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The canceled unicorn known as the Nokia McLaren gets its 15 minutes of fame

Codenamed the McLaren, the phone was supposed to be the Nokia Lumia 1020’s successor, and was expected to include Kinect-like 3D touch gestures. Unfortunately, it never saw the light of day as Microsoft reportedly opted to cancel the project, though some have doubted its existence. Windows Central put those doubts six feet below ground, however, as the outlet got its hands on the mystical McLaren and showed us its ways.

Starting with the more mundane, the McLaren features a 5.5-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 resolution display, with a 2-megapixel camera right above it. Around back, the McLaren includes a similar camera sensor crater to that on the Lumia 1020. Whereas the Lumia 1020 packs a 41MP whopper of a camera, the McLaren steps things down to a 20MP PureView sensor with optical image stabilization.

Unfortunately, since the camera software was not finalized, the McLaren can only shoot 8MP pictures.

Elsewhere, a 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chipset and 2GB RAM power the phone, with the 32GB of native storage augmented by up to an additional 128GB through the MicroSD card slot. A battery with unknown capacity keeps the lights on, with the McLaren running Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 out of the box.

Where the McLaren truly stands out from other phones is its 3D Touch implementation. Using a variety of sensors in the phone, including sensors on the sides, 3D Touch responds to your hand both when it hovers over the phone and when it applies pressure. For example, you can silence an incoming call by either gripping the phone or having your hand hover over the display. You can also wave your hand over the phone to answer calls, as well as keep the screen on by gripping the device.

Using the sensors, the McLaren can also tell how you hold it in order to avoid accidental orientation changes. The phone also mutes the speaker phone if you hover your hand over the lower half of the display. Finally, and rather impressively, hovering above certain apps executes the “exploding” Live Tile MixView feature, which theoretically allows developers to show more information on a Live Tile when a user’s hand hovers above it.

Unfortunately, it is unknown why Microsoft and Nokia canceled work on the McLaren. According to Windows Central, reasons range from users not properly understanding 3D Touch’s concepts to Microsoft not getting past the proposal stage regarding 3D Touch’s uses. Regardless of the reason, the McLaren could have been a unique, groundbreaking offering had it been released.

Microsoft Research is still working on 3D Touch, though, so time will tell if we will see its implementation in a future product.

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