Today Microsoft launched their fourth phone in the x50 series, with the Lumia 650 being the latest Lumia to roll out of what used to be Nokia’s smartphone business. In July of 2015, Microsoft wrote down the majority of their acquisition of Nokia, laying off a large portion of the former Nokia employees. CEO Satya Nadella changed strategy on phones, and his new strategy has now been brought to fruition. Rather than the numerous handsets that Nokia was releasing to cover every single part of the market, Microsoft would step back on phone hardware, and focus on three areas instead. The first was the high end enthusiast phones, with are covered by the Lumia 950 and 950 XL announced last October. The low end is served by the $139 original asking price for the Lumia 550. That left just the third market that Nadella wanted to provide for, and that is the business market. Today’s Lumia 650 is being pushed as an affordable business phone. Let’s go over it and see how they did.

The first part is pretty easy. It is an affordable phone, with a suggested MSRP of just $199. It’s not the most affordable phone, but that’s not the goal here. The business phone is much more nuanced than price, and needs a bit more investigation.

What is going to make a phone successful in the business and enterprise markets is a lot bigger question than whether something is affordable. You need security, manageability, integration with company networks and applications, and more. Windows 10 put a lot of focus into endpoint security, with features like Data Loss Prevention, and integration with VPN functions as a start. Manageability would be handled through MDM solutions such as Microsoft System Center, or In-Tune, and Windows 10 has expanded the manageability of devices running this OS. Application integration can be handled through the Windows Store for Business and enterprises can leverage in-house developers with C# experience to write their own apps. I think on that note it can be successful, but if your company or enterprise leverages third-party mobile apps, it is certainly not a guarantee that there will be an app for Windows 10 Mobile.

But what I just described applies to any Windows 10 Mobile handset, and not specifically the Lumia 650. Biometric authentication is supported in Windows 10 Mobile, but not leveraged here. Continuum on Windows 10 Mobile allows you to use your phone as a PC by connecting it to a monitor and keyboard, but that functionality requires USB-C and a more powerful GPU than the Lumia 650 has, so it’s absent.

So despite being targeted towards business users, it lacks some of the most exciting functions for a business handset. So let’s stop looking at it as a business phone, and just look at it as a Windows 10 Mobile smartphone.

Windows 10 Mobile is of course the latest iteration of Microsoft’s phone operating system, but the new codebase is available for small tablets as well. It officially was released with the Lumia 950 and 950 XL’s launch in November, and many existing Windows Phone 8.1 handsets will be offered this as a no-charge update. It runs all of the apps from Windows Phone 8.1, as well as the new Universal Windows Platform apps designed for Windows 10, assuming the developer targets the app towards the phone screen size.

  Microsoft Lumia 650
SoC Snapdragon 212 (quad-core Cortex A7 @ 1.3 GHz)
RAM/NAND 1 GB RAM, 16 GB NAND + microSD 200 GB
Display 5.0” 1280x720 ClearBlack AMOLED Corning Gorilla Glass 3
Network LTE up to 150 Mbps
Dimensions 142 x 70.9 x 6.9 (mm)
Weight 122 grams
Rear Camera 8 MP, 1/4" CMOS, f/2.2, 28 mm focal length, LED Flash
Front Camera 5 MP wide angle, f/2.2, 1280x720 video resolution
Battery 2000 mAh, 3.8 V, 7.6 Wh
OS Windows 10 Mobile
Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n + BT 4.1, USB2.0, DLNA, FM Radio
Location Technologies Cellular and Wi-Fi network positioning, A-GPS, A-GLONASS, BeiDou
SIM Size Nano SIM

