Microsoft officially announces the Lumia 650

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As widely expected, ahead of MWC 2016, Microsoft has officially launched the Lumia 650, intended mainly for business use, and prioritising materials and appearance over blazing consumer internals. The result is an interesting specification sheet, but I think we have to trust Microsoft on this one - they did their research in terms of what businesses wanted for the Lumia 640 and 640 XL and now we're starting to see their replacements, a year on.

Lumia 650 family

From the announcement:

The Lumia 650 comes in matte black and matte white, and will become available in select European markets beginning Feb. 18, starting from a suggested retail price around $199 USD before local taxes and subsidies.

I’ve had an opportunity to talk with our business customers as well as our Windows fans and something that consistently comes up is that this ever expanding mobile world is quickly becoming chaotic. It’s in that spirit that we designed the Lumia 650 to bring first class to business class; giving our customers the best of Microsoft productivity and security, all wrapped in a beautiful slim package. By providing a consistent experience across PC and phone through the power of Windows 10, we think professionals and Windows fans alike will love using it every day.

...The Lumia 650 fits perfectly into the enterprise with built-in support for Microsoft business applications, new third party Universal Windows Applications like Uber, and one click setup of common everyday tools like Office 365. It also allows IT to test the latest Windows 10 Mobile updates against critical line of business systems and apps, before you distribute to end users via MDM. It’s secure by design and keeps company and personal data safer with features like device encryption and device wipe. These features allow businesses peace of mind, knowing important information in emails and files are protected from threats and empowers employees to use one device for work and play.

As we’ve sharpened our mobile strategy with a new focus in phones, the Lumia 650 is another step towards bringing Windows 10 to more than a billion devices. Our phones will continue to play a key role in this effort. We’re improving our platform with regular updates and are committed to continuing to deliver the most productive and secure Windows-based smartphones to Windows fans and business customers.

Technical Specifications

  • Physical: 6.9mm thick, 122g
  • Display: 5” 720 x 1280 pixels AMOLED with ClearBlack Display
  • Memory: 16GB (expandable up to 128GB)
  • RAM: 1GB
  • OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Mobile
  • Chipset: Snapdragon 212, Quad-core, up to 1.3GHz
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1 with A2DP, Micro USB, GPS, full spread of 3G and LTE bands
  • Main camera: 8MP, 1/4" sensor, f/2.2, 720p capture
  • Front camera: 5MP, f/2.2
  • Battery: Li-Ion 2000mAh battery, replaceable (plus back cover can be swapped out, as on the 950 and 950 XL)
  • microUSB charging/data

The full product page for the 650 is here.

The use of the Snapdragon 212 chipset (compared to the Snapdragon 400 in the Lumia 640) will only really make a difference in terms of local media playback - and it's unlikely that the typical buyer wll grind the 650 to a halt by trying to play back 1080p videos from a microSD card - everything else will work just fine. 

There's no possibility of Continuum at this spec level, of course, but for general Outlook/Office/Sharepoint/Maps/Edge use for enterprise users at around £100 each (no VAT, and with corporate discounts) the Lumia 650 should make a lot of sense in a Windows-centric business. The use of microUSB rather than USB Type C also plays into all this, though it's disappointing to see Microsoft playing it safe here - USB Type C will take off sooner rather than later.

It has been rumoured that the Lumia 650 will be the last to bear the name and that future Windows 10 Mobile devices will have different branding. I'm sceptical about this, certainly at the low end of the market, I'd put money on a Lumia 650 XL arriving in the next few months. It's also a shoe-in that a Surface-branded phone will arrive later this year, also running Windows 10 Mobile, of course.

PS. As ever, there's a promo video:

There's also a more revealing video, showing the removeable back and battery, though note that it's in French. C'est la vie....