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Fall reboot: Microsoft, Nokia, Amazon, and Motorola fight for attention in the shadow of the iPhone

Fall reboot: Microsoft, Nokia, Amazon, and Motorola fight for attention in the shadow of the iPhone


Motorola, Amazon, and Nokia are all expected to announce new Android and Windows Phone 8 devices this week, shortly before Apple unveils its latest iPhone.

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Nokia YouTube PureView teaser
Nokia YouTube PureView teaser

IFA may be ending, but this week's news has barely started. Amazon, Motorola, and Nokia are all planning events over September 5th and 6th, when they're likely to unveil a new set of flagship devices for Android and Windows Phone 8. It's a flurry of activity before September 12th — the day Apple is rumored to announce its new iPhone — and one that could change the smartphone and tablet landscape significantly over the next few days. Though the invitations for each event tend to rely on hyperbole and allusions, leaks and rumors can give us a pretty good idea of what to expect.

Nokia — which is holding its conference jointly with Microsoft — kicks off its event at 9:30AM on Wednesday the 5th, promising that "things are about to change." That almost certainly means the first Windows Phone 8 flagship will be unveiled, likely the recently leaked Lumia 920. Windows Phone 8 is obviously the biggest selling point, but Nokia may be adding a few unusual hardware touches, like wireless charging. It's also reportedly including a PureView-branded camera, but one with a mere 8 megapixels instead of 41 like the Nokia 808. A second device, the Lumia 820, should be unveiled as well. Nokia has struggled to transition away from Symbian and feature phones, and this could signal a turning point for Windows Phone's biggest manufacturer, though both Microsoft and Nokia still have a lot to prove.

The RAZR HD, a Kindle Fire successor, and a Windows Phone 8 Lumia could all be unveiled

A few hours later, Motorola will hold its first major announcement since the company was acquired by Google in May, making the bold promise that it will be "the day's main event." It's expected, however, to lead with the oft-leaked RAZR HD, a rumored update to the Droid RAZR with a bigger battery, faster processor, and 720p screen. Leaks about the RAZR HD have been appearing for months, and some of the expected improvements already showed up in the Atrix HD. We wouldn't rule out a tablet or an Android 4.1 Jelly Bean device, but Motorola's being fairly optimistic if it thinks a refreshed RAZR will carry the day against Nokia and Windows Phone 8.

Amazon's plans are perhaps the least enigmatic. A few days after sending invitations for a September 6th event, the company announced that its Kindle Fire tablet had sold out, releasing some glowing sales numbers. With a successor all but guaranteed, the only question is what it might look like. Amazon is rumored to be prepping multiple tablets, either a 7-inch and a 10-inch version or a pair of 7-inch models. Unlike the original Kindle Fire, rumors point to a custom design for this one, with the chance of an ad-supported model that will cost slightly less. On the e-reader side, we're hearing about a refreshed E Ink Kindle with a Nook-style reading light and improved "Paperwhite" display.

What Microsoft and Nokia have to say is likely to have the biggest impact of anything this week

The biggest question, of course, is whether any of these companies can avoid being overshadowed by the iPhone. Apple's invitations will almost definitely go out this week, launching a new wave of speculation even before the event. Samsung has already made its pre-iPhone announcements at IFA, and now Motorola and Nokia are updating their phones as well, with Amazon trying to preempt a rumored 7-inch iPad. Motorola's relationship with Google makes it a prime candidate for Jelly Bean, while Amazon's Kindle Fire is estimated to be by far the top-selling Android tablet in the US. Even so, all we've heard about so far are essentially new iterations of old devices.

Windows Phone isn't nearly as ubiquitous as Android, but it could be key in Microsoft's push to gain mindshare ahead of the Windows 8 launch, and the rumored Lumias with Windows Phone 8 are far more exciting than Motorola's incremental updates. Sweeping declarations of "change" aside, Microsoft and Nokia have the most to lose this week — the two companies won't get a third chance at success.