The Lumia 650 is a 5-inch smartphone with a 1280x720 resolution AMOLED display. Luckily, it does support Glance, which is a low power mode where the time and some other information is on the display even when the phone is off (this is all configurable) which is one of my favorite Windows Phone features. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 212, which is a quad-core Cortex A7 at 1.3 GHz. This should in theory be a small increase in performance over most of the previous Lumia phones powered by Snapdragon 400, since both used A7 cores but the 212 is clocked a bit faster. The A7 is the older 32-bit chip, but at the moment that’s not an issue anyway since Windows 10 Mobile is currently a 32-bit operating system. The GPU is Adreno 304 in the Snapdragon 212. The Lumia 650 comes with 1 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage, with microSD card expansion for up to another 200 GB. Windows 10 Mobile supports moving data to the SD card very easily, and you can set your default save location for apps, music, and more, to the internal or SD storage individually. The camera is an 8 MP sensor, but only 1/4” in size and it lacks the OIS of the higher end Lumia phones. The front camera is becoming more important, and the Lumia 650 has a 5 MP FFC with f/2.2 aperture and a wider field of view.

The Lumia 650 features a very thin and light design, coming in at just 6.9 mm in thickness and weighing in at only 122 grams. The removable back can be had in either black or white, and unlike the more expensive Lumia 950 and 950 XL, the 650 features a diamond cut anodized aluminum metal frame around the phone, which should give it a much better in-hand feel.

Despite the naming, the Lumia 650, to me, feels like a successor to the Lumia 830 with its metal frame and similar display size. The camera is likely not going to be quite as good, but my one big criticism of the Lumia 830 was the price, and the Lumia 650 comes in under half of what the 830 was sold for when it first launched. They certainly fixed that. I’m not sure where Windows 10 Mobile is headed, and maybe we’ll learn more at Microsoft’s Build developer conference at the end of March. The Lumia 650 will be available in the EU starting today and wider distribution later on.

Source: Microsoft

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  • Alexvrb - Monday, February 15, 2016 - link

    How is it crippled, and what hardware features does it lack vs the 950? Performance-wise you get what you pay for, but even with a fairly basic SoC these devices perform quite well.

    As far as Win10 update goes, it's just around the corner. You're lucky in that AT&T probably won't drag their feet TOO much once they get the update, with Verizon all bets are off.
  • Danvelopment - Monday, February 15, 2016 - link

    No Continuum. We were looking at using phones as a primary device for a large number of our roaming salespeople. Everyone has large screen needs in a workplace.

    This is what interested us, and for us it was the order winning criteria to call it a "Business Phone". Not a phone that can be used for business.

    This isn't a business phone, it's a phone that can be used for business.

    And that update has been around the corner for months, there's still no confirmed date and the 1520 has been omitted from all the release sheets as of late. I won't believe it until it happens.

    Also not in the US, so I don't think AT&T or Verizon will play any part.
  • Alexvrb - Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - link

    Continuum is very neat but in terms of smartphones it's primarily a consumer feature at this point. It doesn't supplant existing larger-screen business-class mobile devices (laptops, hybrids, x86 tablets) for a couple of reasons. One, you can't use Continuum very effectively while you're on the move - unless you're walking around with a battery-powered monitor, folding keyboard and compact mouse, at all times.

    Then there's software. Do your salespeople only run apps? That might be good enough for some business use cases, but I think it's really more ideal for consumers who can hook their phone up to a TV for web browsing, light schoolwork, Netflix et al. But maybe for your guys that's enough. They would still need to have keyboard, mouse, and a display available.

    Regarding networks, I forgot that they use the same Lumia model number across regions. But the update really is getting close - at least as far as MS releasing the update to carriers, probably only a month or two out. After that it all depends on the carrier.
  • Danvelopment - Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - link

    Or, you know, your salespeople are located in the country they sell in and have a continuum desktop setup at home because all they use is Exchange, Office, CRM online and are provided the marketing material that's produced in house in standard formats.

    I don't see why consumers would ever need continuum.

    The update has always been getting really close, saying it's close and not giving a(nother) fixed date is completely and utterly meaningless. MS or anyone saying it's close now is a fart in the wind.

    This a business phone does not make. To me a "business" device is designed to emphasise features that are more business orientated, this has no business related emphasis and has stripped stuff that would have had it stand out from Android and iOS. Hell, even without business features at the minimum they could have slapped a 3 year warranty on it and made it easy to service and even that would have given it a business classification. Computer manufacturers learned that years ago (they also learned to put port replicators on business devices because users like to dock their devices, even if they aren't carrying around a portable screen, keyboard and mouse).

