It’s a tough time to be an underdog. Any smartphone company that didn’t do their best to succeed in the past five years, is either extinct (Palm), purchased (Motorola), or going crazy trying to draw attention to themselves this holiday season. This has become the Nokia story for the past 18 months.
Today’s launch of the new Nokia Lumia line-up has left me with some mixed feelings, and I did notice that the rest of the crowd wasn’t as impressed as Nokia expected them to be. It’s really hard to be wowed by any product these days, and sadly, that’s what it takes for any device to break records in today’s market.
On the positive side, there are a lot of great things to say about the Nokia Lumia 920. Gorgeous falls short when you try to describe its design and features, and I’m definitely on the list of people that want one for myself. The question is if I would trust Nokia with my money and two years of my exclusive attention after signing a contract. That’s where this topic gets complicated.
See, all the great smartphones of today started being great products since day one. Ever since Samsung launched the first Galaxy S, the device pushed competitors to the limit with the fastest processor and sleekest design. The same can be said about the iPhone, where each of its sequels has proven to be much better than the first.
I feel that the mixed feelings that I shared with the crowd today had to do with how Nokia tarnished the Lumia brand with their first-generation products. Surely all these devices were beautiful, but they just weren’t great. I personally fell in love with the Lumia 800 from the first moment I held it, but all that desire washed away the moment I noticed that Nokia decided to ship a flagship smartphone without a front-facing camera. I later looked to the Lumia 900 for a solution to my disappointment, and it was all good for the first couple of minutes until I took my first photograph. The resulting photos were just a terrible lie that I’m sure Carl Zeiss would’ve never been proud to tell on his own.
Today’s smartphone market has no points for products that are just good. Any company CEO can stand in front of the world to boast about how great their product is, and I’m sure their marketing dollars will do the same, but the product won’t sell if it isn’t great. I’m sure a lot of you die-hard Nokia fans want to chop my head off right now, but I’ll let the sales figures of the first-generation Lumia smartphones to do the talking for me.
So, to answer the question I started with: Will Nokia deliver with the new Lumias? I’ll start with my thoughts on the matter.
Nokia has just spent an insane amount of time telling us how great the Lumia 920 is during the keynote, and I’ll admit that by the looks of it, that could be true. It packs one of the most beautiful smartphone designs I’ve seen, and I’m sure it’ll fit well into your lifestyle if what you want is a couple of heads turning around to see it as you use it.
It’s also quite powerful when it comes to specs, which is crucial when you want to capture the male smartphone customer. Surely the Windows Phone operating system has never needed to carry a big engine under-the-hood to make the user experience fluid, but it’s a male-ego thing that we always want to carry the most powerful equipment no matter what. The display has better pixel density than even the current-generation iPhone’s Retina Display, and the whole package just seems to be what a powerful and beautiful device should be.
As opposed to the past-generation Lumias, the 920 looks better on paper than its older siblings did at the time of their release. I honestly have no doubts that Windows Phone 8 will perform great on it, but well, so will it perform just as great on just about every other smartphone that it’ll run on. Nokia has addressed that by including a ton of great features that will definitely differentiate the Lumia smartphones from other devices running Windows Phone 8. Truly innovative products like City Lens will definitely add value to your experience in ways I’ve yet to find on other competing phones or even platforms.
Sadly, as Tony recently wrote, I’m just sad that Nokia trashed the whole PureView brand. When we originally heard about Nokia bringing PureView technology to this Lumia line-up, I felt that this feature alone could finally be worthy of being dubbed the “iPhone killer”. Slapping a close-to-professional camera on a sexy and powerful smartphone was the perfect way to gain the attention that Nokia has been striving for. Sadly, we’re just getting another typical smartphone camera with a brand and some software tweaks. I’m sure it may be much better than the shooters we got on the past-generation Lumias, but they won’t be as great as the 808 PureView was able to deliver, or even any better than the current smartphone cameras in the market.
The reason why this is important is because this was the wow that this product needed. We no longer live in times when people are willing to compromise when it comes to what they expect from a flagship device. Nokia spent a lot of time talking about how great the camera on this phone is, and if it isn’t, it’ll just trash the Lumia reputation again. The demo photos used looked too good to be true, and that’s actually a mistake, since I’m sure the crowd left with my same thoughts as I did of these being just more marketing fakes.
Update: And for those of you that are doubting about what we mean when we call these photos and videos as marketing fakes, have a look (Watch the video here):
So, would I buy a Nokia Lumia 920? I’ll admit I’m still in “wait and see” mode. If this product is as great as Nokia has sold it in the keynote, then we are looking at the device that may revive the company. It may not have the wow-factor that I was personally looking for, but if it’s able to deliver on the Nokia promise, then people will buy it.
Would you buy a Nokia Lumia 920 or 820? Would you choose it over the already popular Samsung ATIV S? Please share your thoughts in the comments.