Nokia announces new phones, apps, partnerships

Nokia just wrapped up a busy press conference at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where most of the world’s smartphone industry is gathered this week. The company announced new Windows Phone 8 models, the availability of its popular location apps and services to more Windows Phones, and tantalizing details about new partnerships and initiatives in the works.

Here’s a rundown of what you missed.

New, more affordable phones

Nokia’s Windows Phone 8 portfolio already includes the Lumia 620, 820, and flagship 920. Today, in an effort to put more phones into more people’s hands around the globe, the company said it’s adding two new models to its Lumia lineup: the 520 and 720.  The phones combine some of the company’s higher-end innovations with new, lower price tags.

“The momentum behind Nokia is gathering pace,” Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said. “By offering better experiences at a more affordable price we are reinventing the battle for affordable mobile devices, and Nokia has the building blocks to win.”

When it launches, the new Lumia 520 will be Nokia’s most affordable Windows Phone—but sport some of the same technology (such as camera lens and touch display) found in its bigger siblings. The phone comes with a four-inch display, a five-megapixel camera, and five color options. It will initially debut in Hong Kong and Vietnam, then roll out more broadly in the second quarter to China, India, and other markets around the world. In the U.S., T-Mobile is expected to carry the phone, Nokia said.

Nokia Lumia 520

Next up is the the Lumia 720, which combines “high-end style and innovation for the socially-active crowd.” The phone, which also comes in five colors, features a 4.3-inch ClearBlack WVGA display, a fast f/1.9 Carl Zeiss lens on the primary camera, and a front-facing camera capable of recording 720p HD videos on a wide-angle lens, making it ideal for group photos and video conferencing. The Lumia 720 will go on sale starting next month in Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Singapore, before expanding to other markets including China later in the year.

Nokia Lumia 720

Taken together, it’s a pretty impressive lineup of phones. Check out Nokia’s official blog for more on the Lumia 520 and Lumia 720, including video walkthroughs.

Now available: The HERE location suite

If you already own a Windows Phone, Nokia also announced that its top-notch location services and accompanying free apps—now called HERE Maps, HERE Drive and HERE Transit—are available to all Windows Phone 8 users in the US, Canada, Mexico, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. (Previously these were only available to Lumia models.) You can download the collection from the Windows Phone Store starting later today by following these links: HERE Maps, HERE Drive, and HERE Transit.

I use all three regularly and think they’re easily among the best apps of their kind in the world, as Nokia demonstrated recently in this head-to-head video. The apps offer features including offline mapping, voice-guided navigation, speed limit warnings, venue maps, place reviews, train schedules, and much more. They’re also designed to work together—so make sure to grab all three. Check out the video to see them in action—and here’s a closer look at each of their features.

New partnerships

That’s a lot of news for one day, but Nokia still wasn’t finished. The company also announced an exciting slew of projects and partnerships.

Developers, for example, will now have under-the-hood access to Nokia’s location, imaging, and music services, and the company said new apps from Burton, GoPro, and FourSquare are already taking advantage.

The company said it has also forged a partnership with DreamWorks Animation for some still-secret “entertainment experiences” that will be exclusive to Lumia phones when they arrive later in the year.  Finally, Nokia and Microsoft are teaming up to make a bigger push into the workplace and Nokia announced today that major carriers including Orange, Telstra, and Vodaphone are already planning to promote Lumia models with Windows Phone 8 as great business-friendly phones.