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AT&T Commits to Nokia Lumia 830

Sep 9, 2014, 7:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today confirmed it will sell the Nokia Lumia 830 later this year. The device, announced in Berlin last week, is a mid-range smartphone that includes compelling camera software. AT&T didn't say when it will go on sale, nor how much it will cost.


AT&T Pushing Windows Phone 8.1 to Lumia 920 and 820

Sep 4, 2014, 2:20 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said the Windows Phone 8.1 system update is now available to the Nokia Lumia 920 and Lumia 820. Both devices gain Cortana and a host of other features with the new operating system. It is free to download and install.


Hands-On: Nokia Lumia 830 and 735

Sep 4, 2014, 5:11 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia debuted two new smartphones in Berlin today, both of which focus on providing a better camera experience. These Windows Phones are solid addition to Nokia's lineup. Here are our first thoughts.

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Lumia 735 Tempts the Vain with High-Quality Selfie Cam

Sep 4, 2014, 3:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 4, 2014, 5:13 AM

Nokia today revealed the Lumia 735, a device that features advanced self-imaging tools. The 735 has a 5-megapixel camera with a wide-angle lens and dedicated "Lumia Selfie" app. The app automatically launches the user-facing camera and has its own editing features, such as filters, toning, and even slimming down faces and whitening teeth. The rear camera has a 6.7-megapixel sensor, Zeiss optics, f/1.9 aperture, and a tool that helps users center their face in the frame for higher-quality selfies. The phone has a 4.7-inch 720p HD display, 2,220mAh battery, 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, and 8GB of storage. The Lumia 735 runs Windows Phone 8.1 and will come with the Denim system update preloaded. The device will ship with a free, three-month trial of Skype International unlimited. The device costs 219 Euro, or about $290.


Nokia Announces the Lumia 830, an 'Affordable Flagship'

Sep 4, 2014, 3:22 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 4, 2014, 4:59 AM

Nokia today announced the Lumia 830, what Nokia calls a flagship device that doesn't have a premium price. It runs Windows Phone 8.1 and the just-announced Lumia Denim system update. It is smaller than the 930, but offers many of the same features, such as the design. It includes a PureView 10-megapixel camera with Zeiss optics and optical image stabilization. A new Rich Capture mode snaps a series of images with and without the flash so users can later choose to add light to their image for more balanced results. The HDR mode has been improved, too, so high-contrast images can more properly exposed to get all the details. The front-facing camera rates just 1.0 megapixels and captures 720p video. The 830 has a removable rear cover and has wireless charging built in to power the 2,220mAh battery. With the 830, Nokia is showing off a new charging plate. The charging plate is "smart" in that it includes NFC and customized notifications when it senses that the device's battery requires charging or an incoming call. The plate comes in the same orange, green, and white colors. The 830 itself measures 8.3mm and it contains a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 5-inch 720p display, 16GB of storage, and support for memory cards up to 128GB. The Lumia 830 is priced at 330 Euro, or about $435. It ships globally starting this month.


Nokia Puts On Lumia Denim

Sep 4, 2014, 3:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Sep 4, 2014, 3:52 AM

Microsoft's handset division, Nokia, today announced Lumia Denim, the next update to its Windows Phone platform for Nokia-branded hardware. Lumia Denim's chief improvement is making Cortana is easier to use. It introduces a "Hey, Cortana" catchphrase that can be used to launch Cortana for filing reminders and other actions. Denim brings geofencing powers to Cortana, too, which can recognize geographic areas for assisting in reminders and tasks. Lumia Denim also makes improvements to the camera application. For example, the start-up process has been sped up so the camera launches faster. The camera is quicker to capture individual shots, as well, and adds a quick-capture mode that records 4K video with 8.7-megapixel images. The software can then pull out individual shots from the video to make for more compelling images. Lumia Denim will first be available on the Lumia 930, 1520, and Icon, with others to follow in the fourth quarter. The separate camera app will also be made available during the fourth quarter to just the 930, 1520, and Icon.


