According to reports, Microsoft is planning to launch a mid-range Windows 10 Mobile smartphone on February 1, apparently the last device to ever be branded as a ‘Lumia’. The company is thought to be planning to abandon the old Nokia name this year.
According to Windows Central, the Microsoft Lumia 650 will be a business-oriented mid-range phone with few standout specifications. It will be the spiritual successor to the Lumia 640, a well-received Windows phone from 2015.
The handset’s specifications were leaked several months ago. The phone will have a 5-inch 1280×720 resolution display, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of expandable storage and an 8-megapixel rear camera with flash. The processor is thought to be the Qualcomm 210 or Qualcomm 212 but it remains unclear which chip has made it into the finished hardware.
Windows Central says the device will get a low-key launch in two weeks’ time. It will be pitched as a mid-range device to sit between the budget-friendly Lumia 550 and flagship Lumia 950, completing Microsoft’s limited range of Lumia smartphones for this year.
The device is thought to be the last Microsoft smartphone to use Lumia branding, at least for 2016. The name first debuted on Nokia’s Windows Phone 7 devices and has persisted through the years and Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia to remain in use today. The company is expected to drop the brand later this year though and begin to launch new flagship phones under its existing Surface name, the premium brand used for its convertible tablets.
Switching to Surface could give Microsoft a new start in smartphones. Its Lumia range has failed to gain mainstream attention or widespread appeal but Surface has become a well-known and respected productivity brand.
By launching a phone with Surface design cues under the Surface name, Microsoft hopes that people who buy one will also buy the other. The company is relying on the reputation of Surface to get its smartphone sales moving.
Some details of the plan remain unclear. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has previously said he intends to build phones for three audiences, the different groups of people that already buy Windows-powered devices. These are budget-conscious buyers, business users and Microsoft fans.
The Surface brand can easily cater for the latter two but the positioning of future budget devices is uncertain. It seems unlikely Microsoft would want to start launching $100 phones under a brand name with products ranging upwards of $2,000 but if the reports of the Lumia brand vanishing after the 650 are true then Microsoft may be leaving itself without a budget brand.
Alternatively, the company could be intending to retain Lumia but only use it for its budget phones. Devices like the Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL would be branded as Surface and the $100 Windows Phones that sell well could have their own brand name.
Lumia is a respected name in the low-range so using it exclusively for budget handsets could be a good move. Microsoft would be left with two brands, Surface for its fans and business users and Lumia for the budget-conscious buyer.
For now, this remains nothing more than speculation. Microsoft is understood to be undergoing a restructuring of its devices business and what that means for the brands remains unclear. Whether it be the last Lumia or not, the 650 looks set to launch on February 1, making it the fourth first-party Windows 10 Mobile device on the market. The update has yet to roll-out to older Lumias.