Nokia explains delay for Full HD and Quad Core support

Nokia has been launching smartphones with Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system since late 2011 and the devices have always featured last-generation of system-on-chips and screens. Now Nokia has reached out with an explanation about their hardware choices in an interview to TechCrunch.

The company has stated that, to launch devices with newer chipsets and high resolution displays they needed the participation of Microsoft just as much as their own, since the operating system itself was lacking the support for implementing them. Nokia's VP of software program management, Samuli Hanninen said that they also needed to have apps and user experience ready to justify the bigger screens.

Samuli admitted that Nokia has been late in bringing Full HD screens to their phones, but with regards to processors insisted that Nokia wouldn't have opted for quad core chips last year even if Windows Phone had supported them, due to unimpressive performance and poor battery life which is one of the priorities of Nokia when it comes to mobility.

Nokia launched dual-core Windows Phone 8 devices while rival phone makers had already launched flagships with quad-cores. Now, Snapdragon 800 quad core chip seems to have finally convinced Nokia that the time for high performance chips has come for them, as they are now included in both Lumia 1520 and 2520 which were launched at Nokia World 2013 in Abu Dhabi.

Nokia has released some really good smartphones like the Lumia 920, 925 and 1020 of late, with exceptional imaging technologies such as OIS, a 41 megapixel sensor and so forth which probably could have benefited from the quad core processors, but as the company didn't find the gains very impressive and also the technical limitations of Windows Phone 8 before Update 3 held back the possible implementation.

Source: TechCrunch | Image via Nokia

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WP is optimised enough to work on low spec devices and there are devices that prove that. However there are peoples who are driven purely by the spec and there are lot of them too!

So giving them a choice is not necessarily a bad thing.

Think about it though, the majority of smartphone customers don't know a lot about specs. All they care about is the size of the screen, the quality of the camera, and apps. They're not like us at all.

The majority of the customers don't compare how well the OS is optimised. For them the bigger the better.

I have a friend who has Galaxy 3 and keeps bragging about the RAM it has vs my Lumia 800 and yet I have never experienced frozen phone and never had to restart or use task manager to clear things, while he has to every 3 days.

Thus my reasoning to say, if Nokia were to create a high spec phone, it wouldn't be so bad.

don't you worry Nokia. There is a reward for this wait time, most apps are targeting single and dual core thus they will fly on quad-core, whereas in android they had to bump the spec to quad-core to cover lagging of Android OS and apps are targeting quad-core. the outcome is that Nokia has more range to ship their future devices where android really would give their users horrible experience if they use dual-core

I have to say that in everyday use, my 2 core phone destroys my 4 core phone as far as perceived performance goes.

This. A quad core is pointless on a phone. People just fall into the Android marketing trap. Or I guess Android needs it to combat lag, whereas everybody else knows how to code properly.

It proves that Windows Phone 8 doesn't require high-end specs to run smoothly. It shows that Microsoft put a lot of work into making it as efficient as possible, unlike Android which still stutters and slows down on high-end devices.

I'm glad they considered battery life and with WP8, a powerful CPU isn't necessary. If Nokia felt that it didn't hinder battery life, then why not?

eddman said,
True that. Excellent specs, but 6 inch is just too damn big. For me 4.5-4.8 is the biggest I can work with comfortably.
For me, 5" would be the sweet spot. It's big but not too big.

They simply need to make an identical spec phone but with a 4.8 - 5" 1080p display and the same camera sensor as the 1020. Could also do with smaller bezels. Then you have the perfect phone.

It's easy to just say it's MS's fault because it took so long for the OS to support the newer hardware but on the flip side they've really put work into making sure the OS is as optimized and light as it can be. People only have to look at the ability of the lower end devices like the 520 to get an idea. It's specs are very low end yet it's performance is solid and gives you very good value for the low price tag. If MS just rushed out things and just had enough support to let it run and nothing else it'd only leave things a mess for the volume segment of the market which is the low end.

It would've been nice if things moved along faster, and they should now that the WP team is part of the whole OS group and not cut off on it's own (which makes sense and something they should've done years ago). Now instead of the Windows and WP and Xbox OS guys not working together and infighting I expect development to speed up for WP in general and also way better cross-platform compatibility with all the services and features.

It isn't just Microsoft. As the article stated, Nokia wasn't happy with the hit on battery life with previous generation CPUs. Things are different now with Qualcomm's Snapdragon x00 CPUs.

When the OS is not thrashing and is handling threads well, coupled with sending a lot of processing through the GPU, the additional cores becomes less relevant.

Even with the new Quad core phones from Nokia, the primary performance gain comes from the additional MHZ and processing efficiency of the newer CPU rather than the additional cores.

Even if you use a generalize view of the PC world, dual-core i3 processors perform just fine and often are a better choice than a 4-8 core AMD CPU even when gaming or carrying heavier loads due to the faster per core instruction speeds.

Simply put, WP8 isn't starving for more concurrent headroom due to the efficiency of the NT scheduler.

I think that there's a lot of truth in what you say, but a lot of people feel that if the phone was so fast and efficient on two cores, just think of how much better it would be on 4 cores. That and there's more to this than just processing speed, being stuck on last year's chipsets mean you're potentially missing out on other features (such as better LTE, or even LTE at all), improvements in battery life, hardware decoding of certain formats and so on.

It's good Nokia are finally catching up though, hopefully the momentum will continue. I'm a big android fan but I'm a firm believer in competition and I can only imagine what great things will come with a serious 3rd competitor in the market.

Kushan said,
I think that there's a lot of truth in what you say, but a lot of people feel that if the phone was so fast and efficient on two cores, just think of how much better it would be on 4 cores. That and there's more to this than just processing speed, being stuck on last year's chipsets mean you're potentially missing out on other features (such as better LTE, or even LTE at all), improvements in battery life, hardware decoding of certain formats and so on.

It's good Nokia are finally catching up though, hopefully the momentum will continue. I'm a big android fan but I'm a firm believer in competition and I can only imagine what great things will come with a serious 3rd competitor in the market.

Last year's chipsets can be overestimated as well if the subsequent version is not a better replacement. The first generation of Quad and Octa core ARM processors are a good example, as they offered little gain and more overall issues.

With specific regard to LTE, Nokia stuck with the best set of technology, instead of gambling with less reliable radios. The Nokia 928 on the Verizon network was its fastest LTE device for several months, along with being the most stable and reliable delivery of bandwidth. Even though it was not the latest radio chipset it still has additional headroom with the newest AWS support as well.

Technology has a curve, and the first or new variation of technology often should be skipped when cuts in quality are made just to rush out the next iteration of specifications.

Screen technology from this last year is a good example of this. The first generation 1080p 5" displays delivered the pixels, but at the cost of less pixel/color coverage with larger pixel masking distances than the slightly older but refined 1280x720/768 displays were offering.

So even though they have technically have a high ppi, they have a lower pixel coverage density. This is why Nokia moved on with the second generation 1280x768 displays instead of losing color coverage with a first generation 1080p screen.
(In layman terms, there is less black space between pixels on the second generation 768p displays than the first generation 1080p displays.)

I wonder if in a few years when Apple finally gets a 720p screen, more than 512MB RAM, a quad core processor, NFC, a display more than 4" if they will be asked by the media why it took them so long. Nokia trails by 6-8 months and they have to explain themselves. Apple trails by 3+ years and nobody cares?