As we head into the critical 2014 holiday season, Microsoft Mobility has launched what will be the last-ever Nokia-branded Lumia lineup the world will ever see. And it's a good one, though hardcore fans are upset that we haven't seen a new flagship device since Microsoft took over Nokia's smart phone business in April. Here's a quick guide to how Microsoft Mobility is addressing the market with its Lumia smart phones from a pricing perspective.
As a general rule, it's probably important to understand how Microsoft segments the smart phone market. Most readers of this site understand that Windows Phone isn't what anyone reasonable would call "successful" but that the platform has seen its greatest success to date in the low-end of the market. So it's perhaps not surprising that much of its 2014 efforts—especially since Microsoft took over the Nokia smart phones—has focused on that segment.
Microsoft divides the market into two segments: Affordable and high-end. The dividing line between these two segments is $200, which is the upfront acquisition cost. So in the United States, that will typically mean the subsidized cost of the phone. Nokia's affordable handsets—excluding feature phones—include the Lumia 530, Lumia 630/635, and 730/735; all of these devices are new. Nokia's high-end handsets include the Lumia 830, 930/Icon and 1520, though only the first two launched in 2014, and only the 830 is new.
Furthermore, the Lumia 830 is inarguably not a "high-end" phone. It is instead a midmarket phone that brings a handful of useful high-end features—its camera, for example, and wireless charging—to a lower price point than was previously possible. Pedantic, perhaps.
Finally, I do of course approach this lineup—as Microsoft Mobility did, when they briefed me in September—from a US perspective. But this comparison is complicated by the fact that we don't yet know the real-world pricing on the Lumia 735 and Lumia 830 in this market. So I've examined Microsoft's UK pricing, compared it to the US pricing where possible, and extrapolated to arrive at something I hope approximates where the pricing for these new devices will fall. Not helping matters is that different carriers provide different pricing models in the US, and some resemble European pricing and some don't.
Anyway. Microsoft's low-end devices look like so from a pricing perspective (where prices obviously vary by retailer; I use Microsoft's pricing where possible):
UK: £7.50/mo w/contract/£89.00 in the UK
US: $49.99 up-front w/contract in the US
Lumia 630 (US)/635
UK: £10/mo w/contract/£119.00
US: $99.99 up-front w/contract in the US
UK: £13/mo w/contract/£189.00
US guesstimate: $99.99 w/contract in the US, $299.99
UK: £24.99/mo w/contract/£299.00
US guesstimate: $99.99 w/contract in the US, $349.99
Lumia Icon (US)/930
UK: £26.50/mo w/contract/£409.00
US: $99.99 up-front w/contract in the US/$499.99
US: $99.99 up-front w/contract in the US/$584.99
Pricing is of course only part of the story. So next up, I'll take a look at some key features that differentiate each device. That way, you can compare the prices of two similar devices and figure out which one makes the most sense for you.