Come this holiday season, consumers will have no shortage of options when shopping for new smartphones. Samsung, Sony, Apple and Motorola are all releasing new devices in the coming weeks and months. Also included in that mix is Microsoft, which unveiled two new Lumia models today.
Launching in select markets this month, the Windows Phone 8.1-based Lumia 730 and Lumia 830 aim to bring high-end camera features to a more budget-friendly price point.
Dubbed the “affordable flagship,” the Lumia 830 features a 10-megapixel PureView camera with a new, thinner optical image stabilization system to reduce any shaking while shooting photos and video. It also borrows the Rich Recording technology of the Lumia 930 to capture and produce better-sounding audio.
The phone takes some design cues from the Lumia 930, too. For example, there’s a metal ring around the edge of the phone to give it a more premium feel, and the back covers can be swapped out for different colors. It can also be charged wirelessly.
Other features of the Lumia 830 are pretty standard for a mid-range smartphone, such as the five-inch, 720p HD touchscreen and 1.2GHz Snapdragon quad-core processor.
Meanwhile, the Lumia 730 has a slightly smaller 4.7-inch, 720p HD display and features a 6.6-megapixel rear camera. But it trumps the Lumia 830’s front-facing 2.2-megapixel camera with a five-megapixel sensor and wide-angle lens for better-quality selfies and video calls. A free three-month subscription to Microsoft’s Skype Unlimited World service is included with the purchase of the phone.
The Lumia 730 will come in two variants. The Lumia 730 is the 3G-only model and has a dual SIM card slot, while the Lumia 735 adds support for 4G LTE and has a single SIM card slot. They’re priced at 199 euros (around $262 U.S.) and 219 euros ($288 U.S.), respectively.
I actually got some brief hands-on time with the phones last week, and I have mixed feelings about them, more so with the Lumia 830 than the Lumia 730.
As with previous Lumia phones, the hardware has a high-quality feel to it, and even though the displays aren’t full HD, they are still vibrant and sharp. I also snapped a couple of quick images with the Lumia 830’s camera, and I was impressed with the picture quality even though they were taken in a dimly lit conference room.
That said, the Lumia line still requires using too many different camera apps for editing and processing pictures. I was also puzzled as to why Microsoft didn’t include the front-facing five-megapixel camera on the Lumia 830.
Ifi Majid, director of product marketing for Microsoft Mobile Devices, said part of the reason was to offer customers more choice in devices. But at 330 euros ($434 U.S.), which I don’t really consider to be “affordable,” I want the better front-facing camera.
Of course, pricing can change with carrier subsidies, but Microsoft has not revealed any carrier partners or if and when it will come to the U.S.
In addition to the Lumia 730 and Lumia 830, Microsoft announced today an upcoming software update called Lumia Denim that will bring the features of Windows Phone 8.1.1 to the existing Lumia line, and more advanced camera features to the Lumia 830, 930 and 1520 starting in Q4.