Will it be Windows or curtains for phone makers?

Last Updated: Mon, Sep 10, 2012 04:52 hrs

Windows 8 is Microsoft's salvo against Apple's mobile operating system, iOS, and Google's Android. Admittedly, there aren't too many mobile manufacturers on board just yet, but we do know a few will be launching Windows Phone 8 handsets. Nokia and Samsung have already announced their plans to bring in Windows 8 smartphones by October. Others like HTC and Huawei are yet to reveal their Windows 8 smartphones. In either case, this will be a critical year for smartphone wars - we will finally see a clear winner in the mobile OS market.

The new crop of Windows Phone 8 devices will be on par with any of the new Android devices, as well as anything that Apple introduces on September 12. But will they be more advanced? That's tough to say.

The Finnish major has announced two new Windows 8 smartphones : Lumia 920 and 820. Dressed in funky colours, flaunting wireless charging pillows and improved camera prowess, Nokia is making sure its phones will turn heads.

Lumia 920, the flagship device, will come with 1GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 dual-core processor, eight megapixel camera and a 2000mAh battery. In short, that's a good hardware package. A high-resolution 4.5 inch display with 1280x768 pixels has been packed with Nokia's new Pure Motion HD+ technology. Pure Motion HD+ is all about getting rid of screen flicker and motion wobble when looking at web pages. It ups the screen refresh rate, like on a high-end TV or computer screen, so that image results are smooth. Nokia claims that the Lumia 920 adjusts contrast levels dynamically, retaining best-in-class contrast in any light conditions. Result, images that will look better even in dim light. In terms of software, Nokia builds in augmented reality feature called "Nokia City Lens"-if you point the camera at a building, the phone will give you information about a store or restaurant on the site. Sounds very promising, but will it work in a country like ours?

Lumia 820 appears to be a mid-range smartphone. The Lumia 820 differs from Lumia 920 in its body design, though uses the same polycarbonate material and has a 1650mAh battery. So, you will get a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 dual-core chip clocked at 1.5GHz, 1GB of RAM, just 8GB of internal memory (a microSD expansion to add some more). and an 8 megapixel camera. Display too has been scaled down to 4.3-inch and screen resolution is also only 800 x 480 pixels.

During the launch demo, Nokia showed how Windows 8's live-tiles (on handset) make them easy and intuitive to use. While it still lacks some key apps, but Microsoft says it's catching up. Microsoft has surpassed the 100,000 mark in terms of the number of apps in its store. The unanswered question is if Lumia range and Windows 8 can overcome Apple's biggest advantage - mobile app ecosystem - which has been unchallenged.

The South Korean giant, Samsung, was the first vendor to show off its Windows 8 line up. Samsung ATIV S features a large 4.8 inch super AMOLED high definition screen, has an 8-megapixel camera and boasts of an aluminium chassis (given the company's tendency to use plastic casing on its Galaxy Android devices, this should appeal to many a customers). Even the speaker bar on the front and the back, as well as all of the buttons, are aluminum, not plastic.

ATIV S sports a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, comes in either 16GB or 32GB flavors and stores 1GB of RAM with a microSD option. Display's pixel density of 306ppi means ATIV S follows Samsung Galaxy S3's screen and just behind HTC One X (312ppi) and the retina display of iPhone 4S (326ppi). Backing all of this up is a massive 2300mAh battery, which should be really impressive.

Samsung hasn't announced the ATIV S's release date yet and there's been no word on pricing or availability for any overseas markets either. What will decide Samsung ATIV S's future is its price tag. If it isn't priced competitively vis-a-vis the Apple iPhone (or the new version that may pop up this week), consumers might not be willing to bet top bucks on a new unproven mobile OS.

Technology blogs have been speculating on HTC's, the Taiwanese phone manufacturer's, Windows 8 product map. There's been no confirmation on this but HTC's coming press event on September 19 in New York City is speculated to be about its announcement on Windows Phone 8 lineup of devices.

Reputed technology portal, Verge, claims HTC is set to launch three classes of Windows Phone 8 smartphones. The Zenith will be the high-end line with 4.7-inch Super LCD display, quad-core processor, NFC support and 8-megapixel camera that can grab 1,080p video footage. The midrange is being referred to as Accord and is expected to have a slightly smaller, 4.3-inch screen and dual-core processors. The budget Windows Phone 8 will be the Rio line, expected to offer a 4-inch WVGA display, 14.4 Mbps HSPA connectivity, 5 megapixel camera that can capture 720p and a Snapdragon S4 processor.

Will HTC be able to pull off enough against the Nokia Lumia 920 or Samsung ATIV S? Will its hardware impress the Android and Apple fanboys? That's to be seen.

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