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Nokia Windows Phone complete guide

Nokia is throwing on the handbrake and making a squealing turn from Symbian smart phones to Windows Phone. We've got everything you need to know about its upcoming phones.

4 min read
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We're so excited about Nokia's new direction we're thinking of getting one of its new Windows Phone prototypes (pictured above) tattooed on our faces. But after spending a fortune on laser surgery after the disastrous Nokia N97, we're going to stick to writing about it instead.

Since Nokia announced it would be sweeping Symbian aside in favour of Windows Phone, we've been craving more info about exactly what its new phones will be like. But Nokia is nervous. It doesn't want to get us all riled up about its upcoming Windows Phones, lest we dissolve into torch-wielding hordes when it disappoints us by shipping a little later than planned, or fails to provide any of the promised features. So the company is keeping tight-lipped about exactly what it's got in store for its Windows Phones.

To sate our thirst for deets, we've winnowed out everything we know about the fabulous Finns' upcoming Windows Phones, and put it all in one handy place. We'll be updating this story with the latest phone facts as they come in, so bookmark it and come back for all the Nokia smart phone news.

Nokia will be putting out plenty of Symbian phones before we see its first Windows Phone towards the end of the year. But these aren't likely to break much new ground. So we're ignoring Symbian and focusing on Windows Phone when we ask -- what will Nokia's next phone look like?

It will be Mango-flavoured

At its launch of the next version of Windows Phone, codenamed Mango in a possible homage to the YouTube sensation of the same name, Microsoft confirmed that upcoming Nokia Windows Phones will use Mango.

Mango adds LinkedIn and Twitter to its social-networking apps. It also refreshes the browser up to Internet Explorer 9, which Microsoft says is identical to the version that runs on your desktop computer.

But the biggest feature growing on the Mango tree is multi-tasking. On updated phones, holding down the back button will reveal a sliding menu of currently open apps. You can't close apps from here, but you can tap on a thumbnail to skip to the one you want.

Multi-tasking on Symbian is a favourite feature for many Nokia fanciers. So, it's a must-have if Nokia hopes to woo its loyal fans to its new Windows Phone mobiles.

Mango's not even coming out until the autumn, however, according to Microsoft. Sadly, that means we're unlikely to see a Windows Phone Nokia until the leaves turn -- and that's at the earliest.

Its camera will blind you with science

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop has hinted that the cameras on its Windows Phones will blow its competitors out of the water with the force of a breaching whale wearing a waterproof jetpack.

The Nokia N8's 12-megapixel shooter is hailed worldwide as the best of any mobile for capturing stills or HD video -- by far.

And although we hated the N8's clunky Symbian software, we agree its camera was terrific. In good lighting, we even said we'd have a hard time telling the N8's photos from those taken by a compact camera. Rare praise indeed, but, according to Elop, the N8's snapper is just the tip of the iceberg.

"That's just a fraction of the optics and photography technology that we have in our labs," said Elop. Sounds promising.

It won't be like other Windows Phone handsets

We've seen plenty of Windows Phones, from the HTC 7 Trophy to the Samsung Omnia 7. But put them in a lineup together and you'd be hard pressed to tell them apart. Because of Microsoft's strict minimum requirements for mobiles that run Windows Phone, all the handsets we've seen have boringly similar specs.

Microsoft also forbade manufacturers to customise the user interface with anything except choosing the default colour for the home screen icons, and adding a few pre-installed apps. A big screen here and a slide-out keyboard there don't change the fact that the experience of actually using the phones is almost identical.

But we've been told that, as part of the dowry that convinced Nokia to wed itself to Windows Phone instead of Android, the Finns will have the option to make more noticeable changes to Windows Phone. We don't know what that will mean yet, but according to Nokia, it will be enough to separate its mobiles from the rest of the Windows crowd.

It will use a Snapdragon processor

Qualcomm's Snapdragon processors already power all existing Windows Phones, and they're likely to be the brains of the next wave of Nokias.

It's notable because Nokia has battled Qualcomm in the courts for years over patent claims. But now the companies have buried the hatchet in spectacularly public fashion. Stephen Elop even buddied up with CEO Paul Jacobs at Qualcomm's Uplinq conference this year.

Since they're not coming out until the autumn, we expect to see at least the latest dual-core Snapdragon CPU in future Nokia Windows Phones. That's the same brain that powers the HTC Sensation.

But we're also expecting a quad-core Snapdragon chip to arrive in early 2012, which could be plenty of time to squeeze into the next Nokia.

It's not a tablet

At Uplinq, Elop also told it like it is on tablets. Despite a horde of tablets taking on the iPad, from the HTC Flyer to the Motorola Xoom, Apple's touchscreen treat is trouncing all comers.

Elop promised Nokia won't be making a tablet until it can set itself apart from the crowd, and implied that the tablet-tastic shenanigans shown off on Windows 8 this week could be the key. That means that we're unlikely to see a Nokia tablet until next year -- if ever.

There will be lots of them

Nokia has confirmed that a whole heap of Windows Phones are coming, from flagships to bargain buys. Once Nokia gets warmed up, expect to see new handsets coming every two to three months.