Windows Phone 8.1 poised to dip to a new level of affordability

Nokia Devices' best selling Windows Phone appears to be ready to get a successor, with rumors surrounding the Lumia "Rock" -- the Lumia 530 -- intensifying.

I. Executive Summary: Lumia 530 "Rock" (and "Rise"?)

The Lumia 530 is powered by Windows Phone 8.1, which adds Swype-style typing, the Cortana voice assistant, and much more.  How do we know the codename?  Well it was originally reported by @evleaks, but later corroborated by other independent sources:
Here are the key facts you need to know about the device, with some sense of the level of certainty listed:

Lumia 530 w/ info

  • Name
    • Official
      • Lumia 530
    • Code-name
      • "Rock"
      • "Rise" (Rise may actually be Lumia 535)
    • Model No./Variants:
      • RM-1018: Single-SIM (U.S.)
      • RM-1020: Dual-SIM (Thailand, Australia, likely China/India/Mexico/Brazil)
    • [Sources: FCC, Thailance Wireless Authority, Australian Communications and Media Authority]
  • Price
    • $79-99 USD, dual-SIM will likely fetch $10 premium
  • Announcement
    • mid-August (most likely)
    • late July (less likely)
    • [Sources: FCC and @evleaks]
  • Availability
    • International
      • August (likely)
      • October (less likely)
    • U.S.
      • T-Mobile U.S. Inc. (TMUS) (Aug. (likely) or September (less likely))
      • AT&T Inc.'s (T) Cricket Wireless (Oct.)
    • [Sources: FCC, NeoWin, @evleaks]
  • Hardware
    • Screen
      • 854 x 480 pixels (480p, 16:9)
      • [Source: AdDuplex]
    • Processor
      • Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM) dual-core Snapdragon 200 (more-likely)
      • Quad-core Snapdragon 400 (less-likely)
    • Storage
      • 8 GB of NAND
      • microSD
      • 7 GB of OneDrive cloud storage
    • Memory
      • 1 GB DRAM 
    • Battery
      • BL-5J
      • 1430 mAh/3.7 V/5.3 Wh (likely)
      • Removeable
    • Cellular
      • 3G (up to HSUPA, but no HSPA+/HSDPA)
      • GSM/GPRS/EGPRS 850 (U.S.), 1800 (int'l), 1900 (U.S.)
      • WCDMA/HSUPA 850 (band V, U.S.), 900 (int'l), 1900 (band II, U.S.)
    • Wireless
      • WLAN 802.11 b/g/n (2.4 GHz), Bluetooth 3.0 (possibly 4.0)
    • Cameras
      • Rear: 5.0 megapixel camera (no flash)
      • Front-facing: None
      • Activated in software (no camera button)

II. Outlook -- Replacing a Star
The dynamic duo of the Lumia 520 (available today for around $55 USD unlocked) and 521 (available for $70 unlocked on T-Mobile U.S. Inc. (TMUS)) have almost single-handedly made Windows Phone relevant in some developing markets; particularly in regions like China, India, South America, Africa, Indonesia, and the Middle East where cost remains a crucial issue.
The Lumia 520 alone accounts for an estimated 31.6 percent of global Windows Phone sales.  The Lumia 521 chips in a respectable 4.8 percent.  That means more than 1 in 3 Windows Phones sold is a Lumia 520 or 521.  This lines up closely with Windows Phone's biggest markets outside the U.S. -- India, Brazil, China, and Mexico [Source: AdDuplex 1, 2].

Windows Phone Lumia

Windows Phone market share by country

Customers in China have already shown a strong love for Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) design sensibilities, with the Nokia X (Android reskinned to look like a Windows Phone) racking up over 10 million preorders in March 2014.
Windows Phone 8.1 is expected to strengthen Microsoft's bid to beat Android on the budget end in these developing markets.  With Microsoft dropping licensing fees, the OS is already seeing support from domestic budget smartphone makers who previously used Android almost exclusively.  But Microsoft is also determined to lead by example, pushing attractive low-cost handsets to hedge its bets.
III. Device Finally Pictured?
The latest leak of images of what is believed to be the Lumia 530 was posted on the Chinese-language microblogging platform Weibo by a user named "iokeyboy".  The user did not say explicitly that the device was the Lumia 530, but rather stated it "not [the Lumia] 620".

