Fresh from last week’s Verizon Lumia device launch, Nokia has taken the wraps off a new smartphone in its Windows Phone-based Lumia range at an event in London today. The Lumia 925 is its first flagship for T-Mobile in the U.S. This means that following the Lumia 928 launch on Verizon, and factoring in Nokia’s initial launch of the Lumia 920 on AT&T last year, Nokia now has a flagship Windows Phone ranged on all three major U.S. carriers. Globally the Lumia 925 will be ranged with Vodafone in Europe, coming to markets including Germany, Italy, Spain and the U.K. (priced at €469), and in China with China Mobile and China Unicom. The device will ship in June in Europe, with a U.S. launch slated for soon after.
The Windows Phone 8-based 4G Lumia 925 continues Nokia’s strategy of emphasising the camera smarts of its flagships Windows Phones, including PureView branding, Carl Zeiss optics and an 8.7MP lens with image stabilisation tech inside. But the camera hardware in the 925 is a little different to the 928 and 920, with one extra lens. This sixth lens improves photo performance in bright sunlight, according to Nokia, as well as sharing the low light performance abilities of its fellow flagships. In addition to that new camera hardware, the phone includes new software, called Smart Camera, that’s aimed at extending the photography experience by giving users new ways to capture and share photographs.
The camera software on the device includes a burst mode which allows up to 10 shots to be captured at a time. The software also has three new capture modes that take advantage of this burst feature, namely: Best Shot, for composing a composite shot from the best elements of several images; Action Shot for snapping a series of stills of action shots, such as sports, that can then be edited and shared as a sequence; and Motion Focus, a Lytro-style mode that allows the snapper to pick different elements to be in or out of focus after the shot has been taken. Nokia confirmed to TechCrunch that the latter featured is the first bit of software to make use of technology Nokia acquired when it bought imaging company Scalado last July.
“Whatever you do you can go back and edit again and again,” said Jo Harlow, head of Nokia’s smart devices unit — pictured above left, with SVP of product design chief Stefan Pannenbecker at the London launch. “The Nokia smart camera is our latest uniqie experience for our Nokia Lumia portfolio.”
The Smart Camera software is exclusive to the Lumia 925 initially but will be pushed out as an over-the-air update called Amber to Windows Phone 8-based Lumias in Q3, the company said. Nokia looks to be trying to bolster its efforts against Samsung here, which included a raft of new camera features on its flagship Galaxy S4 device, such as Dual-Shot and Drama Shot. The lack of Instagram for Windows Phone continues to hamper Nokia’s photo-focused efforts however, but also today it announced a partnership with Oggl, Hipstamatic’s new photo community app — noting that since Oggl has a relationship with Instagram, users will be able to access the latter service via that app.
Design wise, the Lumia 925 is the first Lumia device to include metallic trim. A silver aluminium band runs around its four edges, and doubles as the phone’s antenna — taking its cues from the iPhone’s design (but with “rigorous testing” to ensure no repeat of antennagate, according to Nokia). The mobile maker’s trademark polycarbonate clads the back of the device, so there’s a two-tone look and feel.
Nokia says the plastic back is designed to make it feel nicer and grippier in the hand. It may also be about keeping the weight down (to 139g), since heavy handsets is something Nokia has been criticised for. It certainly felt lightweight and slender during a brief hands on. Handset colour options are muted rather than the usual bold Lumia offerings, with black, white and grey options for the plastic back. Wireless charging shells, sold separately, can reintroduce the usual Lumia splashes of yellow, cyan and red.
Under the hood there’s a 1.5GHz Dual-Core Snapdragon chip, and 1GB of RAM. On board memory is 16GB (Vodafone will also get a 32GB variant) plus 7GB free cloud storage on Microsoft’s SkyDrive. The 4.5 inch AMOLED display has a resolution of 1280 x 768. Dimensions are 129 x 70.6 x 8.5mm. The 2000mAh battery is good for up to 12.8 hours of talk time on 3G, or up to 6.6 hours video playback, according to Nokia.
A ‘true PureView’ Windows Phone device — codenamed EOS — has been rumoured for several months, and the Lumia 925 looks to be that device. However it certainly does not include the 41MP sensor and pixel oversampling techniques featured in the Symbian-based 808 PureView. It seems unlikely that bona fide PureView technology will ever make it to Windows Phone, not least because it’s something of a camera pro curiosity, rather than a consumer-friendly mainstream feature. Rather Nokia is extending the PureView branding — to associate it with a range of camera-centric features, not just that original huge sensor.
Harlow closed the presentation by hinting at further new device launches from Nokia “later this summer”. “I can’t wait to see you later this summer when we will continue to bring new innovation and new experiences to our Lumia portfolio,” she said.