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Why you should be excited about the upcoming Windows Phone 8 smartphones from Nokia

Why you should be excited about the upcoming Windows Phone 8 smartphones from Nokia
It's no secret that Nokia's foray into the age of Windows Phone 8 was met with a high level of anticipation and anxiety. For one, because of the emerging new details surrounding Microsoft's mobile operating system that promises a radical step-up from the previous versions. Most eyes, however, were set on Nokia itself, and whether its upcoming WP8 hardware can finally turn the tables in the highly competitive smartphone market.

Nokia Windows Phone 8
 
Despite Nokia’s exclusive partnership with Microsoft, it doesn't make things all that easy as the vendor has still to compete with other players in the Windows Phone 8 scene besides Android and iOS. Coming from this, the company smartly concentrated on the areas that were always head and shoulders above the rest of the competition - namely - the design and camera. These two aspects were prominently displayed on the newly announced Windows Phone 8 smartphones - Nokia Lumia 920 and Lumia 820.

Nokia Lumia 920

Nokia simultaneously kicked off its presentation in New York and Finland last week with its new flagship, the Lumia 920. The WP8 smartphone inherits the successful design traits of Nokia Lumia 800 and 900 with its polycarbonate unibody, but takes it one step further with ceramic volume and camera buttons for extra durability. Just like the above mentioned handsets, the Lumia 920 will be available in various brightly coloured versions, which is becoming a sort of Nokia signature these days.
Nokia Lumia 920
Nokia Lumia 920 comes with a curved glass 4.5 inch display with the resolution of 1280 x 786 pixels and PureMotion HD+ that Nokia claims gives the screen increased pixel density, brightness and sunlight legibility. Another advantage of the new display technology is something Nokia calls Super Sensitive Touch, and it was promptly demonstrated on stage with Nokia's Kevin Shields operating the smartphone with a pair of gloves. Apparently, the tech would also allow you to operate the touchscreen with a fingernail, pen or even a key (Gorilla Glass is layered on top for extra protection). Under the bonnet, the Lumia 920 runs on a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor that is said to be up to 30 percent more power efficient than the quad-core alternatives. The flagship sports a storage memory of 32 GB, and wireless charging of its built-in 2000 mAh battery is also an option.

The imaging department of Nokia Lumia 920 was probably the main star of the event. While an 8 Mpix camera sensor with Carl Zeiss lens doesn't sound that impressive on its own, the accompanying Pureview branding is quite telling for anyone familiar with the jaw dropping performance of the 41 Mpix camera wielding Nokia 808. Nokia stated on several occasions that Pureview is not merely about the number of pixels but about the actual benefits of the technology. The camera of Lumia 920 comes with a ''floating lens'' technology that aims to solve two major issues in smartphone photography. The first one is the camera shake problem while taking still photos or recording videos. The optical image stabilisation (OIS) noticeably improves video capture in jerky conditions, for example, while recording videos in concerts. The low-light performance is another major problem and known Achilles heel of smartphones cameras. Thanks to OIS, the camera shutter of Lumia 920 can be kept open for much longer without the risk of blurring, resulting in much brighter and sharper looking images in poorly lit environments.

Nokia Lumia 820

While Nokia Lumia 820 was understandably overshadowed by its bigger brother, this freshly announced mid-tier WP8 smartphone stands out with a few interesting features of its own. Although the protective shell appears like an integral piece of Lumia 820 design, it's actually exchangeable, and will be sold separately in a variety of expressive colours to fit different occasions and moods. Furthermore, optional covers will be sold that will enable wireless charging or NFC capabilities on Nokia Lumia 820, just like on the flagship.
Nokia Lumia 820
The phone is slightly more compact than Lumia 920 due to a smaller, 4.3 inch AMOLED display with WVGA resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, but it still features the same, glove-friendly touchscreen technology. Underneath the attractive unibody-like design is the same dual-core processor along with 1 GB of Ram as the more expensive Lumia 920, but drawback here is the smaller battery and built-in memory - 1650 mAh and 8 GB respectively. The modest amount of memory isn't really a deal-breaker as the Lumia 820 also comes with a microSD card slot, which some users might even view as an advantage over the flagship model.
Nokia Lumia 820 covers
Sadly Nokia didn't provide exact prices or release dates at this point, but it's realistic to expect that these new WP8 handsets will ship within the next few months. Also disappointing is that Microsoft played its WP8 card close to its chest, providing very little information regarding the new features of WP8. One of the prominent new additions that were revealed is the ability to take screenshots that ought to make WP8 app and game reviews a considerably more enjoyable business. Now it's as straightforward as on other mobile platforms - just press and hold the home and power button, and the OS will take a screenshot of whatever is on your screen.
 
First Windows Phone 8 screenshot
 
Just like on Android and iOS devices, the native camera application in WP8 now supports the pinch-to-zoom gesture - no more need to be fiddling with the on-screen zoom bar. Aside from a number of new and exclusive WP8 apps like WhatsApp Messenger, Vimeo and Angry Birds Roost, both new Lumia phones will also ship with an improved Nokia Maps and City Lens augmented reality app. By utilising the built-in camera, Nokia City Lens lets you see the names and ratings of local establishments like restaurants and coffee shops, offering a more intuitive way of exploring and enjoying your surroundings.
 
Nokia City Lens running on Lumia 920

Overall, it's encouraging to see that Nokia refrained from focusing on the obvious run-of-the-mill stuff like faster chips or bigger screen that has somewhat deteriorated the innovation in mobile industry. The Finnish company gave solid reasons why their upcoming WP8 handsets are better than the competition by demonstrating tangible benefits to the consumers like the glove friendly touchscreen or camera with optical image stabilisation. Becoming known again as technology innovator is a sure way to capture the attention of the mainstream market, and, with that, making the first firm steps towards reclaiming the smartphone market.
 
 


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