Nokia Lumia 920 brings killer camera to Windows Phone 8

Nokia claims that the 920's camera captures 5 to 10 times more light than other phone cameras.

Nokia has announced its new flagship Windows Phone 8, the Lumia 920, with a powerful PureView camera as the centerpiece.

The Nokia Lumia 920 has a 4.5-inch curved glass display with 1280-pixel-by-768-pixel resolution, a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. The Nokia Lumia 920 has a 4.5-inch curved glass display with 1280-pixel-by-768-pixel resolution, a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. Nokia also announceda mid-range Lumia 820 model that has a 4.3-inch display and supports exchangeable shell designs with a shorter battery life and 8 GB storage.

But specs are only part of the story for Nokia's new flagship. At a press conference in New York, Nokia focused on features, design, and technology that goes beyond raw performance.

Foremost is that PureView camera which, despite the name, doesn't have the same whopping 41-megapixel sensor found on Nokia's 808 PureView Symbian phone. The sensor in the Lumia 920 is a more typical 8.7 megapixels, but Nokia claims that the 920's camera captures five-to-ten times more light than other phone cameras, which makes it better at shooting photos indoors or in low lighting. (This was a major issue with Nokia's Lumia 800 and 900 phones, which struggled in those situations.) A 1.2-megapixel HD camera is up front.

The Lumia 920's camera also has so-called floating-lens technology for image stabilization. The floating lens is particularly beneficial for video, Nokia said, because it minimizes the erratic shaking found in some other smartphone cameras.

To take advantage of new screen-resolution possibilities in Windows Phone 8, the Lumia 920 has a Pure Motion HD+ display. Nokia says the screen offers blur-free scrolling and enhancements to sunlight readability, so the phone can react to minimize sunlight glare. The screen also works through gloved fingers, so there's no need to buy special smartphone gloves.

Additionally, the Lumia 920 supports built-in wireless charging and near-field communications. Nokia will offer its own charging plate, but design company Fatboywill sell a wireless charging pillow as well. Virgin Atlantic plans to install wireless charging pads in its Heathrow Airport lounge, and Coffee Bean will install wireless charging pads in its shops. JBL will sell a speaker dock called PowerUp, which charges the phone wirelessly and pairs through NFC.

The design of the Lumia 920 is similar to that of Nokia's previous high-end Windows Phones, with a scratch-resistant polycarbonate shell around the curved display. Nokia is expanding the available color schemes on the casing to include yellow, red, and gray, in addition to the existing cyan, white, black. and pink found in Nokia's Lumia 900 line.

Of course, Nokia's Lumia 920 will run Windows Phone 8, but Nokia will add some of its own software features to stand out from competitors Samsung, HTC. and Huawei.

Nokia Maps will be integratedon this phone, as it will be on all Windows Phone 8 devices, but the Lumia 920's Maps app will also included an augmented reality feature called City Lens. Similar to Yelp's AR mode, CityLens lets users hold up the phone's camera to their surroundings and see information on nearby businesses. And on the Lumia 920, Nokia's Drive app will provide turn-by-turn directions with fully-offline maps.

The camera also has some software features to improve photos. Smart Shoot scans for unwanted people passing through photos, and can remove them from the image. Cinemagraph can add a touch of motion to parts of an image, such as a flag waving in the background.

In addition to the Lumia 920, Nokia also announced the Lumia 820, which seemed like a bit of an afterthought at the company's press conference. The Lumia 820 has a 4.3-inch, 800-pixel-by-480-pixel resolution display (without curved glass), a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB of RAM, an 8-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics (not PureView), a VGA front-facing camera, 8GB of storage. and a microSD card slot.

Nokia hasn't announced pricing or availability for its new Lumia phones, but says both will be available in pentaband LTE and HSPA+ variants in select markets later this year.

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