The dust is still settling after Apple's $1 billion trouncing of Samsung (and indirectly, Google) in a highly publicized patent battle, and the shake-up in the hyper-competitive smartphone market may let Microsoft claim a larger slice. On Wednesday, Sept. 5, Microsoft and Nokia will reportedly unveil a new flagship Windows handset, the Nokia Lumia 920, which, among other attractions, reportedly comes with an innovative wireless charger that could be a game changer. Here's what you should know:
What will the phone be like?
On paper, it's looking like a "bona fide superphone" designed to run Microsoft's new mobile OS, Windows Phone 8, says Sebastian Anthony at ExtremeTech. While its predecessor, the Lumia 900, was held back by Windows Phone 7's "antiquated hardware requirements," the 920 will feature a 4.5-inch display, 32GB of storage, 1GB of RAM, and a super-fast 1.5GHz dual-core processor. One caveat: "Sadly," it sports a mere 8-megapixel camera. "A smartphone camera that could compete with the iPhone 4S would go a long way toward legitimizing the WP8 platform," says Anthony.
How does the charger work?
Rather than plugging anything into the phone, you simply place the Lumia 920 on top of a mouse-sized charging pad to wirelessly give it juice. The process, called the "inductive method," will reportedly support the Qi wireless power standard, meaning it should be compatible with other wireless charging products, says Tom Warren at The Verge. And the new Windows Phone won't require a special inductive phone case to charge since wireless power capabilities are built into its hardware.
How important is this release?
"This is a make-or-break moment for Nokia," which has struggled against rivals like Samsung in recent years, Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at tech research firm Gartner, tells the New York Times. "Everything is resting on Windows Phone 8. If that doesn't work, it will cause an existential crisis for [Nokia]." Meanwhile, Microsoft needs the device to succeed if it hopes to overtake Apple's iOS as the company responsible for the number two operating system behind Android.
Will the wireless charger be a game changer?
The move shouldn't "come as much of a surprise," says Chris Davis at Slashgear. A Windows Phone 8 teaser (watch it here) already hinted that the Nokia range, going forward, "won't require a nest of wires in order to rejuice." Declaring war on chargers is just the next step. It's an "interesting idea," says Adrian Kingsley-Hughes at ZDNet. While a charger pad is certainly less messy than cumbersome wires, it has its downsides. For starters you'll have to devote space to the charging pad 24/7. It's questionable whether wireless charging is anything "more than a gimmick."