Nokia Lumia Icon "directional audio" picks fight with Galaxy S4

Nokia's new Lumia Icon may have fairly distinctive looks, but it's what it hears that the Finnish firm is most proud of. The phone's PureView camera system introduces what Nokia is calling "directional audio" recording, which uses twin microphones on the rear of the Verizon exclusive to focus what sound is picked up and what gets ignored. Nokia is so excited by it, it even put it up against an Android best-seller to show the difference; see the demos after the cut.

In actual fact, the Lumia Icon has a total of four microphones, though it generally only uses two at a time. Those on the front are switched on for voice calls, using active noise-cancellation to trim out background sounds.

The two on the back, meanwhile, come into play when video is being recorded. Nokia assumes that people are most likely going to want to hear what they're physically pointing the camera at, so effectively strips out any surrounding noise. The result, as you can see in Nokia's demo below, is that even when a couple of cars are growling, you can still make out a person speaking.

Nokia Lumia Icon directional audio recording:

In contrast, the more general audio pickup of Samsung's Galaxy S4 leaves speech competing with engine sounds, even when the cars are out of shot.

Lumia Icon versus Samsung Galaxy S4:

Of course, the Galaxy S4 is last year's flagship, and Samsung is preparing to launch the Galaxy S5 in what we're expecting to be just a few weeks time. Then we'll have to see whether the Icon fares quite so well against its high-profile rival.

There's more on the Verizon Lumia Icon in our full first-impressions post.

Nokia Lumia Icon first-look: