Nokia makes an awesome smartphone camera, Motorola makes their thin phone better [the competition]
We're diving headfirst into what we affectionately refer to around here as 'silly season'. This year's silly season is a weird one for us at webOS Nation, as we're sitting entirely on the outside. Sure, this time last year the future of webOS was up in the air, but that was at a time when there was at least a chance that HP might sell webOS to somebody else. Now that that opportunity has passed, we're watching Silly Season 2012 from the sidelines, and in some ways it's really quite silly.
If this year's silly season could be summed up in one sentence, it would be "Announce whatever you've got in development before Apple crushes you with the iPhone 5." To wit, today saw dueling press events by the Nokia/Microsoft partnership and the Motorola/Verizon partnership, both in New York City (Nokia got all cheeky and bussed some journalists over to Motorola's later event in a big cyan Nokia bus). So let's break down what came out from those camps, shall we?
First up is Nokia, simply by virtue of scheduling their event first today. There were two new devices at their event, the Windows Phone 8-powered Lumia 920 and Lumia 820. Honestly, the 820 looks like a decent phone and all, but it's the 920 we're really interested in. The new flagship Nokia device packs a 1280x768 4.5-inch screen with the latest and greatest of Nokia's ClearBlack super polarization to provide superior viewing in the sun. On top of that, the Lumia 920 will also automatically adjust screen temperature (how 'warm' or 'cool' it is, with regard to color) based on the external light hitting it to ensure that it's displaying an accurate image regardless of the situation you put it it. And it works with big thick gloves on (though you'll have to contend with sausage finger accuracy, we'd guess) That's snazzy, eh?
What's even more snazzy about the Lumia 920 is its awesome camera, slathered with PureView branding. It's has an 8MP sensor, which isn't all that impressive, except that it's a larger sensor than the average smartphone, packs an industry-leading f/2.0 aperture (lower numbers are better, they let in more light so you can have a faster shutter speed, better low-light performance, and shallower depth of field), and - most impressively - real optical image stabilization. That stabilization comes by means of a mechanical stabilizer, just like you'll find in dedicated cameras, which helps to cancel out the movement imparted by your wobbly hands, all without trying to fix up your image with software.
One last thing about the Lumia 920: it's just the latest phone to offer wireless charging, opting to jump onto the Wireless Power Consortium's Qi standard. Unlike other phones, however, the 920 has the charging built-in (820 owners will apparently be able to purchase a sleeve/case/back to add Qi charging to their device, ala the original Palm Pre) and is expected to have the charging pad available at launch. Nokia's also partnering with a number of organizations to expand the availability of Qi-compatible charging pads, taking a step beyond what Palm's Touchstone docks ever managed: ubiquity. On the flip side, it doesn't seem the Qi pads (or pillow, as will be an option for Nokia) have the magnetic alignment that the phone-based Touchstones have, so putting one in your car might be a little less elegant.
After the awesomeness of Nokia's event, Motorola has some high standards to live up to. And, well, they disappointed. Most of Motorola's event was spent debuting the sequels to their reborn RAZR line, in the Droid RAZR HD and Droid RAZR Maxx HD. The two devices aren't that different, with the Maxx variant being barely chubbier (though still quite lean) to pack a bigger battery. What's better about this over last year's RAZR? For one, they ship with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, with the promise to eventually update to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, though likely still obscured with whatever it is that Motorola feels they need to do to Android to differentiate themselves.
The RAZR HD also packs a 4.7-inch 1280x720 screen and a quad-core Snapdragon S4, as well as a beefier battery than the last RAZR so the longevity won't be quite so pathetic this time around. Also announced by Motorola was the new Droid RAZR M, which shares much in common with its unalphanumerically-differentiated brethren, excepting its size. The RAZR M is considered to be the smaller of the three RAZR devices, with a 4.3-inch 960x540 screen and a bit thicker design. We're a little frightened that we're approaching 4.3 inches being considered as 'small'. All three of the new RAZR phones will be available as developer phones (possibly useful for Open webOS development), and if you happen to have an unspecified older Motorola device that's not getting an upgrade to Jelly Bean, Motorola's going to offer you $100 off a new Motorola smartphone that presumably does.
All three of these Motorola smartphones are at the very least destined for Verizon (they are Droid-branded, after all), but the RAZR M was the only device that had launch details beyond that, with a $99 on-contract price tag and preordering beginning today. But the other two RAZR devices, or Nokia's two new Lumia's? Mum's the word on street date, pricing, or additional carriers beyond Motorola's affinity for Verizon.
The lack of a release date or pricing tells us that such things are going to be a ways off, which is both disappointing and amusing. For all of the copying being done of Apple's products and processes, the whole announce-price-date-launch idea seems to have been overlooked by most of the mobile manufacturing space. So while Nokia and Motorola have managed to successfully announce their wares before Apple (whoopdeedoo), Sony goes tomorrow, and Amazon fires off their holiday season load on Thursday. Of those, Amazon's probably the only one we anticipate to march out pricing and a release date set for the very near future. They have the same sort of supply chain expertise as Apple and can pull off that stuff. Also, Amazon doesn't have to worry about dicking around with the carriers, which often throws a monkey-wrench into release date plans.
September 12, on week from today, will bring the iPhone 5 announcement. By the time the announcement is over we will know everything important there is to know about iOS 6 (unlike Windows Phone 8, which despite having multiple devices announced for it has still not been fully publicly described by Microsoft). And by the time the iPhone 5 announcement is over we will have a release date, pricing, and carriers for the new Apple smartphone. Hear that, Motorola and Nokia? That's the sound of thousands of people preordering and lining up to get a phone that despite getting announced a week after yours, will still somehow manage to sell millions upon millions upon millions of copies before the Lumia 820, Lumia 920, Droid RAZR HD, and Droid RAZR Maxx HD are even available.
We'd say that's also the sound of futility, but we're a webOS site. We're all too familiar with futile causes, and we know what that sounds like. Hear the sound of people clamoring for that newly announced webOS smartphone and tab- oh, yeah...