Lumia 530
[Image Source: Weibo/iokeyboy]

The device looks relatively thick and chunky -- which is to be expected from a device at this kind of price point.  It features Nokia Devices' traditional polycarbonate body plastic in a bright pumpkin-ish orange.

Lumia 530
[Image Source: Weibo/iokeyboy]

The back appears to have a camera (no flash) and microphone hole, with a usual connectivity slot (likely microUSB). The side has volume rocker buttons and the power/wakeup button.  There appears to be no hardware camera button.  The front face features virtual buttons (like the Lumia 630/635), a key addition to Windows Phone 8.1.  Bad news for you selfie lovers -- there's no front facing camera.
IV. "The FCC Won't Let Me Be, Or Let Me Be Me, So Let Me See"
Also leaking out is a new filing with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by Microsoft.  The filing describes a device with the model number "RM-1018" -- believed to be the single-SIM variant of the Lumia 530 -- was first dug up by Phone Arena and is available in the FCC's database.
Lumia 530

Also note on the sticker that the devices tested were manufactured in China, which lends some small credence to the leaked photos recently posted to Weibo.
A letter dated July 3 from Microsoft Mobile Product Certification Officer Janne Ilkka requests that the majority of photos related to the FCC filing be kept confidential for 45 days.  That would suggest a Microsoft Mobile announcement on Aug. 15 (Friday) or Aug. 18 (Monday), although the phone could launch even earlier as Nokia Devices often announces products in July.

Lumia 530 launch window

The antenna/wireless chipset placement is revealed in an image in the filing, as well as the face dimensions.
Lumia 530

The filing itself discloses that the device has a bluetooth-WLAN chip capable of 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n).  In a humorous typo it says it supports 24500 MHz (that's one too many '0's -- which goes to show even Microsoft/Nokia make mistakes).

Lumia 530 WLAN mistake

The antenna (on the bottom lip of the device will support GSM/GPRS/Edge (EGRPS) 850 and 1900 MHz bands in the U.S.  Internationally the 1800 MHz band is also used. W-CDMA and HUSPA are also supported for the 850/1900 MHz bands in the U.S. Internationally W-CDMA 900 MHz is supported.
Lastly, the filing discloses the battery (BL-5J) -- the same battery used by the previous Lumia 520/521.  The battery is listed as removable.
A dual-SIM card version dubbed the RM-1020 has also reportedly been approved of by Thailand's wireless authority and by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).  (The Nokia X2 -- the Android-powered Windows Phone skin is the RM-1014.)
IV. Clarifications and Unsolved Mysteries
Lastly, we believe there are a couple of mistakes floating around about the Lumia 530.  First, @evleaks posted the following.

Besides T-Mobile, the Nokia Rock (Lumia 530) is also going to AT&T by way of Cricket Wireless, in the fourth quarter.
The beauty of the English language is ambiguity.  Many took this to mean that the Lumia 530 was launching in October.  e.g. Neowin writes:

The Lumia 530 is not expected until the fourth quarter of this year, making October the earliest that we might hope to see the new device.
While that's possible, the wording seems to suggest that's when Cricket is getting the device, not when it's becoming widely available.

Second, there's rumors about LTE being onboard.  This could tie in to this @evleaks post: It's possible that an LTE variant (the Lumia 535?) is in the works, and that variant is the Rise.  Or it's possible the Rise is the single-SIM 3G Lumia 530.  In the latter case, people likely got the Lumia 630/635 ("Moneypenny") confused for the Lumia 530.  The Lumia 635 had both LTE and a Snapdragon 400.
The fact that these rumors virtually all predate the launch of the Lumia 630 suggest it was a case of mistaken identity.  That in turn calls into question whether a Snapdragon 400 quad-core CPU is truly onboard the Lumia 530.  It's possible, but it's also very probably that a Snapdragon 200 dual-core is inside.  The latter might make more sense from a cost standpoint.
In time these mysteries will be solved -- and if our guess is correct, they may be resolved within a month.  In the meantime expect Microsoft's budget-minded, unlocked handset with its more curvaceous design stylings to be coming soon to a carrier in your region.

Sources: Nokia [via FCC], Weibo, via WPCentral

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else." -- Microsoft Business Group President Jeff Raikes

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