Nokia, Microsoft Lumia Event Launches Significant iPhone 5 Alternative

NEWS ANALYSIS: Nokia's Lumia 920 promises to be a real alternative to the upcoming iPhone 5, without the legal exposure of Android, and with some features available nowhere else.

Nokia's launch of the Windows Phone 8 into Nokia's hardware, and in the process develop capabilities you really can't get elsewhere.

Much of the announcement focused on the new PureView camera that resides in the Lumia 920. This phone features more light-gathering capability for its camera than other phones, and it performs optical stabilization to make sure the photos are sharp. Other phones use digital stabilization for their cameras, or they don't use stabilization at all, and the difference, done right, is big. In Nokia's case, the 8MP camera has the entire optical system stabilized so that it all floats within the camera.

The Nokia 920's camera is intended to be a major differentiating factor between the smartphone and the Apple iOS and Google Android worlds. Whether it achieves this or not depends on two factors: How the 920's camera works in the real world, and what Apple introduces in the iPhone 5 on Sept. 12. Right now, there's no indication that the iPhone will have such a sophisticated optical system, but as is always the case with Apple, you just never know for sure.

The other major feature Nokia introduced is location services.

Nokia built on its already excellent products such as Nokia Drive and Nokia Map to include Nokia Transport, and in the process build an integrated location system that provides input to an augmented-reality system that in the demo seemed to work very well. Unlike most competitors, Nokia includes off-line maps as part of the software, which means that the Lumia 920 will avoid a major Achilles heel for smartphone navigation-the need to be connected to a cloud-based source of maps. The Nokia 920 will always have access to its maps even if you're out of range of a cell signal.

Nokia Transport is designed to work with public transportation systems, while Nokia Drive will provide turn-by-turn navigation. Both work with information available on transit-arrival times and traffic incidents to tell you what time you need to leave for work, or how to find your way around a train station, even if you're underground without a signal.

While these features don't really have much of an effect on the Nokia 920's ability to function as a phone, some of the other features, such as the 2,000mAh battery and the cordless charging system mean that you can have the phone available when you need it.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...