Once upon a time the largest mobile phone maker and the most profitable player in the business, Nokia has had a nightmare couple of years following Symbian’s ceasing in 2010. In all honesty, it wasn’t the ditching of the OS that turned Nokia from hero to zero, but in fact the platform’s inability to keep up with the times and provide sturdy competition for Android and iOS.
Ever since 2010, the Finland-based giant has bled money fiscal quarter after quarter, reaching a critical point in 2012 when a $3 billion net loss was reported. But while a Phoenix-like sudden and spectacular rising from the ashes is nowhere on the horizon, there are reasons for Stephen Elop and his guys to be (fairly) optimistic.
Nokia’s latest financial report, for Q1 2013, showed an encouraging 30% increase in handset sales, confirming the new Windows Phone-based Lumias (especially the 920) are starting to grow on people. But with operating losses still reported, the Finns need to step things up a few good notches before finding themselves way too deep in financial trouble to ever get back on their feet.
Is such a thing possible? Can Nokia recover some of the lost ground to Samsung or Apple? Can the company’s next flagship devices become a real threat for the Galaxy S4 or HTC One? We honestly have no idea what the future has in store, but we may be able to answer some of those questions come May 14 (next Tuesday).
That’s when Nokia will hold a special London press event, teased with two cryptic messages: “The Nokia Lumia story continues” and “See what’s next”. Naturally, the mystery is on as to what will be on display in the English metropolis next week, but here are our best current guesses and their chances of making Android tremble with fear:
The thing about the smartphone market nowadays is that it’s fairly predictable in many ways, which can lead to boredom and disappointment for people that keep up with the news. Take the Lumia 928.
This is likely going to be a decent 920 follow-up (or better yet rehash), but it’s been around in the rumor mill for so long that it’s impossible to find one guy still enthusiastic about it. On the flipside, it appears Nokia has understood that too, so chances are the 928 was nothing but a well-concocted diversion to make us look away from the real May 14 stars.
If the 928 will after all be introduced in London next week, its shot at glory is astronomical. The thing will almost certainly come with a 4.5-inch 720p display, dual-core 1.5 GHz CPU, 1 GB of RAM and 2,000 mAh battery, which would have been enough to take on Android’s top-notch devices… a year ago.
Catwalk (aka Lumia 925)
Here’s where things get interesting. Though the Catwalk is rumored to pack essentially the same specs as the 928, chances are it’s going to come with an all-aluminum body and an extremely slender figure (hence the “Catwalk” codename).
And let’s face it, several Android high-enders have a problem with catching the eye of tech aficionados with their somewhat bland designs. Also, unlike the 928, tipped to be a Verizon exclusive, the 925 or Catwalk is said to be a global device. In the US, it will most probably only come to T-Mobile, but we still think Nokia may be on to something here.
Verdict: possible stud
This big guy was always thought to get a release after the Lumia 925 and 928, but there’s an increasing wave of rumors coming our way of late saying it could be the surprise London show-stealer after all. And what a show we’ll have if this proves to be true, because the EOS is the highly anticipated 808 Pureview cameraphone follow-up.
Unlike the 808, the EOS, suspected to be an AT&T-exclusive in the US, will not be all about the camera. Granted, that should still be the main selling point, packing a 41 MP sensor and all that, but a fairly credible source told us at one point Nokia was planning to throw the EOS to the lions with… a quad-core processor.
That would be a first for the Lumia line and Nokia in general and a definite turning point for Windows Phone in its battle against Android. Other possible features include 2 GB of RAM, a larger than 2,000 mAh battery and a 4.5-inch screen, but for now this should be all handled with extreme care and looked at as a wild rumor.
Verdict: definite stud
Max (aka Lumia 625)
I’m sure you’re as baffled as me to hear Nokia may be planning a 4.7-inch mid-ranger (?!?), but the info comes from a rock-solid source, so, even if this fellow won’t be on display in London, it will probably come sooner or later.
But what’s the strategy here? Well, it’s very, very simple. Not everyone can afford high-end, uber-expensive smartphones and, as Samsung has proven in the past few years, there’s loads of money to be made in the entry-level and mid-range niches.
Yeah, but Nokia already has the Lumia 520 and 720 and they’re both pretty fresh. True, but let’s be honest, how many people do you know that own those things? I know zero. And that’s because, like it or not, the trend is “bigger is better”, even when it comes to budget-conscious handhelds.
Enter the 625, or Max, which rumor has it will come with a modest, but big-ass 4.7-inch WVGA screen, dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU, 512 MB of RAM, 2,000 mAh battery and LTE speeds. A cheap LTE phone with a ginormous display? Count me in.
Verdict: possible stud
What could go wrong?
With three out of four possible May 14 stars having definite stud potential, you could say the future looks bright for Nokia. Only it’s not that simple. First of all, because none of the information presented above is official.
Second, even with decent hardware and lucrative prices, Nokia still has the software problem to take care of. Or, you know, Microsoft. Whoever, but the fact of the matter is people don’t really like Windows Phone 8. It’s too minimalistic, it doesn’t have solid app and game support and some might even call its UI ugly.
And that, boys and girls, is why Android should not really fear Nokia. Yet. But maybe soon… I’ll be honest, I want Android to rule the smartphone world for decades to come, but the only way it’s going to thrive and drive forward is if it’s going to have solid competition. So bring it on, Nokia!