phone from 2014, its specifications on paper aren't going to impress. Still, it's by no means a badly spec'd device, even by today's standards.

  • Windows 10 Mobile
  • 2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 800 processor
  • 5-inch AMOLED 1080p display with Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 32GB of internal storage (no microSD)
  • 20MP PureView rear camera with ZEISS optics and dual LED flash
  • Qi wireless charging
  • 2.420 mAh battery
  • Size: 137 mm x 71 mm x 9.8 mm
  • Weight: 167 g
  • nano SIM

Design and hardware

The Lumia 930 holds up tremendously well design-wise, especially if you've looked after your device. The trend of metal and polycarbonate is still a popular one among hardware makers in 2017, so the 930 doesn't look dated. What's more, the Lumia 930 was available in several colors, including the usual crazy bright green and orange, as well as a more sensible white or black.

My original Lumia 930 was all black, which looked pretty professional and stealthy. I also ended up switching to a white and gold Lumia 930, which I think looked even better. I still have both my black Lumia 930 and white and gold Lumia 930, with barely any scratches or marks on either of them. There are a couple tiny chips here and there in the metal chassis on the gold one, likely due to a few drops during the time I was using it as my primary phone, but they still look and feel top notch.

Moving around to the front of the device, we're rocking a five-inch 1080p AMOLED display, which is still incredible to look in 2017. It may not be a 4K display, but at five inches 1080p is more than enough. And it's an AMOLED display so colors pop and blacks are pure. It really is still a great display, and it's one that I continue to enjoy using to this day. It even supports super-sensitive touch, which allows you to use the display with gloves on. The Lumia 950 doesn't support this.

Since the display is only five inches, the Lumia 930 is incredibly manageable. I can use this phone with one hand with ease, something that can't be said for the more popular 5.5-inch display size of 2016 and 2017. I actually prefer the 5-inch to 5.2-inch display size over the much larger 5.5-inch and 5.7-inch that hardware makers seem to opt for these days. It's refreshing to go back to these "smaller" phones while maintaining the same experience. I really do love how Windows 10 scales so well.

I also love the fact that the Lumia 930 features capacitive navigation buttons rather than on-screen buttons. I really dislike the on-screen buttons trend going on right now, and much prefer having them as dedicated buttons below the screen. Since this is a five-inch device, you want to make the most of the screen real estate you have, so having the buttons off the screen makes sense.

Something that doesn't hold up well on the Lumia 930 in 2017 is the old micro-USB charging port. Back in 2014, this was fine, but in 2017 it really is old and slow. I don't even have many micro-USB cables lying around anymore, making it somewhat of a hassle when I want to charge the phone. What's more, charging takes forever compared to a more modern USB-C powered device. You definitely want to remember to put your phone on a charger before you go to bed if you're still using a Lumia 930.

Finally, let's talk about the camera. I'd say the Lumia 930 camera is still a very capable shooter in 2017. If the 930 was your only phone, you wouldn't be disappointed with camera results. Nokia, back when it was building Windows phones, was the king of camera smartphones, and that legacy echoes on in 2017 with the 930. I also really like the two-stage camera button, something that you still don't see on many smartphones these days.

Software and performance

Windows Phone 8.1 rocked on the Lumia 930, so when the original Windows 10 Mobile launch came to older handsets, it was shocking to see how poorly optimized and buggy the software was on devices that originally shipped with Windows Phone 8.1. I admit, during the first six months of Windows 10 Mobile being available for the Lumia 930, things were pretty rough. Now, with the Creators Update, things are so much better.

No longer does the phone run hot for no reason, and no longer does the phone randomly reboot. Microsoft has improved most of the issues the Lumia 930 suffered from with the original Windows 10 Mobile launch, making for a much smoother and better-performing phone with Windows 10 and the Creators Update. Although it's still not "as fast" as Windows Phone 8.1 was, it's still pretty great and definitely bearable.

I find apps load fast enough for a Snapdragon 800 device, and they look great on the 1080p AMOLED panel. I definitely recommend upgrading to Windows 10 Mobile if you're still using Windows Phone 8.1 on a Lumia 930. A lot of the new Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps run better than older Windows Phone 8.1 apps, which technically means the phone runs faster when UWP is in play. Apps such as Twitter, Skype and our Windows Central app run much better.

That can't be said for other apps. A lot of Windows Phone 8.1 apps take a second or two longer to load up Windows 10 Mobile. I still think it's worth the upgrade, though, just for the newer, less-likely-to-be-pulled UWP apps.

Battery life is a different story. Microsoft was able to bring standby time back up to what it was on Windows Phone 8.1, at least for me. But battery during use still isn't as good as it could be. Perhaps that's because the battery in my Lumia 930 is now aging, but it definitely doesn't hold a charge for as long as it used to. It's not bad for me, I can still get through the working day, but there is some battery drain there.

Final thoughts

The Lumia 930 still holds up surprisingly well in 2017. With improvements being made to Windows 10 Mobile in the Creators Update, the Lumia 930 performs almost just as well as it did when it first launched. The camera is still great, the display is still tremendous, and the design is still the best of any Windows Phone ever released, in my opinion anyway.

While I might not recommend that someone buy a Lumia 930 new today (I don't even think you can anymore anyway), I'd definitely recommend one used, especially if you're on a tight budget and want to upgrade from a Lumia 630 or even a 920. For most Windows phone users, the Lumia 930 is still a great device, and it's one that I still love dearly.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter and Threads