Nokia Routing Maps Apps to Android and iOS

Sep 3, 2014, 6:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia is preparing to release versions of its mapping application for the Android and iOS platforms. Nokia executive Sean Fernback told The Wall Street Journal the apps will offer features not available to Google Maps and Apple Maps. For example, Nokia Maps users will be able to download maps of cities, regions, or states so they may be used when offline. This is a hallmark feature of Nokia's HERE Maps for Windows Phone. Nokia believes its offline maps will draw users away from Google and Apple's alternatives. The offline maps will support searches, as well. "I'm convinced people are looking for alternatives," said Fernback. "Google Maps is a good solution for many, their maps work very well, but it has looked the same and done the same for a long time." Nokia released a version of its HERE Maps for iOS back in 2012, but later pulled the app after it received poor reviews. Nokia plans to release the new Android and iOS mapping apps before the end of the year. Nokia sold its handset business to Microsoft earlier this year, but retained ownership of its mapping business.


Samsung to Offer Nokia's HERE Maps to Galaxy Devices

Aug 29, 2014, 7:28 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia and Samsung today announced that HERE Maps will soon be available to Samsung's Galaxy smartphones for free. HERE Maps allows users to download entire countries or regions, which makes the maps available even when the device is offline. Downloaded maps perform faster when panning and zooming since new segments don't need to be loaded from an internet connection. HERE Maps for Galaxy devices will include free, voice-guided, turn-by-turn directions. Users can plan routes via car, public transport, or foot. Live traffic updates and real-time transit schedules will require a data connection. Nokia says maps are available for about 200 countries with turn-by-turn directions available in about 100. Transit maps are available in 750 metro areas across 40 different countries, with more being added all the time. In addition to HERE Maps for Galaxy phones, Samsung's Gear S smartwatch (announced this week) will also receive HERE Maps. Further, HERE Maps will allow Galaxy device owners to share their location with others via Glympse. HERE for Galaxy phones will be available once the Gear S goes on sale in early October.


Opera to Provide Browser for Microsoft's Feature Phones

Aug 21, 2014, 7:15 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Opera Software today said it has struck a deal with Microsoft to supply the browser for Microsoft's feature phones. Opera Mini will replace the Nokia Xpress browser on Series 30, Series 40, and Asha phones moving forward. "All the current user base will be encouraged to upgrade to Opera Mini and all the new phones will come with Opera Mini pre-installed as a default browser," said Opera. Nokia developed the Xpress browser as a competitor to Opera Mini, which uses server-side compression to reduce mobile data use. Opera has long pitched its Mini browser as ideal for cost-concious consumers. Opera's browsers are available to a wide variety of desktops, tablets, and smartphones. The move shows that Microsoft is looking to save costs on developing its feature phone lines, which are mostly sold in developing markets.


Vringo Loses Patent Appeal

Aug 15, 2014, 12:39 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

A U.S. court today handed Vringo a defeat in its patent claims against Google and other companies. Earlier, Vringo won a guilty verdict against Google over how search results are filtered. Google appealed and today's decision effectively overturns the earlier verdict. The court declared both Vringo's patents invalid and tossed the case. Vringo said it is evaluating its options. There's no word from Google yet about its exoneration. Vringo purchased the rights to a wide swath of mobile technology patents from Nokia in 2012 and has sued several companies, including Google and ZTE, in order to protect its intellectual property.


Microsoft Debuts Entry-Level Nokia 130 Handset

Aug 11, 2014, 7:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today announced the Nokia 130, a simple, inexpensive handset meant for first-timers and emerging markets. The candybar-style phone runs the Series 30 platform and includes a 1.8-inch screen, stereo headphone jack, Bluetooth 3.0, and support for memory cards up to 32GB. According to Microsoft, the Nokia 130 supports both video and audio playback, and includes an FM radio. The phone has a flashlight, but no camera. The Nokia 130 will reach select markets this quarter. Pricing is expected to be about $25 and it will be sold in single- and dual-SIM variants. Microsoft Devices Group includes the handset division of Nokia, which Microsoft acquired earlier this year. Microsoft's Jo Harlow said though the company is killing off Nokia's Android/X devices, it still believes there is a good market opportunity for entry-level phones in addition to its Lumia Windows Phone devices.


