Nokia Lumia 928 and 925 make it clear Microsoft is holding back Nokia innovation

Nokia Lumia 928 and 925 make it clear Microsoft is holding back Nokia innovation

Summary: The new Nokia Lumia 928 and 925 devices are the best Windows Phone devices available, but this also makes it painfully clear that Nokia is being held back by Microsoft's mobile platform.

Nokia Lumia 928 and 925 make it clear Microsoft is holding back Nokia innovation

Regular readers know I have been a die-hard Windows Phone fan since the beginning, after testing out an early prototype starting in July 2010.

The newly announced Nokia Lumia 928 and 925 devices look solid, but they also makes it clear that Nokia is being held back with incremental hardware updates while pushing as hard as they can with their own software.

It reminds me of the way HTC used to push Windows Mobile back in the day and we see how that ended up.

The new Lumia 928 and 925 devices offer some incremental improvements over the 920 released last year with a Xenon flash in the 928 and additional lens piece in the 925 with OLED displays now being used on both.

The internal hardware (processor, RAM, OIS camera) is virtually the same, wireless charging is lost on the 925, the 925 gets a paltry 16GB internal memory limit on most carriers, and the same missing applications remain in the Windows Phone market. The 928 is the better device than the 925 in most ways, including internal storage capacity, Xenon flash, and Qi wireless charging integration, while the 925 does appear to have a sexier hardware build.

Nokia used to push the limits of the smartphone world with innovative devices running Symbian and we are just not seeing them able to push too far with Windows Phone. The limitations I am talking about include functions left behind from Windows Phone 7 moving to Windows Phone 8, FM radio, ability to rent/buy movies in the Marketplace, utilities such as flip to silent, and more. Some of these are coming back eventually thanks to Nokia's hard work.

We also see things missing in Windows Phone 8 that we saw from Nokia in Symbian, including FM transmitter (so nice to stream podcasts to in-car stereo), phone profiles, truly great multi-tasking, and home screen folders. Nokia has innovated in software with some great camera features and outstanding services like Nokia Music+ and HERE Maps.

It is likely we will see them get a true PureView camera, like the 808, out later in 2013, but launching this in early 2013 would have generated excitement that the WP platform needs.

As I use accessories to improve my life I find that Windows Phone forces me to compromise where Android and iOS don't. For example, my Pebble watch lets me see who is calling or messaging me while my phone is in my pocket or my gear bag so I can make informed decisions about my next action or inaction. My Jawbone UP connects to my Android and iOS devices to help motivate me to improve my health and well-being. As we get more connected with accessories and networks, Windows Phone remains primarily connected to itself.

I do like the Windows Phone UI for the most part, but I do not like the limited notifications, limited multi-tasking functionality, less-functional apps than other platforms (Facebook on Windows Phone is terrible), and lack of apps that I don't even care to mention anymore since we don't see much movement in getting them to Windows Phone (Instagram, Starbucks, MLB At Bat, RunKeeper).

Nokia is pushing Windows Phone, just like HTC pushed Windows Mobile, and I hope we see them succeed in making progress.

Last year, all five lines on my T-Mobile family plan were using Windows Phone. Right now, I have two iPhones and three Android devices on these five lines and the users are much happier with the overall experiences.

I used to think Windows Phone was the right choice for Nokia, but now that I use amazing devices like the HTC One and Galaxy Note II, I have to wonder what Nokia could have done with their hardware and software development on a platform like Android. They may have been just another Android manufacturer, but look what Samsung was able to do. Nokia could have been the Samsung of the Android world, or at least given Samsung a run for its money.

Topics: Mobility, Nokia, Smartphones, Windows Phone

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  • Excellent Article

    Truly Excellent

    "Nokia could have been the Samsung of the Android world or at least given Samsung a run for their money."

    If you look where Nokia were when Elop arrived they had 31% Marketshare with Symbian, Android had 33%

    What sensible ceo would destroy such a big marketshare (symbian) with a burning platform memo?

    I also never understood his differentiation angle, MS DICTATE the UI for WP, so EVERY WP looks the same.....with Android they could have blended a Finnish Phone Company with Finnish Software (Linux based Android) and styled it in whatever way their hearts desired for a truly unique experience.

    Then he says its a war of ecosystem, so he bets the whole farm on an untested OS, thats what I call gambling.

    The most telling thing about Elop is they could have released just ONE android handset to test the market, but their deal with MS does not allow Nokia to do that.

    I fear it is all too late now for Nokia.
    • When Elop arrived ...

      ... Symbian usage was falling off a cliff. Adopting Android would have meant that Nokia would have been just another OEM racing to the bottom with all the consequences that means.

      There is nothing stopping Nokia from implementing FM radios, etc. as they've amply demonstrated in the awesome portfolio of Nokia apps.

      As for apps for Pebble, Jawbone, etc., that's mostly just a factor of market presence and vendors publishing publicly accessible API's/data-feeds. Interestingly, there are several FitBit apps. As Windows Phone's market share continues to rise, more of these apps will appear.

      Windows Phone is now starting to gain some momentum. Whether that momentum continues to build, we'll have to see, but things are looking up for Nokia and Windows Phone.
      • Symbian share was growing till the day Elop arrived

        You can say it was getting outdated and losing all the buzz for iPhone, but things were accelerated because of Elop's well known memo.

