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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
Nokia today announced two new entry-level Windows Phones. They share most features, including a ClearBlack 4.5-inch LCD screen, interchangeable back panels, dual-camera with 5-megapixel main shooter, and Nokia apps. These new Lumias are powered by a quad-core 1.2GHz Snapdragon 400 processor and include 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, and support microSD cards up to 128GB. The Lumia 630 is a 3G device with single-/dual-SIM capabilities, and the 635 is an LTE single-sim device. The devices will be the very first to ship with Windows Phone 8.1, and are expected to go on sale in May. The 635 will hit U.S. carriers in July for $189.
Nokia today announced the Lumia 930, a variant of the Lumia Icon. The stand-out feature is the 930's 20-megapixel PureView sensor with optical image stabilization and Zeiss optics. The camera is accompanied by dual LED flashes and Nokia's deep range of dedicated imaging applications. The 930 includes a 2-megapixel user-facing sensor for selfies and video chats. Other characteristics include a 5-inch 1080p HD ClearBlack display that can be used with gloves; NFC and wireless charging; and a 2,420mAh battery. The 930 is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. The processor is paired with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of built-in storage. The phone will be one of the first to run Windows Phone 8.1. The 930 will be sold globally starting in June, though Nokia said it will focus on selling the Icon variant with Verizon in the U.S.
Nokia today said that it will update all Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices to Windows Phone 8.1 "this summer." That includes entry-level devices such as the Lumia 520 - which is the best-selling Windows Phone device in the market. The update will be supplied as an over-the-air download.
Nokia today indicated the planned sale of its handset and services business to Microsoft has been delayed. The company originally expected the deal to close by the end of March, but has pushed the closing date back to April. The company cited on-going negotiations with antitrust regulators in several Asian markets as causing the delay. Nokia and Microsoft have already received approval from the U.S. Department of Justice and the European Commission. Nokia noted the tax issues it is facing in India will not play a role in delaying the transaction, and both companies are confident the deal will close next month. Microsoft originally proposed to by Nokia's handset business in September 2013.
Nokia today updated its Refocus camera application and expanded its compatibility to include all Lumia smartphones running Windows Phone 8. Previously, Refocus was limited to only Lumia devices tagged with the "PureView" name. Refocus allows users to adjust the point of focus after the image is taken. Nokia Refocus is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
Nokia today made a new software developer kit available to app writers that will allow them to add more Lumia imaging tools to their own applications. Nokia Imaging SDK 1.1 adds several key functions, such as performance optimizations that allow advanced features, such as Lens Blur, to run on low-end Lumia devices like the Lumia 520. This means app writers can target a broader range of devices with their app and won't be limited to high-end hardware. The SDK also gives developers more tools to dip into editing functions, such as reframing images and crop/zoom. Last, the SDK adds support for Windows 8.1 desktop and RT. Nokia Imaging SDK 1.1 is free to download from Nokia's developer portal.
Julie Larson-Green, who has led Microsoft's Devices and Studios unit since last year, is moving to a new position as Chief Experience Officer of Microsoft's Applications and Services group. There she will manage the look and feel of key Microsoft apps and services as exsperienced on Microsoft devices. The move is being made, in part, because Microsoft is set to close its acquisition of Nokia's handset business. Once the deal closes, former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop will be put in charge of Microsoft's Devices and Studios unit, which includes Windows Phone hardware, in addition to XBox, Microsoft Surface, and game development. Elop was a Microsoft executive before being hired by Nokia to turn the company's mobile phone business around. Elop was responsible for ditching Nokia's Symbian platform in favor of Microsoft's Windows Phone platform.
The rumors seemed surreal: an Android phone from Nokia?! Well it's real, and it's part of Nokia's aggressive strategy at the lower end of the market. With a unique blend of slick Lumia design, Android software, Microsoft services, Asha features, and a very low price, Nokia has created something that feels altogether new. Read on for our first hands-on impressions.