Skype to End Support for Windows Phone 7 and Symbian

Aug 8, 2014, 9:44 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft recently indicated it will cease to support Skype on devices running Windows Phone 7 and Symbian. The company said it will retire the official Skype app for WP7, as well as any ancillary apps that support it over the next few weeks. "We want everyone to experience the best Skype has to offer – from enhanced quality to better reliability to improved security – and the newest version of Skype is the way to do that. So everyone can benefit from the latest improvements, we sometimes retire older versions of Skype across all platforms, including mobile devices," explained the company. Of Symbian, Microsoft said, "Symbian wasn't built for the cloud-connected world, so we are retiring the Skype for Symbian app and focusing on bringing the best possible experience to the most popular mobile platforms: Windows Phone, iOS, and Android." Symbian is Nokia's old smartphone operating system and was among the first to support Skype years ago.


Microsoft Takes Samsung to Court for Abandoning Patent Agreement

Aug 1, 2014, 5:23 PM   by Rich Brome

Microsoft today filed suit against Samsung for failing to comply with a 2011 agreement on Android patent royalties. Samsung had been paying Microsoft a certain amount for each Android phone sold, but has threatened to stop since Microsoft closed its acquisition of Nokia's device business.


AT&T Pushing Windows Phone 8.1 to Lumia 925, 520

Jul 31, 2014, 2:06 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T today said Windows Phone 8.1 is now available to the Nokia Lumia 925 and Lumia 520. The update, which can be downloaded and installed over the air, adds Cortana, Action Center, and more Start screen flexibility, among many other enhancements.


Nokia Networks to Buy Panasonic's Base Station Biz

Jul 31, 2014, 7:12 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia Networks today announced that it has agreed to purchase select portions of Panasonic's wireless business. Specifically, the company will buy Panasonic's mobile phone wireless base station and related wireless equipment system businesses. As part of the deal, Panasonic will transfer fixed assets, employees, and business contracts to Nokia in Japan. Nokia called Japan a key market and believes the deal will strengthen its business goals there. The terms of the deal have not been finalized, but Nokia Networks expects the asset acquisition to close by January 2015. Panasonic ceased making smartphones in late 2013. Nokia sold its handset business to Microsoft earlier this year.


Microsoft Updates Nokia X Platform

Jul 28, 2014, 8:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Though Microsoft plans to eventually can the Nokia X platform, the company today announced an update that adds several new features to the operating system. According to Microsoft, the improved OS now includes an app switcher for multitasking. It also integrates Outlook.com, OneDrive, and OneNote into the platform, which provide Outlook email, cloud storage, and note-taking tools, respectively. Last, the update makes significant improvements to the Nokia Store, which now includes content from third-party app stores and a new home screen Spotlight widget. The update is available to the Nokia X, X+, and XL handsets. It can be downloaded and installed over-the-air.


Microsoft Downsizes, Kills off Nokia X

Jul 17, 2014, 7:49 AM   by Rich Brome

Microsoft today announced a sweeping company-wide re-organization that includes major changes to the mobile device business acquired from Nokia. Of Microsoft's 18,000 layoffs today, 12,500 are within the former Nokia units. Microsoft will combine the smartphone and feature phone units, with the feature phone operations continuing "for maximum efficiency with a smaller team." Nokia's Android-based Nokia X lineup will be abandoned. Select future models will be reworked to run Windows Phone to address new low price points for Lumia. Existing Nokia X phones will be supported, but the software will not appear in any new phones. The company will focus primarily on Windows-Phone-powered Lumia phones, and tablets. In an open email to employees, Stephen Elop explained that "the role of phones within Microsoft is different than it was within Nokia. Whereas the hardware business of phones within Nokia was an end unto itself, within Microsoft all our devices are intended to embody the finest of Microsoft’s digital work and digital life experiences, while accruing value to Microsoft’s overall strategy."


