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We're interviewing Nokia's SVP Product Design, throw us some of your questions!

Stefan Pannenbecker

We're still on the floor here at Nokia's event in London and we're preparing for an imminent interview with SVP Product Design, Stefan Pannenbecker. While we have some questions we'll put forward, we'd like to know what you guys want to have answered. What continues to influence design? How will Nokia innovate on what's currently available? We'd like to hear all your queries.

Be sure to comment below what questions you'd like asked and we'll see that they get answered. After the interview we'll follow-up with some quotes from Pannenbecker that should hopefully prove useful to you all.

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Reader comments

We're interviewing Nokia's SVP Product Design, throw us some of your questions!

178 Comments

update should have the ability to play tracks while on call so that song is audible both us and the receiver. Its a basic feature and i think microsoft forgot it.

then play the music somewhere like the computer or MP3 players, but it's in your own risk as you will have a difficulty on hearing your girlfriend's sound on your phone.

apps like answering machine utilizes such features. Also those apps that play traffic, rainy noises while on call. To simulates some kind of environment. Its not a gimmick feature. Because of these small small features people say windows phone is so restricted. You cant have a custom lockscreen app, limited tabs ,limited background apps. No file system. So we cant rename or share every file.

How high were you when you thought of this? A soundtrack behind your phone calls? Does any phone do this? I agree with the others. Terrible idea.

I'm not aware of any phone that does... You're right, it's a terrible idea. I've had people try to play music over the phone before and it never works, I think because of the call compression. It just sounds terrible.

songs plays in the earpiece of both phones. Not on the speaker. Symbian had that feature. May be android too.

I think some phones do coz my mate has it but can't remember type of phone? I think Android but not entirely sure

Because it disrupts the clean lines and beauty of the phone. No joke. That was the reason they gave for not including it on the 920.

Question: Is this the new design direction of Nokia? As in will future Lumia phones have the same material?

Yep. Please let us know if the 720/520 was the last of the good looking Lumias so we can run and buy them before you switch everything to this hideous design. :S

If you watched the presentation they already answered this. The jist of the answer was, no nokia is still going to make polycarbonate phones but they want to give customers choice.

Is this the beginning of a ~6 month "tick-tock" design cycle by Nokia? Tick = new design, new guts. Tock = new design, same guts.
Almost an inversion of the iPhone's yearly cycle of Tick = new design, new guts, Tock = same design, new guts.

Why are you releasing new top end phones so soon after the release of the 920?
Do you not have a sense of loyalty to the people who bought your product; they after all have helped pull Nokia out of its downward spiral.

There is no such thing as loyalty in business. Loyalty is a term fanboys created. When you are a business, you think about profits, not loyalty. And 925 is not a top end. It's merely an improvement of 920 and getting 920 tech into the hands of those who didn't like the look of 920.

The 920 had limited availability due to carrier exclusivity. It only makes sense to try to reach as many people as possible by having phones available on more carriers.

OMG Nokia, how could you even think of releasing your top tier phones to the unwashed masses! That makes my phone less cool, which means I'm less awesome now.... lol.

im glad if i brought the 920 or the 928 eventially they would end up on a pre paid unlimited plan now i can just go to tmobile and not have to unlock it first 50 per month vs 130 per month

How is this unloyal? It's progress. Refining the design, some would say watering it down, to make it more commerical. As a 920 owner I'm happy, they've lost a little DNA in the process of making the phone more pocketable, so I don't feel my phone is outdated. If I had a choice to switch to a 925 right now over my 920 I'd have a hard time deciding. It's great that there's now an option of a lighter phone for people who found the 920 too big.

925 looks like two phones smashed together, nice front and ugly back. Why did you not use aluminum and did Marko Ahtisaari approved this design?

Ask them why they haven't moved onto a newer SoC, e.g. quad core+
Is it a limitation of of Windows Phone 8's OS as Tom Warren is saying, or could they use any SoC hardware they want and choose to use the same dual core for a specific reason.

 

Why use a quad core that WP doesn't need? These phones are blazingly fast. Do you want worse battery life just so you can tell people your phone has a quad core?

It DOES need quad cores, look at the new Camera App, it lags and takes a while to process the data when opening picture.

You're probably not a programmer. A quad-core is almost useless for most things, it's just another case of diminishing returns. The problem you're pointing to is an software problem, not a hardware problem - as there obviously are many responsive cameras with less processor "oomph".
In effect you'd pay for quad-core (with battery life, heat and size) and wouldn't get much in return.

