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Nokia clarifies why it chose to trail Android OEMs in adopting larger screens, higher core count SoCs

This week Nokia devices -- the former Nokia Oyj. (HEX:NOK1V) that's now under Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) umbrella -- announced its first major device launch since Microsoft purchased it for $7.2B USD in September.  The results have thus far impressed, with the announcement of the 10.1-inch Lumia 2520 Windows RT 8.1 tablet and the 6-inch Lumia 1520/1320 phablets, plus some slick accessories like the "Treasure Tag".

I. Windows Phone Trims Hardware Gap With Android to About 6 Months

But the release of Lumia 1520 -- which packs a 1080p screen and quad-core Snapdragon 800 system-on-a-chip (SoC) from Qualcomm, Inc. (QCOM) -- raised some eyebrows given Nokia's past comments about HD screens and multi-core CPUs hurting more than they help.

In a new interview with TechRadar, Samuli Hanninen, Nokia Devices' VP of software program management, clarifies why Nokia trailed Android phonemakers in making the leap to 1080p and quad-core.

First he takes issue with the notion that it took "a long time", while acknowledging that Nokia's Windows Phone line has trailed Android on the path towards higher resolutions displays, first at the 720p node and then at the 1080p node.  He comments, "I don't think it took us a long time [to bring a Full HD display to a Nokia phone]."

From a pure numbers perspective, he has some grounds to make that argument.  Historically, Windows Phone has trailed Android and iOS by up to a year or two in key features.  But of late that gap has shrunk substantially.

The first 1080p Android smartphones weren't announced until early this year when HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) unveiled the One (February) and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930) announced the Galaxy S4 (March).  Both products did not start shipping at volume until May.

There's no official ship date for the Lumia 1520 in the U.S. -- yet -- but it's expected to ship within a few weeks.  So Nokia is trailing Android in 1080p adoption by about six months.

This is similar to the case with 720p; the 720p (1280x720 pixel) Galaxy S3 was announced in May 2012, while the similar resolution Lumia 920 (1280x768 pixel) was announced in September.

II. Necessity and Design Dictate Hardware Timing, Says Nokia

And Nokia says that the extra time for 1080p was necessary as the higher resolution required a jump in device size to be useful.  Mr. Hanninen comments, "You only see the benefits when using a 5-inch screen and larger, anything below that the eye can't see the difference."

Again there's a lot of truth to this comment.  At a certain use distance for any device there's a certain maximum resolution that is useful to individuals with average eyesight -- for 4-inch devices that resolution is (roughly) 720p; for 6-inch devices it's roughly 1080p.  Of course 1080p resolutions on 4- or 5-inch devices may make certain specialized applications (e.g. making rendered text look "smooth") less expensive and may provide some crispness/clarity gains for the minority of people who have above average eyesight.

Stephen Elop
Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop criticized previous generations of multicore smartphone SoCs. [Image Source: Reuters]

Likewise Mr. Hanninen clarifies that Microsoft SVP (and former Nokia Oyj. CEO) Stephen Elop wasn't attacking multicore smartphone SoCs, just pointing out that they were only hype without proper device design and application.

Snapdragon 800
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800 only became available in August. [Image Source: Liliputing]

He comments:

If I had the possibility of having a quad core CPU last year, I'd have said that I don't want it.  You have to get the best from a quad core chip. If you do it badly then the phones get very hot.

In other words, with older processor generations (i.e. the Snapdragon S4), Nokia didn't feel like it could design a quad-core smartphone that wouldn't be hot and inefficient.  The Snapdragon 800 (quad-core) only recently became available, so that explains Nokia's launch timing in a bit more depth.  (The first Snapdragon 800 equipped Android was LG Electronics, Inc.'s (KSC:066570) G2, which was announced in August.)

Source: TechRadar

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RE: Numbers Game
By althaz on 10/23/2013 6:11:00 PM , Rating: 4
Every Windows Phone Nokia makes that I have seen is available with a non-slip matte finish (phones I have personally seen with this finish: Lumia 520, 800, 900, 920, 925, 928, 1020).

At least try to have some sort of vague idea what you are talking about. The 920 was their first shiny Lumia, but was also available with a (much nicer) matte finish. That trend has continued with all subsequent devices, as far as I'm aware.

People wanted shiny (no idea why, I hate it), so they switched to shiny, but they didn't stop making matte textured versions :).

RE: Numbers Game
By Reclaimer77 on 10/23/13, Rating: -1
RE: Numbers Game
By OoklaTheMok on 10/23/2013 8:32:41 PM , Rating: 2
I think it must be those little dry hands of yours</snark>

The only WP phone that I have found that is slippery is the 925, with it's metal edges. Add one of the thin wrap around shells for it, and it's perfect.

RE: Numbers Game
By Labotomizer on 10/23/2013 9:46:54 PM , Rating: 2
I have a 928. I was tempted to get the white so it would stand out a bit more but it was really glossy. Didn't care for that much. The black is matte finish and I haven't had any issues with dropping it. I've also never put a smartphone in a case and I've been using them since the very early days. Never broke one either, although I think the Droid 2 was very much broke from the beginning... I'm sure if my experience on that weren't somehow worse than my MotoQ with WinMo I would have stuck with Android. My wife dropped my 928 off a 4' counter onto tile and there's a barely perceptible dent in the corner where it hit. Other than that not a mark.

The 920 is rounded isn't it? As is the 925 on TMo. Mine is definitely very pointy...

At any rate I don't think there's a right or wrong opinion. Well, other than Apple sucks. That's always the right opinion!

RE: Numbers Game
By Reclaimer77 on 10/24/13, Rating: 0
RE: Numbers Game
By CaedenV on 10/23/2013 10:13:36 PM , Rating: 2
Any of the matte finish phones should not be slippery. Most of the newer ones have this, but for the L920 it was pretty much only the black one. And really, who doesn't buy the black one?

RE: Numbers Game
By testbug00 on 10/23/2013 11:44:36 PM , Rating: 2
At least for the WP8 phones, Nokia offers Matte options for each phone (Sometimes only a matte option).

An example is the 920, red, yellow, white, and cyan are all "non-matte" while black and a color I cannot recall, are both matte.

And, once more, you haven't tried using a 920, 1020, or 520. All of those lack "sharp pointy corners"

How do I know? I personally own a 920 and 1020 and have a friend with a 520.

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