The Nokia Lumia 925 is Nokia's current flagship, but what's coming next from the Finnish giant? We've had a one-on-one to find out...
“I can’t really talk about the future of Lumia,” says Stefan Pannenbecker, head of product design at Nokia, as we sit down to talk, “although I’d love to. There are some very exciting things happening.”
Despite that, we’re keen to squeeze out as much information as we can about the next crop of Nokia’s Lumia phones…
Nokia Lumia 925: Everything you need to know
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Click here for our complete Nokia Lumia 925 guide.
With the Nokia Lumia 925, Stefan’s team has taken everything its learnt over the last few years of Lumia devices and cranked the dial up to 11, with new materials, a thinner form factor and smaller components. But now that that’s done, what’s coming next?
Stefan’s lips may be sealed when it comes to specifics, but by piecing together the hints that he does give us, it’s not too difficult to form an image of what’s just over the horizon.
So let’s do just that. Here’s the future of Lumia, piece by piece…
“We continue to evolve our strategy strategy of using polycarbonate and bright colours,” Stefan explains. Up until the Lumia 925, every Lumia has been a unibody slab of bright polycarbonate. So how will the metal casing of the Lumia 925 affect things from now on? The answer is simple: we’ll continue to see a bit of both.
“We’re not in a position where, because we’ve done a metal product, they’re all going to be metal from now on. But we see that metal is a really nice asset,” Stefan adds. “The benefit of the way we build a metal product now is that it performs as well as a polycarbonate product, and we’ll continue to build better products step by step.”
The Lumia 925 manages to squeeze in Nokia’s sterling PureView imaging hardware into a pretty svelte frame, albeit with a tiny raised lip around the lens. But, as it turns out, that’s completely by design:
“We have a strategy where we’re putting a lot of emphasis on imaging quality. That means that a lot of the hardware we use for the cameras require a certain topology for the product, and that’s something that we then respect in the design itself.
“It’s a little bit like on a sports car,” Stefan explains, “where on the bonnet you might have a dent or a raised bit to fit the engine underneath, and you know that it’s part of the machine; that it’s part of the story. That’s the same way we look at the cameras. But, at the same time, it’s a very honest approach.”
“Screen size is a really interesting thing,” Stefan points out, “because it’s almost religious to some people.
“If you really think about it, a smartphone today is so many different things. It’s a game pad, a productivity tool, a multimedia device, etc. With that in mind, it’s absolutely legitimate to create products with big displays and products with small displays, because different people will use them differently.” That’s a theory backed up by Nokia’s expanding range of Lumia devices, built to cover off almost every size and usage case. But what does Stefan prefer?
“Personally? I like a product like the 925 which has a relatively large display, but that I can still use with one hand. But I can totally see why people might like bigger displays. At Nokia we like to give people some choice as to how they want to use the product.”
“I can totally see why people might like bigger displays.”
Having a phone for every size is great, but how does Nokia decide on the right size for a phone like the Nokia Lumia 925, which is built as a flagship device? Stefan explains that there’s “lots of research that goes into deciding on an optimum screen size.
“You need to understand how people use their phones and other products now, and when you know that, you can figure out how people will want to use their phones in the future, too.”
Whatever the screen size on our future Lumias, though, one thing we can definitely expect to see is the body shrink around the display itself: “We try to minimise the footprint of the product by optimising the way we build the screen and the frame around it,” Stefan says.
“We’re going to push miniaturisation – getting the products more compact – and we’re going to continue the design approach that we have, and evolve that.”
Work’s already underway…
Whatever Nokia’s got in store for us, you can guarantee that work’s already well underway. Stefan tells us that preparation for a new device always starts well before the phone prior to it even hits the shelves. With the Nokia Lumia 925, that was no different: “We had an activity in preparation of a program that was going to use metal in a meaningful way.
“That activity started even before we started work on the Nokia Lumia 920. There’s a great deal of preparation time, and then a project like the Lumia 925 will take about a year, and sometimes longer.”
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We asked Stefan if he feels more pressure now that the Lumia range is continually evolving. “We create the pressure ourselves,” he said, earnestly. “We’re the most critical of our own work.”
To us at Vodafone, that can only mean good things.
More on the Nokia Lumia 925: You can read the other half of our talk with Stefan here, in which he reveals the secret durability tests that every phone has to pass. On top of that, check out our complete guide to the Nokia Lumia 925.