Nokia and partner Microsoft on Sept. 5 introduced the Nokia Lumia 920 and Nokia Lumia 820, the first Nokia smartphones to run Windows Phone 8. The two companies are making these smartphones their next major effort to carve out market share in a space dominated by Android-running devices and the Apple iPhone.
With the two new smartphones, Nokia is emphasizing technologies related to the display, the camera and charging, as well as focusing on exclusive applications. In a demonstration, the camera technology in particular-which uses stabilization technology that allows the camera’s shutter to stay open longer and so offer brighter, crisper shots at night, without introducing blur from finite hand movements-was impressive. Nokia says the Lumia 920 can take shots that used to be reserved for stand-alone SLR cameras.
But it will remain to be seen whether the devices, which are ultimately very similar in appearance to the original Lumia phones, can bring about necessary, aggressive changes for the phone maker.
Of course, Apple was criticized for following the iPhone 4 with the 4S, instead of a much different-looking iPhone 5, and the 4S still became the company’s best-selling model.
The flagship Lumia 920 features a 4.5-inch curved-glass PureMotion HD+ Super Sensitive touch display that responds to the touch of fingernails and gloved hands, as well as bare fingertips-another stand-alone feature-and offers enhanced readability in bright sunlight.
It has a 2,000mAh battery with integrated QI wireless charging-Nokia also showed off a line of accessories to display and enhance this feature-a 8.7MP camera with Nokia PureView image-stabilization technology and a 1.2MP camera with 720 high-definition video for video calls. There’s 1GB of RAM on board, 32GB of mass memory and 7GB of free SkyDrive storage.
The Lumia 920 will come in yellow, red, gray, white and black, in Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and Evolved High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) variants, and will feature near-field communications (NFC) technology, enabling it to do things like pair with a JBL speaker to stream music from the Nokia Music app while the device sits atop the speaker, wirelessly charging.
The lower-end Lumia 820 features a 4.3-inch ClearBlack OLED WVGA with Super Sensitive touch technology and the sunlight readability enhancements. Both phones run a 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 that Jo Harlow, Nokia’s vice president of Smart Devices, said is 30 percent more efficient than quad-core alternatives.
The battery is a 1,650mAh with Qi wireless charging, there’s an 8MP camera on the back, a VGA camera up-front, and 8GB of mass memory plus the free 7GB of SkyDrive storage. In addition to the 920’s color options, it will also come in cyan and purple.
Pricing and carrier information is still to come.
The New OS Took a Backseat to Features Specific to the Lumias
Both phones will run Windows Phones 8. And while Jo Belfiore, manager of Microsoft’s Windows Phone program, showed off a number of neat new features and details that can be customized, the new OS-which will also run on devices from Nokia competitors-took a backseat during the event to features specific to the Lumias.
There are applications that will be exclusive to the Lumias for a time-for example, a Red Bull app will be exclusive for nine months, and Vimeo and Angry Birds Roost apps for three months. There’s also a Nokia City Lens app that, when the camera is open to the street, overlays information about restaurants, hotels, public transportation and whatever else comes into the camera’s path.
There are also enhancements to Nokia’s Drive, Transport and Maps apps, which are now better linked and said to offer the “most comprehensive, integrated mapping experience of any smartphone,” according to Nokia, and partnerships with brands such as FatBoy, which has created a little charging pillow that Nokia suggests one keep couch-side, so that you and your phone can take a power nap together.
“New features with an evolution of a winning form factor can help Nokia stand out from both other Windows Phone vendors as well as other competitors. No consumer will mistake these phones for other devices on the market,” Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg told eWEEK.
“Nokia has shown that they can clearly be different, but they must show consumers that different is also better,” Gartenberg added. “Nokia is Microsoft’s best chance at being relevant in mobile and at the same time help to drive the overall Windows 8 story forward.”
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, after heartily shaking the hand of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, signed off by telling the audience, “This is Lumia, the world’s most innovative smartphone.”