Windows fans will have to wait for the release of Windows 10 to get high-end phone product

Fans of Windows Phone (scarce as they may be statistically speaking) have been disappointed over the past year to see Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) largely ignore the high-end market.  While a continual stream of low-end releases -- like the Lumia 530 and Lumia 630/635 -- kept Microsofts competitive in developing markets, hopes for the high end largely fell on deaf ears.

The last releases we saw on the high end were the Lumia 1020 (July 2013), the Lumia 1520 (Oct. 2013), and the Lumia 930 (April 2014).  Prospects of a long overdue refresh on high end were teased at this February when Microsoft's VP of high-end Lumia phones, Juha Kokkonen, confirmed that Windows phones with Qualcomm Inc.'s (QCOM) top-of-the-line Snapdragon 810 chips onboard were in the works.  The hot question was when these devices will arrive.

Well, the good news is that they're indeed in the works.  The bad news is that fans will have to wait a little longer before getting to check them out.

At the 2015 Mobile World Congress (MWC), while rivals launched feature-rich flagship phones, Microsoft quietly announced the 5-inch Lumia 640 and 5.7-inch Lumia 640 XL.  Both devices pack the latest version of Windows Phone 8.1 and the latest-and-greatest Lumia Denim firmware.
Lumia 640
The 5-inch Lumia 640
Lumia 640 XL
The 5.7-inch Lumia 640 XL

These budget devices represent refreshes from last year's Lumia 630 and Lumia 1320 (a budget phablet).  They feature 1 GB of memory (likely LPDDR3), a meager 8 GB of on-device NAND flash storage, 720p (aka HD) displays (1,280 x 720 pixels), and the two-year-old Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core SoC (1.2 GHz).

Microsoft seems well aware of the role of these devices, referring to them as "the best bang for your buck" on its corporate Lumia Conversations blog.

But that left a big unanswered question -- whither the high end?

Lumia 1020
The Lumia 1020 was Microsoft's last must-have high-end Windows Phone.

Microsoft's high-end smartphone product was conspiculously absent and MWC.  And according to Windows mobile marketing chief Neil Broadley, that's because Microsoft has no plans of rolling out high-end devices this spring.  He tells The Verge in a brief interview:

We believe the best time to bring those flagship devices to market is when we have our very latest flagship software experience available. We’re focusing our flagship development for slightly later when Windows 10 is available.

So for those wishing for a bleeding edge smartphone with Windows on it, you'll have to wait until the launch of Windows 10 in the late summer or early fall.  The good news is that Microsoft appears ready to launch high-end product targeting the back-to-school shopping season -- or for the 2015 holiday season, at the latest.

Windows 10
Microsoft won't roll out high end smartphones until after the launch of Windows 10 later this year.

Microsoft has been diligently testing Windows 10 on select lower end models to ensure the full spectrum of models benefits from the update.  Lumia fans will have to live with their aging premium devices for a bit longer; and as Tom Petty says -- "waiting is the hardest part."

Sources: The Verge, via Neowin

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