Microsoft’s New Devices & New Direction

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The News:

Microsoft-Nokia has unveiled its two new Mid-Range Smart Phones here at Berlin, Germany. Not only that, there were exciting applications and an accessory that was unveiled too.

Chris Weber, who just got a new business card as Microsoft’s CVP for mobile device sales, lectured the onlookers about the innovations and the products made by the devices group right after they came into Microsoft.  He also mentioned that this was the first Global Lumia event under the Microsoft banner.

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Microsoft Vision:

Microsoft recently released the 530 and the 630 which are affordable smartphones and then the Nokia 130 was released which was ultra-affordable (not a smart Phone though). All these phones were actually priced fewer than 200 Euros. Chris continued that their aim was to make great hardware which are complemented with great software and make them available for a wider group of people with different price points which is, Microsoft is aiming at making affordable smart phones! Also, their goal is to make market for Lumia and Windows phone.

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Apps:

Chris enlightened us with the fact that there are now 3,27,000 apps in the Windows Phone Store. He also updated that a ton of progress has been made to bring in new apps and almost 500 apps / week are added to the Windows Phone store and of course MS are more focused on bringing in more Top Apps to the WP Market.

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Software:

Recently, Microsoft had released a Software Update, which is Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 that brings a beta version Cortana to UK and China. Furthermore, it brings in a public Alpha version of the Cortana in Canada, India and Australia, later bringing Cortana to rest of the globe.

Lumia Denim:

Chris on behalf of Microsoft announced the Lumia Denim, which is the next big software update before the Windows Phone 9. This software update has several enhancements and one of the best is a feature which makes Cortana easier to use!

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Chris demonstrated a Hands free way to use Cortana which is one of the best features in the Lumia Denim. This feature is called the “Hey Cortana” and when you say the same, this activates Cortana even when the phone is in the idle state. Generally we use the Search button to activate Cortana which is kind of protracted when compared to the “Hey Cortana” feature. Cortana is full to capacity and now with Geofencing. Using Cortana, location based reminders can be set! (e.g.: Remind me to call Akxxx, when I go to Ohio).

With Lumia denim, there are loads of Camera enhancements and features. With this update, the Nokia Camera app. is also touched up. The best enhancement is Microsoft has made the camera functionality faster from Pocket to use.

Lassi Elias Hurskainen , a football trick artist and a pro goally for the HIFK team was introduced on stage to experiment the denim Camera enhancements. This update made the camera App start Faster on initial startup and when the Camera physical button is pressed constantly, the Lumia Pureview devices will start taking 4K videos. This will of course not work on non pureview devices and I am also thinking that this will work only for the second Generation Pureview Lumia models except for 1020 and 1520. It would be awesome if my 920 could take a 4K video. Fingers Crossed!

lassi

Chris captured a 4K video on a Lumia 930 @24fps with 8.3MP per frame of Lassi doing some football tricks! That is quite techie but this is a whopping high quality video! We have yet another best part here; we could take high quality images from the videos! Samsung already includes this feature but I have also personally tried them and the image quality is as bad as VGA images. When you could take a high quality stills from a video, now that is what I call enhancements! It would have been great if the device could take 4K videos @60FPS, I know that’s a lot and who knows, MS and Nokia might have this on the 1030 with WP 9.

Chris also demonstrated how we could actually extract pictures out of the 4K video. He actually did that in the Camera module where it displayed edit Moments. When that was clicked, there were two options, one to create a Best Shot (a single detailed Image) and the last one is the action shot similar to the Smart Sequence on the contemporary Nokia Camera.

This update also has Glance Screen enhancements. – Click here to know more about this.

With the Denim update, Camera is quick from pocket to picture and from shot to shot. Also, not to mention the 4K video which is a step forward for the Imaging team at Microsoft. So the Lumia Denim is feature packed with Camera Enhancements and Cortana updates however I personally think this is a Camera Centric update! Chris edified  all of us  notifying that Human Eye’s blink time is 100 – 400 milli seconds and I was impressed when he said that Nokia could make 3 – 12 pics in that time frame which means, consumers will never miss a shot!

Click Here to view the list of features of the Lumia Denim.

Availability of Denim update:

The Lumia denim will first be available on the Flagship devices including 930, 1520 and Lumia Icon. This will be available to rest of the devices running Windows Phone 8.1 by this year end! The Lumia Camera App will be available separately and initially to devices including the 930, 1520 and the Lumia Icon.

Nokia Lumia 830:

Microsoft is always finding a way to pack innovation onto their flagship devices with affordable price tags. Chris openly challenged Samsung and Apple that Nokia Lumia 830 is the most affordable Flagship now when compared to their Flagship’s design, premium, affordability and consumer functionalities.

