Print 36 comment(s) - last by Zuul.. on Jan 11 at 1:56 PM

Phone is Nokia's first phone "built for and designed for the North American market"

As expected, Nokia Oyj. (HEL:NOK1V) -- the world's largest phone-maker by volume (when feature phones are included in the mix) -- made a push on Monday to stay relevant in the smartphone market with the new Nokia 900.

The Nokia Lumia 900. [Image Source: Nokia]
I. Nokia Enters America... Or Re-enters it?

Nokia's VP of Communications Susan Sheehan made an amusing stumble, commenting at the opening of the press conference that the Lumia lineup was "Nokia's entry... (stutter) reentry into the wireless market in North America."

But to be honest the first statement was probably the most accurate -- Nokia hasn't been relevant in the North American market since the days when there wasn't much of a market.

Nokia kicked off the conference with old news.  The Nokia 710 was launching on Deutsche Telekom AG's (ETR:DTE) T-Mobile USA, America's fourth largest mobile carrier, on January 11.  Priced at $50, Nokia pitches that the phone, "Brings an unparalleled combinations of quality and price to the American market."

Likewise, Nokia talked about how its Nokia 710 and snazzier color plastic Nokia 800 have been trinkling out to various non-U.S. markets worldwide.

The Lumia 800
The Nokia Lumia 800. [Image Source: Nokia]

But the big ticket item of Nokia's presser was the Lumia 900.

II. The Lumia 900 -- Bigger is Better

The Nokia Lumia 900 follows the chic Android cliche of "supersizing and 4G".  It essentially takes the Nokia 800, bumps the screen size to 4.3 inches, and adds an LTE modem, plus a beefy 1830 mAh battery to support the new blazing but hungry communications chip. As we mentioned over the weekend, a 1.4GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, and 16GB of storage space is in the mix as well. The screen also saves power via circular polarizing display tech., branded as Nokia's "Clear Black" feature.

Lumia 900

New Nokia CEO -- and ex-Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) camera employee (and "Trojan horse" according to some) -- Stephen Elop cheered the device.  He comments, "We believe that the industry has shifted from a battle of devices to a war of ecosystems...[The Nokia 900 is] a smartphone designed and delivered specifically with the North American consumer in mind...[It is] the first real Windows Phone built for and designed for the North American market."

Elop w/ Lumia in Hand

A couple of other pertinent tidbits were tossed out by Mr. Elop.  The new phone will use Nokia's proprietary injection-molded polycarbonate casing to deliver black and cyan Lumia 900s whose "color is inherently innate to the material, not cheaply painted on the outside."

The phones will also have some pretty nice optics.  On the rear is a F2.2 wide angle lens, with dual aspect ratio support.  On the front is a F2.4 lens, which Nokia seemed particularly proud of.  The company brags, "The front camera of the Nokia 900 let's in as much light as the back camera of nearly of nearly every other smartphone out there."

Lumia 900 camera

The phone will be carried by AT&T, Inc. (T).  In a bit of fan service to tech news fans everywhere, Nokia managed to squeeze Stephen Elop, Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer, and AT&T President Ralph de la Vega all on one stage.

Ballmer w/ De La Vega and Stephen Elop

III. Nokia's Big Lumia 900 Suffers From Soft Launch

Sadly, the launch was very soft, with many of the most criticial deals left unsaid.  Price was not discussed other than Mr. Elop's nebulous assurance that it would "aggressive. " The launch time was stated as "in coming months" (about as ambiguous a phrase as you could think up).

Mr. Elop says part of the challenge of selling consumers on Windows Phones is explaining to them that the fastest CPU does not necessarily mean the best performance.  He comments, "Quad-core doesn't mean quad-performance or quad-user experience."

Of course it's hard to sell a product that doesn't exist yet, so Nokia better move aggressively to drop its Lumia 900 on the American market ASAP, particularly with HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) preparing to drop its own HD, LTE Windows Phone -- the HTC Titan 2.

