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Nokia and Motorola preview next-gen handsets

  • Nokia Lumia rocking Windows Phone 8, big camera tech
  • iPhone 5 set for Sept 12
  • Motorola - also make phones
Written by Adam Wajnberg
06/09/2012

Nokia and Motorola stayed away from last week’s Berlin Radio Show, where HTC, Samsung, LG and Sony all showed what they have in store for the Summer of iPhone 5 (hint: more of the same, except for LG who look ready to step up).

                      nokia motorola

This week, the two old guard firms, battered around in the current market, squeaked in a preview of their latest handsets before the world’s media crashes into San Francisco for Apple’s latest release. Following the iPhone 5 event on Sept 12, Microsoft will be releasing Windows 8, Windows Phone 8 and the Surface tablet, previewed in June. It’s a busy, busy month. By Christmas, we’ll hopefully have all these goodies ready to go down here in Australia.

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Nokia Lumia

nokia lumia 920

 

The Lumia range released early this year got a disappointingly short shelf life, with Microsoft announcing just 6 months later that all current Windows Phones would not be able to support Windows Phone 8. This left their erstwhile pals Nokia with a lot of overhyped handsets sitting in warehouses, dead in the water.

But the Finnish company has moved on in a big way, releasing 2 new handsets this week in New York – the 820 and 920. Both phones are 4G/LTE capable and come with enough grunt to stand up to Android superphones – more impressive when considering that Windows Phone 8 is less resource hungry than Android.

Nokia has mercifully stepped away from the Shiny Black Rectangle Syndrome (SBRS), revealing an assortment of bright reds and yellows that are, frankly, just fantastic. Like the N9 and older Lumia lines the phones are carved out of a single block of polycarbonate, with a shinier finish. The durable plastic strikes just the right balance between Apple’s use of heavy, fragile glass and aluminium, and Samsung plastic. HTC has also started using polycarbonate in their One line.

 

nokia lumia 820

Both phones come with Near Field Communication (NFC) chips and wireless charging mats. Though not a new technology, inductive charging has yet to break into the mainstream. Nokia’s attractive (and included-in-the-box) pads might be the thing to make it common.
The 820 has a 4” screen and only 8GB storage, but does have expandable storage via microSD card. The 920 is 4.7”, with 32GB onboard storage (no microSD). Both have 8MP cameras (8.7 on the 920), but the 920 incorporates two new Nokia camera technologies: PureView and Optical Image Stabilization OIS).

PureView was previewed on Nokia’s 808 model a few months ago, with a ridiculous 41MP sensor (and, disappointingly, a Symbian operating system). The Windows Phone version won’t be quite as overpowered, but if anyone was wondering what Nokia’s curious “pretty girl riding bicycle” advertising campaign was all about, it was OIS.

The video was meant to demonstrate how OIS technology could deliver commercial broadcast quality moving video. And while OIS can indeed drastically improve on most phone cameras, Nokia has since fessed up that the commercial was not, in fact shot on one of their phones. Subsequent demo videos have demonstrated the tech is sound anyway, but a bit of egg on the face for Nokia there.

nokia girl bike ad

Lies!

 

The new handsets haven’t even been priced or set for a specific release date in the US and Europe yet, let alone down here. But expect to see them in stores for Christmas.

Motorola RAZR

motorola droid razr

Nokia is stacking up their phones with beautiful design, excellent cameras, lots of stuff in the box (including headsets made by Monster) and wireless charging. Motorola is playing the Android game against the likes of Samsung and HTC, which means a spec war – faster processor, thinner bodies, bigger screens. To that end, their latest Droid RAZR HD and RAZR M lines are sleek, high powered Shiny Black Rectangles with plenty of on-board specs. Not much to say. They’re backed with Kevlar. *Cough*.

The only notable thing to say about these phones is that they’re running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and not 4.1 Jelly Bean. Jelly Bean comes with some notable updates (including Google Now), so it’s a little disappointing, even if upgrades will roll out eventually.

Oh well.

Oh wait – Google owns Motorola. What the hell, Googs? You’d expect that by now Google would have stepped into Motorola’s development lab and sought tighter integration between its Android software and Motorola hardware teams (the RAZR doesn’t even run stock Android, using the headache inducing MOTOBLUR skin. Even the name suggests incoherence).

No great mystery though – Google has said they want to avoid antitrust attention from American regulators, who take an unkind eye when a major software provider starts tailoring products to meet the same company’s hardware line, blocking out competition. Apple gets away with it because they never set that expectation in the first place. And also because they’re richer than the US government.

Google probably also doesn’t want to alienate Samsung, who have singlehandedly made Android the world’s most widely used mobile operating system. But with Microsoft making their own hardware now (pissing off the likes of ASUS, ACER, HP and Dell) and with Apple proving that the integrated approach works, manufacturers are gonna have to prepare for the day when their software partners start rolling up their sleeves and making their own Shiny Black Tetrahedrons (the next big thing).

Buy nothing right now

                                            stop don't buy anything

 

So with everyone rushing to launch next-gen gear, now is absolutely the worst time to buy a mobile phone. Even if you’re happy with last year’s stuff, at least wait until the new stuff has relegated the old stuff to the bargain basement bin.

Consider a great SIM only plan from the likes of Amaysim (1300 302 942), Dodo (1300 192 775) or TPG (1300 106 571) for the time being on your old phone, and wait for November/December to get the latest and greatest thing.

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