Today, Nokia held a press conference in the US to unveil its latest flagship Windows Phone handset, the Nokia Lumia 920. The phone, which boasts huge 4.5-inch display with incredible screen, top camera tech and the latest version of Microsoft’s mobile OS, took centre stage.
But then there was the Nokia Lumia 820, announced almost as an afterthought. And I think that’s selling it a bit short, to say the least…
The Lumia 820 still has a lot of the 920′sheadline features. It misses out on the PureView camera tech, but there’s still the wireless charging, Windows phone 8 and the same dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor. The design, too, is fairly similar, even if it does have a removable backplate instead of the unibody design found in its bigger brother. The display, while still a ClearBlack number, is 4.3-inches to the Lumia 920′s 4.5.
Sounds good, right? Well, that’s what I thought. Thing is, while Nokia dedicated around an hour to talking about the Lumia 920, the Lumia 820 had its moment inside of about a minute. It was announced almost as an also-ran, which is weird, because I think it’ll be an absolute smash. Why? Let’s look at what it has going for it.
For a start, Windows Phone in itself is a platform that is built to shine at the budget end of the smartphone spectrum. Sure, it can do all the top end stuff, but its simplicity and user-friendliness is a perfect fit for the kind of buyer who wants a smartphone, but doesn’t want cost. Think both teens and your mum, here.
There’s a bit of a dearth of good, budget Android handsets that appeal to this demographic, and we’ve long been of the opinion on Electricpig that it’s a market that Microsoft could clean up in.
Second is the size. The iPhone aside, smartphones have been locked in a battle to outsize each other for the past 18 months. The Lumia 920 may not be anywhere near as big as the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, but it’s still a pretty big phone.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth nothing that the tiles and general design of Windows Phone means you don’t need a large screen to get the best of it. If anything, even the 4.3-inch Lumia 820 is slightly bigger than it needs to be, since the size of every UI element in WP8 is big and thumb-friendly. If people want a ‘true’ Windows Phone, they’re likely to go to Nokia, and if they don’t want the biggest one going, they will probably take the next option down.
Lastly: the backplates. The Lumia 820 brings with it the option to swap the coloured rear plate for any one of seven official colours. But that’s official colours. It doesn’t take a huge leap of faith to suggest that we’ll soon see a marketplace full of unofficial Lumia 820 plates with novelty designs.
Now, to most people that may not be the classiest sounding thing in the world, but if you think about the handset’s biggest buyers as teens, and think back to the days of Union Jack-covered Nokia 5110s and the like, you’re looking at the start of something that could be incredibly popular.
Long story short: Nokia launched the Lumia 820 quietly, in the shadow of the more impressive 920. The Lumia 920 certainly is a monster, but I just can’t shake this notion that Windows Phone’s ultimate success doesn’t lie at the top – it lies in the middle market. If things play out like I expect them to, the Lumia 820 could be the biggest selling youth phone since the BlackBerry Curve. And that’s something Nokia should be proud of aiming for.