It's finally here! After online leaks aplenty, Microsoft and Nokia unveiled the Nokia Lumia 920 and Nokia Lumia 820 at simultaneous events in New York and Finland.
At this second crossroads of failure and success -- the first was the first generation of the Lumia line -- Nokia needs a hit. Nokia can survive off its Asha phones, on middling Lumia sales, and on its maps business, but in order to thrive, it needs to sell, sell, sell.
Nokia is calling its next-generation Lumia "the most innovative smartphone in the world," Jo Harlow, Nokia's executive vice president in charge of smart devices, said during the kickoff event. Is she right? The Lumia 920 certainly pushes ahead of the original Lumia 900, and brings some serious advancements to the components.
Design and screen
As I predicted, the Nokia Lumia 920 has an almost identical physical design as the Lumia 900 before it. This time, the handset comes in Sunshine Yellow, but Nokia will also issue it in Lipstick Red, and Slate Grey.
While most of the polycarbonate body remains unchanged, Nokia has improved the screen. The Lumia 920 gets a 4.5-inch Nokia PureMotion HD Plus display, which features a WXGA resolution (1,280x768 pixels), a slightly higher resolution than the standard HD (1,280x720 pixels). It has a fast refresh rate that removes flickers. Nokia also claims it's brighter than rival phones, but we'll have to see about that.
The part of the screen that excites me most is the screen's new ClearBlack display filter, which uses polarization to cut down on glare. Nokia says its new, improved ClearBlack is good enough to read in the desert or on the beach. We'll certainly have fun testing out this claim.
The PureView algorithms of the Nokia 808 PureView made it into the Lumia 920, just not the 41-megapixel lens. Instead, Nokia stresses that PureView is its software processing, and isn't definitive of a sensor size. The Lumia 920's 8-megapixel rear-facing camera, it claims, is the best on the market. The "floating lens" that autofocuses and corrects for shaking certainly sounds great, but after a softer, less impressive Lumia 900 camera with Carl Zeiss optics, I'm slightly skeptical for now.
The Lumia 920 has an F/2.0 aperture and uses image stabilization and tiny springs to get that "floating" camera lens to hold the image steady.
What is clear is that Nokia faces tough camera competition from Apple and Samsung.
Camera extras include pinch to zoom, which is now supported with Windows Phone 8 OS, and integrated lenses you can select, like Bing Vision, and a CNN lens that's part of the app shipping later this year. The application takes over the viewfinder of the camera, and offers a fast, integrated way to add effects. This is great integration, so you wont have to open each individual app. After taking the shot, you can open the photo in the app, which gives you the app's viewer. For instance, open a picture in Photosynth and you can suddenly view your photo in a 360 view.
Windows Phone 8
Windows Phone 8 is the Lumia 920's OS, and Nokia took the time to highlight several of the new features. Among them is offline maps. I'll continue to expand this section, so check back.
Battery and wireless charging
A big reveal is the Lumia 920's built-in wireless charging, which uses the Qi standard to let you drop your device onto any compatible wireless charger to top up your phone. Nokia has signed deals with Virgin Atlantic and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to start placing wireless charging stations all around.
The 920 has a 2,000mAh battery, which Nokia says is enough to get most people through an average day.
Thanks to Windows Phone 8's new capabilities, the Lumia 920 will feature the same dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor as found in high-end phones in the U.S. like the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the HTC One X. This was a smart move, especially since LTE is already integrated with the chipset, and I'm expecting blazing-fast responsiveness alongside quick data speeds.
The Lumia 920 has Tap+Share, sharing over NFC, as part of Windows Phone 8, as well as the ability to take a screenshot by holding the power and home buttons.
Nokia also added its own software, including CityView augmented reality. You point the smartphone camera at any block to see the names of restaurants, cafes, shops, and so on. You'll be able to call a business or navigate from there. This is a cool feature, but like all augmented reality apps, not everyone will use it.
Nokia wants to leave you with this parting thought: "This is Lumia, and it's time to switch." After today's announcement, the Lumia 920 is certainly compelling enough to enter the fall smartphone fight for your dollars -- or whenever it's released.
The original Lumia 900 had a lot going for it, especially in the design and the screen departments. In the Lumia 920, Nokia appears to have shored up its weaknesses that consumers care about: the soft camera, the lack of dual-core processor, the less-than-HD screen. In addition, Nokia strives to offer something new, more than just catching up to the status quo. That's where wireless charging and the floating lens camera technology come in.
If you're at all interested in Nokia phones, the Lumia 920 is poised to be a shining example of what Nokia can do to secure its comeback. I can't wait to get my hands on this phone and put those promising features to the test.