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What’s new with Microsoft and Nokia’s Windows Phone 8 devices, Lumia 920 and 820

In an New York event, Nokia and Microsoft announced the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 based on the latest Microsoft’s mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8. Lets take a look at what these two new phones bring to the table and what changes these phones will make in the market.

In anticipation for the upcoming release of Microsoft’s newest mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8, Microsoft and Nokia took the stage to unveil a set of devices that will be shipped with WP8. About 18 months ago after the CEO of Nokia, Stephen Elop, announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to introduce innovate hardware based on a strong ecosystem of gaming, entertainment, services, mapping and software system, Nokia introduced its first Window Phone-based line of devices, the Lumia. While the devices were highly praised for their unique design and build-quality, Nokia was not able to capture substantial share of the mobile market but there was continuous year-over-year growth. With the new release of the new set of devices, Lumia 920 and 820, Nokia is hoping to capture the mind of consumers with new flagship smartphones; but what is really new?

Hardware Perspective

While the first and second generation of Windows Phone devices had certain hardware support limitations (i.e. single core processor), in part due the underpinning of the kernel upon which the mobile operating system was built and Microsoft’s intention to limit hardware fragmentation, the new Windows Phone 8, built on shared Windows Core, has allowed Nokia to build the Lumia 920 and 820 with newer and more-powerful multicore processors. The Lumia 920 will come with a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, 1 GB of RAM, 32Gb of storage, and on the other hand, the Lumia 820 will come with 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, a 8 GB of internal storage with microSD support for additional storage. Comparatively to the flagship Android-based phone, notably the Galaxy S III, the Lumia 920 comes with equal processing power that are found in high-end Android-based phones today. Since the iPhone 5 has yet to be announced, no comparison cannot be made between the processing power of the Lumia 920 and the new iPhone, but they are expected to relatively be the same unless Apple has something special under its sleeve. The Lumia 920 comes with gigantic 4.5-inch display, large enough for a smartphone but not the largest. The Lumia 820 comes with a smaller 4.3-inch display and specifications that match with existing hardware from Samsung, HTC and Apple. In a way, Nokia, with the release of the two new devices (Lumia 920 and 820) will bring phones that are equally level with existing phones from their competitors including other Microsoft’s OEM partners.

Software Perspective

The Lumia 920/820 devices will be based on Windows Phone 8, which has yet to be released by Microsoft while the existing line of Lumia devices (900, 800, 710 and 610) will be updated to a variant Window Phone 7.8. Although Nokia was able to show some of the features that will be introduced with Windows Phone 8, notably the new Start Screen, not much else has been revealed in terms of Windows Phone 8 consumer features. In terms of application, it was already known that the existing portfolios of applications , which have been developed for Windows Phone 7 and 7.5, will also run on Windows Phone 8; which means that on day one, Windows Phone 8 will have over 100,000 application available to downloaded as well as specifically developed applications for Windows Phone 8. Although the Android and Apple have significantly more applications, Nokia has taken the initiative to have key applications for the Windows Phone platform (CNN, Angry Birds, ESPN and EA) and exclusive application for Nokia devices hoping to lure consumers that choose to get into the Windows Phone ecosystem and consumers that are already established on other platforms. In the New York event, Nokia announced key applications that will be exclusive, although for limited time, with the set of new devices including application for Bloomberg, Angry Birds Roost, YouSendIt. ( See more on Nokia’s website).

Imaging Technology

On the introductory part of the New York event, Elop, the CEO of Nokia, made the point that Nokia wanted to innovate and offer consumers devices that are unique with their design and distinctiveness. The imaging technology that is packed with the Lumia 920 is probably among its greatest differentiator among any smartphone on the market. With the PureView technology, Nokia promises the best picture-taking experience compared to any other smartphone. In fact, Nokia for quite some time has been known for its advanced mobile imaging technology although the Lumia 900 that came with the Carl Zeiss optic was not as impressive as it was advertised, the new PureView technology with optical image stabilizer promises great picture-taking experience which comes with the Lumia 920. The PureView will allow to capture great pictures even in low-light setting. Some of the technology that comes with the PureView are high sensors that offers true 19:9/4:3 aspects ratios and the latest generation of BSI sensor with 1.4 micro of pixel. There is also some high performance Carl Zeiss optics with allow high resolution capturing and super wide angles. With the on stage demonstration that compared pictures taken by the Lumia 920 and other smartphones that are currently available on the market, it was ostensibly undeniable that the Lumia offers a much better picture quality. On the other hand, the Lumia 820 will come with 8 MP Carl Zeiss optics. Both devices are able to capture full 1080p video at a range of 30FPS which put them on par with existing Android-based and iPhone devices.

Accessories

In the brave new world of smartphone, there is a war in the ecosystem that included not only the devices but also the accessories that came along with the devices. One of the high marks of the iPhone is the availability of plethora of different accessories. Nokia, with the release of the Lumia 920 and 820, is attempting to bring a set of unique and cool accessories that are specifically design for its flagship device. One of the accessories is a wireless charging device that will work with the Lumia 920. Wireless charging devices are not really new ideas. Palm introduced it with its Palm Pre, but what sets Nokia wireless charger plates apart is the support for Qi standard. It is worth nothing that with Windows Phone 8 having shared Windows Core, NFC (Near Field Communication) is now supported in WP8 which in turn allows Nokia to build these types of accessories. At the event, Nokia demonstrated the JBL Wireless Charging Speakers with connect to the phone through the NFC capabilities that are built into the core of WP8. There was also Nokia wireless charging pillow by Fatboy. The Lumia 820 will also support will work with the wireless charging plate through a charging shell that comes in variant colors. There is also the Nokia Purity Pro Headset by Monster that is specifically built for the new line of Lumia devices. Comparatively, some of the existing Android-based smartphones support NFC while the iPhone does not support it yet, although this is expected soon with the new iPhone that is expected to be released soon.

What is missing?

Although the new line of Lumia devices are quite impressive based on their unique design, with new mapping with augmented reality experience that will be available, Nokia missed its chance to announce price and availability; which was not surprising. First, Microsoft has yet to announce when Widows Phone 8 will be available. It would have been surprising if Nokia actually announced any day of availability. While Nokia is pushing Windows Phone 8 with its distinctive devices, Nokia is not the only OEM with whom Microsoft is partnering. Samsung announced its first Windows Phone 8 devices with no price nor launch day. Additionally, Windows Phone 8 is not completely feature-revealed. The intent of the event was probably to spur excitement with what coming prior to the launch of the new iPhone next week.

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