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9/5/2012
01:12 PM
Eric Zeman
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Nokia Lumia 820, 920: Windows Phone 8 Details Scarce

Nokia's Lumia 920 and 820 smartphones have innovative features. But it's disconcerting that Microsoft isn't ready to show all that Windows Phone 8 has to offer.

Nokia has been dropping not-so-subtle hints that Wednesday's big Lumia smartphone reveal was the Big Event. It teased Samsung about its first Windows Phone 8 device, and even took to Twitter to thumb its nose at Android. Sadly, the news didn't quite have the impact that perhaps Nokia--and more importantly, Microsoft--had hoped for.

Nokia introduced two phones, both of which run Windows Phone 8: the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820. In terms of specs and features, Nokia did its best to differentiate them from the crowded smartphone masses. Both come in multiple colors on polycarbonate shells.

[ For more on the anticipated new smartphones from Nokia and Motorola, see Motorola And Nokia Smartphones: What To Expect. ]

Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia Lumia 920

The 920 offers a 4.5-inch display with curved glass and Nokia's "ClearBlack" technology. This makes for richer contrast and deeper blacks. The display has 1280 x 768 pixels and runs what Nokia bills as PureMotion technology to reduce blur and increase clarity. Last, the display uses new Synaptics technology that renders the device usable even when the user is wearing gloves (or mittens, as demonstrated).

Nokia spent a lot of time talking about the camera. It's an 8-megapixel shooter that uses Nokia's PureView technology. Nokia explained that the entire camera module is mounted on springs to reduce shake. It also has a wide aperture and other low-light imaging characteristics to improve overall performance.

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore provided a deep dive into the camera's many features, which include some really cool software lenses and effects that can be applied. It is fast, offers a neat burst-shot mode, and can--sort of--create GIFs (animated still images) on the fly.

Nokia continued to demonstrate its commitment to location-based services. The 920 will include GPS and Nokia's entire suite of location and navigation apps, including Nokia Transport, Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive, and Nokia Traffic. Together, they're powerful tools that will work even when there is no network connection available.

Other features of the 920 include a big battery, near-field communications for easier device pairing and content sharing, and wireless inductive charging.

Nokia Lumia 820
Nokia Lumia 820

The Lumia 820 is a step down in terms of technology, but it is still a decent device in its own right. It has a 4.3-inch display, an 8-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens, and removable, customizable plastic backings. The screen offers a mediocre resolution, at 800 x 480 pixels, and the device has less distinctive styling than the 920. Both devices are powered by the same 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 chip from Qualcomm.

By themselves, the new Lumia 920 and 820 are fine devices. So what's missing? Details about Windows Phone 8. At this point, Nokia has proven that it can churn out differentiated hardware. What we really need to know from Microsoft is how it is going to sell Windows Phone 8 to consumers. With no details to speak of, Microsoft's next-gen platform is still mostly unknown.

Microsoft's Belfiore showed a few more details about the platform, but most of them were centered on the camera experience and the home screen experience. He also talked a bit about Internet Explorer 10's new HTML5 powers. Microsoft didn't, however, offer any nitty-gritty details on other new user-facing features of Windows Phone 8--for example, what's different about the email app? How have the settings controls been revised? How deep is social networking integration? And what about that vital enterprise support?

Based on the lack of such details, it would appear that Microsoft isn't ready to tell us everything about Windows Phone 8 just yet. With the devices and platform expected within the next eight weeks, it's disconcerting that Microsoft isn't ready to show all that Windows Phone 8 has to offer.

Did Nokia put on a good event? Sure. Did it show us some cool new devices? Yes. But it didn't provide a complete picture of what the new phones really have to offer.

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Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/8/2012 | 8:37:23 PM
re: Nokia Lumia 820, 920: Windows Phone 8 Details Scarce
I think I see what's going on here... manufacturers are showing off the hardware but really not getting the details across regarding the Windows 8 platform.

What I think they may be gearing up for is releasing everything at once and showing how all of the platforms (phone, tablet, PC) work together for the consumer. How it's easy to use the phone to download content, the tablet to view it on a larger screen and then put it on the PC to modify it - or sync content between the three, etc. That sort of thing.

One of the things that I think could really make an impact on the consumer is having Microsoft show how its new platform can work to make things simpler for the end user. One way of doing things across all of your devices, having everything work the same from one device to the next, and so on.

If they could pull that off, they really may be able to out-Apple Apple.

However, a good many of us are sitting on the sidelines and waiting for this to all come together before jumping on board what may turn into the Titanic. I'm thinking that unless this really goes well and Nokia sees a major boost, you're going to see Nokia and RIM end up together when Windows Mobile gets fully abandoned.

Nevertheless, things are going to end up getting quite interesting...

