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What's New with Nokia's Lumia 920 and 820 Smartphones

By Norman Chan

You can consider these the flagship Windows Phone 8 phones.

Our resident Microsoft acolyte Falcon has got all the technical specs detailed in the forums, but here's a recap of Microsoft and Nokia's big Windows Phone 8 announcements from earlier this morning in New York. After photos and details of its new flagship phones were leaked earlier this week, Nokia officially unveiled the Lumia 920 and 820 Windows Phone 8 smartphones, giving details on the handsets' hardware but no word on carriers, availability dates, or pricing. The announcements come less than a year after Nokia launched its Lumia 900 at CES, a 4.3" Windows Phone 7 device that won't support the new Windows Phone 8 OS (it'll be upgraded to Windows Phone 7.8 instead).

The new flagship Lumia 920 takes advantage of capabilities offered by the new mobile OS--which touts the so-called "Shared Windows Core"with Microsoft's desktop OS--including a much higher-resolution screen. The Lumia 920 has a 4.5" IPS LCD 1280x768 display that Nokia calls PureMotion HD+, based on its refresh rates, high brightness modes, and "sunlight readability enhancements". Oh, and thanks to a new Synaptics digitizer, it can also be used with gloves. Other specs are incidental: a 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor, 1GB Ram, 32GB Storage, NFC, and 2000mAh battery; performance will largely depend on Windows Phone 8, which, if it's anything like Windows Phone 7, should be responsive and polished. It's up to Microsoft now to address the platform's app situation so it can reach parity with Android and iOS.

Nokia also called out two specific features of the Lumia 920: its "Pureview" rear camera and wireless charging capability. The camera isn't the same Pureview hardware as the 41MP sensor system used in Nokia's 808 phone; instead its an 8.7MP sensor with Nokia "floating lens" optics to improve stability and low light shooting. In my tests, the 8MP sensor on the Lumia 900 shot pretty terrible photos in low light. Wireless charging, with a supported charging pad accessory of course (like a recharging pillow!), is made possible by the Wireless Power Consortium's Qi standard. Current charging devices using the Qi standard are the equivalent of a 5watt charger. Nokia also announced partnerships with Virgin Atlantic and Coffee Bean to offer wireless charging stations in their lounges and coffeeshops.

The Lumia 820 is a decidedly less exciting model with a 4.3" 800x480 screen, 1.5GHz Snapdragon, 1GB RAM, 8MP camera, and the same wireless charging capability as the 920. Aside from the bump in RAM and SoC clock, this looks like a redesign of the Lumia 900 in a different candy-colored polycarbonate shell. Both phones will support LTE and HSPA+, though.

In addition, Microsoft was on hand to offer a few more details about Windows Phone 8, including the ability to take screenshots (by pressing the power and home buttons), pinch zooming in the camera app, and full-resolution photo syncing to Microsoft's Skydrive service. More details about Windows 8 are expected to come at the BUILD event scheduled for the end of October.