You might have noticed a brouhaha over map accuracy in iOS 6. Nokia undoubtedly did, as it’s using the iPhone 5 launch to remind us that its strategy has been all about location lately. The crew in Espoo has pitted Nokia Maps from the Lumia 920 against both Apple’s equivalent as well as Google Maps — and to no one’s surprise, Nokia’s own platform comes out on top. In practice, it’s a relatively frank comparison that doesn’t try to win on every point. Nokia tends to use a liberal definition of the term “3D” that includes augmented reality, but it’s otherwise willing to emphasize its advantages in offline mapping and the sheer scope of its mapping coverage. Apple’s very young mapping effort struggles, while Nokia is willing to accept that it doesn’t have as much traffic coverage as Google. There is, however, the slight problem of the Lumia 920 not yet shipping: unless you’ve been blessed with a prototype of the Windows Phone 8 device, Apple and Google are the only ones that have their latest navigation software on a phone you can actually buy. Hit the source for the full, very tall chart as well as a few sly jabs at Nokia’s competitors.
As expected, Nokia has just announced the Lumia 820, a mid-range Windows Phone 8 smartphone. The 820 is powered by the same 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 and 1GB of RAM as the flagship Lumia 920, but will arrive with a smaller 4.3-inch WVGA OLED display, only 8GB of internal storage, and an eight-megapixel rear camera. The 8GB internal storage can be expanded via Windows Phone 8′s extended microSD functionality.
Both the Lumia 820 and the flagship 920 include Syanptics technology called Super Sensitive Touch that enables them to detect touch through gloves or fingernails in additional to traditional capacitive input. Nokia is introducing exchangeable covers for the Lumia 820, available in a range of hues, including yellow, cyan, purple, red, grey, white, and black. It’ll also sell covers that enable NFC, as well as wireless charging through its new range of charging accessories or any Qi-compatible hardware. As the covers are removable, so is the 820′s 1650mAh battery.
So last week we saw a whole bunch of new Nokia-related goodies. There were phones (of course), charging pillows, a slew of retailers offering charging stations, and a bevy of new apps. One thing that didn’t get a mention was the new Luna Bluetooth headsets. These may look familiar, but in keeping with the trend, these now also support wireless charging. As always, you have a near rainbow of color choices, and can expect up to eight hours talk time and 35 hours on standby. The NFC-enabled headsets do also have a micro-USB port, should you find yourself away from wireless power options. Sadly, no word on pricing and availability at this time.
As Nokia launches its Lumia 920, it’s also hoping to make its platform more attractive by working with major developers. The company announced deals with Bloomberg, Rovio, and others, offering new Windows Phone 8 versions of apps on other platforms or exclusive content for the Lumia line. Most prominently, Rovio and Nokia will release “Angry Birds Roost,” a companion app to the Angry Birds series with live tiles, walkthroughs, and other supplemental material. It’s exclusive to the Lumia line for the next three months, though we don’t imagine it will be one of the phone’s bigger selling points.
Several other apps take advantage of the Lumia’s NFC or offer exclusivity for a few months. A Windows Phone app for Bloomberg will be exclusive to Lumia phones for the first three months, while fashion app StyleSaint will remain Lumia-only for six months. File sharing app YouSendIt will add NFC that’s only on Lumia for three months, similar to the Michelin restaurant guide, which announced a similar deal with Nokia in March. Earlier today, the company also announced that it would partner with FourSquare to build a Batman-themed app, and that games like Where’s My Water? were coming to Windows Phone as well. This isn’t a new strategy, but it’s one that could help convince potential buyers that even if Windows Phone doesn’t match up with Android and iOS in sheer app quantity, they won’t be hurting for options.
