During the big Microsoft #Windows10Devices event in New York City earlier this week the upcoming Lumia 550, 950 and 950 XL handsets were featured/demoed onstage for about 18 minutes compared to the nearly 50 minutes that Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book garnered.
Sentiment across social media was that the new handsets were the proverbial red-headed step child in this product launch.
This might have happened because a lot of the data about these handsets had leaked prior to the event.
Even Panos Panay alluded to the fact that most of the information had been written about prior to the launch and he asked the assembled tech press, tongue in cheek, to not do that in the future.
That limited time on stage meant availability was only briefly mentioned with the Lumia 550 available in December and the 950/950 XL in November. No other details were provided adn that lack of detail added to the frustration on social media for those very interested in these premium handsets.
Over the last few days more information has come to light about the availability of the new devices – specifically the 950 and 950 XL – and so I wanted to lay out those details.
cNet first reported on Tuesday after the launch event that the Lumia 950 would be available on AT&T and while it was originally reported as an exclusive, that is not the case. AT&T already has a page on their site dedicated to the Lumia 950 which is marked as Coming Soon however, there is no sign of the Lumia 950 XL.
According to the cNet report both the 950 and 950 XL will also be sold as unlocked devices through Microsoft Stores and they will be compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile. The company has not provided any information about the markets for the Lumia 550 or what carriers it will be available for.
Here is another tidbit that may have been missed about these Lumia handsets – they could be the last devices that will be branded with the Lumia name.
As many of you know the Lumia branding has carried over from the days when Nokia started building Windows Phone handsets a few years ago and it continued to be used after Microsoft acquired the company. The latest models dropped the Nokia element of the name and were simply called Lumia. The three new Lumia devices revealed on Tuesday were already in the pipeline when Panay was put in charge of all of the hardware Microsoft builds so his team probably did not have much time to influence their design.
That is probably going to change with the next handset Microsoft builds.
In an interview with The Verge, Panay stated that Microsoft has a goal when it comes to the hardware the company designs and manufactures:
"Over time you want a consistent thread between the products, especially the hardware as well," he explains. "I think what you have to think with overall devices is making sure we are able to get that consistent premium fit and finish that people are expecting from Microsoft." That fit and finish involves "consistency across design" and "consistency across craftsmanship.”
Could that mean a Surface Phone or an updated Surface Mini might ultimately be built? Although there is no confirmation on either of those it sure sounds like the design principles behind Surface will come to bear on the next mobile handset from the Redmond company. I am looking forward to seeing that device and what it will be capable of.
By the way, these devices will supposedly ship with Windows 10 Threshold 2 on them but, as Rod wrote yesterday, Windows 10 Mobile is not due for release until December after the 950 and 950 XL hit the market. That means an update may be necessary just a few weeks after you get them home.