Nokia’s device division is almost in Microsoft’s grasp, but not quite yet. On Tuesday, the still-Finnish outfit held its Nokia World show in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, showing off a slew of new devices and features that, let’s be honest, already embody ever-closer collaboration with Redmond.
- Nokia’s first modern tablet (taking into account 2005’s tiny, Maemo-based 770), the Lumia 2520
- Nokia’s first 6-inch phones, the photography-focused Lumia 1520 and the less expensive Lumia 1320
- And a bunch of new low-cost Asha phones
In line with its perennial focus (pardon me) on imaging, Nokia also announced versions of the Vine and Instagram apps for its Windows Phone-based platform. But let’s look at those devices.
Can’t be Sirius?
Formerly codenamed Sirius, the Lumia 2520 continues the same naming tradition as Nokia’s Windows Phone line. I’m not sure that’s a great idea – the numbers kinda make sense when you’re looking at the dizzying array of Lumia phones, but a tablet should really have a more standout name in order to take on the iPad, Galaxy Tab and so on.
The 2520’s big feature is its 10.1-inch screen, which Nokia is touting as the most readable in bright sunlight – it has a peak brightness of 650 nits (up there with the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime, and way above the retina iPad brightness of 394 nits) and less than 6 percent reflectance.
The tablet runs on a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset, supports 4G, and has a 6.7-megapixel rear-facing camera that’s equipped with Zeiss optics, as well as a 2-megapixel front-facing camera. It can also charge up to 80 percent capacity in one hour.
This is Nokia’s first Windows RT tablet, and it is of course up against Microsoft’s Surface 2. To sweeten the deal, Nokia will also be selling a “Power Keyboard” accessory that acts as an extra 5-hour battery, 2-port USB hub, and tablet cover – shades of Microsoft’s new Power Cover there.
The Lumia 2520 comes with Nokia’s Here Maps, which work offline. And speaking of location, the device also includes Nokia’s new Storyteller app, which provides a rather clever way to organize and display photos taken on a trip, for example – if you zoom out from a photo, you’ll see where it fits into the sequence of things on a functional Here map.
How much does it cost? $499 before taxes – it will first roll out this quarter in the U.S., U.K. and Finland, with other countries following. The Power Keyboard will cost an extra $149, which is a bit steep.
Shiny big phones
The well-leaked Lumia 1520 is Nokia’s new flagship handset. As per usual, the company has stepped up its game on the imaging front, introducing a 20-megapixel PureView camera that apparently has better oversampling technology than before, for capturing greater detail. The new Pro Camera app is also in there (as it is on the tablet).
The 1520 has a full-HD 1080p display, again optimized for outdoor readability. It also has four microphones for better audio on videos. It will ship this quarter in the U.S., U.K, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, France, Germany, Finland and elsewhere in Europe, at a price of $749.
A cheaper version, the Lumia 1320, will come out in early 2014 in China and Vietnam, followed by other markets in Asia and Europe. It will only cost $339, which means a screen downgrade to 720p, a non-PureView 5-megapixel camera, and a mere dual-core chipset. Thankfully, however, it will support 4G.
What’s particularly interesting about Nokia’s new 6-inchers is their introduction of a new Windows Phone layout – they show three columns of apps, to take advantage of that extra space. Nokia is the first Windows Phone manufacturer to develop this, and outgoing Nokia chief / incoming Microsoft handset chief Stephen Elop noted that this was made possible through collaboration with Microsoft.
What’s more, Nokia is even starting to bundle its updates with Microsoft’s official Windows Phone updates. A lot of the features in the new 6-inch Lumias will come to earlier Nokia Windows Phone 8 devices tied in with a new Windows Phone update early next year, in a unified update dubbed “Lumia Black.”
Incidentally, new Lumia software features include Beamer, which makes it possible to project the phone screen to any HTML5-enabled screen, and a couple of handwriting apps called Papyrus and InNote.
Last, and probably least
I have been quite enthusiastic about Nokia’s low-end, non-Windows-Phone Asha line in the past, but Microsoft’s early acquisition-related comments on the platform have suggested it won’t see much development once the deal goes through. Microsoft is just too keen to push Windows Phone into the low end of the market, which is understandable.
Nonetheless, Asha hasn’t reached the end of the line yet. Elop also unveiled three new Asha phones on Tuesday, about which there isn’t a huge amount to say, other than they’re very cheap.
The Asha 500 has a 2-megapixel camera and will hit Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East this year at $69. The Asha 502 will reach the same places except for Latin America, adding dual-SIM functionality and a 5-megapixel camera at a cost of $89. The Asha 503 is similar except for the addition of 3G functionality – it will cost $99 and hit all the same places as the 500.