Leaked render of cancelled 'Honjo' Lumia 850 shows what might have been

Late last night, the infamous Evan Blass (aka @evleaks) posted a render of a Microsoft branded phone in white with a gold frame. The text simply read 'Honjo' and said nothing more. No details about the model number, release dates, its status, or even specs.

Of course, the blogosphere went crazy as some have been building up a "Lumia 750" and "Lumia 850" as coming even though we know Microsoft cut back on their Lumia line many months ago.

Unfortunately, as I have noted back in July this 'Honjo' phone, which was supposed to be an 8xx series, was cancelled.

Some history

Honjo (8xx) got the axe with Saana (6xx) and Guilin (7xx) in July. All of those codenames (plus Saimaa for 5xx) first came to light back in June when @evleaks first revealed them.

The cancellation of the phones in mid-July suitably follows Nadella's letter to employees one week earlier where Nadella mentions the restructuring of their phone business. Those changes resulted in more layoffs, the ouster of Stephen Elop, and a reduction in the Lumia line. Quoting Nadella:

"In the near term, we will run a more effective phone portfolio, with better products and speed to market given the recently formed Windows and Devices Group. We plan to narrow our focus to three customer segments where we can make unique contributions and where we can differentiate through the combination of our hardware and software. We'll bring business customers the best management, security and productivity experiences they need; value phone buyers the communications services they want; and Windows fans the flagship devices they'll love."

Of course, Nadella is referencing the then unannounced Lumia 950 (Talkman), Lumia 950 XL (Cityman), and Lumia 550 (Saimaa). Nadella's next remarks about the phone division are very compelling in hindsight:

"In the longer term, Microsoft devices will spark innovation, create new categories and generate opportunity for the Windows ecosystem more broadly. Our reinvention will be centered on creating mobility of experiences across the entire device family including phones."

Now that we know a 'Panos Surface phone' is in the works the line about 'create new categories' starts to make sense with whatever a Surface phone may bring. It won't be just a metal Lumia.

Saana (6xx) un-cancelled

Just one week after we heard those phones had been cancelled, however, and we got word that Saana, which is now known as the Lumia 650, was brought back to life.

Indeed, that phone is still happening and my sources tell this phone will be announced in mid-January (likely following CES so as not to overshadow partner announcements of their new phones). I also hear Cricket in the U.S. is slated to pick up the Lumia 650 in early April (that does not rule out other carriers, however).

Here is what I know about the Lumia 650 so far:

Lumia 650 (Saana)

  • Qualcomm 410
  • 5-inch AMOLED display
  • 5MP front-facing camera; 8MP rear (likely, newer camera design) with LED flash
  • 1GB RAM
  • No wireless charging
  • New design language

The new design language is interesting. As I have personally seen some internal documents regarding the final branding I can say it looks a lot like the 'Honjo' device including:

  • Flat chrome band around the top and sides
  • White and black variants including white or black for bezels
  • Glossy in the front (glass covered); matte backs

In fact, the Lumia 650 looks very similar a white iPhone 5S and I have a feeling once others see it, they will concur. Although people will tease the design, frankly I think it looks really nice and not dissimilar to how the Lumia 950 picks up some appeal when you throw on a Mozo case. In short, I think for a 'budget' phone it is going to look really premium.

Unlike the 'Honjo,' the Lumia 650 will only have a chrome metallic band and not a gold one. After all, this is a budget phone.

The site WinBeta had posted an early render of Saana although the front-on angle does nothing for this device, which looks very different with a white front bezel. Nor can you see the flat metallic band that goes around the edge or its thin profile.

Why cancel 8xx and 7xx?

So, everyone is likely wondering why did Microsoft cancel those phones. Well, besides the fact that Nadella flat our said they were going to "run a more effective phone portfolio" to "massively" retrench my guess is the Lumia 7xx and 8xx series never really sold well.

Going back to the Lumia 810, Lumia 820, and Lumia 830, all of those phones while compelling and interesting just never found a home. Indeed, every time I used one I often found myself saying "They would be great if…" because they felt close to being perfect. For instance, the Lumia 830 was perfect...if it had a faster processor and higher resolution display. Of course, making such a change would have made it a "Lumia 935" or something. In all the AdDuplex numbers and anecdotal traffic in our forums and carrier pick up the 8xx series was always an odd family member.

If you are making a business decision about portfolio reduction and you had 6xx, 7xx, or 8xx it is the 6xx series that always did the best and saw the most interest from carriers. That latter part may have also played a role. Microsoft likely shopped these phones around to carriers and saw little interest. Considering how poorly the Lumia 830 did on AT&T, I would not find that surprising.

Why now?

The other question is why now? Why all of a sudden are we seeing various leakers make renders of what is essentially a device that is DOA? Part of it goes back to a weird riff between @onleaks and @evleaks who like to compete on render quality and accuracy and I think the other is just information – even outdated – coming forward.

I find it interesting that Evan Blass simply tweeted "Honjo" with no further details. It's a convenient move as you certainly cannot accuse him of being wrong. He made no claims about the device, specs, release, etc. just the render, which is accurate.

