Phones feature 5 megapixel front-facing cameras for that perfect self-shot

If you're sick of hearing about selfies, or you're a celebrity with a penchant for risqué "private" photography, this may come as bad news for you -- Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has become the latest phonemaker to offer up a "selfie phone".  The announcement came on Thursday at the IFA 2014 (Sept. 5-10th) mobile electronics trade show in Berlin, Germany, after weeks of teasing.
Following in the line of certain Android phonemakers, including HTC Corp. (TPE:2498) and Sony Corp. (TYO:6758), the Lumia 730 and 735 feature 5 megapixel (above average) resolution front-facing cameras, to aid in taking sharper self-images -- a picture format known as the "selfie".  Microsoft's selfie camera is somewhat special in that it's also wide angle.  Microsoft brags that its devices are "built for Skype and selfies".
Rival phonemaker HTC offered perhaps the most compelling defense of "selfie phones" a few months back, arguing that whether you love or hate them, the image format demands OEM attention due to its popularity.  HTC claimed up to 90 percent of photos taken on mobile devices in some regions are now selfies.
A minor point of confusion may be that the lower numbered edition -- the Lumia 730 -- is actually the dual-SIM instance in this case, where as with the Lumia 53x and 63x lines, it's the Lumia 535 and 635 models that are the dual-SIM variants.  Instead of adding dual-SIM, the Lumia 735 actually drops that feature, but adds LTE 4G cellular support.  The Lumia 730 relies on the aging HSPA+ advanced 3G standard.

Lumia group shot

Here's the common parts of the spec:
  • Software
  • Body 
    • Colors: green, orange, dark grey, and white
    • Material: Polycarbonate-based plastic
  • Hardware
    • Display: 1,280 x 720 pixel (720p) OLED display, nail/glove touch capable
    • SoC: Snapdragon 400 MSM 8226 by Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM)
      • CPU: 4x 1.2 GHz ARM Holdings plc (LON:ARM) Cortex-A7 cores
      • GPU: Adreno 305 @ 450 MHz
    • Memory: 1 GB DRAM
    • Storage: 8 GB (internal NAND) + microSD
    • Cameras
      • Front: 5 megapixel + new Lumia Selfie app
      • Rear: 6.7 megapixel w/ LED flash
    • Battery: 2220 mAh

Here's the key differences between the two models....
  • Lumia 730:
    • Price: €199 EUR (about $260 USD)
    • Dual-SIM: yes
    • Cellular: HSPA+ (SoC baseband supports LTE, but no isoplexer/tranceiver power circuitry for it)
    • Wireless Charging for Swappable Color Cases: no
  • Lumia 735:
    • Price: €219 EUR (about $290 USD)
    • Dual-SIM: no
    • Cellular: LTE and HSPA+
    • Wireless Charging for Swappable Color Cases: yes
Lumia 730

For those hoping for a U.S. release, Paul Thurrott, creator of the Supersite for Windows, has some bad news.  He reports:

The Lumia 830 begins shipping this month 'globally,' which is a code word for 'not in the United States.' Sadly that’s true of all the phones Microsoft is announcing today: They're all international only.

The new handsets come with one-tap UI access to Skype calling, plus a free three-month trial subscription Skype Unlimited World subscription.  This service offers affordable international calling.  It's also preparing to add a very neat trick by the end of 2014 -- real-time multilingual translation of Wi-Fi voice and video calls.

Lumia 730

Microsoft also announced a new firmware update dubbed "Denim" and the Lumia 830, a higher-end mid-range model which packs a PureView camera and optical image stabilization (OIS).  While the Lumia 730 and 735 have plenty of shortcomings to pick at, they come at a very competitive price, and pack solid hardware in all the right places -- even for those who aren't onboard the selfie train.  Hopefully they'll eventually find their way onto budget and prepaid carriers in the U.S., as the Lumia 530 and 630 have.

Sources: Microsoft Nokia Devices [blog], Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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