 
LOL, yes, I was a programmer.

I have coded software that was featured on CDs, real PC magazines and best downloaded lists online

If you think that S600 quad core with new Adreno GPU won't make a difference, you are insane.

The question isn't about just having quad core, it's about if the devices are limited due to WP8 OS, which my understanding is since the move to the Windows NT core with WP8 they can use any number of cores they want up to 64, and thus the statement is incorrect.
 
But as for telling people it has quad core... yes, there is a significant number of people who buy devices based on silly stats like that. If your devices always lag behind because of supposed restrictions in the OS, then there is a perceived "lag" in technology for that platform. The question a particular person replied to me was that, if the OEMs were able to use other SoCs, why wouldn't they to differentiate themselves as they do with Android?
 
A separate example is simply using different SoCs from other manufacturs than Qualcomm. That is less clear to me, but again part of the change to the Windows NT core was to allow larger field of hardware to be natively useable, specifically with drivers, etc.
 
Furthermore, as these devices get more and more complex the tasks you can do with them expand and the possible computing power becomes more important. While checking e-mail, webpages, and low impact apps might not use much CPU compute power, when we start getting into more diverse apps any extra compute power is welcome.... especially as Windows and Windows Phone become more unified.
 
This doesn't even mention the GPU, which the quad core versions or even the T versions use the Adreno 320 instead of a 225 for all the rest of the devices. When it comes to games this is a significant improvement. Now as well know the T version is used in the Chinese variant of the Nokia 920T... which confuses me why they haven't used that same SoC in the USA or other part of the world who often value higher end tech.
 
And all this is still just talking about last years tech.... aka outdated. What about the new 200, 400, 600, and 800 SoCs? Does it really require an OS update to even be able to use these new SoCs? If so that a) goes against the message Microsoft was attempting to make with the release of WP8 and the Windows NT core and b) truly means that the OS is holding back the platform because devices are forced to use older SoCs and have to wait while other OEMs on Android get a head start with better hardware. In this case it's not even about more cores... just better SoCS, even ones that are still dual core. Windows Phone has almost always used the "last years" tech... and that was suppose to end with WP8... but did it?
 
So do I need to say my phone has a quad core? Not at all, nor is that what I'm asking. The question is if the OS is a limation on what the OEMs can create to bring interest and functionality to the device, or are they actually free to do whatever they want and they are simply choosing only to use the exact same SoCs on all Windows Phones (give or take)

How did you mess up so badly with the dust/lint problem on the front facing camera for the 920?
Is this fixed for the 925? It still looks like stuff can get into the speaker hole.

Yes!!!! I am currently returning my sixth 920 for dust behind ffc. AT&T is replacing with an HTC One. I just can't handle this flaw and need an ffc to Skype with family.

I'm on my second 920 for other issues, but I might get another later this summer while I'm still under warranty in hopes that they applied the fix to later units.

"Ask them if they think Microsoft's reputation will hold them back?" We all know when regular consumers hear the word MICROSOFT they" say naw what else do you got"

They would use low field antennas tuned to resonate with the grommets on your Jeans. That's what Apple did - always worked fine in Steve Job's hands, the rest of us just didn't dress properly or wear the approved clothing. ;)

The camera, mapping/Augmented reality technologies have been a wonderful selling point for purchasing Nokia branded Windows Phones over others, but we have yet to see large numbers of users from the other ecosystems flock to Windows Phones.  What technologies would you like to see come to Windows Phones that would put it on top as the best ecosystem for businesses, consumers, and families that would bring the masses to Windows Phone and be available to all devices and not just Nokia's.

bummer :(, because i remember reading that will be available for ALL lumia devices, seems like that exluded the 1st generation.

The rasied camera lens is because of OIS. People wanted thinner and lighter device and still get OIS. This is the solution.

i think it looks good with the wireless charger attachement cover, then it becomes more of a 920, and you lose the raise in the camera lens :P
but if you dont need it, its still a very slim phone

To make it thinner and lighter, not everybody is willing to carry a thick phone to have wireless charging. This way they are trying to satisfy both

Thank you! This is great news, and has been so hard trying to find out one way or the other.

Ask why son many variations on reports the number of microphones on the 9XX devices. I thought all have three and I've seen it all over the map

The aluminum is also the antenna.  Will it has the issue like what happened to the iPhone where the signal drop when we hold it in certain way?

