Nokia tries to preempt iPhone 5 with amazing Lumia 920 camera, absolutely no launch details

Once news got out that Apple would be holding an iPhone event on September 12, every competitor and their platform partner scrambled to announce events ahead of time. Mostly. The first was Nokia's Windows Phone event this morning, which showed off the new flagship Nokia Lumia 920 with a brief nod to the mode budget-friendly Nokia Lumia 820. Daniel Rubino from our Mobile Nations sibling site, WPCentral was there live to catch all the actions.

Along with some digs at Samsung (for their "first" Windows Phone 8 device being unfinished) and Apple (for putting needless metal elements in their antennas), Nokia threw the spotlight on location services, including their traditional maps products, transit directions (which will be offloaded to 3rd party apps in iOS 6), indoor directions, and some interesting if awkward Augmented Reality features. Inductive charging was also front-and-center, along with partnerships to bring compatible chargers to places like Virgin Atlantic lounges, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf outlets, and retails products like Fatboys.

Once again the materials look out of this world. Literally. Nokia stressed how you could pound nails with the Lumia 920. Literally. The screen is curved and gorgeous and intelligently tries to prevent glare when used outside. The assemblies are ceramic to prevent scratches, and the whole, solid unit looks built to last. Apple and Nokia are both making phenomenal, iconic hardware these days. No one else is coming close.

The most impressive part of the demo, however, was the Lumia 920 camera. Building off Nokia's PureView brand, it sports a massive, over-sampling lens with an f2.0 aperture that's essentially "floated" so it can capture more light, longer, and produce truly amazing images. A series of "lens" apps, including Microsoft's Photosynth allow for extended features and functionality as well.

It will be interesting to see if Phil Schiller, who's been handling the iPhone camera demos for the last few Apple events, can show off something competitive on September 12.

Microsoft's Joe Belfiore also previewed home screen tile customizations and a new feature of Windows Phone 8: Press the Home and Power button at the same time, and you get a screenshot. You're welcome, bloggers.

Steve Ballmer came out at the end to proclaim 2012 the "year of Windows", which was a bit odd since, from Microsoft's perspective, which year wouldn't be the year of Windows?

The biggest disappointment of the event, however, was that absolutely no pricing or launch date information was provided. Similar to the Microsoft Surface event, it smacked of something thrown together quickly to grab some b-roll from the iPhone 5, with neither the Windows Phone 8 feature set nor go-to-market strategy actually finished yet.

And that's too bad. Because those details matter. And you better believe that on September 12, Apple will announce a price and ship date for iPhone 5.

For tons more on the event, check out WPCentral's complete Nokia Lumia coverage.