Selfie-centric phone among new Microsoft offerings
Microsoft will seek to draw more people to its Internet-based services with two new mid-range smartphones it unveiled Thursday, including one designed to help people take better selfies.
Both devices are under the Lumia brand Microsoft bought from Nokia. They run the latest version of Windows Phone 8 and feature Cortana, a Siri-like voice assistant available to help with directions, calendar appointments and messages. Many of those interactions will steer users to Microsoft services such as Bing search and OneDrive storage.
Microsoft bought Nokia's phone business in April as it seeks to boost Microsoft's Windows Phone system, which has had little traction compared with Apple's iPhones and Google's Android system. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has made mobile phones and Internet-based services priorities for the company as its traditional businesses — Windows and Office software installed on desktops — slow down or decline.
Microsoft used the IFA technology show in Berlin to announce the new Lumia 730 and 830 phones.
The handsets won't have all the technical advances found in Microsoft's pricier flagship, the Lumia 930 phone, which is known as the Lumia Icon in the United States. The 730's rear camera takes 6.7 megapixel shots, while the 830 is 10 megapixels. By contrast, the 930 phone is at 20 megapixels, one of the highest in a smartphone.
But the 730, in particular, will have features designed for better selfies. The front camera used for selfies will be 5 megapixels, higher than the 2 megapixels found in the 830 and many other phones.
For even better shots, it'll be possible to take selfies with the rear camera. Users won't be able to see themselves on the screen, but an app called Lumia Selfie will use face-detection technology and beeps to guide users on where to hold the camera. Samsung's upcoming Note phones will have a similar feature, along with software to stitch multiple shots on the front camera to fit more people in.
The 830 has a 5-inch screen, measured diagonally, and supports 4G LTE cellular networks. It will cost about 330 euros ($435).
The 4.7-inch 730 will cost 199 euros. It will have 3G connectivity and slots for two SIM cards, an important feature in emerging markets where wireless plans vary widely such that users switch services often to get the best deals. A 4G version will be known as the 735 and will cost 219 euros. That will have just one SIM slot.
The new phones will start shipping in September, though not necessarily right away in all markets. Typically, Lumia phones make it to the U.S. under different model numbers.
AP Technology Writer Anick Jesdanun reported from New York.