The Nokia Lumia 925 is just a fancy 920 - and that's awesome
14th May 2013 | 09:26
But it's not a masterpiece
Nokia has mistakenly called its new phone a "masterpiece" - but it's still the phone the brand needed.
It's no secret that Nokia's been in the doldrums in the last half-decade - it's so obvious this paragraph seems redundant. But that problem has been compounded by investors calling for CEO Elop to change path from Windows Phone - a not so subtle push towards Android.
But it's never been the operating system that's been holding Nokia back - it's the phones themselves. I've still got no idea why a brand would want to make high end handsets in colours that make them look like kids toys. Yes, they're striking, but I don't know anyone that hankers for a yellow phone beyond teenagers and those that like to be a little alternative.
A good brand exercise, yes, but not one that's going to attract the hoardes.
I had an interview with Nokia's UK and Ireland MD Conor Pierce recently, and one of my questions was why Nokia steadfastly refused to bring out a phone that would go on the front cover of the national papers in the same way as the iPhone or a new Galaxy. It wasn't answered directly, in true Nokia style, but you got the sense that he knew that this was a direction the company needed to move in.
And you can't sell phones on innovation alone - and I'll tip my hat to the Finnish brand, it's done well there, especially in the camera space. Make it acceptable inside (and Nokia has just about done that with the mediocre specs on offer) and make it look amazing on the outside and you're onto a winner. By amazing, I mean make it out of some really premium materials that makes people ask about it when they see you holding it.
That may happen with a red, green or yellow phone, but for the wrong reasons.
I know many will leap to the defence of polycarbonate, and I'm with you: you can make a premium phone out of that stuff, no doubt. But for the majority of phone buyers, there's a reason they chose the iPhone 4S or 5, or the HTC One - and that was the new design.
So that's why today shows that Nokia could be in the process of getting its act together. It's taken the acceptable innards of the 920, given them a polish, and then plopped them in an altogether more impressive chassis. No need for compromise, it's just taken a decent phone and made it look much, much nicer. And that's what buyers want.
Of course there's more than that - the cameraphone elements in there are still class-leading, and the extras (like Music and Here) are a valuable addition to the Windows Phone ecosystem - but if you have to talk customers into buying a phone, then you're never going to achieve high sales numbers.
That's really the problem that Windows Phone has. I've never been wowed by anything on a phone running this operating system, more quietly impressed.
Within the technology community there's definitely an affection for Windows Phone, as it's an OS that's intuitively built and is littered with small delights, but no handset running the platform has ever been one I'd recommend over the Android or iPhone range.
So that's why, while the Nokia Lumia 925 is great in showing that Nokia knows the direction it needs to start heading, we need to see more "wow". Nokia can't rely on making good cameraphones, because there are few specs alone won't convince anyone to take a punt on an unfamiliar operating system.
Nokia needs a phone that brings the first really high-res screen to Windows Phone. A processor that matches the current competition (and more importantly apps that can use its power) is a must too.
More than anything else, Nokia needs to make a phone that looks so good everyone has to have it. The Lumia 925 is closer on that front, but still feels a little large thanks to the rounded bulbous edges, and causes confusion with the hybrid polycarbonate back.
But it's good to see you back, Nokia. We've missed you.