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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



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Here we go again!
By melgross on 9/4/2014 4:15:34 PM , Rating: 1
No matter how many nice cameras Microsoft comes out with, it's the OS they need to convince people that they want, and so far, they've failed at that. We've seen a lot of nice Nokia Win Phone devices over the years, and none of them have sold more than a small number.

I doubt that "selfie" phones will inspire people to pick up an OS they didn't want in the first place. Microsoft needs to figure out a way to get people to want the OS. If they can't succeed at that, then no matter how good the phone, it won't succeed.




RE: Here we go again!
By AssBall on 9/4/2014 5:49:44 PM , Rating: 4
1. Microsoft doesn't make the cameras

2. Windows Phone, the newest N.A. entry into the ecosystem, has had comparable if not higher growth than its competitors over the same span.

3. *8xx and 9xx do well in mainstream and enthusiast owner circles and 5xx does great in cheaper venues.

4. Agree with you here, the people interested in Winphones could generally care less about selfies. This marketing technique is geared toward the type of "me first" audience that android and apple already monopolize. Whats phone calls, Precious??! This is my personal internet game player, IM, and social sharing camera!

5. Those of us already happy with a Nokia and WP are not going to gravitate toward this device, as the front camera is seldom if ever used, and are looking forward to the next 8-9-10 series as our replacements.


Available in US?
By BestDaddy on 9/4/2014 4:26:31 PM , Rating: 2
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.


Nokia's US website lists the phone as 'available soon':
http://www.nokia.com/us-en/phones/all/

Am I missing something or could Paul have been wrong?




RE: Available in US?
By ritualm on 9/4/2014 5:50:48 PM , Rating: 2
Probably for pay-as-you-go carriers, if not Verizon-exclusive.


A phone I might buy..
By cbf on 9/5/2014 12:45:45 AM , Rating: 2
If only they'd sell it to me.

In the US.

Directly (not through a carrier). Unlocked of course.

A model that supports enough LTE bands to give me a choice of carriers (e.g. like the Nexus 5).

Really, Microsoft needs a reasonably priced Nexus-like phone. With updates from them (not the carrier). Otherwise, they've lost me and I'll just get another Nexus, or Moto G.




go fck your selfie
By NellyFromMA on 9/5/2014 11:26:57 AM , Rating: 2
The word is so annoying. That's all.




How are these midrange?
By OnyxNite on 9/4/14, Rating: -1
RE: How are these midrange?
By CyCl0n3 on 9/4/2014 4:08:32 PM , Rating: 2
It is midrange in the Lumia series.
And please dont start the "you need to have at least 8 cores and 3200Mhz in a Mid range phone" dicussion again.
Keep the comparisons in the same division , or at least the same ecosystem. Nothing good came ever from comparing different features of different divisions (Android, WP, iOS) in a forum. It mostly lead to people bashing each others skulls with their Keyboards.


RE: How are these midrange?
By melgross on 9/4/2014 4:20:08 PM , Rating: 2
It is true though that these phones just barely reach to the bottom of the midrange, both in features and price. They are what they are.


RE: How are these midrange?
By OnyxNite on 9/4/2014 4:52:09 PM , Rating: 1
I didn't mention any OS, MHz, or number of cores in my comment. A little defensive maybe?
If anything Lumia phones typically have better cameras than other phones not worse so the 8MP comparison is valid.
The CPU comment was OS agnostic. The 400 Series SoCs are the budget line of Qualcomm. The 600 Series is the midrange. The 800 Series is the high end.
If a new company started selling phones today and they offered two phones based off of 400 Series SoCs then it doesn't make the higher spec one a high end phone just because it happens to be their best. They would be offering two low end/budget phones.


RE: How are these midrange?
By ritualm on 9/4/2014 5:48:52 PM , Rating: 2
The truly low-end/budget phones typically use MediaTek for their SoCs because they're straightforwardly cheap. Snapdragon 400 might be Qualcomm's "budget" line of SoCs, but it comes in at the high-end of this market segment.