I would like to ask him if the beautiful (and in my opinion best looking) design of the 920 will forever be disregarded in future Lumia releases. So far, everything after the 920 hasn't been nearly as good looking. This has me a little worried.

Get rid of the NFC to shed some weight, I've never used that thing in my life.
Also instagram would be awesome...

What are their plans for Windows Wallet ... Do they have any useful use-case around it? For MS, it's there just to be there.

Maybe I've missed it, but why still on Bluetooth 3.0? Is it an OS limitation, or are there other factors involved? I thought BT 4.0 was supposed to provide more functionality with less power consumption.

If its possible to keep the zoom on the Nokia drive/Here drive wen ur driving it zooms out and I get confused witch exit to take so I tap the zoom and zoom in but then it later zooms back out can we make it stay zoom to our liking

Are the rounded corners on the side of this device and the 720 the result of feedback from users? I love the design of the 920, but the flat sides hurt the palm of my hand when held single-handedly. Can we expect Nokia to lead with this design with most of it's device going forward?

Instead of (IMO) almost silly double-tap unlock (as Lumia have a rather comfortable unlock button right under your thumb) announced for "amber" update, are they considering in the future something like back-lit glowing "Windows logo" button feature, to alert of missed events (calls/emails/messages, maybe customizable)?
It was a good selling point for their past Symbian devices. Shouldn't be so hard to do a glowing button as the lit is already in there.. :\

When will windows have local radio fm station supports, it seems chipset supports it but win8 has not figured out yet to put it in by default...

FM radio is coming as part of the GDR2 release this summer.  All Windows Phones (except the 620 with no FM reciever) will get this.

Is Nokia aware of Lumia 920's Auto White Balance is off (the color of the picture taken is inaccurate)?
This is a serious issue. They should not expect users to manually try different WB settings before taking a picture with their phone. Do they plan to fix this via a software update?

He probably has nothing to do with it, but...

Why the limited storage? IPhones are up to 64gb and will probably see 128 next Gen. Yet I'm being told "I don't need more". Some of us do! The cloud is garbage...we have limited data. The whole memory thing is unnerving when some people keep telling the rest of us we don't need it.

Why is that Lumia 620 WILL NOT get FM radio.. We, Indians are really angry on that.. !!!!!  and that is going to severely affect its sales NOKIA.. cuz.... all of us thought that a future update will bring it to our devices.. 
If its not going to get, I will not recommend anyone here to buy that.. 

The 620 is the only lumia with no radio chip built in so it can't get the FM radio due to hardware limitations. They did this for cost reasons; you get some things on the 620 and some on the 520.
That was the idea

Interesting. I seem to remember reading FM radio is not a separate chip for some time now, but integrated into the Qualcomm chipset.

1) why keep releasing variants of last year's 920 hardware when nokia should be shipping phones that compete with the 2013 flagships on android and iOS? It seems like a hugely wasted opportunity to blow the socks off samsung and HTC. Instead, the 928 and 925 are just a rehash of last year's phones. They simply feel late to the game. How can this be nokia's strategy in 2013?
2) Why is nokia not putting pressure on Microsoft to keep up with the trends for large phones. 4/8 core cpu and 1080p still not in the GRD2 update and maybe not until GDR3 in 2014. It seems Microsoft is more interested in lagging than leading and given Nokia is all that remains of the WP ecosystem, one would think they could kick MSFT into action.
 

Dear Nokia, when can we see a true quad-core 1080p 41MP Lumia smartphone, secondly will we be seeing a phablet soon to compete with the likes of a Samsung Note 3? If WP8 can't compete with the likes of IOS and Android in the apps department at least beat them with hardware and raw power specs.

If he were to choose between the 925 and 920, which one would he pick as his daily driver and why?

Ask dat why is he releasing so many handsets which dont have any mere difference in them.. Ask him why not faster processors and more cores... And also for a siri like technology for nokia handsets.. :/. Also ask dat when is the 41 mp lumia coming..

FIRST QUESTION: Ask Nokia to come up with a way to save Xbox game progress to a memory card or the cloud (since Microsoft is screwing gamers on this one) or make sure EVERY CARRIER HAS A 32GB HIGH END PHONE. Thanks

The Questions that I Would Like to See Asked and Answered are;
 
1. Will Nokia have any TD-LTE Phones coming to their Lineup for the US?
 
2. Will Nokia Design ANY of their Phones to be Like the HTC 7 Pro / HTC Arrive with the Physical QWERTY Keyboard for the DieHard Typists who do a LOT OF TYPING?
 
