Think of a modern smartphone and you probably imagine a black rectangle, running the same software and apps as everything else out there. But Nokia's newest Lumia models are different. They look new, work differently and are packed with innovative apps you only find on a Nokia Lumia smartphone.
You're not just getting a new phone when you switch to using Nokia's new Lumia 920 or Lumia 820. Yes, you still get the standard smartphone basics, like an excellent camera with dual-led flash, web browser, access to Microsoft's app store and over 100,000 individual apps, but Nokia also supplies plenty of unique apps that you won't get on any other smartphone.
For a start, Nokia's been innovating in the mobile mapping world with Nokia Maps for years and years, meaning you get one of the best, most accurate and user-friendly mapping tools right there on your Lumia. And if you're intent on going places (literally), there's Nokia Drive integration as well. Nokia Drive is a software tool that's part of the pre-installed suite of apps on the new Lumia models, offering free turn-by-turn navigation on your smartphone.
Nokia Drive can cache maps and directions to the phone for offline access, meaning you're never unable to use it simply because you've strayed into a mobile phone coverage not-spot. As well as that there are automated speed limit warnings to keep you out of trouble, plus a learning tool that checks your location and pulls in relevant traffic conditions, ensuring you're not heading off into some almighty jam. It will make life significantly less frustrating.
If you're leaving the car at home, or haven't even got one, there's Nokia Transport, the satnav equivalent for public transport users. This lists stations, creates combined directions using more than one mode of transport, and even integrates with Nokia Maps, should there be a bit of the journey where you have to laboriously walk from one station to another, taking some of the worry out of visiting scary new towns and cities.
And Nokia's exclusive City Lens app will help you out when you arrive. It's an augmented reality tool that lays data about your location over the top of your camera display, letting you know what highly-rated places are nearby. It'll take some of the guesswork out of finding the best sausage sandwich in the area, plus social network integration means City Lens makes it easy to let friends know where you are, what you're doing and if they should bother joining you there or not.
If you've snapped anything exciting or particularly incriminating while out and about, Nokia's exclusive Creative Studio app helps bash any photo into better shape. It's a full-power image editing app, able to import existing photos or take new ones, adding effects and filters, building panoramic shots and warping images so the faces of your friends look even lumpier and more misshapen than usual.
This means you don't need to fuss about transferring images to a desktop computer in order to edit, resize them or fiddle with the colour balance, with everything needed to jazz up images sitting right there on your phone, while the Lumia 920’s Optical Image Stabilisation ensures you have more blur-free images to choose from in the first place.
Both the Lumia 820 and Lumia 920 feature plenty of other camera software enhancements to help make the most of your snapping. Nokia’s Smart Group Shot tool takes five images when shooting a bunch of people, cleverly building a composite image by choosing the best pics when everyone’s got their eyes open and smiling and melding them into one. The phones’ Panorama stitching option lets you build super-wide images of scenery by patching lots of shots together as you wave it around, plus the Action Shot tool ups the shutter speed to capture fast-moving scenes without blur, also buffering a rapid burst of images you can page through and pick out the best.
Nokia's two new Lumia models also come with Nokia Music ready to go from day one, with a free subscription to its unlimited streaming service included with every phone. And it's not just a standard one-way radio, either, with Nokia's app letting users edit and compile their own music channels to suit their tastes -- plus there's offline caching of music for listening when out of signal and where there's no wi-fi connection to borrow.
All great apps, all exclusive to Nokia Lumia smartphones, and all perfect reasons why switching to Nokia Lumia and Windows Phone 8 is a step up into an exciting new world of smartphones, rather than just finding yourself using a slightly different kind of mobile phone.