Monday, February 15, 2016

The Most Confusing Windows 10 Device Ever: The Lumia 650


I’ll be the first to admit that I have no idea what the mission of the Windows 10 for Mobile team is any more. I had some ideas, or maybe even dreams, but the towel is going in on this one because I no longer have any idea what is happening. Apparently the newly announced Lumia 650 is in the same boat also. It’s part Lumia 950 series and part Lumia 640 series and part Lumia 530 series and adding it all together, makes it 100% confusing.

Let’s start with the positives. Microsoft released a new Windows 10 piece of hardware! Yea! It retails for $199! Yea! It has a solid 16GB of internal storage with additional space available via MicroSD card slot. It’s got a pretty nice 5” display to stare at all day long, which makes it a great portable size for a mobile device. The 8MP rear camera and 5MP front cameras aren’t all that bad for an entry level device, in fact their quite decent to say the least. And most of all, it’s just $199 retail.

So far so good, right? Well, not so much… Windows 10 Mobile isn’t exactly what you’re getting with the Lumia 650. The Qualcomm 212 processor will not support Windows Continuum, which for me is a deal breaker right off the bat. I have plenty of devices that will give me a great Windows 10 experience without that amazing feature. I don’t need another. The 1GB of RAM that the 650 ships with is barely adequate for today’s standards. It’s the starting point, not something that should mark your mid-range devices. In fact, the 1GB of RAM is what is shipped with the Lumia 535 at a much lower price tag. The final straw though, is that it is just $199. This price point is just too high for a wanna be second tier device.

What I mean by this is that the $100 price point where the 535 should be sitting is filled with crap-tastic Android devices and the Moto E. Most of the phones in this range are under powered and really just lacking features that make them a good choice for most. Then, you have the $200 range, with devices like the Moto G falling into it. As nice as the 650 looks on paper, the Moto G has so much more going for it that it’s scary to think that these two devices are in the same price range. Of course, this won’t matter to most consumers since they go in and finance the phone and leave with a $650 device that they are paying $30 a month for, so forget how much it costs and worry about what it does.

Here’s the real breakdown of how well the 650 will do. It won’t sell, at least not a lick in the US. The carriers won’t stock it and Microsoft doesn’t have enough stores to push them out to end users. It’s another “Smoked By Windows Phone” candidate right there. Of course, if Microsoft cut a deal with say Wal-Mart, Target or even a regional chain like Fred Meyer’s, to put up an endcap of “unlocked carrier phones that work with the carrier you already use” and will cut your bill $20-150 a month, I bet some people would drop in for a look. Unfortunately, most people don’t think about unlocked at this point, nor do they even know what it means. They go to the store, buy a phone and move along until it breaks.

The Lumia 650 is a nice step up from the 535 in may ways, but honestly, the lack of additional RAM and most of all, Continuum makes is a non-starter for me. Unfortunately, the lack of exposure is going to make it a no-go for just about everyone else. Hey Microsoft, if you’re listening, make sure you think about getting than end cap and maybe labeling some devices with a sticker that says “AT&T Ready” or “Save $25 a month on your bill without a device payment!” You’ll be shocked how well these things start to move. Think about how well the 520/521 did when those hit retail shelves! You could do it again, just that easily.

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