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Microsoft unveils the talk of the Nokians, the Nokia Lumia 830! The Lumia 830 is almost in par with the Nokia Lumia 930 except for some few cuts. The 830 has an amalgamation design of the 1020, 925 and the 930. We also heard that the 830 will come in different variants however there were no words about this on the event!

The 830 is priced at 330 Euros and Microsoft expects to begin shipping the 830 by Q4 2014

Spec wise, though it is not on par with the Flagship equivalent from other companies, the 830 has its own characteristic which delivers premium innovation. The 830 has the thinnest Optics module and with all the goodies with an exciting price point! The 830 is a power packed device which is just 8.5mm thick and weighs just 150 grams! This has a pocket friendly phone!

Nokia Lumia 830 Specifications:

Here is a detailed rundown of the specs of the Lumia 830.

  • Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 with Lumia Denim
  • LTE RoW: GSM 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 1900 MHz;
  • WCDMA: 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1900 MHz, 2100 MHz;
  • LTE: 1, 3, 7, 8, 20; Data Speed – Upload (Max) GSM: EGPRS/236.8 kbps; WCDMA: HSUPA/5.76 Mbps; LTE: 50 Mbps; Data Speed – Downlink (Max): GSM: EGPRS/236.8 kbps; WCDMA: HSDPA/42.2 Mbps; LTE: 150 Mbps.
  • Memory: 1GB RAM, 16 GB internal user memory; 15 GB OneDrive cloud storage, micro SD expandable up to 128 GB
  • Display: 5.0-inch ClearBlack IPS HD (1280 x 720) display, Corning Gorilla Glass 3, Curved Glass (2.25D), Lumia color profile, wide viewing angle,
  • Processor: 1.2 GHz quad-core processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 400
  • Main camera: 10 MP PureView with ZEISS optics and optical image stabilization (OIS), Video recording at 1080p 30 fps (Full HD), Rich recording
  • Secondary camera: 1 MP, 720p Video
  • Size: 139.4 x 70.7 x 8.5 (volumetric) mm, Weight: 150 g
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0, BT 4.0, WLAN IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n, AGPS and GLONASS, 3.5 mm audio connector
  • Battery: Removable 2220 mAh battery, exchangeable shell
  • Audio: 3 high-performance microphones, Nokia Rich Recording with surround sound capture (Dolby 5.1), Uplink noise cancellation for calls, 3.5 mm AV connector
  • Colors: Bright Green, bright orange, White, dark grey and Stunning White

Imaging Quality on the 830:

The Image Quality of the Lumia 830 was demonstrated and compared with the iPhone 5S and Chris tipped off that the Samsung’s Image quality was of poorer quality than the iPhone and so they did not want to waste the presentation space by displaying images taken with Samsung. I always thought the other way.

ipohone 5 vs 830

 

To better explain the imaging functionalities of the device, Chris introduces Kristeana who is the Chief Imaging Officer   at Microsoft devices. She familiarized the Lumia Camera’s functionalities and lead into what was called the Dynamic Flash. Before we go into what this is, let me also tell you that I saw a magic Wand button on the Lumia camera which takes amazingly good images when that is on. Basically it adjusts itself to the lightings and delivers exceptional clarity.

We also have cool features like the Dynamic Flash. Flash can be applied to images which are taken in low light conditions after the image is taken. The atmosphere on the image can be decided by us. Isn’t that cool? The dynamic flash takes two images one with flash and the other without flash giving us more space to decide on how the image should look. This Dynamic feature is embedded with Rich Capture which brings amazing clarity. Rich capture will recognize the multiple exposure values and bring the best image. Microsoft has finally enabled HDR mode in the Lumia camera though Nokia’s imaging delivers better picture without the HDR when compared to the Google or Apple phones. You could now share your live images to the One Drive and to the Story teller app.

Screen Sharing Accessory:

Talking about sharing, screen projection is one people are eagerly waiting for. Though we can do this with the “Nokia Play To” App, Microsoft screen sharing accessory can do that in style, with just a tap on your device.  Microsoft Screen Sharing for Lumia Phones HD-10 is the name of the device(Pretty Long) and this uses Miracast. This device has a coaster (like a small plate) which can be used to pair your NFC enabled devices with the HD-10 with just a tap. Once paired, you could share you display to a bigger screen! Chris showcased the content on his phone on a bigger screen with the help of HD-10! The HD-10 gives you a new way to share your screen.

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Wireless Charging DT 903:

Apart from the lengthy name accessory, Microsoft also unveiled the Intelligent NFC powered Wireless Charging. This wireless charger has a beautiful lighting effect at the bottom. The charging plate lights up once the phone is placed on top. Did I just say intelligent? Here is a light of things it does.

