By Rich W Woods
I have been spending the week with Microsoft at Mobile World Congress and having an amazing time. They showed off the new foldable keyboard, the Microsoft Lumia 640, and the Microsoft Lumia 640 XL. They gave an amazing time to everyone there and it was really clear that every single person at Microsoft has a real passion for the company and the products that they create, as well as empowering users to do more with what they have.
I think I heard the phrase “bring flagship features to low cost devices” about a million times, so that raised the obvious question: What about flagships? Of course, we reported that not only did Steven Elop say that there will be a new flagship with Windows 10, but that Tuula Rytila, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Mobile Device Marketing, stated that the next flagship will be worth waiting for. There is, however, more to that story.
Just as obvious as the question about flagships is the question about a successor to the Nokia Lumia 1020. After all, there is nothing like the 41 MP sensor on the Lumia 1020 on the market.
Of course, at this point, the Nokia Lumia 1020 is getting a bit long in the tooth. Windows Phones were using dual core Snapdragon S4s when Android was using quad core Snapdragon 800 and Windows Phones started using Snapdragon 800 when everyone else was using Snapdragon 801. The 1.5 GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 Plus in the Nokia Lumia 1020 makes for a slow phone and an especially slow camera, as it’s a low end chipset that is powering a very high end camera.
So what’s the deal with the 41 MP Pureview? When are we going to see that 41 MP sensor backed up with an octa core Snapdragon 810 processor with 3 GB of RAM? Well, never.
At the same Q&A where we were told that the next flagship would be “worth the wait”, we asked about a successor to the Nokia Lumia 1020. They talked a lot about how a flagship should be special. Most companies release one flagship a year, if that, so Microsoft wants to have one phone that stands for the Windows Phone lineup.
They said that they do not want to create a flagship that alienates a portion of the mainstream market. If you recall, both the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Nokia Pureview 808 has a large bulge where the camera was. After all, it’s not just the resolution of the sensor that makes it great, it’s the 1/1.5″ sensor and the xenon flash.
While it is certainly a tragedy that there will be no successor to the Nokia Pureview 808 and the Nokia Lumia 1020, I do understand why they are doing this. 99% of users (not a confirmed number) use their smart phone cameras for quick shots. They don’t adjust manual settings. They open the camera app, point, and shoot. When I do a camera comparison with the Nokia Lumia 1020, I get emails about how I don’t know how to use it because I leave it on automatic settings.
The Nokia Lumia 1020 is not a mainstream product. The 41 MP Pureview camera is a marvel of modern technology, but it’s not mainstream. Microsoft is streamlining their flagship efforts. Their three flagship lines are 9xx, 10xx, and 15xx. It’s clear that the one to discontinue will be the 10xx, as it does alienate a portion of the mainstream market.
Since the naming convention used in the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL are going to be permanent, I would expect the next flagships to be the Lumia 940 and Lumia 940 XL, instead of a 940 and 1540.
If they’re not going to focus on camera innovation then what? They’re putting flagship features in low price devices and they said the next flagship would be special, innovative, and worth waiting for. So if not camera innovation, then what? Well, it’s Microsoft, so expect productivity innovation. Expect WACOM support in the Lumia 940 XL, if not the Lumia 940 as well.
Windows Phone users are tired of hearing that it will get better soon. I remember back in 2013 when Joe Belfiore tweeted that the app gap would be closed by the end of 2014. We forgive him because of the hair, but still. For years, we have been hearing the same thing, that it will get better soon. Now, we’re hearing that it will get better when Windows 10 comes out.
Microsoft is smart to do the brilliant things that they are doing in the mid-range and the low end, but they can’t forget about flagships. I met hundreds of Lumia lovers over the past couple days. I was extremely jealous that they all had Lumia 930s and I never even had the opportunity to buy one.
Now the Nokia Lumia 1020 will be two years old in July. For all of us that rushed out and bought one on launch day because we know what a 41 MP Pureview camera can do, it’s time to upgrade for us. It worries me that we might not have something to upgrade to.
Pureview is one of the things that makes Lumia special and it is the main reason that Lumia enthusiasts love Lumias so much. For us, we have been dreaming about that 41 MP camera backed up by a solid quad core processor for years. Let’s just hope someone from Microsoft is listening.