Microsoft Pads Windows Phone’s Midriff With Three More Lumias

Microsoft, now the proud owner of Nokia’s mobile making division, has unboxed a trio of new mid-tier Windows Phone handsets at its IFA press event taking place in Berlin today — including a slimline, photo-focused device it’s dubbing an “affordable flagship”. Aka the Lumia 830.

And — following in the footsteps of many an Android OEM — a ‘selfie phone’, called the Lumia 730 (along with a dual-SIM variant called the Lumia 735).

On the specs front, all these devices are mid tier handsets, so evidently Microsoft feels the need to pad out the middle of its portfolio to drive volume in a bid to grow marketshare of Windows Phone. The platform continues to fail to gain traction in the US but has seen some signs of life in international markets, including certain European markets.

Lumia 830

The Lumia 830 looks similar to the metal-edged Lumia 930, released by Nokia earlier this year, but shaves some bulk off the form factor yet also squeezes in a 10 megapixel version of its high end PureView lens (whereas the 930 had the smaller Carl Zeiss lens) — albeit, not quite as high res as the 41MP lens on July 2013’s Lumia 1020.

Specs wise, there’s a 5-inch 720p display, a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon chipset, and Microsoft’s usual range of eye-popping colors on the polycarbonate rear. It will ship with the Lumia Denim update.

There’s also a refreshed Lumia Camera with speedier snaps and other imaging enhancements, including a feature that lets users snap the same photo twice: once with flash, and once without, and then select how much exposure they want the photo to have after the fact.

The Lumia 830 has a price-tag of €330, and is due to start shipping globally this month.

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Redmond has struggled for years to drive marketshare for its Windows Phone platform, with competition at the high end smartphone price point especially fierce, given the long-time entrenched position of Apple and Android OEM samsung.

However Samsung has shown signs of slipping in recent months, thanks to price-focused competition from Android OEMs such as Xiaomi. Microsoft now looks to be closing in on a similar strategy of undercutting the high end competition on price — albeit this crop of devices pads out the Windows Phone mid-tier, rather than the high end — a strategy it’s able to pursue now that it’s in full charge of Nokia’s device-making division.

Lumia 730 and 735

The second device (which comes in single and dual-SIM variants) coming out of Redmond’s IFA presser today is being dubbed a ‘selfie phone’. We’ve seen Android OEMs including HTC attempt to plough a similar furrow in recent times, by offering handsets that apparently make it easier to snap selfies. Microsoft’s take adds a 5MP front facing lens that’s wide-angle, so you can fit more folk in your selfie.

Lumia 730

The 4.7-inch 720p display handset has a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 chipset, plus 1GB of RAM and a 6.7MP rear-camera so it’s sitting squarely in the mid-tier device bracket. Price wise the Lumia 730 will cost €199 and the 735 is €219.

Microsoft is also leveraging its ownership of Skype by offering three months free Skype calls across all the devices announced today — and indeed all its Lumia devices. That won’t annoy carriers at all…