Nokia Enters Windows Phone 8 Era with Two New Lumia Smartphones

One week after Samsung announced the first Windows Phone 8 device, Microsoft and Nokia took the wraps off two more devices running the forthcoming smartphone OS -- the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820.

During a Wednesday morning press event in New York City, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop ticked off a few milestones in his company's partnership with Microsoft, including the launch of Nokia's first Windows Phone in the Lumia 800, the launch of the low-end Lumia 610 in China and other developing countries, and the debut of the first flagship Windows Phone in the Lumia 900. Windows Phone's app ecosystem has also grown at a rapid clip since Microsoft and Nokia inked their deal and now tops 100,000 apps, Elop said.

Nokia Executive Vice President Jo Harlow took the stage after Elop to lift the veil on the Lumia 920, which she touted as "the most innovative smartphone in the world." The device comes in five colors and features a 4.5-inch curved glass display, a polycarbonate and scratch-resistant shell, an 8-megapixel Carl Zeiss camera, built-in NFC capabilities, 1 GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage, a dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and the "largest battery we've ever installed in a Nokia phone."

Lumia 920
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The Lumia 920. Source: Microsoft

The lower-end Lumia 820 has a smaller, more rounded body and includes 8 GB of storage and an interchangeable shell that comes in seven different colors.

Lumia 820
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The Lumia 820. Source: Microsoft

Both devices support wireless charging. Nokia executives demoed two wireless-charging accessories at the event, a Fatboy charging pillow and the JBL Power Up wireless speaker, that will become available later this year. Nokia has also inked deals with Virgin Atlantic and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in which Virgin Atlantic will provide wireless docking stations in its lounge in the London Heathrow airport, and Coffee Bean will install wireless charging plates at many of its locations. Other partnerships are on the way, according to Harlow.

"Our goal is whenever you recharge, your phone can recharge, too," she said. "It's the start of a new era of smartphone power management."

Harlow spotlighted three other features on the Lumia 920:

  • a PureView camera that promises to capture "better pictures and video than any competitor smartphone";

  • a highly sensitive PureMotion HD+ display that provides "better-than-HD resolution," enables fast scrolling with no blurring and automatically adjusts to glare; and

  • a new navigation capability called Nokia City Lens, which lets users point their camera at any city street and immediately see local businesses' information superimposed on the image.

The Lumia 920 gives users "the most personal smartphone experience with Windows Phone 8," Harlow said.

Following Harlow's presentation was Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president for Windows Phone Program Management at Microsoft, who gave a brief demo of some Windows Phone 8 features on the Lumia 920, including the new customizable Start screen. Belfiore's demo had few surprises -- the demo he gave in June during Windows Phone 8's first unveiling was more exhaustive -- but he did reveal that unlike previous iterations of the mobile OS, Windows Phone 8 has a screenshot capability. After making adjustments to his Start screen, Belfiore took a screenshot and shared it on Twitter, dubbing it "First ever wp8 public screenshot!" Windows Phone 8 also supports pinch-zooming to take photos, doing away with the old zoom bar.

In addition, Belfiore showed how third-party special-effects and photo-sharing apps on the Windows Phone Marketplace can interact with the Lumia 920's camera. These apps, which Belfiore called "lenses," add their capabilities to the in-phone camera function either at the moment a picture is taken, or later, if the user decides to edit it.

"The net benefit get an experience that lets third parties add value for creativity, for social networking, for image quality," Belfiore said.

Photos can also be uploaded to SkyDrive, Microsoft's cloud-based consumer storage offering, to be accessed immediately by other devices.

"What we have tried to do is build lenses in a way that enables the whole experience for the end user to work seamlessly inside the camera experience on the phone, but also translate fully through the cloud service to all the other devices you might be looking at photos with," he said.

No release dates or pricing information for either phone were revealed during the event. However, a Nokia spokesperson said in an e-mail that global distribution for the devices will start later this year.

"Exact timelines and countries will be announced as products are getting ready to appear in stores. We are not announcing specific country availability or carrier partners at the moment," the spokesperson said. "Pricing will be announced as we launch with partners around the world."

Windows Phone 8 is rumored to be scheduled for an Oct. 29 launch, though Microsoft has not officially announced a date.

At end of the event, Elop introduced Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who took the stage to make some brief remarks about the upcoming Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 launches.

"Make no mistake about it -- this is the year for Windows," Ballmer said. "Windows Phone, Windows tablets, Windows PCs."

Ballmer projected that 400 million devices will run Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 over the next year. He pointed to the Lumia devices debuted at the event, Microsoft's Surface tablets and forthcoming devices from Microsoft's OEM partners as the drivers of that growth. He also noted that the shared core and user interface of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 gives developers a common standard for building apps that can be used across multiple devices.

"Those devices running Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, I'm quite sure, represent the largest single opportunity available for software developers today," he said. "I'll bet you right now that the next app developer to hit it really, really big will be a developer on Windows."

A recording of Wednesday's event is available here.

About the Author

Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editorial director of Converge360.