Nokia, with the roar and thrum of some old hot rod engines, has introduced the Lumia Icon, a high-end Windows Phone that will be available from Verizon Wireless Feb. 20 for $199.99 with a two-year contract.
The major selling points of the Lumia Icon are its four digital microphones, which can record, in undistorted stereo sound, the event a user is focused on while reducing background noise, and a 20-megapixel PureView camera, with an aperture of f/2.4, that can record in 1080p, features one-finger zoom with no loss to resolution, and makes it easy to share HD video to social networks.
To show off these features, Nokia released a video—shot with the Lumia Icon—of a Corvette Stingray and (what seems to be) an emerald-green Studebaker readying to drag race in the Las Vegas desert. When a pretty blonde stands between them, the video includes subtitles, emphasizing the revving motors drowning her out. But when she stands in front of the cars, ready to throw down her arms and start the race—and the person holding the phone turns his or her back to the cars—her voice is completely audible.
“Wherever you point the Nokia Lumia Icon, that’s where it focuses on capturing great audio,” she tells the camera.
To further prove its point (and to make crystal clear who its competition is), Nokia also shot a version comparing the Lumia Icon to the Samsung Galaxy S 4.
The Lumia Icon also runs Lumia Black, Nokia’s suite of photo and video apps that seem to be Nokia’s way of separating itself from the other Windows Phone devices in the Microsoft stables.
Nokia rolled out Black in mid-January and, a week later on the Nokia Conversations blog, told users: “Some of the changes that Black brought to the Windows Phone 8 operating system are hidden beneath the skin, making your phone run more smoothly. But a host of new options, upgrades and apps will have revolutionized your Nokia Lumia.”
The Lumia Icon features a 5-inch 1080p full HD display, and metal exterior and ceramic keys. It weighs 5.8 ounces and measures 5.39 by 2.79 by 0.39 inches. For context, the LG Nexus 5, another smartphone with a 5-inch display, measures 5.43 by 2.72 by 0.34 inches and weighs 4.6 ounces.
The width of the Lumia Icon is particularly notable, given that wireless charging technology (never a slimming feature) is on board, and so are near-field communication (NFC) technology and a battery that Nokia says can last “all day.”
To store one’s inevitable trove of HD videos, the Lumia Icon comes with 32GB of on-board storage and 7GB of cloud storage on Microsoft’s SkyDrive.
Along with Instagram—a key win for the Windows Phone last November—the Lumia Icon features Vine, Mint, Nokia Mix Radio, Beats Music, Waze, and Nokia’s Here Drive and Here Maps, as well as its Creative Studio app for personalizing photos.
Microsoft Stores are now taking preorders for the phone, and those who purchase an Icon before March 16 will additionally receive a free wireless charging accessory.
Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Nokia’s handset division, and new CEO Satya Nadella has said he intends to focus on “devices and services.”
It’s rumored that, at the upcoming Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, Nokia will introduce its first Android smartphone—a midtier device that was in development before Microsoft began its acquisition. Nokia has a press conference scheduled for Feb. 24.