Nokia has officially unveiled its new flagship smartphone, the Lumia 920. As expected, Nokia’s new Lumia has received a bump in specs over the previous iteration, with a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual core processor, a slightly larger 4.5-inch curved glass display with a 768 x 1280 resolution, a 2,000mAh battery, and the new Windows Phone 8 operating system. Nokia is calling its new display the “PureMotion HD+,” and says that it’s the “best smartphone display innovation” the company has ever made, with “better than HD resolution” and fast refresh rates — Nokia says it’s the “brightest smartphone HD display ever,” and also the “fastest LCD display ever shipped on a smartphone.” Nokia is also touting the PureMotion HD+’s daylight viewing capabilities, and says that the phone’s color tone and brightness automatically responds to sunlight.
Nokia says the new Lumia will come in “vibrant colors” (the yellow, red, white, grey, and black pictured above), and features a one-piece polycarbonate body. As expected, Nokia is also pulling a couple of tricks out of its sleeve: it’s adding wireless charging for the Lumia 920, built on the Qi wireless power standard. Nokia is also incorporating its “PureView” camera technology, but just don’t get too excited: we’re looking at an 8.7 megapixel sensor in the 920, not the 41 megapixels in the PureView 808. Nokia says the 920 features a “floating lens” optical image stabilization system that allows for sharper photographs in low-light situations, a better app and camera interface, and 1080p video recording.
CEO Stephen Elop declined to give specific pricing or release dates, but he did say that Nokia would be entering “select markets” with “intense focus” in Q4 of 2012.
Ahead of Nokia’s Windows Phone event, there’s been plenty of discussion about the Lumia 920′s PureView classification, and though the camera’s pixel count remains TBA, we’re still getting a few sneak peeks at the upcoming hardware. Yesterday, leaked press photos of a Lumia wireless charging pad suggested that the new phone will be available in yellow and red. Based on a tweet from EVLeaks today, it looks like the Lumia 920 will be available in a few additional shades: white, grey and black. EVLeaks previously tweeted pics of the Lumia 820 in seven different hues, so it looks like we’re in for a (ahem) colorful event tomorrow.
With just a day to go, Nokia has pushed out another brief teaser, this time pointing towards more map-based contextual functionality. It looks like whatever the company’s got up its sleeves, alongside any new Lumia hardware, should include some map-based social network chops and City Lens features — not much of a shocker given that the latter has just shed its beta status.
That was quick: we’d heard rumors through The Verge of wireless charging coming to the repeatedly leaked Lumia 920 alongside a pseudo-PureView camera, and the mysterious @evleaks has come through with what looks to be press photos showing the wireless charging pad in action. As long as they’re more than just wild imaginings, they reveal a puck-like surface that could juice up both the Lumia 920 and the less ambitious 820. We don’t know much more about the charger, although it’s expected to use Qi and wouldn’t limit the phones and pad to coupling solely with each other. We’ll know the bigger picture on September 5th; in the meantime, check after the break for a bonus picture showing both Windows Phone 8 devices with an unnamed Bluetooth headset (likely a Luna variant) that might join the charger in Nokia’s accessory line.
Nokia first kicked off the City Lens beta back in May. That was just four months ago, but it feels like an eternity in the mobile space. The wait has come to a welcome (if abrupt) end with the finished version quietly reaching the Windows Phone Marketplace for Lumia owners. From initial appearances, the augmented reality app is functionally the same as its test edition. Point the camera and you’ll be shown points of interest in your field of view, with ratings and directions to get you on your way — if you’ve seen Yelp’s Monocle mode, you’ll know the score. Don’t be surprised if the source link doesn’t initially work, as City Lens is slowly trickling out to Microsoft’s servers, but do expect a quicker trip to the sushi bar when the app is in your hands.
Yes, we want PureView technology in at least one of Nokia’s forthcoming Lumias. But let’s be specific: it needs to be that same type of PureView that helps the 808 to take such amazing images, with something at least similar to that 41-megapixel sensor. That’s why it’s slightly perturbing to hear The Verge’s suggestion from “sources familiar with the matter” that the Lumia 920 will ship with a paltry 8-megapixel version of PureView, which doesn’t sound like it could deliver the same noise reduction or lossless zoom or other powers. With the expected announcement just two days distant, let’s hope it ain’t so.