3. Will Nokia have Any High End High Quality Phones coming to Sprint?
 
4. Are the Nokia Phones that are New right Now and or that Will be Coming to Market either in the Near Future or in the Future going to be True World Phones?
 
5. Will Nokia have Any Phones that Will after the OS has been Counted for, Have More than 64GB of Storage?

What led to the decision of excluding MicroSD support on all high end Nokia models? I previously thought it was due to the polycarbonate unibody design but I was proven wrong by the Lumia 720. The Lumia 928 and 925 do not have the same unibody design yet do not include expandable storage either.

Are there plans to release a high end phone with a removable battery? With smartphones getting more and more power hungry it would make sense to carry a back-up battery for more usage intensive days.

How involved are the carriers in the crafting of the design? It seems like Verizon had a big impact on the design of the 928...is this also true for the 925?

Will existing lumia 920 devices get a firmware update to improve image quality to a level closer to these new variants?
 

When will the Nokia Lumia 920's camera will be improved. Its very bad when we zoom the picture to see or to take picture.

Can you please ask him to describe the trade off between slimness and wireless charging not being in the phone. How much weight and thickness would it have added to the 925?

1. What is 925's position for? A 920's variant or new flagship?
2. Why did nokia go with unibody rather than changable back cover?
3. Why does the wireless charging additional cover make the speaker hide?

When, phablet,tablet,eos,instagram and so blabla coming?

What's going on with the EA Games deal?
Ask about the real Instagram and Snapchat.
 
Edit: Design questions:

Why not a metal back? Wouldn't that make the phone look even moore premium?
Will Nokia release a squere'ish phone with sexy sharp edges.
Gorilla Glass 3?
What happend to Cyan and Magenta for 92X?
 

Could he please step down before the release of the new Lumias in autumn? I'd like something sexy, then :) Sorry, couldn't resist - all in good fun

Will Nokia take into Consideration that when Anyone Including Nokia Lists the Storage Space, that's NOT what the Customer gets. And if Nokia Can't or Won't have More than 64GB of User Storage on the Phones, Will Nokia Include on All of their Future Phones, Micro SDXC Card Slots that can take Any Size Currently or Any Future Storage Capacities that are in the Micro SDXC Format?
 
Also, when the Customer Wants to Save a File or Document, have An Option that they can Save it to BOTH THE DEVICE AND THE CLOUD.
 
Sometimes the Customer Don't Always have Any Signal or WiFi and Can't Access the Files that are in the Cloud. So in order to keep from having to Save the File or Document Multiple Times, Can We have the Option to Save it to BOTH?

three questions:
1. where is Marco Artissaari (if i remember his name right)
2. Marco had justified the non-symmetry of 920's design (bottom bezel being larger than top one) with making it more difficult for users to accidentaly press the home key when operating the device in landscape mode. Why is that extra space missing from the Lumia 925?
3. Both HTC (with the One) and Blackberry (with the Z10) have moved the logos below the screen. That helps reduce distraction. Why is Nokia not following that?
 

CAN YOU PLEASE ASK WHY THEY ARE NOT WORKING ON SLIMMING DOWN THOSE HUGE BEZELS AND COMING UP WITH SLIM BEZELLED DISPLAYS LIKE THE S4?

"Switch to Lumia" is the Nokia slogan. I switched from S3 for 920 awesome looks. Now 925 looks as ugly as S3 due to it's "toilet"camera back design? Now Nokia should change it's slogan.

Bring some games like subway surfers , Temple run 2  , slick cricket for 512 MB ram.
Also make it free.Common Microsoft and nokia,  you can do it !!!

Can you ask about panorama lense and other lense are they planning any improvement. Also I would like to ask do they plan to increase number of apps that you can use on lockscreen for notification. Also are they planning any update to their accuweather app, Look at amazing weather HD and weather flow. Nokia's accuweather looks like from 80s as compare to them. HTC did great on andriod with their weather app. What about VPN support. 

Please make a physical QWERTY slider, preferably in Portrait Mode (similar general structure to Palm Pre or Dell Venue Pro, which are perfect for one-handed use), but even a landscape keyboard would be far better than nothing. I'm still stuck on the HTC Arrive until we get a Windows Phone 8 with a keyboard.
 
