More than a year after launching its last high-end phones, Microsoft is all set to unveil its latest ‘flagship’, the Lumia 950 XL in India at a price of “around Rs 50,000” in India on Monday.
The phone will be remarkable for many reasons, not the least of which is the absolute scarcity of Lumia phones in the high end market right now. The last high-end phone, Lumia 930, was launched more than a year ago at Rs 38,000 in the 3G era.
So, in addition to the graduation of Lumia high end to the 4G world, the 950 XL will also mark the first ever handset from Microsoft (or Nokia) to have a display with more than 2 mln pixels.
The Lumia 950 XL will come with a Quad-HD (4 mln pixel) display — and may remain as the only model from Microsoft to hold that distinction for some more months to come, given the extremely slow pace of new-model introductions from the company.
Though most outlets, including CNN IBN and mysmartprice.com, expect the device to be priced Rs 42,000-43,000 range, our sources indicate that the final price in India will be closer to Rs 50,000.
The Lumia 950 XL is currently selling in the US for $650 (Rs 43,000). In the UK, the phone has seen two price cuts already, and is currently priced at Rs 46,500. Normally, the price of smartphones in India and the UK tend to be very similar.
WORTH THE WAIT?
The 5.7-inch device has a lot going for it, especially for those who prefer AMOLED displays.
In fact, as of now, there are only six large-screen devices in India that can boast of quad-HD AMOLED displays, out of which the Moto Nexus 6 (price Rs 24,999) and Galaxy Note 4 (Rs 35,000) are last year’s models.
Galaxy S6 Edge Plus (Rs 55,000) and Note 5 (Rs 49,900) — are from Samsung, while the remaining two are the six-inch Gionee Elife E8 (Rs 34,999) and the Huawei Nexus 6P (Rs 39,990).
In other words, if you are on the lookout for a nice, large-screen Quad HD device with an AMOLED display in India, your choices are pretty restricted.
That is where the new Lumia 950 XL comes in. Of course, it is also the first high-end device to come with Windows 10.
The rest of the phone’s specifications are largely what you’d expect in a phone priced in the Rs 55,000 range — Snapdragon 810 octa-core processor, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage, support for external MicroSD card and a 3.34 Ah battery.
One of Nokia’s specialties has been its cameras, and the Lumia 950 XL does not disappoint on this count either.
The phone comes with a 20 MP Pure View camera with Carl Zeiss optics and optical image stabilization, triple-LED RGB flash, a 1/2.4′ sensor, 1.12 micrometer pixel size, 4K recording at 30 frames per second and a 5 MP shooter at the front.
Most phones come with a 1/3.2 inch sensor compared to which this phone has a considerably bigger sensor. A bigger sensor pulls in more light and gives much better low-light photos. The new Sony Xperia Z5 and the Gionee Elife E8 also have big sensors at 1/2.3 inch. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus comes with Sony IMX240 sensors, which are 1/2.6 inch in size.
Yet another important aspects of phones — especially in this range — is looks.
Microsoft’s Finnish engineers are usually very good at looks and build quality, and in case of the 950 XL too, they haven’t disappointed. However, the phone is quite hefty at 165 gm vs 153 gm for the S6 Edge Plus.
The device comes with metal on the sides and plastic on the back.
One of the problems with Lumia devices have been their display fragility due to the way the screen is sort of molded on to the frame at the front.
However, given that the display on the phone is covered with a Gorilla Glass 4 layer, let’s hope that it’s not quite as fragile as some of the mid-range phones from the company.
One of the persistent problems with Microsoft has been its pricing, which has been considered too high for the Indian market.
The company has tried to deal with the issue by bringing out special models, such as the Lumia 640, that are available only on the online market and are therefore priced cheap. The company, however, has not adopted this strategy for its high-end models yet.
In addition to the XL, it will also unveil the Lumia 550 and 950.
The Lumia 550 will be the cheapest of the three, and would be priced in the Rs 11,000-15,000 range — depending on whether it makes the phone available generally or only via an online retailer.
Back in April, Microsoft had decided to make its entry-level model, the 640, a Flipkart exclusive, and kept the price affordable at just Rs 11,999. A similar tie-up can help the company sell the Lumia 550 for around Rs 11,000, according to industry sources.
However, more general availability would require the phone to be priced near the Rs 13,000 mark.
The Lumia 550 will be Microsoft’s first 4G phone in the low-end space. It comes with a 1.1 GHz Snapdragon 210 quad-core processor, 8GB of storage memory and, like the other two, supports MicroSD cards of up to 200GB.
The model comes with a 4.7-inch 720p display with 1 mln pixels (compared to 4 mln on XL).
The rear camera resolution is only 5 MP while the front shooter clicks 2 MP images. The highlight of the phone will be that it supports 4G LTE. At present, the only other phone from the company in the mid- or entry-level range with LTE is the Lumia 640 XL, priced at Rs 17,000 in India.
The Lumia 950 falls in the ‘affordable flagship’ territory — if not exactly in the price, at least in its specifications.
Like in case of Sony Xperia Z5 and Z5 Premium, the primary difference between the two models is also in terms of the display, with nearly everything else remaining the same.
However, unlike in case of the Z5 and Premium, the difference is only in terms of the size and not in terms of the total resolution of the screen. In other words, while the Xperia Z5 sees a step-down in terms of resolution from 4 mln pixels to 2 mln, in case of the Lumia 950, the resolution remains at QHD (4 MP).
In other words, the 950 is in the same class as the Samsung S6 and S6 Edge, which are priced at Rs 37,000 and Rs 47,000 respectively in India.
According to our source, the price difference between the XL and the 950 will be around Rs 12,500, which gives an indicative range of around Rs 42,000-45,000 for the 950. Though it will be a tough sell at that price, Microsoft can bring down the price by making the device online-only, though that is less likely, according to industry people.
Whatever the final price, the launch of the three devices will mark a welcome development in the fortunes of the Lumia brand, while giving the flailing Windows Phone ecosystem a boost in India.