~$200-300 is considered low-end/budget for most of the developed world. Flip that to BRIC and they're closer to high-end.


RE: How are these midrange?
By OnyxNite on 9/5/2014 10:57:21 AM , Rating: 2
MediaTek may be a budget BRAND compared to Qualcomm but we aren't talking about brands, we're talking about hardware specs. MediaTek makes SoCs that outperform QualComm 400s.

Smartphone tech changes pretty rapidly so you can't look at year old devices for an accurate comparison. Lets take a phone announced about the same time (one day apart). The Moto G is very similar in specs to these Lumias (in fact it stacks up pretty well with the 830). It's 720p, 1GB RAM, Qualcomm 400, 8MP camera, etc. It is a "budget" device. It only costs $180 even without a contract.

I'm not saying these Lumias are bad. Nokia has great build quality, you may very well prefer Windows Phone over Android or OS and that's great, I'm not trying to get into an OS war. I'm just saying this is NOT midrange spec'd hardware. These are high quality budget range devices.


RE: How are these midrange?
By ritualm on 9/5/2014 1:32:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
MediaTek may be a budget BRAND compared to Qualcomm but we aren't talking about brands, we're talking about hardware specs. MediaTek makes SoCs that outperform QualComm 400s.

It's a budget SoC maker because most of what it makes cost less than the cheapest Snapdragon chips, and when you're building phones that cost a measly $100 and less apiece off-contract, cost is everything. Build one with a Snapdragon 400 series chip, and you've essentially priced yourself out of the sub-$100 market.

The US smartphone market has reached saturation and there just isn't a lot of wiggle room, even for Samsung. The real battleground markets these days is BRIC - Brazil, Russia, India, and China - markets where most phones have at least two SIM slots, and a budget phone costs under a hundred bucks.

In the US, $50 a day is far below the poverty line. In China, that same amount of US dollars lets you live like a millionaire.
quote:
Lets take a phone announced about the same time

Your first mistake is comparing the specs of a budget Android phone with that of a midrange WP8.1 phone. The rest of your post is rendered irrelevant because you're comparing apples and oranges.
quote:
I'm just saying this is NOT midrange spec'd hardware. These are high quality budget range devices.

These are budget devices? Hell no. Lumia 62x/63x are cheaper than 830 by a full hundred bucks or more.


RE: How are these midrange?
By OnyxNite on 9/5/2014 3:15:58 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Your first mistake is comparing the specs of a budget Android phone with that of a midrange WP8.1 phone. The rest of your post is rendered irrelevant because you're comparing apples and oranges.

MS has made a point to make Windows Phone run on the same hardware as Android. Just look at the HTC One (M8) for Windows which is a top end device no matter what OS you put on it. Unlike Apple, MS/Nokia doesn't design their own SoCs, they make nice shells for the same components Android phones use. As such comparing Android to WP is totally relevant.
quote:
These are budget devices? Hell no. Lumia 62x/63x are cheaper than 830 by a full hundred bucks or more.

Yeah, because they're overpriced and you're paying a ton of money for perceived build quality. If I make a smartphone out of a 4 year old budget SoC and plate it in solid gold and diamonds it will cost of fortune but it will still be a budget spec'd phone.


RE: How are these midrange?
By ritualm on 9/5/2014 4:16:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
MS has made a point to make Windows Phone run on the same hardware as Android.

Exactly what does that have to do with the rest of your argument? None. You're comparing apples and oranges.

Windows Phone doesn't require as much hardware as Android to be smooth like Project Butter. It can take in a Snapdragon 200 and still be fully functional. Megahertz isn't everything.

Then again, you're an ignoramus, seeing how the lessons of Intel Netburst went clean over your head.
quote:
Yeah, because they're overpriced and you're paying a ton of money for perceived build quality. If I make a smartphone out of a 4 year old budget SoC and plate it in solid gold and diamonds it will cost of fortune but it will still be a budget spec'd phone.

