Microsoft has had a rough time in the phone business, but with Windows 10 rolling out widerÂ across the user base, the companyâs push around standardized apps across all its platforms begins to make sense.
Unfortunately, the splashy and impressive first Windows 10 smartphone launch in 2016 isÂ the Lumia 650 â a relatively low-end handset that fails to really play to any of the brandâs potential strengths.
What is it?
- A metal-finished $200 smartphone with a 5-inch OLED 720P display, 5-megapixel front-facing snapper and 8-megapixel sensor on the rear.
- Slim and light:Â At just 6.9mm itâs thinner than an iPhone 6s, though thatâs really not the handsetâs competition.
- âA highly polished, diamond cut and anodized aluminium frame, giving it an unparalleled and premium feel,â according to the announcement, which is a high-end description for a device with a reasonably low-end spec list that includes a 1.3GHz processor and 1GB RAM.
What isnât it?
- A flagship handset that could tempt an Android or Apple user.
- A truly business-focused device that supports the needs of the enterprise user through Continuum (thatâs still only for the Lumia 950 and 950XL) or Windows Hello.
- A truly low-end handset thatâs pricedÂ to tempt buyers who just want a âcheapâ smartphone.
- A camera to be truly proud of that draws on the Lumiaâs pedigree.
Whatâs my problem?
Microsoft isnât going to blow anyone away with the Lumia 650 â and perhaps that would be okay if the target market for the device was a little clearer.
It doesnât have some offer features that would be useful to the enterprise, it canât offer the camera experience of other Lumia devicesÂ and its spec list seems to put it somewhere towards the low-end, but itâs price doesnât really reflect that.
Itâs a confusing one, for sure.
Thatâs not to say itâll be a bad phone â Iâm just not sure who itâs aimed at. Someone who wants a thin phone that runs Windows?
Microsoft has a position that it shares (bizarrely) with Ubuntu: theyâre the two companies closest to delivering on the vision of a universal operating system that works across different devices and adapts to form factors.
With theÂ solid but not âwowâ-worthyÂ Lumia 950 and 950XL announced in November last year, itâs hard to imagine Microsoft with a Mobile World Congress ace up its sleeve, but who knows?
It feels like thereâs little to aspire to owning across the range.
With few manufacturers publicly committing to licensing the OS for phones and Microsoftâs own huge cuts across its phone division last year, 2016 looks like it will be another challenging year for Windows handsets.
The smartphone market isnât just a battle for numbers, itâs a battle for consumersâ hopes and (technological) dreams, and thatâs a battle that Microsoft just isnât winning.
If rumors are to be believed, this will be the last Lumia handset anyway, with future devices coming under Surface branding.