Nokia Rolling Out Windows Phone 8.1 To Lumias

Jul 15, 2014, 10:13 AM   by Rich Brome

Nokia today began rolling out automatic updates to Windows Phone 8.1 for all Lumia devices that currently have Windows Phone 8. The update includes all new Windows Phone 8.1 features from Microsoft, plus several new enhancements specific to Lumia devices. Lumia devices will gain updated Nokia Camera apps, plus Nokia Device Hub, which intelligently tracks accessories used with the device. The Lumia 1520 and Icon phones will gain Nokia Rich Recording and Dolby surround sound video capture, plus Screen Share. Standard Windows Phone 8.1 features include a more customizable home screen, Action Center quick settings, Wi-Fi Sense for automatically connecting to free hotspots, and the Cortana voice assistant. The update will roll out to all eligible devices "in the coming weeks."


Cricket Offering Lumia 630 for Free and Other Deals

Jul 10, 2014, 10:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless, which is owned by AT&T, today announced the availability of the Nokia Lumia 630 smartphone. The 630, which is a variant of the Lumia 635 (being sold by T-Mobile and MetroPCS), will reach Cricket stores on July 11. Cricket is offering the Lumia 630 for free with a $50 mail-in rebate card. The device is an entry-level Windows Phone with a 4.5-inch screen and 5-megapixel camera. Cricket is also offering discounts ranging from $20 to $50 on a wide selection of handsets, including the ZTE Sonata 4G, Prelude, and Overture 4G; the Moto G; the Nokia 520 and 1320; and the Samsung Galaxy Express 4G. Cricket is the new brand name being used by AT&T's former Aio Wireless unit. AT&T is transitioning Cricket's CDMA customers to its GSM network so it can eventually repurpose Cricket's spectrum. All the devices covered by Cricket's new promotion operate on AT&T's GSM network.


Microsoft Commits Anew to Creating Great Mobile Devices

Jul 10, 2014, 9:52 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella today sent an email to employees outlining his thoughts on the company's future. Much of the email centered on what Nadella believes should be a renewed focus on improving productivity through software and services. Nadella did spare a few words, however, to discuss the company's hardware strategy. "Our Windows device OS and first-party hardware will set the bar for productivity experiences. Windows will deliver the most rich and consistent user experience for digital work and life scenarios on screens of all sizes – from phones, tablets and laptops to TVs and giant 82-inch PPI boards," said Nadella. He suggested the company continue to invest in new technologies, such as speech, gesture, and pen input, as well as entice developers with greater opportunities across is range of products. "Our first-party devices will light up digital work and life. In addition, we will build first-party hardware to stimulate more demand for the entire Windows ecosystem. It also means we will responsibly make the market for Windows Phone, which is our goal with the Nokia devices and services acquisition." Microsoft closed its purchase of Nokia's cell phone business earlier this year. The company's latest Windows Phone device is the Lumia 635, which reaches T-Mobile later this month. Further, Windows Phone 8.1, the company's latest operating system, will begin to see widespread distribution to existing devices in the weeks ahead. Nadella didn't announce any specific new hardware or features for Windows Phone.


Nokia to Buy Illinois-Based SAC Wireless

Jul 2, 2014, 9:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia today said it plans to acquire SAC Wireless, a telecommunications equipment installer located in Shaumburg, Illinois. The company has about 450 employees and works with wireless network operators in the U.S. Nokia said it believes the acquisition will help it win business in North America for its telecommunications gear. Nokia sold its handset division to Microsoft earlier this year and now runs its networking and HERE Maps businesses. Nokia didn't say how much it will spend on SAC Wireless.


