Lumia 920 is best Nokia ever, but fake video upsets reviewers
Lumia 920 is innovative and looks lovely, but Nokia is criticised for faking a video demo and failing to reveal a price
NOKIA'S new Microsoft-backed smartphone, the Lumia 920 (left), has been welcomed as the best it has ever made. But critics have mocked the Finnish company for failing to announce a price or launch date, and for shooting itself in the foot over a misleading promotional video.
Nokia's share price has fallen by 62 per cent over the past year, following a series of botched product and software launches, so analysts were describing yesterday's launch of the Lumia 920 and the smaller Lumia 820 (right) as "make or break".
"With a massive press launch in New York, [Microsoft CEO] Steve Ballmer turning up to lend his support, and a hell of a lot of ground to make up in the smartphone market, you might have expected Nokia to pull out something spectacular for its first Windows Phone 8 device," says PC Pro. "In truth, it hasn't."
However, the new model has much to commend it and is blessed with some "superb" features that could put Nokia back into the smartphone mix.
The stand-out innovations are upgrades to the camera hardware and the introduction of wireless battery recharging.
The camera incorporates a 'floating lens' - surrounded by springs - which make pictures taken on the move crisper and video recordings less shaky.
That's the idea, anyway. Unfortunately, Nokia has already provoked the ire of journalists. Reviewers declared the floating lens a success after they were shown a video demonstration at the Lumia launch yesterday.
But it later emerged that the promotional video, purportedly showing a crystal clear video recorded by a cyclist, was not filmed with a Lumia 920 from a bicycle after all, but with a camera rig from a van. Nokia issued a swift apology, but the incident will raise questions over how effective the floating lens is.
The other big innovation is the 'Qi' wireless recharging. While not exactly new, the feature was a favourite of the Financial Times's Paul Taylor. "I love this feature, which makes it possible to simply place the handset on a charging mat or stand overnight without the bother of having to plug a cable in," he writes.
From a purely cosmetic point of view, the Lumia 920 will stand out from its mostly black, flat and rectangular rivals. The handset will be available in a range colours: lipstick red, sunshine yellow, slate grey, white, and, inevitably, black.
The handset will also outshine its peers on sunny days, if the 'ClearBlack' display filter works. Nokia says that this feature uses polarisation to reduce glare and make screens readable on the beach.
This is just one of the many features that excite CNET's Jessica Dolcourt, who says the Lumia 920 is a "shining example" of what Nokia can do to secure its comeback. "I can't wait to get my hands on this phone and put those promising features to the test," she writes.
Reviewers are never happy when they feel a company is holding back on them, and Nokia gets it in the neck for failing to reveal prices or a launch date for the new Lumias.
The Daily Telegraph's Matt Warman, while hailing the Lumia 920 as the best smartphone Nokia has ever made, took as swipe, saying: "Nokia couldn't get its act together to release prices or release dates for its latest, lovely handset. That basic blunder is not one that Apple will make when it announces the iPhone 5 next week, or that Samsung makes when it launches important new products."
So, pricing and fake promotional videos aside, will the Lumia 920 do what Nokia wants it to do and attract Apple users? Probably not, says the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones.
The Lumia 920 may be innovative, but "the trouble is that many consumers will probably not hear the message".
Cellan-Jones says that on a pre-launch walk around New York he went looking for Nokia users. "I found none and people told me they didn't know anyone who had a Nokia." ·