The Next Web was reporting Live from Nokia’s ‘Switch to Lumia’ launch event in New York today, and the Finnish mobile giant had a couple of product announcements up its sleeve. While the broader subject area was of little surprise, the finer nuances contained within the announcement were. Largely, at least.
Indeed, we knew it was coming, but taking to the stage in front of a packed New York crowd this morning, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop kicked off proceedings with an opening gambit, before Jo Harlow, Executive Vice President, unveiled the Nokia Lumia 920 – with a 4.5-inch curved glass screen.
The big news? Well, the handset has near-field communication (NFC) integrated for starters, which means you can use it to pay for small-value items in outlets with NFC terminals installed. Then there’s PureView HD – the “most immersive viewing experience on any smartphone””, as Harlow put it. She noted that the PureView tech in the 920 captures up 20 times as much light as normal sensors. It reacts to the movements in a user’s hand to balance the lens – more light means brighter, clearer images. “It’s another example of how Nokia challenges point and shoot cameras,” she said.
Indeed, with the 920, a large portion of the demo was given over to the 920′s ‘PureView’ tech, and software tricks like Windows Phone 8′s software lenses.
Then there was Nokia City Lens – augmented reality designed to ensure you can locate the nearest restaurant or cafe, and make reservations. Nokia Maps will also get augmented reality on Windows Phone 8, giving users directions and key landmarks along the way.
With wireless charging and Super Sensitive Touch thrown into the mix – a new feature that lets you use the handset with gloves on – the 920 looks like an impressive offering. It’s due for release in Q4, 2012, and you can see our hands-on with the device here.
In a separate but related announcement today, AOL’s ‘Entrance’ was also launched, bringing music, news and augmented reality to Nokia Lumia smartphones.
The 920 has a little brother – Nokia also unveiled the Lumia 820 at the event today, a Windows Phone 8 smartphone with a 4.3-inch display and a slot for microSD cards, alongside a standard 8GB of internal storage and a 1.5GHz dual-core S4 processor.
For photographers, the Lumia 820 also has an 8 megapixel camera on the back, enhanced with Carl Zeiss optics, as well as full HD (1080p) video capture at 30 frames per second. Not bad.
Visually the Lumia 820 uses a new, interchangeable shell design, allowing users to switch between a striking array of colours at any time. Confirmed colors so far are red, yellow, grey, cyan, purple, white and black – plenty of options for anyone who easily gets tired of their smartphone’s appearance.
At long last, Microsoft added support for taking screenshots in Windows Phone 8. This little ditty was shared by Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore (who heads the team doing Windows Phone product definition and design) and deserves a special mention all of its own, given that both Android and iOS already lets you take shots of what’s on your screen.
How do you do this, exactly? By hitting the home and power buttons simultaneously, a little like how it works on other mobile operating systems.
Ballmer takes to the stage…
Once all the big news was out of the way, Steve Ballmer bounded onto the stage, singing the praises of Windows Phone 8.
“We bring a developer platform and the store in a common way to both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8,” said Ballmer. “We’ve done a lot of work to standardize the foundation, to give developers across the family of devices the opportunity to monetize their applications in amazing ways.
“One year from now, between Windows Phone 8, Windows tablets and Windows PCs, we should see 400 million new devices running those operating systems.”
That’s a lot of devices – but only time will tell how successful Windows Phone 8 proves to be, and whether it can rescue Nokia’s mobile phone business.