T-Mobile and MetroPCS to Roll Out Lumia 635 Gradually

Jul 1, 2014, 11:09 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

T-Mobile and MetroPCS today announced the pending availability of the Nokia Lumia 635. The device will see a gradual rollout that takes place over the course of several weeks. The Lumia 635 will first be available to T-Mobile's prepaid customers starting July 5 via the Home Shopping Network. T-Mobile's web site will then offer the 635 beginning July 9, followed by T-Mobile retail stores July 16. Finally, the Lumia 635 will reach MetroPCS' web site and select stores July 18. T-Mobile customers can purchase the Nokia Lumia 635 for $0 down followed by $7 per month for 24 months with a Simple Choice plan. MetroPCS customers can purchase the device for a promotional price of $99. The 635 is an entry-level Windows Phone handset that replaces last year's 521. It runs Windows Phone 8.1 and includes a 4.5-inch screen.


Microsoft Reveals Nokia X2 Android Phone

Jun 24, 2014, 7:08 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 24, 2014, 7:14 AM

Microsoft today announced the Nokia X2, a low-cost smartphone that runs its modified version of Android. The device follows three other Android handsets announced by Nokia in February. The X2 has a 4.3-inch ClearBlack display, dual-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 200 processor with 1GB of RAM, 5-megapixel main camera and VGA user-facing camera. Microsoft said the X2 will have three basic home screen configurations, including one that resembles Windows Phone with colorful, resizable tiles; one called Fastlane, which prioritizes access to recent apps and calendar events; and one that incorporates Windows Phone's ability to pin select items to the home screen. Though the X2 runs Android, it ships with Microsoft services on board, including Outlook email, Bing search, Skype, OneDrive, and OneNote. The Nokia X2 will be offered in a wide range of colors, and features interchangeable rear shells. Its target price is about $135. It will initially be sold in emerging markets with support for two SIM cards. Microsoft didn't say if or when a single-SIM version would become available.


Nokia Camera App Updated with New Features

Jun 23, 2014, 7:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft has released a new version of the Nokia Camera application for its Lumia-branded smartphones. The revised app carries over several features previously seen in the beta version, including continuous autofocus for faster focusing. The app also adds surround sound in video capture mode; revises the camera roll, which now supports inline playback of videos, cinemagraphs, smart sequences, and Refocus images; and integrates more tightly with Creative Studio and Nokia Video Trimmer for editing photos and videos. Last, the app includes support for Living Images, which adds motion to photos when viewed in the camera roll and Nokia Storyteller. Nokia Camera is free to download, but requires Windows Phone 8/8.1 and the Cyan system update. The continuous focus and Living Images features are limited to the Lumia Icon, 1520, and 930.


Samsung, Nokia Field Their Own Android Launchers

Jun 19, 2014, 11:41 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Samsung and Nokia have both recently made available launchers for Android devices that serve as alternatives to their normal approach for home screen behavior. Terrain (pictured) comes from a Samsung-sponsored developer and is free to download from the Google Play Store. It features a customizable sidebar that can be used to house all the owner's favorites, including apps, web sites, contacts, and so on. The launcher includes interchangeable cards that can hold separate apps, shortcuts, and data. Terrain also includes a phone search tool that it claims is faster for finding things stored on the device. Terrain's main goal is to help Android users personalize their handset in ways the stock Android tools don't allow for, while streamlining the experience and making it quicker to reach apps and services. Terrain was built using HTML5 and the company is offering developers an API so they can contribute their own cards to a Terrain-backed store, which will launch later this year. Similarly, Nokia released Z Launcher as a limited beta. (Nokia offers several Android handsets, which are now being sold by Microsoft.) Z Launcher is a learning launcher that adjusts what it shows the phone owner on the home screen throughout the day depending on their pattern of behavior. For example, in the morning Z Launcher will present apps such as email and the calendar, while in the evening it will present apps such as Facebook and Spotify. Nokia says Z Launcher improves its predictions over time. Further, Z Launcher includes a gesture search tool that lets users initiate searches from the home screen by tracing letters on the glass. Z Launcher can be downloaded directly from Nokia.


