Nokia’s next phones: is this a grand plan in the works?

By Kip Kniskern | Posted January 3, 2013 8 comments

n8 colorsToday The Verge revealed that Nokia is apparently planning a successor to the Nokia 920, only with an aluminum body to make the phone lighter, to arrive sometime this year.  While it would be foolish to think that Nokia is doing anything OTHER than planning a new phone, today’s news is interesting on two fronts.

First, of course, is Nokia’s answer to complaints that the 920 is too heavy.  Using an aluminum body, as Nokia did with the (Symbian) N8, their last big release before switching to the Windows Phone platform, allows them to continue emphasizing color as a differentiator while lightening the load.

Next, it may actually explain another complaint about the 920, and that’s the very tight inventory, and difficulty in actually finding a 920 to buy.  If you think of the 920 as a stopgap and a placeholder, designed to create buzz, showcase the Nokia (and Windows Phone) brand, build out production and distribution channels, and soften up the market for a big blitz of 2013 Nokia devices, then it makes a lot of sense to use the 920 to get people talking about, but perhaps not actually buying a current Nokia flagship phone.

Now that doesn’t mean that Nokia wouldn’t sell more 920s if it could, but building out the (especially US) distribution channels takes time, and Nokia is in no position to squander precious resources on phones it might not sell.  Using the 920 to create buzz while greasing the skids for this year’s models, but functioning mainly as a stopgap until everything is up and running, makes a lot of sense in the long run.

This year, when Nokia introduces “Catwalk” (The Verge’s revelation of a codename for this new aluminum body phone), there’s almost no doubt that it will be compared favorably to the 920 (Lighter! Prettier! Available Now!).  If Nokia and Windows Phone play their cards right, it should be in good position to compete with the rumored launch of the iPhone 5s, which may be coming as early as midsummer.

Nokia has come a long way with the Lumia series and Windows Phone.  After jumping off the burning platform, Nokia has slimmed down, concentrated on a few key differentiators like vibrant colors and superior optics, helped Microsoft to push the Windows Phone OS forward, and begin to change perceptions in the marketplace.  Now, in 2013, it’s time to sell some phones.

Posted January 3rd, 2013 at 11:31 am
Category: Mobile
Tags: Lumia, Nokia
  • tN0

    I can’t agree.

    It seems to be just a rumor. First of, it isn’t clear that an aluminium body would be lighter. Aluminium isn’t so robust when it is used in thin layers and most devices with a metal casing are heavier than devices built using a polycarbonat case. And aluminium is expensive and the coloring process is also not easy to achieve (look at the black iPhone 5).

    There should be several reasons why Nokia decided to use plastic on devices since the N9: they claimed it would be lighter, stronger and better for antenna performance.

    If you add NFC and wireless charging to the equation, I can’t see how they would built a lighter and slimmer device using a metal for most of the casing.

    And furthermore: The Lumia 920 isn’t heavy and thick because of the casing. It’s heavy because of the large display with rounded edges (which makes the glass thicker). The huge camera with this stability technology and all the antennas and sensors for multiple LTE frequences, NFC wireless charging and so on.

    • http://twitter.com/infrent Salman Mahmood Khan

      Disagree about your assessment that aluminum coatings aren’t as robust. I’ve had an E7 since launch without cases or protectors. It hasn’t discolored except at the plastic ends.
      Agreed why it might be heavy. They might forgo somebof these things to appease the vast majority who can’t seem to be getting over the weight.

      • tN0

        They have to be thicker to have the same robustness and while I’m sure Nokia is able to do high quality aluminium color coating, my point was that it is much more complex to do as simply using colored plastic and therefore a lot more expensive.

      • Asgard

        I just tried 920 on the other hand and 800 on the other at the same time. I guessed 800 was heavier but now I checked and I was wrong. 920 is so much bigger but so little heavier that it actually feels lighter. And knowing how much quality stuff it has inside I think it is quite ok design.
        I hope they won’t go with aluminum. Iphone 5 is scratched in pocket in just a few weeks. E7 is very common in Finland in business and I can tell that most of them look complete crap, like 5 years old and left to a motorway. My 800 looks brand new after one year of usage.

  • tN0

    I can’t agree.

    It seems to be just a rumor. First of, it isn’t clear that an aluminium body would be lighter. Aluminium isn’t so robust when it is used in thin layers and most devices with a metal casing are heavier than devices built using a polycarbonat case. And aluminium is expensive and the coloring process is also not easy to achieve (look at the black iPhone 5).

    There should be several reasons why Nokia decided to use plastic on devices since the N9: they claimed it would be lighter, stronger and better for antenna performance.

    If you add NFC and wireless charging to the equation, I can’t see how they would built a lighter and slimmer device using a metal for most of the casing.

    And furthermore: The Lumia 920 isn’t heavy and thick because of the casing. It’s heavy because of the large display with rounded edges (which makes the glass thicker). The huge camera with this stability technology and all the antennas and sensors for multiple LTE frequences, NFC wireless charging and so on.

    • http://twitter.com/infrent Salman Mahmood Khan

      Disagree about your assessment that aluminum coatings aren’t as robust. I’ve had an E7 since launch without cases or protectors. It hasn’t discolored except at the plastic ends.
      Agreed why it might be heavy. They might forgo somebof these things to appease the vast majority who can’t seem to be getting over the weight.

      • tN0

        They have to be thicker to have the same robustness and while I’m sure Nokia is able to do high quality aluminium color coating, my point was that it is much more complex to do as simply using colored plastic and therefore a lot more expensive.

      • Asgard

        I just tried 920 on the other hand and 800 on the other at the same time. I guessed 800 was heavier but now I checked and I was wrong. 920 is so much bigger but so little heavier that it actually feels lighter. And knowing how much quality stuff it has inside I think it is quite ok design.
        I hope they won’t go with aluminum. Iphone 5 is scratched in pocket in just a few weeks. E7 is very common in Finland in business and I can tell that most of them look complete crap, like 5 years old and left to a motorway. My 800 looks brand new after one year of usage.