I know this is a bit of niche market, but with both Blackberry and Android offering them, Windows Phone stands only with the iPhone as not offering a keyboard option. For the heavy-typing business users, many of whom have stuck with Blackberry only because of the physical keyboard or have gone to other phones but yearn to return to a physical keyboard, this is a perfect opportunity for Nokia and Microsoft to secure another swath of users. Also, because the hard core business users are less concerned with price (less price elasticity than most other smartphone market segments), these phones could be high-end phones at a premium price and still sell at a decent volume.
 
I for one would happily plunk down several hundred dollars in or out of contract for a nice Nokia phone with a portrait QWERTY slider and high-end specs.
 
Questions:
 
Does Nokia have any plans to make a Windows Phone with a physical keyboard?
 
With many QWERTY phones in its past, if Nokia were to make a unit with a physical keyboard, any guidance on what form factor it would take (specific prior Nokia model, portrait, landscape, slider, etc.)?
 

Is nokia planning on introducing a 5-inch screen display windowsphone this year ???

And im begging you to bring instagram for god's sake !!!!!

Is it possible for Nokia to add a screen orientation lock, even if it's not present in Windows Phone OS?

There is a feature that I would love to see that neither apple or Android currently offer. (that I know of). It has to do with security and theft of the device.
If my phone is lost or stolen and I log into the windows phone website and use the find my phone feature to make it ring and/or lock, then the phone beep cannot be turned off or disabled. The phone cannot be powered off, until the passcode is entered.
This may make thieves want to drop the phone somewhere, break it but at least then can't sell it. It will also get the attention of others around the thief and let them know that, ""hey, that must a stolen phone since he/she can't turn it off"""
I think it will make thieves want to steal them less. The key is, the beeping can't be turned off and the phone cannot be powered off. This is great for phones with non-removable batteries. And phones with batteries could possibly have another power source that powers the beep or the back cases are made so that they don't just easily pop off.
This is just an idea/thought that can be ran with. I am sure testing, market analysis can improve on these ideas.
 
thanks.
 
 
 

Why have the USB port on the top on the new phones ? The 925 and the 928 both have them on the top.
 
This makes it hard to answer the phone wile charging via USB in the car. I would really like to know why they made this choice besides it being cheaper (one board to do SIM, USB and headphone jack).
 
Poor design for people who use their phones in the car..

Why only 1 Gb of RAM? Why not 2, does WP8 OS not see any added benefit from more RAM?
Now that most carriers have a variant, will we still continue to see the staggered release in the future for new products or will there be a simultanious release to all carriers for future flag ship devices? Consumers really dislike exclusives.

As a fellow industrial designer, I attribute Lumia's runaway success to the 'extrusion' form factor, friendly curvature of the housing and glass, and quality colored plastic bodies.

Are your recent departures from that with the 928 and 925 a signal of a permanent shift away from the original Lumia 800/900/920 towards a more generic hardware design language, or do you see them as just expansions of your offerings for other carriers?
Will the friendly and iconic 800/920 design language continue for AT&T customers in future products?

Please include my comment as it actually relates to product design, unlike many here, and I am a professional product designer.

Is Orientation Lock in the works? Or a built in app similar to windows phone hackers LockWidgets?

There are a number of technical boards that Nokia is a part of, particularly MirrorLink, Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL), Bluetooth 4.0 location services, and graphene construction. What is the outlook on some of this research becoming available on a Lumia?

Is the 925 a little refresh to keep all the small handed people happy?
When will the next proper flagship "Lumia 940" going to come out?

As a high school student interested in product design, what would you suggest in terms of general future plans to pursue a career in doing things like designing phones?

  • Why the switch from poly carbonate shells to aluminum shells?
  • What prompted you to not include wireless charging on the Lumia 925? I know that there are wireless contact points, but why not include it on a flagship phone? Was it only price, or was it to save weight as well?

 

Why do phones keep getting bigger??? Bigger is not necessarily better. Im trying to LOSE weight and thus smaller pockets. Bigger and bigger phones just get in the way! Phones used to be ubiquitous objects. Little tools that were an assistance type device. Now, people revolve their lives around them. Why can't we have a choice and say for ourselves what size device we want? Why are we forced into larger phones?

What I want before retiring my focus 1, is a 64 GB phone with a microsd slot, and I don't want to hear a bunch of whinning why it can't happen.