Nokia today announced the Nokia X, Nokia X+, and Nokia XL, its first phones to run the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) platform. The phones run standard Android apps, available through a new Nokia Store, or side-loaded. The phones offer Microsoft services - such as Outlook, Skype, HERE Maps, and OneDrive - instead of Google services. The interface is a blend of Lumia and Asha, including re-sizeable live tiles like Windows Phone, plus FastLane from Asha. The Nokia store supports carrier billing and in-app purchases. Facebook is pre-loaded. The X and X+ include a 4-inch display. The X+ adds a memory card slot. The XL steps up to a 5-inch display and a 2-megapixel front camera. The Nokia X will sell for 89 Euros. The X+ will sell for 99 Euros, in Q2. The XL is coming in early Q2 for 109 Euros. Nokia will sell the X family globally, starting in "growth markets." Nokia also re-affirmed its commitment to Lumia and Windows Phone. The company expects to price all X family phones lower than its Lumia phones. It will also continue offering Asha touch phones, at even lower price points, such as the new Asha 230, which will sell for only 45 Euros.
Nokia today announced plans to bring BlackBerry's BBM messaging app to its Lumia devices.
Nokia today announced Treasure Tag, an NFC and Bluetooth powered fob that will alert users when their phone is too far away from their keys and vice versa. The device, which Nokia says is about the size of a matchbook, can be attached to a keychain (or other item the owner wants to keep close by) and then paired with a Lumia smartphone through a dedicated app. First-time users will automatically be prompted to download the app when they first pair their phone to the Treasure Tag with NFC. When the user moves one device too far away from the other, they'll both emit an alarm. Devices or tags that are lost can be located via HERE Maps. Lumia phones can support up to four tags, each of which can be identified with its own on-screen icon. Nokia said separate apps will soon be available for Android and iOS devices, as well. Nokia Treasure Tag costs $30 and will be available globally in April.
Nokia today said that it expects Microsoft to finalize its acquisition of Nokia's handset business by March 31. The company issued a statement regarding some tax difficulties it is facing in India that could complicate the sale. Nokia said the issues won't delay the deal, which it looks forward to closing in the weeks ahead. Microsoft and Nokia had previously suggested the deal would close by the end of the first quarter, so it is running on schedule. Microsoft first proposed to buy Nokia's handset business in September last year. The deal is valued at $7.2 billion.
This hero smartphone for Verizon Wireless is packed with imaging chops and Nokia's best software. Here are Phone Scoop's first impressions.
Nokia today announced the Lumia Icon, a flagship Windows Phone for Verizon Wireless. The stand-out feature is the Icon's 20-megapixel PureView sensor with optical image stabilization and Zeiss optics. According to Nokia, the Icon lets users zoom in up to 3x while shooting video and still maintain 1080p HD resolution. The camera is accompanied by dual LED flashes and Nokia's deep range of dedicated imaging applications. The Icon also includes a 2-megapixel user-facing sensor for selfies and video chats. Other characteristics include a 5-inch 1080p HD ClearBlack display that can be used with gloves; support for Verizon's LTE 4G network and HSPA+ networks in Europe and Asia; NFC and wireless charging; and a 2,420mAh battery. The Icon is powered by a 2.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor. The processor is paired with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of built-in storage. The phone runs the latest version of Windows Phone and ships with the Nokia Black system update installed. The Nokia Lumia Icon will be available online and in Verizon stores beginning February 20. Verizon is asking $199.99 with a new two-year contract. The device will be available for preorder from Microsoft stores beginning today. Those who purchase the Lumia Icon from Microsoft before March 16 will receive a free charging accessory.
Nokia plans to announce a smartphone later this month running Google's Android operating system, rather than Microsoft's Windows Phone platform. The device, reports The Wall Street Journal, was already under development when Microsoft made its bid to buy Nokia's handset business, a transaction that has yet to close. Nokia's Android phone is meant to target emerging markets and will run a modified version of Android that will not feature the Google Play Store. Instead, the phone will come with Nokia's own application store and apps, such as HERE Maps, and Mix Radio. The device is expected to make an appearance at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, according to the Journal's unnamed sources. Nokia did not confirm the Journal's report.
Nokia and HTC have settled all patent litigation between the two companies. HTC said it will make some payments to Nokia regarding the standard essential patents in question. Further, Nokia and HTC have agreed to collaborate on certain LTE 4G technologies moving forward. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Aio Wireless today made three additional smartphones available to its prepaid customers. The devices, all of which have been available from other carriers for some time, include the Motorola Moto G for $149.99, the Nokia Lumia 520 for $99.99, and the ZTE Sonata 4G for $79.99. The Sonata reaches Aio Wireless stores today, but the Moto G and Lumia 520 won't be available until February 14.