Europe and Korea Look to Define 5G

Jun 16, 2014, 7:32 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 16, 2014, 8:00 AM

The European Commission and South Korea today announced plans to together define the future 5G wireless standard, as well as develop the technologies to support it. The two bodies signed a Joint Declaration on Strategic Cooperation in Information Communications Technology (ICT) and 5G to increase the discussions and research around the topic. A wide number of companies will participate, including Alcatel-Lucent, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Nokia, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telenor, and Telefonica from Europe, as well as Samsung, LG, SK Telecom, and others in Korea. One of the key ideas behind 5G is not to just increase speeds, but to significantly boost capacity. Capacity improvements will help the 5G networks of the future handle all the potential devices connecting to them, such as phones, tablets, wearables, vehicles, and the broader Internet of Things. The collaboration has three main goals: First, to develop a broad definition of the key functionalities of 5G and create a time table for its creation by the end of 2015; Second, to kick off joint research in the pursuit of 5G by 2016 in coordination with 3GPP and ITU: and Third, to agree on global radio frequency bands for 5G in order to promote interoperability and roaming between carriers and countries. "5G will become the new lifeblood of the digital economy and digital society once it is established. Both Europe and Korea recognize this," said Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda. "This is the first time ever that public authorities have joined together in this way, with the support of private industry, to push forward the process of standardization. Today's declaration signals the our commitment to being global digital leaders." LTE, which is what most 4G networks use, has some room for growth in terms of speeds, but capacity is limited and the potential for global roaming is limited due to the wide number of spectrum bands used by carriers around the world. It is these and other issues that the EU and S. Korea hope to resolve in their pursuit of 5G.


Nokia's HERE Maps to Acquire Medio

Jun 12, 2014, 11:48 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Jun 12, 2014, 11:49 AM

Nokia today announced its HERE Maps division has agreed to acquire a Seattle-based company called Medio. Medio provides real-time predictive analytics based on mapping, navigation, and location data. Nokia will uses Medio's data to create contextual maps that provide user-relevant data or suggestions. The data will be incorporated into HERE Maps, which is the base mapping product installed on all Windows Phone devices. Nokia believes the contextual information will provide users with a richer and more personal mapping and searching experience. Nokia expects the acquisition to close in July. Terms were not disclosed.


Cricket Wireless Adds the Nokia Lumia 1320 to Portfolio

Jun 10, 2014, 7:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Cricket Wireless today announced the pending availability of the Nokia Lumia 1320. The device, which Nokia announced last year, has a 6-inch 720p display with Nokia's ClearBlack technology and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 for protection. It is powered by a 1.7GHz dual-core Snapdragon 400 processor with 1GB of RAM and 8GB of internal storage. The 1320 also has a 5-megapixel main camera and a VGA user-facing camera; a large 3,400mAh battery; and Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, LTE, and Wi-Fi radios. The 1320 ships with Windows Phone 8.1, which includes the Cortana personal assistant and Nokia apps such as HERE Maps, StoryTeller, and Camera. The Nokia Lumia 1320 will cost $279, though Cricket is offering a $50 gift card to those who mail in a rebate. It goes on sale June 18.


Nokia Buys Australian RF Filter Company

Jun 5, 2014, 7:14 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia today said it has acquired Mesaplexx, a company based in Australia that develops radio frequency (RF) filter technology. Nokia says Mesaplexx's technology will help it improve its Flexi-branded base stations. Nokia claims it may be able to reduce the size of its Flexi products by as much as 30% using Mesaplexx's RF filters. It will also be able to reduce the cost of each base station, reduce the power consumption of each base station, and minimize radio signal loss in any given cell. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Nokia recently sold its handset business to Microsoft, but still maintains its networking and HERE Maps businesses.


Microsoft Officially Kicks Off Sales of Windows Phone 8.1

May 14, 2014, 11:53 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft began selling the Nokia Lumia 630 today, marking the official availability and launch of Windows Phone 8.1. Both the Lumia 630 and Windows Phone 8.1 were revealed by Microsoft and Nokia during the former's Build developer conference in April. The 630 is for sale in Asia first, with Europe and the U.S. to follow. It replaces the Lumia 520 and will be sold as the Lumia 635 in the U.S. The timing of the Lumia 635's arrival in the U.S. is unknown at the moment. Windows Phone 8.1 adds a wide range of new features to Microsoft's smartphone platform, including the Cortana virtual assistant, space for more Start screen Live Tiles, and a notification center. Most existing Windows Phone 8 devices will be upgraded to Windows Phone 8.1 this summer, though a developer preview of Windows Phone 8.1 is available to download for free.