        The recent article shows interesting numbers:

        Symbian (the same as Nokia smartphones) went from 12500K units to 1500K units in one year. In the same period Windows Phone (also almost the same as Nokia smartphones) went from 2700K units to 6000K units. Well we can say that Windows Phone is increasing sales, but why not saying Nokia is going down? What is going to happen to Windows Phone sales growth now that there is almost no more symbian owners to convert?
        And it's even worse because those are absolute units, let's not forget that the number of smartphones being sold is way bigger now that it was one year ago.

        Most people look at Windows Phone independently from Nokia, that's wrong, Nokia is still loved by many people... the problem is that, the number is getting smaller at an incredible ratio.
        When Elop arrived Nokia he said that the objective was replacing each symbian smartphone for a windows phone - he is not even close of that even with a market that is way bigger now.

        I have few doubts that Nokia would be much better with android, Nokia was bigger than Samsung. Yes Samsung is very aggressive and Nokia would face tough competition, but at least they would be fighting with the same weapons.

        When I look at the market now, the trend is - android being dominant, iOS winning an important share (very big in the US) and some leftovers will be there for windows and blackberry - android and iOS smartphones together, were more than 90% of the market in the last quarter!!!
        • oh its great growth and change

          WP in north america was 400k lumias for Q1 2013. For a platform that is almost 3 years old now. Also the 928 and 925 are the same internals as the 920 that was released last year. Its like dressing up a pig and putting on some lipstick and saying its your new girl friend, but its still a pig. Nokia should release a new non WP, but with Microsoft at the helm it will never happen.
          • You are right

            In the US Nokia was nothing, WP is selling by itself there, and the result is that without Nokia, WP is miserable.
          • I owned a Nokia Symbian

            It was my first so called smart phone. I still have it in a draw. The buttons stopped working. It was one of those big blue and white with a less than 2 inch color LCD screen. It was at the time one of the top of the line phones. Then I had a Windows Blackjack. Which was a step up, but not much. Neither were touch screens. But then I got an iPhone and really felt like I had the perfect phone.

            But now I am thinking of switching to a Windows phone. I just don't like the fragmentation of Android. I want to see what Apple has to offer and see if Windows 8 phone gets some more apps that I depend on now on my iPhone. I may wait until iPhone 6 comes out and see what iOS 7 looks like. But I have seen a few Windows 8 phones and am impressed with the tile concept. The only thing holding me back is the lack of apps.
      • Re: Windows Phone is now starting to gain some momentum

        This "now" is already taking several years. One would think that a "huge software vendor" like Microsoft should have better developer following. And that developers should be just waiting for Microsoft to announce their mobile paltform and start coding that very second.

        Life is short. Not only the individual human life, but the life of any company. Even if that company chose to name itself "Microsoft".
      • Ahhh

        "When Elop arrived ...

        ... Symbian usage was falling off a cliff"

        really ?
      • Re: just another OEM racing to the bottom

        Have you not been reading the other reports here on ZDNet showing all the Android vendors growing their market share by leaps and bounds?

        Android is where the innovation is right now. Those who didn't get in board that train are now left at the station, watching it depart.
    • You need to educate yourself Matthew!!

      "less-functional apps than other platforms (Facebook on Windows Phone is terrible)"

      This is straight up BS! Microsoft just released a massive update to Facebook, and it is as a truly great app now. It's still beta, but its very good. How can I take you seriously if you can't even get the facts straight.
      • If it's Beta

        It's not released yet...

        Actual released Facebook app on Windows Phone is terrible! That is SO TRUE!
        • non-ios Facebook apps always suck

          The Android facebook app was so bad that Facebook mandated its employees use Android phones so they can understand what needed to be changed.

          Facebook home is also garbage, because Facebook employees designing it use... iPhones!

          The facebook app for Windows being garbage should not be a surprise. It is a facebook app trend.
          • iOS Facebook app....

            ...this was terrible for a long time. Facebook finally make some updates to make it a little better, but it is still not great. The new Facebook (Beta) app on Windows Phone is better.
          • Ok.

            I can only speak to the quality of the iOS facebook app from 3rd hand conversations.

            I prefer to use a browser for facebooking, because it just works better. It would not surprise me to hear that all facebook apps suck or have sucked.
          • Re: Facebook mandated its employees use Android phones

            Imagine if Facebook tried to do the same with Windows Phone: they'd have a horrendous mutiny on their hands...
          • You do talk

            some absolute piffle...
          • "You do talk some absolute piffle..."

            Like so many of the posters on here; especially the pro-MS fanatics and the anti-MS fanatics. Everything is black & white to these people; either Nokia is (now) the only phone worth buying (according to the MS fanatics) or it is a waste of space (according to the Android fanatics). I rather suspect the "truth" (whatever that is) lies somewhere between the two extremes, and that opinions are NOT the same as facts - two things that the zealots, fanatics, and religious extremists will never begin to comprehend, let alone accept.
        • I couldn't even use facebook on my droid...

          It force closed or locked up every friggin time I tried to use it. I didn't actually start using Facebook until I got a Windows phone because it was an exercise in futility on my android. Just using the "People" tile on windows phone is a better experience than that was.
      • Testing beta, refuses to update notification status

        I have the latest FB beta on my 920. Still doesn't work nearly as well as Android or iOS. One example is that my notifications status never clears and it always states I have tons of new items even after they have been read/acknowledged.
        palmsolo (aka Matthew Miller)
        • I'm guessing...

          that's why it's still in BETA.