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Windows Phone 8 hardware to compete with Android's best. Maybe.

Images and specifications of the supposed successor to Nokia's Lumia 800 suggest that the initial batch of Windows Phone 8 devices are going to go head-to-head with some of the more powerful Android-based smartphones on the market.

Microsoft has already disclosed quite a few details regarding Windows Phone 8. The biggest news was that Windows Phone 8 would use the NT Kernel, but Microsoft also disclosed that its upcoming mobile OS will support multi-core processors, higher resolutions, NFC, customizable home screen tiles, and sport seamless SkyDrive integration, among a number of other details. The first device shown publicly running Windows Phone 8, however, was clearly a prototype design vehicle that would never hit retail. It was thick and bulky, with sharp edges and a relatively large bezel.

Some details of a reported Nokia-built device have recently emerged, though, that shed more light on the direction Windows Phone 8-based hardware is headed.

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The leaked pictures of Nokia’s supposed first Windows Phone 8 device seems to show a smartphone with a 4.5-inch to 4.65-inch screen. It’s difficult to say for sure, but holding a sampling of smartphones in my own hand, with my fingers in the exact same position as the person in the leaked image, lead me to believe the phone is similar in size to the HTC One X, which has a 4.7-inch screen. The amount of overhang over the pinky is the clearest indicator of the phone’s size.

Based on my highly scientific hand-modeling method, I estimate that the Nokia device in the picture appears to be much bigger than either the HTC Touch Pro 2 (3.6-inch screen) or HTC Inspire 4G (4.3-inch screen), and somewhat larger than a Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket (4.6-inch screen). Unless the person in the photo has tiny hands, the phone in the image is likely much larger than the Lumia 800 (3.5-inch screen), which the upcoming Windows Phone 8 device is obviously modeled after. The resolution of the screen hasn’t been reported, but in light of competing offerings with similar screen sizes, a 720P resolution is a possibility.

Nokia’s First Windows Phone 8 devices, Codenamed “Phi”. Image Source: BGR

Other leaked details suggest the phone will have a Qualcomm dual-core SoC, an external MicrsoSD card slot, and support for NFC and LTE. Based on those details, the phone is most likely powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4, which also happens to be used in the two most powerful Android-based devices currently on the market in the U.S.: the Samsung Galaxy S III and HTC One X. Clock speeds and memory capacity weren’t reported either, but I suspect Microsoft and its partners are going to make the spec sheets for the initial batch of Windows Phone 8-based devices comparable to anything the competition has to offer. Speeds of 1.5GHz+ and at least 1GB of memory are safe bets.

Although Windows Phone 7 didn’t need (or even support) multi-core processors and performed very well with only 512MB of RAM, I had suggested in this very blog that Microsoft’s hardware partners would want to bolster the specifications of their next-gen devices to make them appear more competitive, at least on paper. If these initial indicators hold true, it seems Microsoft partners - or at least Nokia - are going to do just that. We’ll all know for sure in a few more weeks.

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