Nokia Names New CEO, New Strategy

Apr 29, 2014, 7:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia's board of directors have elected Rajeev Suri to the position of President and CEO of Nokia. Suri, who has been with Nokia since 1995 and has led its network business from 2009, will take his new role on May 1. Nokia sold its Devices and Services business to Microsoft on April 25. With the sale complete, Nokia is reorganizing itself into three main businesses moving forward: networks, HERE location, and technologies. The networks unit will continue to support network operators in their expansion of LTE, as well as prepare for the internet of things by creating low-power connectivity products. Nokia's HERE location unit will target cars, wearables, and business-side analytics. Nokia's technologies group will continue to research, develop, and patent new technologies and license them to other companies. "I am honored to have been asked to take this role, and excited about the possibilities that lie in our future," said Rajeev Suri. "Nokia, with its deep experience in connecting people and its three strong businesses, is well-positioned to tap new opportunities during this time of technological change. I look forward to working with the entire Nokia team as we embark on this exciting journey." Nokia no longer makes mobile phones.


Microsoft Exploring How to Brand Phones Moving Forward

Apr 28, 2014, 10:21 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Microsoft today said the company has not yet decided what it will call its new smartphones now that it has absorbed Nokia's Devices and Services business. Answering questions today, Microsoft's device chief Stephen Elop said, "Microsoft Mobile is not a brand that will be seen by consumers." He explained that particular name was created for legal purposes only. "The Nokia brand is available to Microsoft to use for its mobile phone products for a period of time, but Nokia as a brand will not be used for long going forward for smartphones. Work is underway to select the go forward smartphone brand." Nokia's networking business and HERE Maps businesses remain a separate company still in Finland. To-date, Nokia's Windows Phone devices have born the Lumia brand name. "Now that we are One company, the marketing and product folks will lay in the plans for the shift to a consistent brand. We are being thoughtful to do it in a way that accrues benefit to Microsoft and to Lumia." Microsoft completed its $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia's handset business, including 25,000 employees, on April 25. In addition to developing the Windows Phone 8.1 platform, Microsoft will now also make its own smartphones.


Microsoft Completes Acquisition of Nokia's Phone Biz

Apr 25, 2014, 7:16 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 25, 2014, 7:22 AM

Nokia today announced that it has completed the sale of its handset business to Microsoft. The deal, first announced last September, is valued at $7.2 billion. The companies had to make some last-minute adjustments to the terms of the deal. Notably, Nokia was forced to exclude its manufacturing facilities in Chennai, India and Masan, Korea. Nokia has agreed to use the Chennai facility to manufacture devices for Microsoft as needed, but it will close the Masan facility. Microsoft gains several top Nokia executives, including former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, Jo Harlow, Juha Putkiranta, Timo Toikkanen, and Chris Weber. Nokia remains committed to its networking business, and Microsoft is now officially a maker of smartphones. Elop will head Microsoft's phone business and said, "At our core, we are passionate about building technology that will change the world. From the early vision of Microsoft of placing a PC in every home and on every desk, to Nokia connecting billions of people through mobile devices, we have empowered generations. We are committed to continuing our support for feature phones, the Asha family, and the Nokia X family of devices." Elop called today's handover the first step in a new, long-term journey.


Microsoft Joins Power Matters Alliance

Apr 22, 2014, 7:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

The Power Matters Alliance today welcomed Microsoft as its newest member. Microsoft will join the PMA in its goal of developing interoperable wireless charging products. By joining the PMA, Microsoft also now has access to its specifications for wireless charging technology. This is significant because Microsoft will complete its purchase of Nokia's handset business later this week and use that technology in future products. The PMA joined forces with the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) earlier this year, bringing together two of the three competing standards for wireless charging. The PMA claims to have the largest installed base of wireless chargers and accessories, though many of today's smartphones, including those sold by Verizon Wireless, support the competing Qi standard.


