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Nokia: camera quality and wireless charging will be key to Lumia success

It's going to be easy to tell the new Windows Phone 8 models apart, Nokia's marketing head Chris Weber told me at the Windows Phone 8 launch in San Francisco. And of course, according to him, it's going to be easy to tell that his are the best.

"In the Lumia 920 there are five distinct areas [of differentiation]: Imaging, wireless charging, screen, location and music," he said. "These are the first phones where we've been able to add the Nokia secret sauce."

To highlight those points, Nokia will be distributing some great gimmicky gadgets to mobile phone stores, mostly based around showing off the Lumia's imaging power. For example, a cardboard box with a very dim light inside will let people take low-light photos and compare them. I tried it, and it showed how the Lumia 920 took distinctly brighter low-light images than my HTC 8X.

The Lumia phones also have exclusive camera apps, or "lenses," such as Cinemagraph, which combines still images and video to make pictures that look sort of like animated GIFs. It's very clever.

Taking imaging to the next level, he didn't count out using the 41-megapixel camera technology found in Nokia's 808 PureView in a future Windows Phone.

"Our ambitions are to bring more and more of that technology to the Windows Phone platform," he said.

Outside of imaging, wireless charging is actually the No. 1 recommended feature on Lumias, Weber said. I found that a shock, as wireless charging is one of those technologies which has been failing to take off for years. Weber, on the other hand, has five wireless charging pads in his house.

"In one of the countries that was pre-selling the Lumia, over 70 per cent of the people who pre-ordered, ordered wireless charging," Weber said. "We're working with partners to bring unique bundles around wireless charging."

Nokia's mapping and location-based apps also stand apart. When I searched for restaurants on an HTC Windows Phone 8X, I couldn't find much in Spain or Canada. But Nokia, of course, has a huge, global mapping database.

"That will be a towering strength of ours, not only the points of interest and data, but the number of countries and languages we're in," Weber said.

With all of that going for Nokia's phones, the company won't have to keep its turn-by-turn driving app, Nokia Drive, to itself. Weber confirmed that other OEMs will be able to license Nokia Drive if they want.

"I would expect some of [their competitors] to have that," he said.

It doesn't sound like he'll heed my call and bring QWERTY keyboards to Nokia's Lumia phones, though.

"A lot of the feedback we've gotten ... shows the trend of how much people are moving to soft keyboards, and the biggest carriers in the US all tell us that the Windows Phone keyboard is by far the best keyboard out there," he said. "That's where we need to focus; we have to make people aware of how good the soft keyboard is in Windows," he said.