Nokia today made Cinemagraph 4.0 available for download from the Windows Phone Store. This update offers a few new features, the most significant of which is the ability to export Cinemagraphs as GIF files. The app itself is used to create GIF-like images, but before only allowed sharing through a link to files uploaded to Nokia's servers. The GIF export function makes it much easier to share Cinemagraphs with others. The app also adds location data so Cinemagraphs can be more easily integrated with Nokia Storyteller, and makes general performance improvements. Cinemagraph 4.0 is available to Nokia's Lumia smartphones and is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
Nokia today announced the availability of HERE Transit for select Asha devices. HERE Transit is the public transportation leg of its HERE mapping and routing suite of apps. HERE Transit will allow Asha device owners to plot trips via public transportation, including buses, subways, and trains. The app provides timetables, ETAs, and walking routes from transportation stations to the journey's actual end point. HERE Transit is available to the Asha 500, 501, 502, and 503. It can be downloaded from the Nokia Store for free.
AT&T has added a 32GB variant of the Nokia Lumia 1520 to its online store. The device was previously only available with 16GB of internal storage. The 32GB version costs $249.99 with a new contract.
Nokia today announced that it has begun pushing the Nokia Black system update to more of its Lumia Windows Phone 8 smartphones. Nokia Black offers a wide range of new features, including app folders for the home screen, Nokia Glance 2.0 notifications tool, Bluetooth Low Energy, Nokia Refocus (Lytro-like camera feature), Nokia Beamer improvements, and the Nokia Camera application (combined Nokia Pro Camera and Smart Camera apps). The update is available to the Lumia 1020 and Lumia 925 first, and will be made available to more Lumia models in the coming weeks.
Toshiba this week showed off a new camera module for mobile devices that promises to deliver flexible focus capabilities. The TCM9518MD uses a twin camera setup with a dedicated companion LSI chip. The module can record video and images in which the foreground, background, and all points in between are in focus. The module pairs together two 5-megapixel CMOS sensors that then upscale images to 13-megapixels. Toshiba says it is much thinner than most 13-megapixel sensors and delivers comparable results. The camera module is sampling now, and Toshiba expects it to hit consumer devices later this year. The adjustable focal point idea was refined by a company called Lytro, which has a dedicated camera for taking such images. Nokia has a lens for its Lumia Windows Phones that provides a similar effect.
Nokia has pulled its Here mapping and navigation app for iOS from Apple's App Store. Nokia says the move is "because recent changes to iOS 7 harm the user experience." The app offered transit and pedestrian directions, as well as offline access. Nokia still offers a mobile web version of the service that works with iOS.
The U.S. International Trade Commission has determined that Huawei, Nokia, and ZTE did not infringe on six InterDigital patents, and it invalidated a seventh patent, clearing the companies of any wrongdoing. The ITC upheld the preliminary ruling made earlier this year. ZTE said it was pleased with the ITC's decision, while Nokia and Huawei have yet to file public responses. InterDigital's attempt to ban the import of certain ZTE, Huawei, and Nokia devices has been nixed. InterDigital, which is a patent-holding firm, filed similar complaints against Samsung.
AT&T today made system updates available to both the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Lumia 1520. The 1020, in particular, is receiving the Nokia Black update, which provides a number of new features and performance improvements. The update adds the ability to lock the screen rotation, set custom email/messaging ringtones, and more easily close apps in the app switcher. The update allows 1020 owners to download the combined Nokia Smart Camera and Nokia Pro Camera app, and adds the latest version of the Nokia Glance Screen, which displays the time and select notifications. Nokia Black bumps the 1020's Bluetooth radio up to Bluetooth 4.0 LE, and makes general improvements to the battery and system stability. The update for the Lumia 1520 appears to only fix bugs. Both require Wi-Fi, but can be pulled down manually via the system settings.
