IF IT WAS a Samsung launch it may have involved flying goats propelled by steampunk balloon motors and a world-class Paleo chef dishing up the goat innards after the balloons burst. If it was an Apple launch, there may be a secret meeting at which the media have to sign documents pretending that the media event never happened, and that the Apple media representatives never existed.
But this is Microsoft. They’re stately, businesslike. Just a few journalist tech-heads invited to the Seattle company’s Auckland high-rise, deposited in a meeting room with some sandwiches, and briefed on the smarts of their latest smartphone.
Well, make that two, because while the Nokia Lumia 930 is the flagship, they’re also presenting its little sister to the world: the Lumia 635. But we’ll get to that later, because it’s not why we’re here today, right?
Some bods from the rather saucily named Microsoft Devices Australia had flown across just to be there (couldn’t they just have Skyped?), and NZ Product Manager Stephen Baxter took us through all the wowie-zowie features of what – going by the reviews just coming in on the wire from overseas – looks for be a rather excellent communication, um, device.
Baxter explained that the Lumia 930 comes with a new operating system, the latest iteration of Windows (Windows 8.1, of course), and features the best build quality in its class. He would say that, of course, but having rubbed my greasy paws on the smooth beveled edges of said contraption, and groped its cold glass frontage, I get what he’s talking about: it feels good in the hand.
He raved about the 5-inch HD screen, which takes up 75 percent of the entire real estate of the front, and he made the rather astonishing claim (unless I misheard him with my aging grandfatherly ears) that the glass on each smartphone takes 70 minutes to polish! But what he spent most time talking up was the 930’s ability to record video images seamlessly, and its FOUR high quality microphones for recording the action. They showed us a rather amazing video of some chick talking and waving the flag for a drag race, and both audio and video on this very slick video were taken with the 930. With microphones on the front and back of the device, there was none of the sound fade or distortion you commonly encounter on YouTube videos!
He went on about the screen’s remarkable OLED display being visible in direct sunlight, its lightning-fast connectivity, and then took a look at some of the other stuff, including the way the home screen can be personalised with your own pictures, and some of the local apps that have been included and pre-installed, including region-specific weather and traffic reports.
Mentioned also was the Cloud integration across Windows 8.1 gadgets, the 20MP camera with Carl Zeiss lens, and the cute covers that come in black, green and orange (yes, just like those gorgeous bulbous 1998 iMacs… oops, wrong company).
Needless to say, the Nokia Lumia 930 has a heck of a battle in trying to get a bit of action while Samsung and Apple are playing hardball battling it out for supremacy. It goes without saying that apps won’t be as numerous as those for Apple products, or Android devices, but it’s a handsome smartphone that, with its full Windows integration and Microsoft Office capability, is sure to appeal to those who use their gadgets at least 50 percent of the time for business activities.
That little sis, meanwhile, is waiting in the wings to express her individuality. The Lumia 635 is a price-conscious smartphone that’s obviously geared towards a young, active audience seeking all of those entertainment thrills, although it too, makes use of Windows 8.1 and includes Microsoft Office.
It’s got a 4.5-inch screen, global maps and navigation, free radio streaming and, as they say, ‘lightning fast 4G connectivity.’
The Lumia 930 is available exclusively in NZ through Vodafone at $999, while the 635 can be bought from a variety of carriers. 2degrees, for instance, have it at $299 straight up, and various plans.
Witchdoctor’s review is coming right up. GARY STEEL