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Network World - New smartphones this week from Nokia-Microsoft and Motorola-Verizon Wireless-Google, with Apple's iPhone expected next week, shed light on how mobility is evolving for enterprise IT groups. The focus has been less on hardware razzle-dazzle and more on what the phones can do as mobile computers.
First look: Nokia's new Windows Phone 8 smartphones
First look: Motorola's new Droid RAZR lineup
The new Motorola Droid Razr models will support the latest version of the Android OS, Jellybean, when they ship later this year. And, for the first time, include Google's Chrome Web browser as the phone's standard. Nokia's new Lumia models, running the not-yet-released Windows Phone 8 OS, feature new levels of integration with the Nokia Location Services, now built into Window Phone, and new apps, like the augmented reality browsing in Nokia City Lens, to exploit these services.
Most of the new phones support 4G/LTE cellular connectivity (with a fall-back to 3G), providing a much bigger, always available, wireless data pipe at least for those subscribers who want it. And enterprises can expect that pipe, as well as 802.11n Wi-Fi links, to be used for high definition imagery and video transfers. Diagonal screen sizes range from 4.3 to 4.7 inches. All of them feature "only" dual-core processors rather than the quad-core chips found in a few high-end phones, an acknowledgement of the complex tradeoffs that good mobile device design requires.
The most notable hardware feature in the new Motorola phones is the much longer battery life, says Michael Morgan, senior analyst, mobile devices, for ABI Research. But the greater significance lies in how these mobile devices from Motorola Mobility, acquired by Google last year, fit into the growing constellation of Google services. "Motorola will be the vehicle that is used to ensure that there are Android devices on the market that leverage Google services, such as maps and email," Morgan says.
Steve Patterson, writing Network World's PhilAndroid blog, argues the new Motorola phones are "customer acquisition platforms that attract and engage consumers with the un-tethered mobile capability to run data-intensive applications like Google Maps, Facebook, YouTube and Skype in the way they would ordinarily run only on PCs or on Wi-Fi-connected mobile devices."
"This mobile platform consisting of data-intensive applications, compelling preloaded Google apps, fast un-tethered browsing and long battery life is game changing because it captures customers and increases the amount of mobile data intensive application time displaced from PCs (including Macs)," he writes.
Nokia did emphasize hardware features to differentiate its second-generation Lumia phones: new display technology that minimizes motion blurring and boosts brightness in sunlight, wireless recharging based on the Qi standard; and on the higher-end phone, a greatly improved camera and more powerful battery. But what makes the camera effective is the way it leverages both new editing features in Windows Phone 8, along with new third-party apps, and the accompanying free 7GB storage account on Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud storage service.