Microsoft's Acquisition of Nokia to Close April 25

Apr 21, 2014, 9:42 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 21, 2014, 9:48 AM

Nokia will finalize the sale of its handset business to Microsoft on April 25, the company said today. The deal, first proposed last September, has Microsoft acquiring the Devices & Services business from Nokia, which will retain its network business and HERE Maps business. The transaction has already been approved by regulators in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, and has been approved by the boards of both Microsoft and Nokia. According to Microsoft there are a few changes to the agreement: Microsoft will manage the Nokia.com domain name and social media sites for a year; Nokia will transfer 21 employees from Nokia's Chief Technology Office in China to Microsoft; and Microsoft will no longer acquire Nokia's manufacturing plant in Korea. Once the sale is complete, Microsoft will officially become a manufacturer of smartphones, putting it more directly into competition with Apple and Google.


Phone Makers, Carriers to Add Anti-Theft Tools to Phones

Apr 15, 2014, 3:44 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   updated Apr 15, 2014, 3:49 PM

The CTIA Wireless Association today said a number of handset makers and wireless network operators have agreed to a basic framework that will eventually provide consumers with better anti-theft tools for their smartphones. The Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment is meant to deter theft while also giving phone makers and carriers room to innovate. All the companies agreed to implement a baseline anti-theft tool preloaded on (or downloadable to) all wireless smartphones manufactured after July 2015. This tool will let consumers: remotely wipe their data; render the smartphone inoperable to unauthorized users; prevent reactivation without owner's consent; and reverse the inoperability of the device as well as restore the data to the device in the event it is found by the owner. Consumers will also be free to use whatever third-party anti-theft tools they wish in addition to those provided by the phone maker. All signatories will make the baseline anti-theft tool available with all its core features. The initial batch of companies signing the commitment include: Apple; Asurion; AT&T; Google; HTC America; Huawei; Motorola; Microsoft; Nokia; Samsung; Sprint; T-Mobile; U.S. Cellular; and Verizon Wireless. Some of those who haven't signed include Kyocera, LG, Sony, ZTE. A number of lawmakers lauded the commitment, which arrives several months after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler mandated that wireless companies come up with such a solution or face regulatory intervention.


Chinese Regulators Approve Nokia's Sale to Microsoft

Apr 8, 2014, 7:03 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia today said it has received approval from the People's Republic of China to sell its handset business to Microsoft. The deal, first announced last September, has already been approved by the European Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and other regulatory bodies. Nokia competitors Samsung and Google had asked Chinese regulators to ensure the deal wouldn't lead to higher licensing fees, but the regulators did not place any restrictions on the transaction. Nokia and Microsoft expect the sale to close this month.


Nokia Intros Pocket Magnifier for Visually Impaired

Apr 7, 2014, 7:19 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Nokia today announced a new app called Pocket Magnifier. The application uses the camera on Nokia Lumia smartphones to enlarge small and difficult-to-read text on real-world items such as pill bottles, timetables, magazines, and so on. Pocket Magnifier lets people pinch-to-zoom in order to make the text larger, as well as adjust the background and font colors to ease readability. The app can also make use of the camera's flash to provide lighting in environments where it is too dark to read. Nokia Pocket Magnifier is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.


Hands-On: Nokia Lumia 630/635

Apr 2, 2014, 7:46 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

Here are our first impressions of the Nokia Lumia 630 and 635. This entry-level Windows Phone replaces the 520 and offers a lot of smartphone for the buck. It runs Windows Phone 8.1 and adds support for LTE 4G networks, including those run by AT&T and T-Mobile.

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AT&T, T-Mobile, MetroPCS to Sell Nokia Lumia 635

Apr 2, 2014, 2:28 PM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T, T-Mobile, and MetroPCS all indicated today that they will sell the Nokia Lumia 635 smartphone once it becomes available later this year. The phone features a 4.5-inch screen, quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor, 5-megapixel camera, LTE 4G, and Windows Phone 8.1


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