September’s the season of new mobile handset launches, as you might have noticed by now, and Nokia just got over with its press event focused on its Lumia range of phones.
The Finnish company announced two Windows Phone 8 handsets, the Lumia 920 and the Lumia 820, targeted at the high and mid end smartphone audience respectively.
The Lumia 920 comes with a 4.5 inch 1280 x 768 pixels display, a 1.5GHz dual core processor, a 2000mAh battery, an 8.7 MP camera sensor, wireless charging and NFC capabilities. Its design is very similar to its predecessor, the Lumia 900, with a polycarbonate body available in bright colors.
The 8.7MP camera sensor incorporates some great optical image stabilisation and light capturing mechanisms, which the company collectively calls the “PureView” camera. This is contrary to earlier expectations of Nokia bundling a 41MP sensor in Windows Phone devices and adding image downsampling techniques to enhance quality, as it did on the original Symbian based PureView phone.
Nonetheless, Nokia’s PureView technology in the Lumia 920 is really impressive. Optical Image stabilisation is done with the help of springs attached to the camera lens unit, which in itself is quite an amazing feat. A comparison of Nokia’s stabilisation tech with (presumably) a Galaxy S3, as shown off in its press event, absolutely blew away Samsung’s flagship Android device, the Galaxy S3. Even Apple has some image stabilisation tech built into recent iOS devices, but it utilises the gyroscope and other motion sensors rather than directly stabilising the lens.
Nokia also added another feature to its Lumia line of smartphones that hasn’t really caught on with the rest of the industry – wireless charging. Dedicated plates on the back of the device, when placed on a charging accessory, would wirelessly, via induction, charge the device. Although the reliance on a charging plate means that the device has to be within a certain range, it’s still better than having cable clutter.
Nokia also highlighted the 4.5 inch 1280×768 display on the Lumia 920 as a selling point, promising smoother scrolling thanks to high screen refresh rates, crisp text with a pixel density of 332ppi (the iPhone 4S is 326ppi), automatic color adjustments in response to sunlight, and a capacitive touchscreen that works with gloves. The Verge did a brief hands-on with the device and they had this to say about the device’s screen:
The curved, Gorilla Glass-coated 4.5-inch display is a huge improvement over the 900, and thanks to Nokia’s ClearBlack and PureMotion HD+ technologies it’s one of the more impressive LCD displays we’ve seen. Its 1280 x 768 resolution is even denser than most 720p displays, though part of the screen is dedicated to on-screen capacitive buttons. The display looks amazing: It has deep blacks and impressive contrast, and Windows Phone’s Start Screen looks vivid and colorful on the device.
Nokia also announced the Lumia 820, another Windows Phone 8 handset with an 800 x 480 4.3″ screen, the same processor as the Lumia 920, NFC and wireless charging. The device skips some of the PureView features included in the Lumia 920, in favor of a smaller price tag, which Nokia hasn’t yet announced. Nor has it given a specific release date for the general availability of the two handsets.
Both the handsets come in a variety of bold colours like Yellow, Cyan, “Lipstick Red,” and “Seductive Gray.”
Nokia’s PureView tech and wireless charging coupled with Windows Phone’s tile based, colorful interface clearly differentiate itself from its competitors, including Apple, but that doesn’t guarantee outright success for the company. Investors in particular, didn’t seem to be especially impressed with Nokia’s series of announcements, as the company’s stock dipped by more than 10% during the course of the event.
Apple bringing wireless charging to iPhones would be pretty awesome, since charging is one of the very few activities you need a cable for these days. With Wireless Sync, AirPlay, over-the-air software updates almost all regular activities can anyways be done wirelessly.