Nokia Charges Into Smartphone Market With Look-at-Me Lumias

Nokia unveiled its first mobile handsets powered by Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 OS on Wednesday, and its Symbian OS days now seem like ancient history.

The company raised the bar for mobile phone users’ expectations with the debut of its new flagship device, the Lumia 920. This handset’s standout feature is its PureView camera.

Nokia Lumia 920

The Nokia Lumia 920 is the flagship Windows Phone 8 smartphone. Using advanced floating lens technology, the camera in the Nokia Lumia 920 is able to take in five times more light than competing smartphones without using flash.

“Nokia PureView continues to deliver cutting-edge technology to make it possible for a smartphone camera to take the kind of images usually only seen on a standalone SLR camera,” said Jo Harlow, executive vice president of Nokia Smart Devices. “With the Nokia Lumia 920 we have made it possible to shoot pictures and video at home, outdoors, in a restaurant or even at night, and come out with professional-looking results.”

The early buzz on the handset has been on the camera and its functionality.

“Clearly the breakout feature is the camera. It is arguably the best camera on the market,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. “More and more of us are using our phones as cameras and finding them wanting. So this could intrigue users. And the handset also has one of the prettiest displays.”

It will take more than a nifty camera and handsome display to get consumers excited by Nokia’s new handsets, though.

“It is very distinguishable and will likely create one of the better camera phone experiences,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS iSuppli. “On the whole, Nokia did what we expected them to.”

Return to its Glory Days

While Nokia no doubt was able to capture attention this week, it comes amid a lot of competition in the handset space. Samsung has already revealed its own Windows Phone 8 device, while LG and Samsung have introduced new Android handsets. Meanwhile, Apple is expected to introduce its iPhone 5 next week.

The question now is whether Nokia has done enough to play on the same field.

“They had a platform that was aging a bit, and they were really two generations behind everyone else,” Lam told TechNewsWorld.

Even if the Lumia 920 is well received, however, it is unlikely that will be enough to return Nokia to its glory days.

“It still lacks the ‘oomph’ to capture customer interest,” Lam added.

Looking at 3rd Place

At this point, Microsoft and Nokia are no doubt eyeing the third rung on the mobile OS ladder for Windows Phone 8. It is highly doubtful that Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android could be knocked out in the short term, but just breaking into the top three is what they need to even present a challenge.

This could be the moment. Or not.

“Is this a game changer? We thought so with every other announcement by Microsoft and Nokia. Unfortunately it didn’t become a game changer at all,” said telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan. “The segment has two main players — Apple iPhone and Google Android, which has helped Samsung reach the top.”

Nokia Lumia 820

The Nokia Lumia 820 is a stylish, mid-range smartphone. While it has the same unibody look and feel as the high end Lumia smartphones, it comes with an exchangeable shell design.

What will it take for Nokia and Microsoft to win a place on the podium? It will likely take handsets such as the newly announced Lumia 920 and its sibling the Lumia 820. But it will also take a bit more — and that is the big unknown, even with the introduction of these devices.

“As a whole, they are still failing to capture the public’s attention,” observed Lam. “They believe they are moving in the right direction, as they want to get into the larger consideration pool.”

The biggest benefit could be that many non-smartphone users have opted for Nokia feature phones and could stick with the brand as they move from basic devices to smartphones, he emphasized. Additionally, there will likely be a “halo effect” as Windows Phone 8 launches with the arrival of Windows 8 on the PC side. This will likely help matters.

“What they are trying to do is [join] the two-headed juggernaut that has captured the imagination of the market,” he stressed. “It’s about creating a viable third platform. We believe there will be a third platform, and Nokia would like to be it.”

Microsoft and Nokia did not respond to our request for further details.

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