This is so wrong it's funny in the worst possible way.

Have you ever taken a hard look at the "mini" versions of the flagships most of these Android OEMs make? They make a mockery of the term "mini", making grossly overpriced phones out of 2+ year old specs.


RE: How are these midrange?
By OnyxNite on 9/8/2014 12:11:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Exactly what does that have to do with the rest of your argument? None. You're comparing apples and oranges.

Because I am comparing HARDWARE specs. What OS runs on it, how well that OS run, etc. is irrelevant in a HARDWARE comparison. This is low end HARDWARE. Now maybe it does have a uber smooth OS that makes it run better than way higher spec'd hardware running some other OS but AGAIN, I'm NOT doing an OS comparison so it's irrelevant to a HARDWARE discussion, that's software.

When comparing HARDWARE citing Android running devices is valid because they use the same HARDWARE (snapdragon chips, etc.) even to the point of the HTC One (M8) being the exact same device running either Android or Windows Phone SOFTWARE. Neither Google or Microsoft/Nokia design their own SoCs, memory, etc. they use the same HARDWARE so it is absolutely NOT apples and oranges. I haven't mentioned anything about Megahertz and your Intel Netburst remark makes no sense since both Windows Phones and Android phones run the SAME Snapdragon SoCs. It's the SAME HARDWARE I don't see what is so difficult for you to understand in that.

I actually agree with you 100% about the recent "mini" phones. They are also Low End devices but that doesn't in any way change the fact that these Nokia phones are Low end and not midrange as well. I actually have a year old Droid Mini that has better specs than the recently launched "flagship" Minis from Samsung, HTC, etc. I agree completely that they stink and they have VERY similar specs to these Lumias. They are ALL Low End devices. The Mini name has been so abused that Sony had to change it to "Compact" when they made their actually decent spec'd small phones.


RE: How are these midrange?
By CyCl0n3 on 9/8/2014 4:50:29 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Qualcomms midrange SoCs are the 600 series, not the 400.
Midrange phones have at least a 8MP rear camera.
These phones are clearly low end/budget, there is nothing midrange about them.


You started with the the argument that low end SoC=Low End Phone which is clearly wrong because a phone consists of both Hardware and software on which it runs.

A few comments later you twist it and you´re claiming that you only did a hardware compariso which you clearly didnt.

quote:
Because I am comparing HARDWARE specs. What OS runs on it, how well that OS run, etc. is irrelevant in a HARDWARE comparison. This is low end HARDWARE.


So if your opinion is that a 400 SoC is Low-End than your certainly allowed to that opinion.
But it doesnt make a phone low end.


RE: How are these midrange?
By OnyxNite on 9/9/2014 10:52:52 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
A few comments later you twist it and you´re claiming that you only did a hardware compariso which you clearly didnt.

No where in my original post did I mention software. That didn't start "a few comments later". I was doing a HARDWARE comparison only right from the start. If you inferred I meant software as well then you made an incorrect assumption because I made a point NOT to mention software in any way. When it became clear you were confused on that point I explicitly told you. It wasn't a change later it was a clarification of the original point that you clearly misunderstood.
quote:
So if your opinion is that a 400 SoC is Low-End than your certainly allowed to that opinion. But it doesnt make a phone low end.

It's not just my opinion. I don't just sit around deciding which SoC is low, middle, and high end. I'm not the authority, nor are you. Qualcomm, the SoC manufacturer decides which of their SoCs belong where and the 400s are their low end line, the 600s are their middle, and the 800s are their high end.


RE: How are these midrange?
By iPuzr on 9/5/2014 8:12:12 AM , Rating: 2
Ritualm and Cyclon3 have it just right.
And we saw it several times before that the MP number doesnt say anything about the actual quality of the pictures.
6,7 MP or 8 MP doesnt make a real difference anyways.


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