Nokia today unveiled its first-ever Windows-powered handsets, as it bids to turn around its ailing smartphone business and embark on a much-vaunted “new dawn".
Running Windows 7.5, aka Mango, the Nokia Lumia 800 and 710 augment Microsoft’s familiar tile-based user interface with a suite of new services focussed on navigation, sport and music which are intended to differentiate Nokia’s product portfolio from those of rival Windows phone manufacturing partners.
Touted somewhat contentiously by Nokia Chief Executive Officer Stephen Elop as the "first true Windows Phone", the flagship Lumia 800 teams a high-end eight megapixel snapper with Carl Zeiss optics with a 3.7-inch display.
The phone's unibody polycarbonate construction and form factor that takes its cues from the Mango-powered N9, complete with total absence of front-facing physical buttons, will be recognisable to smartfans as the smartie informally dubbed the Sea Ray in a series of pre-release leaks.
The more squat lower-spec Lumia 710, which tech watchers will probably know as the lesser-leaked Sabre, is aimed more at the mid-range market, with a five megapixel and 3.5-inch screen.
Both kits will feature the Nokia Drive, Sports Hub and Nokia Music services out of the box, all of which are integrated into the Windows homescreen.
Effectively turning the phones into de facto sat nav devices, Drive features turn by turn, voice-guided directions – making it the first Windows kit to offer that level of route-finding functionality. And sweetening its appeal further is a landscape view mode that’s optimised for drivers.
Sports Hub is the result of a hook-up with broadcasting giant ESPN and allows users to access up-to-the-minute sports news. There's also scope to nominate a team or specific league, with relevant gen appearing on a new hub on the homescreen.
Nokia Music is aimed simplifying playing music on smartphones and dispenses with log-ins and subscriptions associated with the likes of Spotify. Users can purchase music and create playlists within the app, but the real beef lies in local radio mixes of full-length tracks.
In a sign that Nokia might really have changed this time and has put the self-defeating long-gestation period of the N8 behind it, we’re promised that the Lumia 800 will be launching on UK carriers next month.
The Lumia 710’s due date is less set in stone, but is set to be with us before the end of the year.