Print 6 comment(s) - last by RealTheXev.. on Feb 29 at 2:25 AM

New phones pack slower CPUs, less memory, but still offer rich Windows Phone experience

So what does a budget Windows Phone look like?  Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) and its partners answered that this week, unveiling [blog] new budget Windows Phone models.  The models -- coming soon to market -- are (presumably) built on an updated version of Windows Phone 7.5 ("Mango"), not the forthcoming "Tango" as some sources had claimed.

Microsoft feels its approach on the budget end, while a bit tardy, is a bit more thought out than its rivals -- particularly Google Inc. (GOOG) and its Android partners' efforts.  Windows Phone Vice President Terry Myerson writes:

Our engineering team did the work to optimize how Windows Phone runs on lower-cost hardware, bringing the high-end smartphone experience to more affordable devices, while still running nearly all of the applications available in the Windows Phone Marketplace. Windows Phone 7.5 now enables our partners to deliver phones using a lower cost processor (the Qualcomm 7x27a “system on a chip”) and reduced memory (256MB on-board memory)—while still delivering the buttery-smooth Windows Phone experience.

Not all platforms can make this claim about lower-cost models. People who have opted for other low-cost or “free” smartphones have found out the hard way that some of those smartphones won’t run all their apps or do everything they want. On Android, it’s not a given that your lower-cost phone can do what the phone in the commercial can. With Windows Phone, we’ve done the engineering so that nearly all of the current apps will just work on these new phones. Those apps that do need more power are flagged in the Marketplace so if you have one of these new phones with less memory you won’t unknowingly download an app that won’t run well.

Finnish phonemaker Nokia Oyj.'s (HEL:NOK1V) budget offering is the fourth in its Lumia series, the Lumia 610.  ZTE Corp. (SHE:000063), a Chinese phonemaker, also pitched in a design, dubbed the ZTE Orbit.  The specs are seen below:
Budget Windows Phones
The price point of the Lumia 610 is a bit surprising -- significantly higher than the $150 USD steal that early rumors were pointing to.  The phone is about $75, or roughly a quarter cheaper than the Lumia 700's off-contract price ($315 USD).  Still, one has to wonder whether Nokia was wise to pack so much NAND (8 GB) in, rather than skimp on the internal memory in lieu of a more favorable price point.

As for the ZTE Orbit announcement, the big disappointment is that ZTE hasn't announced a price yet, at all.  The phone will be judged largely on merits of its price -- so the verdict is still out on that one.

A final note -- some sources are still claiming the ZTE Orbit is running Tango.  It is unclear whether these reports are misinformed, or if Microsoft hasn't officially mentioned something that the blogs know.  Which is the case will be seen in coming weeks.  But as seen with the Lumia 610 price rumors, misinformation abounds in the rumor-driven blogosphere.

Sources: Microsoft, Nokia, ZTE

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Skype is finally out in beta
By Mitch101 on 2/27/2012 10:07:59 PM , Rating: 2
Skype is finally out in Beta for the Windows Phone - Never really used skype so cant say I was missing it but it might grow on me.

The X-Box Companion App is excellent.

Ask Ziggy is a Siri like app its neat but meh the Windows Speech recognition works great for me.

Not impressed by any phones GPS. They work but I prefer having my Ford Sync or Garman do navigation because someone will call or text yada yada I just like having my GPS separate but in a jam Ill use the phone.

I finally used the cut and paste option once that everyone made a big deal out of. Thats one more than my blackberry of what 10 years?

I guess Id like Microsoft to really leverage its corporate dominance which I hear is in Windows Phone 8. Maybe update with a newer higher res camera? Other than that the device has been rock solid. Still never had to reboot it and it just plain works great for me.

Dont feel the need to poke a stick at any other device it is what it is and Im happy with my Windows Phone. Thats all that really matters isn't it? Guess my only reason to upgrade is for a higher res camera but will wait for the Windows 8 Phones. I think that says something because I have no complaints.

RE: Skype is finally out in beta
By RealTheXev on 2/29/2012 2:25:55 AM , Rating: 2
Have you tried gMap's (Pro) for GPS navigation? I works well for me, but it's still getting better with every release (best I've seen on my WP7 so far.

Forget the phone part
By Belegost on 2/28/2012 2:56:56 AM , Rating: 2
With microSD memory, zune pass integration, and turn-by-turn nav, at 250 off-contract we're talking about the point I pick one up for the car just to do GPS/mp3 duty.

Dropping the cell radio and 50 bucks off the price tag would make a nice follow up to the zune hd and competition to the ipod touch.

RE: Forget the phone part
By rburnham on 2/28/2012 9:46:58 AM , Rating: 2
It was a Windows Phone with an SD card slot (the Samsung Focus) that inspired me to sell my Zune and buy that phone for media playback and phone calls. I love it! It's good to see more Windows Phones coming out with SD card slots, allowing people the option of spending the money for the extra storage.

Could be huge
By Paj on 2/28/2012 7:53:34 AM , Rating: 2
If they can keep this up it could be a real game changer in developing markets, what with Nokia's established name there.
As BRIC countries industrialise further, they are going to want more consumer electronics. For those cases where the iphone is out of reach, WP7 could pick up the slack.

Fast CPU
By PrezWeezy on 2/28/2012 1:06:36 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone else notice the 800 Ghz processor? Seems like a hell of a phone for a budget.

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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