All images © of Jason Mick and DailyTech LLC.

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Big 800
By melgross on 1/10/2012 8:52:29 AM , Rating: -1
So they took an 800, made it a bit bigger, put slightly better cameras inside, and LTE, and we have a 900.

Anyone want to bet the performance will be as crappy as the 800? If MS doesn't get dual core chips into these things, they won't ever have a high end phone.

RE: Big 800
By Denigrate on 1/10/2012 8:54:47 AM , Rating: 4
Yeesh, short bus much?

RE: Big 800
By Zuul on 1/10/2012 10:51:42 AM , Rating: 2
I remember when dual-cores and 64bit came to desktops in the form of Athlon X2 processors, as well as Athlon 64 processors. While no doubt that in synthetic benchmarks and capability it was superior, in the real world it was barely noticeable. However, the marketing and sales showed one of the most important facts about marketing: Customer perception is reality. Customer's perceived that their computers would be faster with a dual-core / 64bit cpu and they purchased accordingly, regardless of the negligible impact to their real-world experience.

Fast-forward to today, I am seeing this same battle unfold again. People are buying smartphones not based on battery life, but based on perceived performance. While for the VAST majority of smartphone buyers having 2-cores and LTE is pointless, it does give them bragging rights.

RE: Big 800
By Aloonatic on 1/10/2012 12:54:52 PM , Rating: 3
The whole "power" issue with smartphones is something that makes me smile. For the vast majority of people the hardware found in the original Google Nexus would be more than adequate. (Some of the low power (e.g. HTC Wildfire) phones are too slow/under powered though)

What do people do with their phones? Text, look on facebook/twitter, take photos and share them and then play around with the odd app and game, but game playing makes up a small percentage I'd wager, and they might even make a call from time to time.

The power in a lot of devices is way over the top, and will never be used by many other than when they run a benchmark to see just how powerful it is or running a demo to show off.

For me, screen size and resolution were important, as well as being able to last a day easily which is why I went for a HTC sensation. I'd really love to give WP7 a try, but all their phones were "small" screen affairs, baring the Titan but even then (as with the 900) they are limited to the standard resolution.

That my phone has 2 cores doesn't really mean anything to me, but I can see why people get sucked in by the marketing, and that's where MS need to work harder. IMHO they need to show more iPhone style adverts that actually show the phone being used, how simple and smooth the interface is and that you can do with it what you can do on other phones, as well as Nokia maps (in this case) so that people are aware that it actually does what they expect, or more importantly, it can do pretty much everything an iPhone can do, as to many the iPhone is still "the" smartphone.

RE: Big 800
By Motoman on 1/11/2012 9:36:33 AM , Rating: 1
I just got a new MyTouch Q. It has a single-core processor.

I text on it. Make phone calls. Read the news. Occasionally play something like Angry Birds or poker.

That's it. That's pretty much what probably 95% of the market does with their phones. There's nothing more that I *want* to do with a phone. And I'm pretty gosh-darned sure that applies to 95% of the market...and also pretty gosh-darned sure that having a dual-core processor wouldn't make any real-world difference for me...or the 95%.

RE: Big 800
By sprockkets on 1/10/2012 1:09:07 PM , Rating: 2
You didn't notice an improvement? Wow.

Bud, you got like 25% more performance for like 10% more energy being used. I noticed it big time when I bought my 3600+ dual core athlon from the 3000+ I had.

You don't video record? Video encode? Audio editing? Picture editing? It really helped.

RE: Big 800
By Zuul on 1/10/2012 4:09:09 PM , Rating: 3
I didn't notice improvement based on what I was doing (went from a Barton XP 3200+ to the X2 4200+). Neither did a vast majority of our customers (I was working for an OEM at the time) because most of them were using their computers for email/browsing/creating documents/editing the occasional picture. I was not a power-user, I was a mainstream user. The price differential between the 2 was negligible for me so I didn't buy a single-core cpu. I bought a dual core cpu just because I had to have it.