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
worleyeoe
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worleyeoe,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/8/2012 | 12:17:49 PM
re: Nokia Lumia 820, 920: Windows Phone 8 Details Scarce
Um, Eric, it's quite obvious that MS wants to have the last word / buzz after the iPhone / mini iPad are released. It IS the reason why details about WP8 and Surface have yet to be announced. Be patient, grasshopper.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/7/2012 | 12:45:55 PM
re: Nokia Lumia 820, 920: Windows Phone 8 Details Scarce
My reaction was driven by the fact that the author's total body of work reporting on Nokia/MS (limited as it is) is generally negative in every case. The press has a great deal of influence on buying habits of customers. Constantly denigrating a new platform for unfounded reasons or unmet personal expectations about a presentation does no good.

Here's a link to what's in WP8 for those who don't know anymore than scant details:

windowsteamblog.com/windows_ph...
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/6/2012 | 8:17:15 PM
re: Nokia Lumia 820, 920: Windows Phone 8 Details Scarce
You only have to read the headline to Eric's piece to know in an instant that this another one of several (he doesn't write much about WP) articles where Eric shows his negative bias against the platform. I have not read a single positive article from him about WP. Maybe my expectations are too high. Or maybe he's just too in love with all things Apple and Android.

The Press has a lot to do with how people form their opinions and ultimately buying decisions. Constant negativity about WP does not help the platform succeed.

If you want insight into what WP8 is all about, then read Joe's blog about it (from back in June no less). There is plenty of detail (at least in this article) about what is coming so I really don't understand what all the "mystery" there is in people's minds. A simple Google or Bing search will bring it to light.

http://windowsteamblog.com/win...
ANON1237925156805
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ANON1237925156805,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/6/2012 | 7:52:20 PM
re: Nokia Lumia 820, 920: Windows Phone 8 Details Scarce
I don't understand prior posters' reactions. Mr. Zeman is simply stating what he feels needs to happen for some very good devices to succeed.

Nokia's engineering and design are sceond to none-no matter the underlying OS. Mr. Zeman stated clearly that he appreciates the hardware. Hardware differentiation can tip the scales, other things being equal.

The OS is an integral part of any purchase decision; in that respect things aren't equal. Windows 8 isn't nearly as known as its competitors. Trust is low given that Windows 7 has been dead ended so quickly. Windows 8 for the mobile phone is different enough from both Win 7 Mango and Windows 8 for other platforms that it needs to be thoroughly introduced.

Arguably that's not Nokia's job but Microsoft's. Because Microsoft has stuck with its PC model in the smartphone space what we've got is a "closed" OS that has the same implementation on all devices so the kind of integrated demos that Apple and RIM do or even the partially integrated ones that Android mfrs do don't make sense.

On the other hand you can't introduce an OS except to show it working on a device. So Microsoft needs to team up with a key OEM and show us Windows 8 on a mobile phone in action. Surely Nokia would have been the logical choice for this. Didn't happen. Instead the only software Nokia seems to have demoed was lenses for the camera.

Get real. It's a lot of work to migrate to a smartphone with a different OS. Data has to be migrated, apps replaced, etc. Folks aren't going to make that effort just to maybe get better pictures in selected situations. For these undoubtedly fabulous Nokia devices to reach their potential, users need to know why it's worth moving to Windows 8 from wherever they are now.

Users who care about Microsoft's succeeding should be urging them to get as specific as they can as soon as they can; the make or break holiday season is hurtling towards us.
AustinIT
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AustinIT,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/6/2012 | 2:23:59 PM
re: Nokia Lumia 820, 920: Windows Phone 8 Details Scarce
Once again Eric takes an opportunity to more or less bash Nokia/MS. This time with a "Special Alert" email no less. This was largely Nokia's event not Microsoft's. So, Eric, please quit projecting your unmet expectations as weaknesses on Nokia's or Microsoft's part. I believe that Nokia and Microsoft have created a truly great platform. And, the Lumia series with WP7 is quite amazing for a first effort market entry. I expect the 920 and WP8 to be even better.

With all that said, let me do my own bashing since the cat is already out of the bag. Nokia and Microsoft MUST do a better job of marketing. This has always been their (in particular Microsoft's) achilles heel... yesterday's presentation not withstanding. They flubbed some of the demo's, took too long on certain portion's, did not present a complete and cohesive message, and ultimately failed to create that "gotta have it" buzz that Apple is so good at doing. This is no slight to the underly platform. However, if Nokia/MS want to succeed, they have to win customers by creating and marketing a platform ecosystem that users truly feel good and confident about.

btw - the camera on the 920 (Pureview) uses a 41 megapixel sensor that reduces the image down to 5 megapixels. Not 8mp as Eric stated. It's a 7 to 1 reduction with some sophisticated processing going on to achieve the best image quality yet. If you want more accurate info, other than what was reported, go to Nokia's website and get all the details.
Britinca
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Britinca,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/5/2012 | 8:53:18 PM
re: Nokia Lumia 820, 920: Windows Phone 8 Details Scarce
"Sadly, the news didn't quite have the impact that perhaps Nokia--and more importantly, Microsoft--had hoped for." Really? Read the rest of your own article! I call that pretty exciting stuff. I watched the whole thing on the webcast and apart from Ballmer I was really impressed. I can't wait to upgrade from my WP7 - which I love. I agree we need more info on WP8 but what is out there looks terrific. I guess unless it says Apple or Android on it, it hasn't a chance, eh?
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