Image of Nokia's 'Sea Ray' reveals virtual buttons? We're not so sure.

Curious thing: during the leaked video of the Nokia's 'Sea Ray' Windows Phone, we actually never see the three-buttons for Back, Win and Bing Search. This lead to the natural speculation that there would be capacitive buttons, like other Windows Phones.

A new image has come forth though of the device and it shows, in fact, that there may be 'virtual buttons' meaning they are on the screen. But instead of taking up the 800x480 real-estate, they are probably using an 854x480 screen, much like the N9 that this so closely resembles.

A few words of caution though:

  1. Our own Richard Edmonds questions its authenticity--there's no glare on the button area, though there is a glare above and below them (see image below)
  2. Those buttons look like the WP7 emulator's, big time. Very suspicious.
  3. It certainly looks "off" plus it's probably just a mock up someone made
  4. Assuming it's true, this is far from finalized hardware and 'prototype' needs to be used here
  5. Nokia still has a lot of time to change or modify the design

At this point, we're not confident that this is legit, or if it is real, not final. Either way, we're not crazy about the sharp corners of 'Sea Ray'. There's a reason why the Focus feels so nice in the hand (and even the LG Quantum) and it has to do with the smoothness of the design.

If these virtual buttons are here to stay, it's not too much different than capacitive buttons, but we're not crazy about the idea. Finally, this looks more like the 'Sea Ray' is just a modified N9 rather than a "ground up" Nokia Windows Phone, making it slightly less interesting, in our opinion.

Update: Reader swc_ant has a nice comment based off his experience working on phone hardware. We agree with his assesment that it's a sticker/tape serving as a place holder.

Source: XDA (Steve Chou). via WMPU

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

34 Comments
  • Looks very photo-shopped to me to be honest
  • lets hope this is just a BAD photoshop, ew.
  • its not even a prototype yet its a proof of concept.
  • Obviously fake, as stated these are the emulator buttons no question.
  • No sir, I DON'T like it.This better be fake.
  • It doesn't matter if its fake or not; it is a prototype device anyway. They have several more that will also never come to market. If they saved money by turning the extra screen real estate into the wp7 hardware keys just to test the device and the os, more power to them. I think the final designs will be more like the older "leaked" pictures which are now featured on nokia.com - http://press.nokia.com/products/486/nokia-with-windows-phone-concept/
  • All Nokia has to do to get me to buy a phone is make something with the same form factor of the E7/N950, and slap WP7 Mango on it.I'd buy that in a heartbeat.
  • Disagree that it's looking like the N9 is a dissapointment. People who have handled the N9 say it feels excellent.
  • The problem isn't that it looks like the N9, it's the virtual buttons I don't like.It doesn't jive with the rest of the OS, so hopefully it's like ryangadz said, and it's just a prototype device to test out the stability of Mango.
  • The specs calls for hardware buttons. How can a screen be considered the hardware buttons?
  • to sell it yes.. you dont have to meet any requirements to test it.
  • I'm pretty sure I recall MS saying the phones were required to have hardware buttons. Maybe the image is representing a placeholder of where the physical buttons will go?
  • Yep, there it is: http://pocketnow.com/tech-news/windows-phone-7-actually-requires-six-har...:)
  • True, but I think that's irrelevant here. Nokia has a lot more flexibility than the other OEMs, including modifying the UI, which other OEMs can't do.Citing the "rules" for Windows Phone is not applicable with Nokia.
  • when you make the rule there are none. Danny boy is right. Also I can tell you never killed someone with your mobile device, sharp corners are a must for a "killer" device.
  • I agree. Before Elop presented the Sea Ray he said the innovation, the UX and the industrial design from the N9 would live on.What if, instead of virtual buttons, Nokia replaced the Windows Phone front buttons with the N9 swipe concept?Swipe from the edge of the screen to Start. Swipe again to select something you were doing from the Task switcher. Or swipe to Bing something new. Swipe in whatever order makes the most sense.Maybe even add the people hub or a people group to the swipe carousel, to mimic the N9 event view UX.
  • I wasn't aware of Nokia's flexibility in that respect. I do hope they do something creative with the buttons as opposed to software buttons that don't go away. Someone mentioned a swipe deal that would bring them in from the side/bottom. I'm down with that as I hate bumping my true hardware back/home/search buttons mid app.So if they can modify the UI does that mean that Nokia WP7 users will run a custom version of the OS? Is that version of the OS only applicable to this particular device since they'll have multiple devices? I'm just thinking about rolling out updates and how that's not been so smooth. :-o
  • Square box....how uninspiring. Nothing innovating or exciting. Just a square box.
  • haters are gonna hatethe buzz has been pretty hot for this form factor with meego on it
  • unibody construction of polycarbonate with color baked thoughout. even if you scratch it, its harder to tell because it isnt just a coating. im pretty sure its an industry first.
  • Reminds me of the DVP, minus the kb. Or the Asus developer phone. And everyone seemed to like those designs.
  • Rumor is that the official showing isn't until October, right? They can impress me then. See the phone in all its glory.
  • getting tired of WP7..... it's obviously a microsoft problem the live tiless and toast notifications..... most of the apps have an issue on that..... I just can't believe microsoft think this crappy phone can compete with iphone...... even iphone version 1 worked better than this.... sad cause I like the whole wp7 idea...... sad that it never worked.....everything I hear is a "it's coming in.... it's coming in......" and it never comes
  • The OS is less than a year old. If you're this impatient then leave and go back to iOS. You won't be missed.
  • If you're tired of the OS, why go on a website that covers it? I'm losing all faith in humanity.
  • I think I have a pretty good idea of what is going on. I've worked at a company developing phone hardware before, and on the prototype devices we often use the bottom of the touch screen for our buttons during testing. Because this area is usually blank, we program the "software buttons" and tape something over it with the "hardware" button labels for testing purposes (usually paper of some sort). I am pretty sure this is what's happening with this N9 being used for WP7 Mango. You can tell by the non-glare of the "buttons" in the middle of the glare from the glass that it's probably a piece of paper pasted over the screen. No need to overreact about hardware buttons.Hope this helps.
  • I think you're very right on this...looks more and more like tape/sticker as a place holder.
  • +1..Not keen on the idea of on-screen buttons either
  • All i want Nokia to do is to make X7 for Mango! Personally i prefer x7 over N9.
  • I think it would be neat if you could pull the buttons up from the bottom like you pull notifications down on Android.
  • Not feeling this N9 design at all. I hope the actual product steps away from this design concept completely.
  • Meh...I'm not worried about those "virtual buttons". It's just a placeholder.Now, what I'm excited about is that you can still see the front facing camera on the lower right hand side. Maybe they were trying to hide that as much as anything else...
  • anyone worried like me that when u try to pull the menu up from the bottom that you will accidentally hit the virtual buttons instead?
  • Looks like a black Lumia 920 front!