The Nokia Lumia Icon and 930 do not have Glance, here’s why

The Nokia Lumia 930 announced during Build is in many the perfect Lumia. There are just two features that are missing that may keep it from being the best Windows Phone on the market: no micro SD card and no Glance screen.

The lack of a micro SD card is perhaps not that bad, considering that the Lumia 930 ships with 32 GB of internal storage. Despite the grumbles in comments here about this missing feature, most regular people actually do quite fine with 32 GB. Glance though is a bit different. Much like the Lumia Icon on Verizon, the Lumia 930 will also not have Glance. It’s an odd omission, for sure.

Yesterday we sat down with Nokia though and were able to ask why that is. Here’s what we learned.

The problem with the Nokia Icon/930 and running Glance comes down to the display type. No, it’s not the AMOLED technology (the Lumia 928 proves otherwise) and it’s obviously not the 1080P resolution (the Lumia 1520 attests to that) but rather it’s the type of AMOLED screen used. More to the point, the screen used on the Lumia Icon/930 lacks ‘display memory’. Long story short, in order for Glance to work, it needs display memory to maintain the information presented by the program. Unfortunately, we’re not engineers, so how Glance actually works in detail and what it needs is beyond our pay grade.

So why not use an AMOLED display with display memory? That answer comes down to money, as we were told they are only too cost prohibitive for that particular combo. LG and Samsung are big AMOLED display manufacturers, and we’re guessing that the combo of 1080P, AMOLED and display memory components are not as mass produced as others, or there is something else keeping their prices too high for Nokia. Remember, Nokia doesn’t make their displays, even if they are involved with their engineering.  

It’s not that Nokia couldn’t afford it, but it sounds like the cost of the component would have either increased the price of the Lumia 930/Icon or severely eaten into the thin profit margin on per device sale.

It seems reasonable that Nokia could have opted for a 5-inch LCD display similar to the Lumia 1520, but we’re guessing they had a good reason for not doing that. Perhaps AMOLED was better for this device’s design, power consumption or another reason we’re not privy to. No one said it was easy designing a phone.

Regardless, Nokia is very aware that people are really missing that feature. We were told there have been a lot of internal conversations about this “feature gap” and how to avoid this in the future. It’s also not clear if Nokia can code around this one, but it sounds like they are trying to figure it out. Nokia has done some crazy things in the past, like the Lumia 1020, which lacks a second dedicated imaging chip (most techies assumed they would need one). So never say never, but at least for now, the Lumia Icon and Lumia 930 won’t have this feature.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.