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Alleged photos of cancelled 'Lumia 850' reveal sleek metal design and front-facing flash

New photos of the alleged Lumia 850 have made an appearence via Tieba.baidu.com. Microsoft is expected only to announce the business- and budget-orientated Lumia 650 in the coming weeks with little fanfare. Likewise, I am not anticipating any press events for Redmond at the approaching Mobile World Congress at the end of February, but that doesn't stop old prototypes from leaking.

The Lumia 850 was one of the numerous phones that I contend were cancelled in July 2015 after Microsoft CEO's Satya Nadella's reorganization of the Lumia portfolio and team. From that perspective, these photos are similar to the recently released images of the also-cancelled 'McLaren' high-end phone from 2014. I have been told the prototype in these photos is about 7 months old.

Regarding notable features, here is what we know and can see from the photos:

  • Front-facing flash (not an iris scanner, and there was no iris scanner planned)
  • 5.4-inch display
  • No dedicated camera button
  • Thin design with a metal frame similar to the Lumia 650
  • micro USB charging port on top
  • headphone jack on the bottom
  • dual SIM

As far as the charging port, early prototypes often go with off-the-shelf parts, and the micro USB would have likely been swapped for a Type C. It is not known if Continuum would have been supported.

The overall design looks nice, but there are the usual letdowns we have been accustomed to with the 8xx series. For example, no dedicated camera button is a glaring omission from this model. The reversing of the charging port and headphone jack is still aggravating, and the internal specs would have likely been underwhelming.

As to why photos are now coming forward, my guess is due to more reorganization. I have heard recently that more Lumia team members have been laid off following the launch of the Lumia 550, Lumia 950, and Lumia 950 XL, with only the Lumia 650 being added to the portfolio. The uptick is that the team under Panos has reportedly been hiring mobile staff for their own phone project. With resources and people shifting you tend to get these unauthorized disclosures.

In some ways, it is unfortunate that this phone was cancelled. Then again, we all know the old strategy was not working very well. Additionally, there are some fascinating OEM partners stepping up with new Windows 10 Mobile hardware, including VAIO, and we have a feeling there will be at least one very surprising announcement at Mobile World Congress from another major hardware manufacturer.

By cancelling the Lumia 850, Microsoft may have afforded their partners some breathing room to release their own hardware, which may have been the desired effect.

Source: Tieba Baidu; Thanks, Hyken W., for the tip

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

193 Comments
  • Looks super thin.  This initial look doesn't look as good as the black-on-gold trim like the 930 has.
  • I prefer the 930 to this and the "other OEM designs all seem to follow the 950 design, which I don't like. I would not have bought this due to no camera button and the reversal of the headphone and USB. I do hope they manage to design a phone that does not follow the big bezel, flat screen Samsung like 950.....that's my list :)
  • This phone would have had a better battery than your 930, that's for sure.