“But Grady! You JUST bought a new phone! JUST bought, as in, you’ve had it for just over a week!”
Yes, the above is true. No, I don’t care. I want a new phone.
Some background: I just recently purchased the quite fantastic Nokia Lumia 900, and I love it. It runs Windows Phone, which I’ve been with since the start and love dearly. It has a VERY solid construction and feels like no other phone I’ve ever held. The closest I’ve ever come to having a phone that feels this solid is my stint with an iPhone 4, but this surpasses even that. It also runs on AT&T’s LTE network, which is incredible. Why yes, I’d love to average 14Mbps down and 5Mbps up at all times! Though my true test of the network won’t be until September (PAX Prime and football games), I already feel my disdain for AT&T fading away.
This all begs the question, if the Lumia 900 is so great, why do I want a new phone?
Quite simply, it isn’t what it could be.
Despite all that makes the Lumia 900 awesome, it isn’t perfect. It could stand to have a higher resolution screen, it could have a faster processor, it could have a better camera, etc. Microsoft has pretty strict hardware requirements with WP7, and the 900 is right at the top. Even if Nokia wanted to put in a better screen or a faster processor, the OS wouldn’t support it. So what’s a phone to do? Wait.
Wait for 8.
I just made that up, but I feel like it should/could be the mantra of Microsoft, Nokia, and every Windows Phone user for the next few months. Windows Phone 8 is supposed to launch later this year alongside Windows 8, and is expected to bring a whole host of improvements and support for higher hardware specs.
I don’t necessarily NEED higher hardware specs right now, but I will eventually. Most people in the US buy a phone as part of a 2-year agreement with a carrier at a heavily subsidized price. I did that very thing with my 900, but therein lies the problem. I got a great phone for today, not for tomorrow. My phone is not event remotely future-proofed, and will be lagging behind in just a few months. At this time, I don’t even know if it will be able to update to Windows Phone 8 (though I assume it will). Ironically, despite Nokia’s claims that the smartphone beta test is over, the Lumia 900 feels like a beta test!
So what phone do I want?
I want a Lumia 1000. I want a phone with the same basic body as the 900, but with a PureView camera. I want a larger battery to support a faster (perhaps dual core?) processor. I want a 32GB version alongside a 16GB one. I want it to run Windows Phone 8 and have a higher screen resolution and support for NFC.
I want Windows Phone 8 to improve on everything WP7 does. I want developers to have native code access so they can do all the things they can on Android and iOS. I want to be able to do simple things like send videos over MMS and email and take screenshots. I want some form of video-out. I want to have deeper native Twitter and Facebook integration so I can see mentions and DMs and such sans-app. I want a notification center. I want multitasking to be more robust than it is now. I want cross-device back-up and restore. I want my contextual search back!
Microsoft will need another “hero” phone to launch with Windows Phone 8. They’ll need to entice current WP7 owners to upgrade, since it seems unlikely that all WP7 devices will be upgrade to WP8. Samsung and HTC and others have said that they’re waiting for WP8 to REALLY get going on Windows Phone. Nokia needs to lead the way with truly innovative hardware. They’ve already shown that they can innovate in hardware design with the 900, but let’s see something really special in October or so. Give me my Lumia 1000!
While we’re at it, can we alter the release cycle for phones too? Apple has a good thing going with the yearly release cycle. They release a new phone, then a year later release an “upgraded” version of that (See the 3GS and the 4S), then the next year they release a true successor. I LIKE that. If Nokia released a Lumia 1000 in October, and then didn’t release another “high-end” phone until the Lumia 1500 or something in October 2013, and then a Lumia 2000 in October 2014, I’d be VERY happy. This would help people stuck on 2-year contracts get meaningful hardware upgrades and not feel like they were missing out. It seems like Microsoft has their Windows Phone release cadence pretty well set, they just need to get the carriers on-board with pushing out updates at a reasonable time.
I think that if all of these things happen, we’ll see Windows Phone finally step up as a true 3rd ecosystem and compete with Android and iOS. I don’t want any of these to die out, because competition drives innovation, but the current near-duopoly that we have isn’t sustainable. Also, RIM, save yourself and license Windows Phone or Android and quit that crap that you’re doing.