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This is a wireless charger basically connected via NFC. So this charger will actually give notice when we are in the Chargers vicinity. For example, if we are near the charger, it gets paired automatically (we need to pair it for the first time) and it flashes various color codes informing us that the phone has notifications or needs to be charged! This can be manually set and also we could set the light flash pattern (Blinking Pattern) on the charger depending on the notification type. This wireless charger has its own prerequisites. This will work with devices which runs Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1 and which has BT 4.0. The intelligent Wireless Charger will come in three colors which are Green, Orange and White. This Enhances your customization of notification and delivers quicker charging. Click here for more details.

Nokia Lumia 730:

So the team is not only focused on innovations at the back but they have also worked on consumer needs and feedbacks! It is time for better selfie and skype experience. The wait is over. One of the most awaited Nokia mid-ranger flaunted by a 5MP Selfie Camera is officially unveiled at Berlin, Germany. As we all know, the Nokia Lumia 730 is actually the 2014 version of the 720 and will hold the same place the 720 held, as mid-ranger. (Maybe better).

730 and 735

 

Chris unveiled two versions of this device, one has a dual SIM capability and the other one is a single SIM 4G enabled device. The dual SIM device is the Lumia 730 and the 4G LTE version is the Lumia 735.

The Lumia 730’s appearance is of the same kind as that of the Lumia 900’s design and rear is more or less like the 720. This has a volume rocker and power button on the right side and the main downside is that, it doesn’t have a camera button. This makes it even harder to take selfies. There has a small orifice at the rear for the speakers. We might have identified this long back in the leaks but we do not have enhancements and they are what they were in the leaks!

Here is a quick run-down of the specs:

  • Windows Phone 8.1 Update 1
  • 4.7″ Display 720 x 1280 pixels (312 ppi)
  • 1GB RAM
  • Snapdragon 400 Quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A7
  • Internal Storage 8GB
  • Micro SD support up to 128GB
  • 6.1MP Rear Camera (Fixed Focus)
  • 5MP Front Camera
  • Dual SIM support (4G enabled on the 735 but no Dual SIM)
  • No dedicated camera button
  • Virtual navigation buttons

Chris told yet another fact and this time about Selfies. There were about 50 billion selfies shot in 2013 and 95% were lousy. That is insane and a vile news! With the nokia Lumia 730, Selfies are effortless and unblemished.

Chris and his team thought of doing some selfies with the Germany national Football team however they were not there on the scene maybe because they were beaten by Argentina yesterday. Just kidding! Chris actually managed to dress few people up with the Germany Jersey and they all took a Selfie like how Helen did at the Oscars. That was tragic but this was a magic! The front facing camera really did wonders. All were in the frame, thanks to the wide angle camera and the picture was a high quality selfie! Not only that, the Skype call clarity is also amazingly good. We get 3 Months international Skype calls free with the purchase of all new Lumia smart Phones starting from Lumia 730. This means, we can expect more devices from MS!

The Nokia 730 is priced at 199 Euros and expected to ship this month. The Lumia 735 is priced at 219 Euros.

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Superman flaunted his expertise on the planet Krypton but now its planet Earth! Welcome Nokia 730 a.k.a Superman to the Nokia Family.

Lumia Selfie App:

slefie App

It is not just about the hardware, Microsoft has also worked on the software side to make selfies high quality and less awkward. The Lumia Selfie App is the application that allows you to capture selfies, edit and share it. Once you take a Selfie using this App, you could edit them and apply different filters! This is more like the Glam Me App but I felt that this is an upgraded version of the Glam Me App. This App will allow you to take selfies not only on selfie capable devices but also on devices that doesn’t have front Facing cameras. Also, this app will allow you to use your rear Camera. This app will be available starting today.

Link to the App – Click Here

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Price Points:

Estimated prices based on the current exchange rates.

Nokia Lumia 830:

US: 427 USD
Europe: 330 EUR
India: 25,800 INR
Kuwait: 122 KWD

Nokia Lumia 735:

US: 283 USD
Europe: 219 EUR
India: 17,100 INR
Kuwait: 81 KWD

Nokia Lumia 730:

US: 257 USD
Europe: 199 EUR
India: 15,500 INR
Kuwait: 73 KWD

* These prices are not accurate, the prices might vary based on the location.

The End:

Microsoft is bringing more innovations through software, hardware and aiming at making flagship smart phones at affordable price tags. I agree that Samsung and Apple cannot say that! You could see that for yourself when the iPhone 6 launches! That’s all folks! Thank You!

 

-Parasaran

 

 

 

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