Eventually, Microsoft promises, the quick-shot Lumia Camera app will arrive on its flagship phones. But two new Lumias designed for overseas markets may get it first.
Microsoft announced the Lumia 435 and Lumia 532 on Wednesday morning, priced at about $81 and $93, respectively. Both phones will ship in February to Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, not the United States.
Shipping low-cost Lumias overseas is consistent with Microsoft's newly stated strategy of boosting market share by pushing midrange to low-end phones. But patient owners of the Lumia Icon, 930, 830 and 1520 have been waiting for Lumia Camera, a subset of the "Denim" upgrade that brings Windows Phone 8.1 Update to the platform.
Why this matters: Loyal Windows Phone owners have felt somewhat slighted by Microsoft's decisions to prioritize the low end of the market. Viewed optimistically, however, Microsoft's decision to ship Lumia Camera phones in February could mean that the company is ready to push out the Lumia Camera update to its older flagships. Fingers crossed.
Quick-draw McGraw on the shutter
Lumia Camera addresses one of the fundamental flaws of the Lumia line: its inability to shoot quick pictures. The time to open the Lumia camera app and shoot a picture takes well over a second, which can be a lifetime to capture a moving toddler or sports scene. Lumia Camera promises to reduce that lag dramatically, as well as offer features such as "Life Moments" that can capture video and pull still images from it.
Both of Microsoft's new smartphones come with the latest Windows Phone 8.1 operating system, the Lumia Denim Update, Microsoft's Office suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote), Outlook for email, seamless Skype integration and front-facing camera for Skype video calling, HERE location services, up to 30GB of free cloud storage on OneDrive, and access to thousands of apps in the Windows Phone store, Microsoft said.
The Lumia 435 comes with a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 200 processor, whereas the Lumia 532 includes a quad-core processor. Both phones have a 1560mAh battery, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of memory, and a microSD slot that can accommodate a 128 GB card.
Oddly, however, they don't seem to include an LED flash, something the Nokia 215, a feature phone, included.
Otherwise, the new Lumia phones seem great, and priced appropriately for the emerging markets Microsoft is targeting. It's just that existing Lumia fans have to hope they see some Lumia Camera love soon, too.