Nokia sees 'new dawn' in Lumia Windows Phones

Nokia is betting on the Lumia 800 and Lumia 710, the first of its smartphones to run Microsoft's Windows Phone mobile OS, to help it catch up with Apple's iPhone and Android
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

Nokia has introduced the Lumia 800 and Lumia 710, the first smartphones from the Finnish manufacturer to run Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system.

Lumia 800 phone

Nokia has unveiled the Lumia 800 running Windows Phone Mango. Photo credit: Ben Woods

Chief executive Stephen Elop presented the new flagship handsets at the Nokia World 2011 conference on Wednesday, saying "Lumia is a new dawn for Nokia". He also took the opportunity to take a friendly jab at other Windows Phone manufacturers.

"The Lumia is the first real Windows Phone," Elop told the audience in London. "We are signalling our intent, right now, right here to be the leaders in smartphone design."

The Lumia is the first real Windows Phone. We are signalling our intent, right now, right here to be the leaders in smartphone design.
– Stephen Elop, Nokia

The smartphone debut comes after a tricky 12 months for Nokia, in which it carried out a transition from self-developed mobile OSes to Windows Phone. Elop, who left his post as head of Microsoft's business division to lead the mobile device maker a year ago, has described Nokia as "years behind" its rivals, such as Apple's iPhone and Android. A lot is riding on Nokia's Windows Phone-based range, and Elop has said the company's goal is to make sure its handsets are clearly differentiated from other Windows Phone-based handsets.

The Lumia 800, previously codenamed Sea Ray, runs Windows Phone 7.5 Mango and closely resembles the existing MeeGo-powered Nokia N9 in appearance. Of the two new handsets, it has the better specifications and the higher price. It has a 3.7-inch Amoled touchscreen display, an 8-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics, 1.4GHz single-core processor with hardware acceleration and Internet Explorer 9.

It supports Windows Phone Mango native features such as live tiles and Microsoft Office integration, which can give access to documents stored on corporate servers as well as locally. The Office integration means that as well as the 16GB of internal memory, owners will get the standard 25GB of free storage on the Windows Sky Drive cloud.

'Surprise at every turn'

"With the Lumia 800 our intention is to surprise you at every turn. This is a smartphone that defies convention," Kevin Shields, senior vice president of product management, said at the conference.

The Lumia 800 will ship with a few unexpected options as standard, such as Nokia Drive free turn-by-turn voice guided navigation. It will also have Mix Radio, which lets owners store up to four playlists and download up to 20 tracks from each playlist for offline playback. The playlists last for four weeks, after which users are asked to connect via Wi-Fi to renew the Mix Radio licence.

Applications such as Drive will be available on Windows Phone-based devices from other manufacturers. Nokia will be able to differentiate its package via features such as offline navigation, which other hardware makers might not be able to provide.

These features should help Nokia's smartphones stand out from competitors, according to IDC mobile analyst Al Hilwa.

"Music and Navigation offline is an idea whose time has come — kudos to Nokia for working on this," Hilwa told ZDNet UK. "The devices really show off the Windows Phone live tile user interface: it is a welcome departure from the sea of icons you see in the current crop of smartphones and provides some great new opportunities for developers to integrate their apps into the UI."

The Lumia 800 will cost around €420 (£367) before taxes or subsidies, and it will launch in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain as well as the UK next month. Operators Orange, Vodafone and Three have already confirmed they will carry the smartphone when it is available in the UK, though none has revealed pricing.

The second handset, the Lumia 710, is a "more affordable" device, according to Nokia, though it includes many of the same features as the 800. It comes with a 1.4GHz processor, a 5-megapixel camera and the same social People Hub integration as Windows Phone 7 devices. The mid-market handset is also scheduled to arrive in November and will cost roughly €270.

Neither of the Lumia phones provides near-field communications (NFC) capability for uses such as contactless payments, as Windows Phone Mango does not support NFC.

Building a base

Elop did not give a US launch date for the handsets, saying only that Nokia will outline a portfolio of products for the US in early 2012. This disappointed Hilwa, who nevertheless conceded "it is right for Nokia to play where it is strong first and build a strong base for Windows Phone internationally".

However, his colleague Francisco Jeronimo believes Nokia will have a fight on its hands to successfully challenge Apple's iPhone and leading Android handsets with Lumia.

"Despite the speed of development, the quality of the devices and the competitive pricing, Nokia will not be able to drive significant volumes in the coming months," the IDC mobile analyst said. "The reason for that is not linked to the devices themselves, but to the low Windows Phone OS penetration and awareness among consumers. Microsoft's OS represented two percent of total smartphone shipments by the end of the second quarter 2011 — the lowest share ever.

"In the coming weeks, these devices will share the store shelves among several popular Android devices, the new iPhone 4S and even some new Blackberry 7 devices," Jeronimo noted. "Consumers don't know the Windows Phone user interface or its advantages."

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