Nokia today released a beta version of the Nokia Camera application that is compatible with more devices. The full app only works on select PureView devices, such as the 1020 and 1520. This new beta will work on all Lumia devices running Windows Phone 8. In order to get the app, interested consumers will need to create a Nokia account and download the app from Nokia Beta Labs. Nokia says that most features should work, though it warns about the potential for bugs. Nokia said it will add experimental features over time that may or may not be added to the full application. Nokia Camera is a combination of its Pro Camera and Smart Camera applications. Both the full version and beta version are free to download. It is compatible with the Lumia 520/521, 620, 625, 720, 810, 820, and 822, and requires either the Amber or Black system updates.
The European Commission today approved Microsoft's proposed purchase of Nokia's handset business. After assessing any overlap between the two companies' businesses, as well as how the merger might affect each companies' existing business relationships, the EU believes the merged entity won't be a threat to competition or choice in the industry. Microsoft's proposed acquisition of Nokia recently garnered approval from U.S. regulators.
The U.S Federal Trade Commission today approved Microsoft's proposed $7.2 billion purchase of Nokia's handset business. Microsoft first announced the plan in early September. With the U.S. government on board, Microsoft is one step closer to absorbing Nokia's phone-making capabilities. Nokia's shareholders have already approved the deal. Nokia switched to Microsoft's Windows Phone platform in 2011 and has since become the world's foremost supplier of Windows Phone handsets. Nokia will continue to run its networking business and will retain rights to the Nokia brand.
Nokia today revealed the Lumia 525, an update to the 520/521 that increases system memory from 512MB to 1GB. The upgrade will let the device run more apps at a time. Most other features of the device remain unchanged. The Lumia 525 has a 4-inch screen, 5-megapixel camera, dual-core 1GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, and swappable rear shells. The Lumia 525 is first slated to reach select markets later this month for $199. There's no word yet if the 525 will be made available to U.S. buyers.
Google confirmed that the company is developing a fix for the Nexus 5's camera. "The team is aware of the issues and is working on a software update that will be available shortly," said Google spokesperson Gina Scigliano in a statement provided to CNET. The Nexus 5's camera performance leaves a lot to be desired. In addition to the Nexus 5 camera fix, Scigliano also confirmed that Google is working to add support for RAW imaging to the Android platform. "Android's latest camera HAL (hardware abstraction layer) and framework supports RAW and burst-mode photography. We will expose a developer API in a future release to expose more of the HAL functionality," said Scigliano. Google has laid the groundwork to permit RAW imaging, but has yet to provide developers with the tools they need to access it. Nokia recently added RAW imaging support to the Lumia 1520, and will soon add it to the Lumia 1020. RAW imaging provides photographers with an uncompressed digital negative that gives them more control over the end product.
Nokia today announced a major update to its HERE Drive navigation application. HERE Drive, which is available to all Windows Phone 8 devices, offers step-by-step, voice-guided navigation. When planning routes, the app now shows a list of all the turns before the driver begins navigating. The app now also provides an overview of the entire route with real-time traffic included, so drivers can see ahead of time whether or not they should take an alternate route. The live traffic feature is available in all views of the map. HERE Drive is now better at calculating estimated time of arrival thanks to the more accurate, real-time traffic data. Last, Nokia has added a feature that automatically geotags the driver's parking spot when they complete a door-to-door route. The driver can then use HERE Maps' LiveSight feature to find their car, or view it on a map. HERE Maps is free to download from the Windows Phone Store.
Verizon Wireless and Nokia today announced the availability of RedBox Instant for Verizon's Lumia Windows Phones. The app will be exclusive to Verizon for two months, after which it will be available to all WP8 devices. RedBox Instant lets users browse and watch movies, reserve new releases at local Redbox stores, and rent and buy movies digitally, on demand. The first month is free, but thereafter it costs $8 per month.
Nokia today published a new version of its music application and rebranded the service Nokia MixRadio. MixRadio builds on the Nokia Music service, which lets users create radio stations and stream music to their Lumia smartphones. More than 18 million tracks are available and Nokia has 150 curated radio stations, all of which can be streamed for free. The application was updated with a number of new features including Play Me, a personalized mix inspired by each user's music profile; thumbs up/down ratings to help users refine their profile; and the ability to share mixes through Facebook, Twitter, email, and SMS. Premium features, such as unlimited downloads to devices, require a $3.99 per month subscription. The new app can be downloaded from the Windows Phone Store.