Just days after Samsung announced its Windows Phone 8 Ativ S handset, Nokia has announced its latest flagship smartphone, the Lumia 920. It's the successor to the short-lived 900, and also runs Microsoft's new Windows Phone 8 operating system.
Images of the new handset, along with the new 820, were leaked on Twitter just a few days, but now we know they were the real deal, with a new bright yellow colour option being unveiled.
Just like Samsung's Galaxy SIII, the Lumia 920 has a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor running at 1.5GHz. It also has a 4.5in display with a 768 x 1280 resolution, and a 'PureView' 8.7Mp rear camera. It has 32GB of internal storage, and 1GB of RAM. There's also built-in Bluetooth 3.1, 802.11n Wi-Fi, GPS and a 1.3Mp front-facing camera for video calls. Finally, it also includes NFC (Near Field Communication) which could be used for contactless payment and other things.
Unlike the PureView 808, the Lumia 920 doesn't wow on the megapixel front. The sensor has a 1/3in diagonal and an 8.7Mp resolution which equates to 3264 x 2448-pixel images. Instead, then, the PureView moniker appears to focus on the new optical stabilisation of the 920's rear camera, which has a Carl Zeiss lens.
This 'floating lens' arrangement is important since it counteracts shaky hands and leads to sharper images, especially in dim conditions. Obviously, we'll have to wait until we've got our hands on a review model to find out just how much of a benefit this is, but we're sure it's not simply marketing hype.
Tiny springs keep the lens steady, enabling photos to be taken with less blur, and videos to be more stable, with less of the wobble you get with the current generation of smartphones which lack any stabilisation, optical or digital.
In addition to letting more light through by keeping the shutter open for longer, the maximum aperture is also larger than on the 900.
The camera is also capable of recording full HD video at 1080p at 30fps, and both this video capture and still image capabilities make it a massive improvement over the outgoing Lumia 900's rear camera. Importantly, there's an LED flash to allow shooting in very low light.
The front camera is a cut above the average smartphone as it has 1.3Mp and can capture video at 720p. That's not a guarantee of quality, but compare it to most 0.3Mp front cameras, and it should be an improvement.
The camera application on the Lumia 920 is also impressive. In the Smart Shoot mode (also known as a 'lens', it can analyse the image, figure out which objects (people) are moving and allow you to remove them in the final image. This makes it ideal for taking photos of family or friends in a crowded place.
Another 'lens' is Cinemagraph. It captures a scene and lets you modify the images to add motion. It's a sort of half-way house between a still image and a video.
Finally, there's City Lens, an augmented reality app which shows you information about the shops and restaurants in view in front of you.
Pure Motion HD+
Like the older Lumia 800, the 920 has a curved glass screen. Nokia says the display is the brightest ever on a smartphone, and also the fastest. The screen automatically adjusts not only in brightness, but also colour tone when exposed to sunlight, so colours are always faithful.
The display has another trick up its sleeve, too. As well as being capacitive, it also works if you're wearing gloves, so is still useable in cold climates. Nokia is calling the technology 'super sensitive touch'.
A neat trick is the 920's ability to charge without plugging in a charger. Instead, you'll be able to pop it on a charging pad where it will use induction (like an electric toothbrush) to recharge its battery.
As well as Nokia's own-branded dock, there will be third-party chargers available. Plus, Nokia has partnered with Virgin Atlantic, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf to provide wireless charging pads in public places.
The unibody design is extremely similar to the current 900, in that the screen clips into a one-piece polycarbonate body that has no joins or screws.It measures 71x130x10.7mm and weighs 185g. It's not a small phone.
The screen has a curved glass cover that it said to be more scratch- and shatter-resistant than before, and there are tough ceramic keys (in the same arrangement at the 900) on the side. It comes in slate grey, red, yellow, black and white.
Pricing and availability
There's no word yet on how much the 920 will cost, either on contract or to buy outright, but we expect it will appear on shelves in October or November. We'll bring you a full review as soon as we can lay our hands on one.
The 920 is arguably Nokia's last chance to make a comeback in the smartphone world. It betted heavily on Windows Phone 7 rather than Android, and sales of the 900, 800, 710 and 610 weren't as good as it had hoped. Plus, with no upgrade path for those handsets to Windows Phone 8, users justifiably feel they've had their fingers burned.
The good news is that app developers have a far bigger incentive to develop for the new OS, even if it's not technically trivial to make an app for both Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Big names such as Electronic Arts are getting on board, so anyone who does decide to switch from Android or iOS should find a similar choice of apps to install. At least in 2013 onwards.