The clock speed difference between the Athlon XP 3200+ (2.2GHz) vs. the Athlon X2 4200+ (2.2GHz) meant that overall, I noticed zero performance improvement. Even IF there was a 10% performance boost, that would mean my Word document or browser opened up a few tenths of a second quicker.

What do the majority of people with smartphones do? Aside from making calls, check email, browse websites, they will pull out their smartphone to play a quick game of angry birds while sitting on the can. They are not doing video editing on their phone.

While I think WP7's focus on the mainstream user would normally make sense in other markets, I think Microsoft has missed the mark because the mainstream users are buying what the power users want simply because they can buy a higher performance device for the same price - regardless whether they will realize that performance increase or not.

RE: Big 800
By bug77 on 1/10/2012 5:47:57 PM , Rating: 2
Even for a mainstream user, a dual-core CPU allowed (and still does) you to play a game without worrying that your firewall, antivirus, messenger ate precious CPU cycles. Since there was a second, mostly unused core, you had plenty of cycles to spare. It also allowed you to run a CPU intensive task (e.g. compressing/uncompressing stuff) without the UI getting stuck. This continues to be the main advantage even today.

As for the AthlonXP vs Athlon64 X2 analogy, remember that the latter also featured an integrated memory controller. Better performance for memory intensive tasks (again, compression comes to mind).

Of course you didn't see these gains all the time, the PC is not always held back by the CPU. But to claim you didn't see anything? That's a stretch.

RE: Big 800
By Master Kenobi on 1/10/2012 6:43:12 PM , Rating: 2
Remember back when dual core first came out, most games were still castrated by the graphics cards, not the CPU itself. It took a while for software to catch up largely with ragdoll physics and similar improvements to really start to require dual core or better systems.

RE: Big 800
By Reclaimer77 on 1/10/2012 9:42:55 PM , Rating: 2
I think you guys are totally missing the point about dual core CPU's....

RE: Big 800
By Zuul on 1/11/2012 1:56:00 PM , Rating: 2
I think there may be a disconnect between the intent of what I wrote and how you are interpreting it. My intent to say was with respect to real world applications for mainstream users back when dual cores came out, I saw no noticeable performance improvement. My browser, MS Word, Excel, Outlook etc. opened a fraction of a second faster. I call that no difference because it amounted to no additional value for me. If you want to get down to semantics, than yes, it made a fraction of a second difference.

To address your comments about AV and FW, back when dual cores first hit the mainstream desktop, the mainstream OS and applications were not optimized for dual cores and thus never effectively utilized them. There are applications of course that benefited greatly from multi-core systems, for example, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere - though I don't consider these mainstream. Further, the OS still does not perform functions on multi-core systems on some applications when the system is under load because there are other factors impacting system performance should it run the application (such as IO speed, memory, bus speed, etc.). For example, you still don't have AV system scans going on while you're working.

With my technology hat on, I SUPPORT dual cores on mobile devices because it pushes the envelope forward in the mobile space. With my business hat on, I SUPPORT the marketing behind it because it has proven to work (my AMD example).
I believe that the mainstream users are being treated like drones that are easily swayed by marketing (and they are yet again). Because of this, what I DO NOT SUPPORT at this time is the perception that having more cores is always going to create tangible performance improvements. Right now it's a marketing ploy to boost sales.

I believe that we will get to that level of core optimization in the mobile space eventually for mainstream applications, however by the time we get there, the phones we use today will be sitting in a recycling bin or a hand-me-down for our children to play with.

RE: Big 800
By Motoman on 1/11/2012 9:33:19 AM , Rating: 1
While I don't disagree with your tone for the energy/performance argument, I will point out that in terms of a % of the population, essentially no one video records, video encodes, or audio edits. And for the VAST majority of people, "picture editing" means double-clicking the photo to open it in whatever the default editor is on their PC (for which they probably don't even know the name) and clicking the "red eye" button.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates

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