The mobile industry was filled with anticipation when Nokia and Microsoft announced their partnership back in February.
Having invested as much as a billion dollars into the partnership, the new Nokia Lumia 7.5 "Mango" had been pegged as Microsoft's meal ticket into the upper echelons of the competitive smartphone market. It's the first smartphone to debut the Windows 7 mobile operating system.
Apple's iPhone and Google Android products have already separated themselves from the herd, setting the benchmark for what makes a dominant product in today's era of smartphones.
Many had wondered if the new Mango would bring something fresh to the table; something that could leapfrog the BlackBerrys of yesteryear and crash Apple's party. But early reviews suggest the Mango has shown up empty handed.
"When you show up late to a party, you should at least bring a bottle of wine (or a case of beer depending on the party)," explains Tony Bradley in a PCWorld review. "Nokia's highly-anticipated launch of Windows Phone 7.5 'Mango' smartphones comes fairly late in the game, and doesn't seem to add anything to make it worth the wait."
While the tech-savvy crowd waited much of the year in baited breath, anxious to see what this partnership could produce, it appears that all we've got is confirmation that the mobile game is still a two-horse race.
"Don't get me wrong. The Nokia Lumia 800 and Lumia 710 look impressive enough," said Bradley in the review. " If I were trying to choose a Windows Phone 7.5 device, and I was looking at options like the HTC Titan, Samsung Focus S, and a Nokia Lumia 800, I may very well choose the Lumia 800.
"I'm just saying that it's not a clear winner. It doesn't stack up well against other flagship smartphones, and doesn't really add anything to the 'Mango' lineup that wasn't already available."
As it turns out, Bradley might have set his expectations a little too high. He understands there's only so much a smartphone can do, and since "there's an app for that" has literally become a joke on cue, waiting for Nokia to reinvent the mobile wheel might have foreshadowed his disappointment.
"I am not really sure what I expected Nokia to announce that would have made the Lumia 800 more compelling," reveals Bradley in the review. "Given the expectations, though, for Nokia to ride in like the white knight to save Microsoft's smartphone business and catapult the platform to greater relevance, the Nokia devices just feel anticlimactic."
But the expectations of a white knight saviour should be that of the tech companies involved, not the potential consumers. No one pumps a billion dollars into anything without reaching for the sky, and no one should expect the underdog to steal the spotlight with mind-blowing new features.
Our minds were blown with the birth of the smartphone, when the cellphone merged with the personal computer to create a device so cool they could have used it in Star Trek. Any mobile developer would be hard pressed to conjure a fresh, practical feature that can live up to those lofty expectations.
Apple broke the bank with the launch of their latest iPhone and its new feature, the voice-activated personal assistant known as Siri, which is garnering more attention for its quirky responses than it did for its functionality. Did everyone who purchased an iPhone 4S do so because of Siri, or because it was the latest iPhone?
PCWorld's Ginnie Mies, who also had a chance to test drive the new Nokia, highlights what the Mango does bring to the table:
"There are also a few special Nokia-exclusive features, such as Nokia Drive, a navigation app, and Nokia MixRadio, a streaming radio app that gives you free access to 100 channels."
Far from revolutionary, Nokia simply put a unique spin on two features that already exist. From the looks of it, they haven't even attempted to reinvent the mobile wheel, yet early reviews put the new Mango down for failing to blow us away.
Instead of holding it up to these heady expectations, the Nokia Lumia Mango should be taken for what it is: A viable alternative in a saturated market with a brand new operating system that's sure to cost less than the new iPhone.
(Photo: Screengrab PCWorld)