It's make-or-break time for the Nokia Lumia series. The Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 have been unveiled, and they are among the first phones to use the Windows Phone 8 OS. Can these phones really take on the iPhone 5? Apple has just revealed the iPhone 5 in all its glory, along with all the specs we've been talking about for the past year.
iPhone 5 - Metal rear, slim and fairly angular, 7.6mm thick
Nokia Lumia 920 - Classic Lumia - smooth and colourful unibody polycarbonate
The Nokia Lumia range may not have taken over the smartphone world in the way Nokia hoped, but it has managed to establish a highly-recognisable, near-iconic look. Just like previous top-end Lumias, the Nokia Lumia 920 will feature a colourful polycarbonate body.
While polycarbonate doesn't mean a great deal more than "plastic", the materials used in Nokia Lumias like this are top-notch, and feel fantastic in the hand. Nokia has found a way to bleed the surface colour through the plastic too, so if your Nokia Lumia 920 gets a bit scratched, you won't be left with any unsightly white marks. The phone comes in yellow, red, black and silver colours. It's a lot brighter-looking than the average giant smartphone.
The iPhone 5 looks a lot more serious, but it marks more of a change from the iPhone series norms. The iPhone 4 and 4S use glass sheets on the front and rear, but the new iPhone 5 dumps the glass rear in favour of an etched aluminium backside
This effective simplification of the iPhone's construction results in a slimming-down of the handset, to 7.6mm, from 9.3mm of the iPhone 4S. Due to the larger screen, the iPhone 5 is also significantly longer than the current iPhone, at 123mm long.
But how will the iPhone and the Nokia compare directly? The Nokia Lumia 920 will be a bit wider and a little larger overall, but the size gap will be offset a little by the hand-hugging friendliness of that smooth polycarbonate. It'll make the iPhone 5's design look a little severe, in spite of bevelled edges that take some of the edge off the iPhone 4S design.
iPhone 5 - 4in, in-cell/IPS, 640 x 1,136 pixels
Nokia Lumia 920 - 4.5in, Pure Motion HD display, IPS panel, 768 x 1280 pixels
Previous Windows Phone mobiles' screens have been limited to 480 x 800 pixel resolution, thanks to the limitations of the software platform. Windows Phone 8 changes all that, leaving the Nokia Lumia 920 to have a much better just-over-720p resolution display (WXGA).
This spec in particular bumps it up close to the iPhone 5's display, which has the same pixel density as the iPhone 4S but elongates the screen to 4in, resulting in a 640 x 1,136 pixel panel. Both displays should offer similar sharpness, with enough pixels to make jaggies more-or-less invisible in text.
Interestingly, the Nokia Lumia 920 uses an IPS display - previous top-end Lumias have used the AMOLED type. AMOLED tends to offer better contrast, but IPS images look more natural to our eyes. In spite of using a completely different screen type, Nokia still claims that this is a "ClearBlack" screen, which was a term Nokia has used to show off the near-perfect contrast in its phones. We'll be back with the verdict on the screen soon, but screen quality should be comparable with the iPhone 5's.
There are a few things Nokia wouldn't be pleased if we didn't mention about the Lumia 920's screen. First of all, its 4.5in front is curved - which looks and feels snazzy and could help to reduce reflections. Its display also comes equipped with what Nokia calls Pure Motion HD . This involves using a very high refresh rate to make motion all the smoother, and its light sensor alters both brightness and contrast to maximise visibility in bright sunlight.
Conversely, the iPhone 5's behind-the-scenes special screen tech based on what's known as UBP, or unbreakable plane. This is the tech used in experimental flexible displays, but its use in the iPhone 5 is primarily to reduce thickness, and shave off that extra fraction of a millimetre.
iPhone 5 - iOS 6
Nokia Lumia 920 - Windows Phone 8
The Nokia Lumia 920 is the among the first phones to use Windows Phone 8, the mobile edition of Windows 8 and the successor to Windows Phone 7. It looks quite a lot like Windows Phone 7, keeping the colourful Live Tiles that differentiate the OS from its rivals, but is a good deal more flexible than its predecessor.
For one, you have more control over the size of the Live Tiles on your home screen, and they don't have to be all the same colour. This will let you control the visual organisation of the Lumia 920 much more keenly than the now old-fashioned Lumia 800. Windows Phone 8 also supports microSD cards, which was an omission that annoyed many a keen smartphone fan. Unfortunately, though, the Lumia 920 does not feature a microSD slot.
iOS 6 is doesn't dramatically to change the style of the iPhone OS. A defining characteristic of iOS is that it's very… thin. It's little more than a veneer, a nice-looking surface to display apps on.
iOS 6 not going to change the basics, but it will slightly embellish the "veneer" that's there. Most important for many, Facebook is going to be integrated throughout the system, letting you do things like post photos to the social network quickly and simply, or "like" songs from within the inbuilt iPhone music player. Neat, huh?
The rest of iOS 6's improvements are more app-specific, such as the complete reworking of the Maps app. Apple is to stop using Google's maps in favour of its own solution, which will include neat 3D models once you get right down near to street level.
iPhone 5 - Apple A6, 1GB RAM
Nokia Lumia 920 - Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz dual-core CPU, 1GB RAM
Windows Phone 7 was renowned as a non-power-hungry system. It's how Windows Phones got away with using single-core processors for so long - multi-core chips were not permitted by the system. Now that Windows Phone 8 has released those shackles, the Nokia Lumia 920 is free to use one of the top processors of the moment, the dual-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chip.
That may not sound too quick now that quad-core processors are pretty common, but with 23nm architecture against the quad-core Tegra 3's 40nm chips, it's able to compete pretty well. In most benchmarks the Tegra model still pips it, but not in every one.
We still don't know exactly what the iPhone 5's A6 processor will offer in terms of power, even though all the official specs have supposedly been revealed. All that Apple has said on the matter so far is that the iPhone 5 will offer twice the power of the 4S. Does that mean it'll offer a quad-core processor? Not necessarily, it could still be a dual-core chip but with a more efficient architecture or a more powerful GPU. We'll update this feature once we know for sure.
Either way, these two phones will be at the top of their game, especially when their OSs are generally more power-efficient than the other big rival, Android.