On Friday, Windows Phone Central broke the news about 'McLaren' being cancelled by Microsoft. Not much was known about the flagship Windows Phone except it was to feature the first instance of Microsoft's new 3D Touch UI. Although prototype phones likely get cancelled on occasion, the absence of McLaren causes a potential problem: what is going to the next Windows Phone flagship for the fall?
With the lack of high-end, high-profile Windows Phones for this November Microsoft may be in a bind. However, there may be a way out, and that involves making an updated Lumia 925.
The case for a new Lumia 925
Of all the Lumia Windows Phone released in the past, the Lumia 925 was the least controversial in addition to having all the hallmarks of a "classic" Windows Phone for the masses. The Lumia 925's only issue was being released not too far after the Lumia 920, causing some mixed messages to retailers, customers, and carriers.
The big selling point about the Lumia 925 is that it is thin, light, and it has the appearances. No one ever complained that the Lumia 925 was too big (Lumia 1520), too bulky (Lumia 920), underpowered (Lumia 720) or its camera is too niche (Lumia 1020).
I am again noticing these benefits after writing my recent Lumia 1520 article on why I enjoyed that phone eight months later. Although I like the Lumia 1520, I am the very first to admit it is not for everyone. The Lumia 925 though is that device for Windows Phone. However, this is not to say that in mid-2014, the Lumia 925 still plays that role - it doesn't but if an update existed...
Why they need a Lumia 935 now
The Lumia 930, although arguably the best Windows Phone right now, it is not necessarily the best smartphone on the market. The Lumia 930 is nice – very nice – but its design is uninspiring since it is based on the Lumia Icon from nearly six months ago. As such, although I like the Lumia 930, I do not see it accomplishing much for Windows Phone market share.
Instead of a McLaren, Microsoft should play it safe and choose the Lumia 925 as a template for a new, flagship Windows Phone. This Lumia does not have the best camera, nor does it poses the largest display, but it is the best overall Windows Phone that appeals to the majority of users. Here is what Microsoft would need to do to make a Lumia 935 an ideal candidate:
- 5-inch 1080P display (LCD if AMOLED means surrendering Glance)
- Snapdragon 801 or 805, Quad-core processor
- 16 or 20 MP PureView camera
- 32 GB of internal storage; or 16 GB internal with micro SD expansion
- Qi Wireless charging
- Keep it thin!
What makes the Lumia 925 so appealing – even today – is just how light, nimble and elegant it is when compared to other Lumias. Is there anyone who does not like the Lumia 925's design? If there are, I have not met them. The most common complaint I heard back in 2013 was "I already have a Lumia 920, and the Lumia 925 is not an upgrade," which was very true at the time.
In fact, the Lumia 925 reminds me a lot of a high-end Lumia 720 – another favorite Lumia in my collection. My problem with the Lumia 720 is strictly internal: lack of RAM and a slower processor; but its design is top notch.
Microsoft needs to combine the best design elements of the Lumia 720 and Lumia 925, make a compelling and competitive Lumia 935, and they should do it quickly. I am not even talking a radical departure from looks; just update the specs for 2014, toss in Windows Phone 8.1, launch it everywhere. In doing so, there are fewer arguments that the phone is too niche, too expensive or too mid-range.
I honestly have no idea what Microsoft's plans are for the fall. According to a leaked internal letter first reported at the Verge, Microsoft is announcing "other high-end products…very soon." The problem is, no one knows if they are talking about Windows Phone, tablets or something else. If they are phones – which I am not convinced – we do not have any details on what those devices possess for specifications, or if they meet the rank of 'flagship' (as opposed to mid-range). The same report also notes that Microsoft (and the old Nokia team) are shifting "...flagship engineering efforts towards new flagship products timed with the next release of Windows and Windows Phone." Although that sounds promising, this next release is not expected until spring 2015.
I do not think a Lumia 935 is coming anytime soon, despite my arguments for such phone. My gut tells me the Lumia 1520 and Lumia 930 are going to be it for a while, and that is bothersome. High-end Windows Phones do not necessarily sell well, but they do bring media attention. Microsoft needs to figure out how to make a device that appeals to the masses, is competitively priced and launches everywhere at the same time (or within weeks, at least). Otherwise, they are going to have a tough time going forward.
Agree or disagree? Let me know in comments.