Nokia’s World Event in Abu Dhabi may get overshadowed by Apple’s unveiling of iterative, fifth generation iPads later but the Finnish company had plenty of goodies to show in what could be its last public unveiling before it is swallowed by the Microsoft monolith.
Nokia’s new devices remain unabashedly true to the principles that have defined the Lumia era with bold, playful slabs of colourful polycarbonate across giant 6 inch phones (phablets?) and a 10.1 inch tablet that is Nokia’s first foray into that market. There was also the announcement of new Asha devices featuring a unique glass shell look that are aimed at emerging markets.
The high end phablet, called the 1520, is the first to take advantage of a new Windows Phone update that allows for higher resolution screens (1080p) and quad core processors (2.2GHz Snapdragon™ 800). This should allow Nokia phones to better compete in the spec war with other manufacturers and now pairs the high end camera technology with internals to match. The boost in resolution means an extra column has been added to the start screen while the key apps have been updated to take advantage of the additional screen space.
The 1520, while not quite packing the 41 Megapixels of the 1020, brings an impressive new camera application that continues with the idea of snap once and alter later. This time the application allows you to change the focal point of the image after its been taken similar to the effect of a Lytro camera. Nokia have even set up a dedicated website to demonstrate this. The Refocus application, combined with implementing the Pro and Smart cam applications, along with plans to open up RAW image data on their devices means that Nokia are leading the way for smartphone cameras.
The Lumia 1520 packs a whopping 3400mAH battery to ensure that there is plenty of juice to power the 1080p, 6 inch screen and the spec sheets peg it at providing 25-hour talk time battery life. The Lumia 1520 will be available later this year for $749 in red, yellow, white and black. It certainly looks to be a compelling option for those who place the productivity of large screens above all else.
Nokia’s other phablet option, the cheaper, Lumia 1320 was also announced. While this also has a 6 inch screen, cost cutting measures have been made elsewhere as the resolution is dropped to 720p, the processor is a run of the mill dual core Qualcomm and the 5MP camera is adequate at best. Available in orange, yellow, black and white the low price of $339 may tempt potential buyers.
The new Nokia tablet is also an interesting proposition, not least because it pits the company against their future owners and the Surface 2 tablet. Microsoft and Nokia are now the only two companies to offer Arm based Windows tablets, with other companies preferring to stick to the back catalogue advantages of Intel-based architecture.
Microsoft still believe that Windows RT devices have a future and the fact that Nokia is lending its weight with a consumer orientated device will certainly help somewhat. The star feature of the Lumia 2520 is clearly the screen and Nokia have used all of their knowledge building smartphones to make a display that has fantastic viewing angles and great sunlight visibility. In fact Nokia are claiming the tablet is for work indoors and out. The key differentiator for the Lumia tablet over Microsofts Surface will be that it supports 4G (LTE) with Nokia proclaiming that a tablet should “always be connected”. The Lumia 2520 will launch this quarter with a price of $499.
Nokia’s device unveilings were rounded out by the three Asha phones on display. The entry level devices start from just $69 and represent Nokia’s continued push into the emerging markets of Indian and China. These devices feature one click photo sharing to social media sites and come in a variety of colours like their Lumia siblings.
Finally, Nokia announced that the popular photo sharing application Instagram is coming to the platform. This, paired with Vine, Flipboard and the proper release of Xbox Video means the Windows Phone app situation is starting to look a bit more rosy.
Nokia’s event reinforced that they are the primary backers of Microsoft’s mobile platforms and one that is very much needed. By releasing a Windows RT tablet, Nokia will undoubtedly help drive sales and adoption rates, whilst their efforts in the smartphone sector continue to ensure Windows Phone is a viable third platform. While Microsoft seem to be taking miss-steps, Nokia continue to drive innovation and one has to wonder whether they could have survived on their own. The spectre of an Android powered Lumia phone must have been too frightening for Microsoft to contemplate.