One week from today, I will be sitting in a room in New York preparing for a joint Microsoft-Nokia press conference with hundreds of my colleagues, still wondering what all the hubbub is about. Up to this point, the rumor mill has been almost completely mum on the matter. But considering we know the nature of the partnership and that Microsoft is on the verge of rolling out a major update to its mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8, it's a pretty safe bet that we will see one – if not a several – new handsets from Nokia.
That should come as no surprise to anyone. Nokia is squeezing in a press conference right before the expected Apple event the following week to announce its better, more exciting products, right? But what exactly is it that Nokia has up its sleeve that's so important or awe-inspiring? What about their upcoming phones makes them better than, say, Lumia devices from the beginning of the year?
A piece from Alex last week detailed three rumored Nokia devices: Phi, Arrow and Atlas. The Phi and Arrow are believed to be the two devices Nokia will unveil at the press event next week while the Atlas will come later on as a Verizon Windows Phone 8 device. The Phi is expected to be AT&T-bound and the high-end model of the three devices, the hero successor to the Lumia 900, and the Arrow should be more along the lines of the Lumia 710 available to T-Mobile and AT&T.
The Phi, being the hero device, allegedly encases a big, curved glass display and will sport a unibody polycarbonate body, similar to those of the Lumia 800 and 900. But what we don't have are any real specifics. We don't know what the devices will entail, how they will weigh against the upcoming iPhone or current and upcoming Android handsets.
With Windows Phone 8, there are some specifications that we can speculate with a decent amount of certainty, at least when it comes to hardware. With this Windows Phone update, Microsoft will be adding support for multi-core architecture and higher resolution displays. Added will also be support for NFC and micro SD cards. As far as hardware, the next-gen Lumia devices could be on par with competing Android handsets. For example, there's a possibility the next (high-end) Lumia will feature a 720p AMOLED ClearBlack display, a Snapdragon S4 chipset, micro SD card slot and NFC.
Simply matching the competition, however, isn't going to help Nokia's ever-worsening situation or Microsoft's lack of mind or market share in the mobile market. Both Nokia and Microsoft need something groundbreaking and innovative, something … different. Varying hardware, colors and a tick list of specifications only does so much for differentiation, and it will do little to pull customers from their existing investments (i.e.: I'm not about to give up my strong ties to Google Apps for inferior services and a fancy looking device.)
That said, if there just so happened to be a smartphone with a camera as great (or better) than the iPhone 4S, I would surrender my Apple phone in a heartbeat.
You may recall in October of last year that Microsoft made a rather bold claim in a job posting. They aim to make your next Windows Phone "the best camera you will ever own." Pair that claim with a mobile hardware company that just so happens to have made a major breakthrough in mobile image sensing technology (PureView) and you could have yourself a match made in heaven.
Just this past June, Nokia confirmed its PureView technology would be implemented in future Lumia devices. That's enough to make a picture taking fiend and smartphone aficionado weak in the knees.
However, I have my reservations with PureView and Windows Phone. The Nokia 808 PureView is capable of taking brilliant pictures. But the primary concept in the 808 was camera while the smartphone aspect was put on the back burner. Not only that, but at 13.9mm thick, it was quite the brick in contrast with the majority of current smartphones that are generally slimmer than 9mm.
If Nokia can get the balance between smartphone and camera just right and significantly trim down a PureView device's profile, we could have a winner. The question is: will September 5 be the day for a Lumia PureView to be unveiled? I have my doubts. It seems too soon considering how impractical the 808 was and how recently it launched (June 2012).
Releasing an unrefined product – in this case, a Lumia PureView phone – in an attempt to stave plummeting stock prices and market share is a huge gamble. However, a "Things are about to change" teaser released by Nokia has a lot of people convinced that Nokia could be dropping a Lumia-branded PureView device sooner rather than later. It's not a concrete assumption, but there is definitely a strong chance Nokia wants to catch everyone off guard.
Barring the PureView Lumia isn't a brick, I'm all for it. "Shut up and take my money," as they say.
What do you think, folks? Will Nokia pull a fast one and catch everyone off guard with a Lumia device sporting PureView? Or will their September 5 press event be yet another disappointment from the Finnish firm?