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Nokia prioritises ME for Lumia launch

Finnish handset maker introduces region to ‘the world’s most innovative smartphones’

Nokia prioritises ME for Lumia launch
The Nokia Lumia 920 comes in yellow, red, grey, white and black.

Nokia Middle East today officially launched the Windows Phone 8-based Nokia Lumia 920 and Nokia Lumia 820, and immediately described them as "the world's most innovative smartphones".

The handsets will be available in UAE stores on 25 November and through du as exclusive telecom carrier for the smartphone. The 920 is the flagship WP8 smartphone, and includes Arabic language capabilities and the latest advances in Nokia PureView imaging.

"Nokia is 147 years old," said Tom Farrell, vice president of Nokia Middle East, "and today is a new dawn as we announce the first Windows Phone 8 devices in the Middle East."

"Twenty-two months ago Nokia decided to regain smartphone leadership by partnering with Microsoft to build a Windows Phone ecosystem and to date we have rolled out in 57 different markets globally. Today Nokia represents 76% of the Windows Phone market. We are Windows Phone. And now we are ready to bring Windows Phone to the Middle East."

"The UAE is a mature telecom market, which mirrors the increasing global customer preference of adopting smartphones over feature phones," said Farid Faraidooni, chief commercial officer, du. "The Nokia Lumia 920 Windows 8 smartphone represents the pinnacle of mobile technology, and we are proud to be the exclusive telecom carrier in the UAE for the launch of this smartphone.

"Our partnership with Nokia has resulted in expanding choice of innovative mobile handsets available for our customers, and we would like to congratulate them on yet another exciting product launch."

"The Lumia 920 looks absolutely stunning, full of colour whether you want vivid yellow, gorgeous red, black, white or cyan, featuring a design with curves in all the right places so it feels great in your hand," said Tom Erskine, head of smart devices business, India, Middle East and Africa, Nokia.

Aesthetics may rule in the Apple world, but for those looking to ignore the 185g weigh-in for the 920 and concentrate on the feature set there is a lot to like here.

First for mention has to be the 4.5-inch screen. Touch screen manufacturers have two main options when building a product. Resistive screens consist of multi-layered surfaces that use pressure to connect one surface to another so the device knows where the user is touching. Capacitive screens, such as those used in the iPhone and Lumia, use the electrical properties in the human body to detect, traditionally, the bare finger of the user. Normally, capacitive screens, while more sensitive, cannot detect a stylus, fingernail or gloved hand. Not any more, claimed Nokia.

"With the Lumia 920 we introduced the first clear enhancement in capacitive touch since 2007, because you can use this screen with your fingernails or even if you are wearing gloves," said Erskine.

"We think this is the best screen for any smartphone on the market and we've given it a name: PureMotion HD Plus. It's so good because it's super-vivid, super-bright and has more pixels per inch than anything we've done before. Using Nokia's Clear Black technology the screen looks good in bright sunlight and dim light in the evening."

The operating system also deserves a few words, built as it is by a little company you may have heard of. Microsoft Windows Phone 8 has clearly gone out of its way to steer clear of being compared to another mobile OS built by another company with a fruit-related name. The home screen Live Tiles are animated, customisable and functional, displaying different kinds of information in different ways depending on preference. Users can pin their favourite contacts directly to the home screen directly from social network apps and the phone can edit office documents on the go as well as share media through the cloud.

"Windows 8 is super fast with Internet Explorer 10 making it even quicker to get what you want off the Web," Erskine commented.

"It is an inherently social operating system. It screams social. It brings your contacts in from LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook so they are all in one place on the device. Thanks to Microsoft Skydrive you can take a picture on your Lumia device and very soon it will available to view on your PC. Businessmen can create a PowerPoint document on a PC and edit it on the move. This is cloud computing made real with Windows Phone 8."

The Lumia launches into a media-crazed market that holds content and apps as king. The Windows Phone 8 does not disappoint in this regard, promised Nokia.

"We have more than 120,000 applications in the store for launch including all the major ones and a Nokia-exclusive Red Bull app," said Erskine. "And with 150,000 registered developers we expect the number of apps to continue growing very quickly."

Nokia's PureView technology delivers a striking array of imaging tools. Nokia claimed a leap forward with PureView and in the demos we saw, the Lumia 920 certainly appeared to be the clear winner in side-by-side comparisons with other major smartphone models, when it came to low-light image capture.

"The camera on the Lumia 920 is an absolute beast," said Erskine. "PureView gives best-in-class imaging experience on a smartphone. The quality of low-light pictures that the camera takes is astonishing; when you take pictures in the evening the amount of light that comes through is incredible. Also, this is the first smartphone with optical image stabilisation. And we introduced [software] with Lumia products that allows you to take pictures and then do so much more."

In another demonstration we saw, the "much more" became apparent. A Nokia representative took a photo of a wall while a volunteer walked past. The captured image initially included the volunteer, but in mere seconds, with what appeared to be a single touch, onboard software identified the interloper and erased him from the frame.

The Nokia Lumia 920 also comes with Nokia City Lens, the latest addition to the Nokia location suite. By pointing the camera at a city street, City Lens overlays information about restaurants, shops, hotels and more on the surfaces of buildings. You can touch the tags for more information and if a phone number is available you can place a call with another touch.

Nokia City Lens is the start of a new augmented reality experience that also enhances Nokia Maps, making it possible to move between maps view and augmented reality view to help users check their orientation and surroundings. Nokia claims that "along with enhancements to Nokia Drive and Nokia Transport, the Nokia location suite of services represents the most comprehensive, integrated mapping experience of any smartphone".


The Nokia Lumia 820

The Nokia Lumia 820 is a mid-range smartphone designed to deliver high-end performance in a compact package. While the Nokia Lumia 820 has the same uni-body look and feel as the high-end Lumia, it comes with an exchangeable shell design. Exchangeable shells not only make it possible to select from a range of colors, but also to add wireless charging. Beneath the shell is room to insert a micro SD memory card.



Nokia also announced a range of wireless charging accessories and partnerships.  The Fatboy Recharge Pillow provides a literal "power nap" for the handset; place it on the pillow and it will recharge without any need for wires.

JBL introduced the JBL PowerUp Wireless Charging Speaker for Nokia, a wireless charging docking station with high-end audio in retro styling.

The Nokia Lumia 920 also comes with Nokia's largest ever battery (2000mAh) and, for the first time, built-in wireless charging.


Colours & availability

The Nokia Lumia 920 comes in yellow, red, grey, white and black. The Nokia Lumia 820 comes in red, yellow, grey, cyan, purple, white and black.  Both phones will be available at all leading electronic retail outlets in the country and will be retailed at: Lumia 920 AED2,499 and Lumia 820 AED1,899.

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