    Microsoft have let us down anyway.
  • Alexvrb - Monday, February 22, 2016 - link

    I'm saying that even with full Continuum support and a faster SoC, this doesn't supplant laptops for on-the-go use. It also lacks x86 which a lot of businesses want. HOWEVER, the just-announced HP Elite X3 offers a clamshell that would fill the first void. Then they offer HP WorkSpace which in many cases would solve the second problem despite the local device not being x86. They also stated that they're open to future Atom SoCs but that currently the Snapdragon 820 offers a better mix of performance and power efficiency. Check it out.

    Regarding your development teams not wanting to produce dedicated apps: Do they write apps for iOS? Search for Bridge for iOS. Candy Crush "port" to WP and Win10 was compiled using this. Also, build a UWP app for Windows 10 you can write one app that runs on all Windows 10 devices, x86 and ARM, desktop down to mobile. You can even build it with multiple UIs for full (adaptive) Continuum support ala Office, if you so choose.
  • Danvelopment - Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - link

    Let me put it this way, not everyone in our company is going to get the 950 (just bought our first one a couple days ago, Continuum is great) and very few people would want this over the selection on alternative OS's. There's nothing on this phone that stands out as a business device, and our development teams wouldn't produce dedicated apps for a miniscule proportion of our users.

    There's no reason why we would entertain the notion to motivate the rest of the company to migrate to Windows Phone, even in the face of a 30% marketshare of Lumia's in our IT department (myself included, just short of 80 IT staff and several thousand total, I know of 10 non-IT users who use Windows Phone).

    Microsoft had the potential to release something that would have migrated us, but now they're just trying to play the marketing game without backing it up with engineering.

    Oh: Also we want Windows 10 on phones to join a domain. And x86 chipsets. We can't understand why MS isn't trying to stand out and really embed themselves in business with features the competition couldn't match. (x86 on Android wouldn't get Windows x86 applications, x86 Windows 10 on Continuum could if MS really wanted it to).

    These would both be "business" features that would stand out, rather than this half-ass piece of tripe.
  • Michael Bay - Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - link

    Oh, they would very much like to have x86 in a phone and llkely already have all requisite software infrastructure for it, but it`s on Intel to deliver proper SoC.
  • Murloc - Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - link

    those things would be nice but it's still sci-fi to think that you can run x86 windows software on a phone and having it not be a frustrating experience.

    There is a reason this phone doesn't include continuum, the performance just isn't there.
    If you want it, you have to buy a 950, and that costs more. But that's not good enough for you either.

    If Microsoft can trudge along with its phone business, one day that stuff will come, but not today nor this year nor the next.

    And that's the day USB-C dock stations and mobile devices will kill many laptop use cases.
  • Danvelopment - Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - link

    I don't see why it would be a frustrating experience, I'm not expecting to run Solidworks on it, but I can't see why NetWeaver would be an impossible task (SAP doesn't yet offer support for Windows Phone).

    From what I can see, the most current x86 Atom based mobile SoC's are more powerful than the single and dual core Saltwell Atoms (which we have), and certainly more powerful than our VIA, XP embedded machines that run our ERP applications.

    A decent proportion of our users really don't have major needs, but there's a combination of old in-house applications, and new low requirement applications that wouldn't be frustrating in the slightest.

    At the bare minimum all they need do is open it up and make it available and I bet a bunch of Indian and Chinese manufacturers would pump a few out and see if it sticks. If it is as bad as you say then MS can turn around and say, "I told you so" but this is innovation that they have available to them, where no one else has the same opportunity, and you're saying they're looking at each other, wringing their hands and saying, "Oh, but what if the Intel chips aren't very good?", "It sounds like it could be hard".

    Again, I say they're just playing the marketing game without the engineering.
  • simard57 - Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - link

    X86 may not be up to the task for a phone especially if you are looking for 10+ hour battery time and a low cost. Perhaps soon - but not yet

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