With New Lumias, Microsoft Tries to Nudge Windows Phone Market Upstream

With New Lumias, Microsoft Tries to Nudge Windows Phone Market Upstream

Nice, but not coming to the US

Microsoft this morning announced three new Windows Phone handsets. And while the devices are not the high-end phones some had hoped for, these new Nokia Lumias do represent an attempt by Microsoft to push flagship features into more affordable phones. And hopefully give users some incentive to support its struggling smart phone platform.

Microsoft purchased Nokia's devices and services businesses earlier this year, so these new handsets will be sold and marketed under the Nokia name and will retain the Lumia brand that Nokia had previously established. There are three new models, the "affordable flagship" Lumia 830, the dual-SIM-capable Lumia 730, and the LTE-based Lumia 735. Microsoft also announced a handful of accessories today and revealed some information about a coming software update called Denim.

You can read about these announcements on the SuperSite for Windows: IFA 2014: Microsoft Devices Announces New Lumias, Accessories, Firmware is a good starting place, and there of course separate articles and photo galleries for each of the devices. But from a high level, Windows Phone has seen some success over the past year with low-cost, low-end devices, so Microsoft is focusing on that market in 2014 as well.

To that end, the Lumia 830 is what might be called a mid-level handset, but it offers some premium features that were previously only available in high-end phones, including a stunning 10 megapixel camera with optical image stabilization. And the Lumia 730 and 735 are relatively low-end devices, but offer significantly better features than is typical for that part of the market, including a 5 megapixel front-facing "selfie" camera and an easily customized body.

None of these new Lumias are expensive, but they do cost more than the low-end Windows Phone devices that have sold well so far. This is likely by design, with Microsoft trying to nudge the average selling price of Windows Phone handsets up a bit. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said earlier this year that the firm had to "make a market" for Windows Phone.

The Lumia 830 will cost 330 euros (about $440) before taxes and subsidies, and the Lumia 730 and 735 will cost just 219 euros and 199 euros, respectively. Each will be made available for sale this month. But none are headed to the United States.

That latter fact is already causing some grumbling from Windows Phone fans here, especially those who are waiting for a new flagship device on AT&T. The last high-end Windows Phone to debut on AT&T is the Lumia 1520, which started shipping last November. And Microsoft/Nokia has never delivered a successor to the Lumia 1020, with its vaunted 41 megapixel camera. That device shipped over a year ago, in July 2013.

But this week's announcements aren't necessarily the last for Nokia Lumia this calendar year. And Windows Phone fans on AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint can take heart in the fact that the recently released HTC One M8 for Windows—currently available on Verizon only—is heading to their networks soon.

And releasing new high-end phones in the US right now would have been competitive suicide anyway: Apple will launch its eagerly-awaited iPhone 6 handsets next week, and fans are already lining up at Apple Stores to be among the first to buy them. Samsung, too, just announced new Galaxy handsets and phablets, including a futuristic Note variant with a wrap-around screen.

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