Lumia 950 and Surface

Lumia 950 and Surface (Image credit: Windows Central)

However, I can say with fairly high confidence that 'Honjo' or what would be the Lumia 850 is not happening. I'd kind of like to be wrong on this, frankly, as I think the phone looks great. Then again, like all 8xx series it'd be perfect if…it had a dedicated camera button. New device, same old problem.

For now, we'll just have to wait for the Lumia 650 (Saana), which sources tell me is likely the last Nokia-Lumia design from the portfolio. Nothing else I hear is in the works except for whatever Panos and co are working on for fall 2016.

While a Lumia 650 is hard to get excited about I am rather intrigued by its design and hope it can continue to sustain that low-end MVNO market, a market that Windows Phone does seemingly well in.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • Actually nice looking.
  • Well sure, but it's generic for the line and they're all looking the same. No wow factor for certain, all generic Lumia styling which hasn't taken the world by storm. Maybe time for a new direction in the design department?
  • Agree, I miss that "Sharp corners" type of style. It really fits with Windows OS (Live tiles).
  • I really like the corners on my L735 and the overall design. Now all Lumias will look the same from the front. It's a shame that MS chooses to release both 550 and 650 for the affordable phones when "retrenching" and not having a mid range as well. The 6xx and the 7xx should have been the ones to keep besides the flagships if the 830 did really poor. Now they will have to work even harder to convince people to buy the 950s because iphone/samsung fans and LG G4 is already much cheaper, while there is a sea of models in the affordable range all the way to midrange
  • 830 would have done better if the hardware inside of it was impressive. It was pricey for that configuration.
  • Yeah, I always imagine that what if Lumia 830 got 950 specs. That would be a great device which is a combination of looks, features and specs. It's kind of waste that they almost nailed it on 830 except for the specs. Lumia 930 was good but got major compromises like lack of glance, non-exapandable storage, and being too thick for a flagship. It still bothers me why they suddenly decided to choose that looks of current Lumia 950 series. It was really just the looks that is issue of it (yes there are people who do like it, but the reaction from other people and even from several reviews pointed that its looks is underwhelming for a flagship).
  • Have you actually hold 950 in your hand? I have received mine yesterday and I can tell you that it looks so premium. Yes, it's plastic, but it feels so good in a hand, such a great quality. So, I'm selling my Nokia 830 Gold without even thinking about it. Microsoft 950 is a great device, so don't listen those stupid reviewers and try it yourself first. They are always unhappy about something... If someone would offere me the latest iPhone 6s or even 6s plus, I definitely would choose 950, it's a good quality device. If you want it even more premium, get a back panel with leather/alluminium, what's a problem? I have LED TV at work with wireless Microsoft miracast, Microsoft portable keyboard and Microsoft Titanium Edition Arc mouse and Apple fans looking at me with a mouth open, because they can't do anything like that. That's a true innovation, I'm not talking about IRIS, it's a mind blowing innovation and it works! People are asking questions, that's what make it different from anything else! Touch it, feel it, smell it, test it yourself, then write comments like that.... :)
  • I must admit.. I saw it today.. Its seriously awesome. Although rounded corners dont look good.. But that feeling of holding it quality.. Its awesomeeee...
    People really say iPhone is good.. But look wise i dont feel it good ... Nor that best.. To hold.. Moreoever i would vote Nexus 5x better than iPhone..
  • The problem isn't the plastic, like come on! I've been using Lumia since 2013 and they're all plastic and I'm don't have a problem with that, never really. I've been glad that they retain the premium feel and build quality of it. The issue is how it actually presents itselft, how it looks, the aesthetic qualities of it. I don't really care that much if it's made of full metal or full plastic (as long as not cheap plastic). Even its made of metal and looks undesirable, the metal material won't save it. I know that you love what you purchased, it really shows. It's fine. I'm still waiting for my new Lumia to arrive in my country since I'm also considering to have one despite I personally didn't the looks of it. The new Lumia is my only choice for W10M flagship at the moment anyways, there is no options yet. Yes, there is Acer Jade Primo, but I have to see their track record to actively support and service these devices hardware-wise. Not to mention I even dislike more about its looks, reminds me of Galaxy S3 with those fake brushed metal on a cheap-feeling glossy texture. A contradictory about how it presents itself and how it actually feels, it doesn't feel like brushed texture at all. I'm talking about Galaxy S3 here. Also the stupid reviews you talk about, even here in Windows Central they talk about its looks are underwhelming. The feel and build are still great together with specs and features. Still it pointed out that:
    And let's be honest, the overall design of the phone is bland and generic. It is by no meansbad, just not inspiring.
    Still that doesn't mean the functionality of the design is bad. Though even we have removable backs, that doesn't mean the look have to be that way. Several Lumia in the past have removable backs too but they look more iconic or simply it stand-out, having distinct visual identity. The looks issue is been pointed out consistently from several respectable reviews who reviewed Lumias in the past fairly, heck some of them even personally own one. I'm not totally against with these phones, it's just that I'm rather disappointed on why they have to look that way as if they're not trying (they do). All I can think about to make it more sense is that this phone is rushed to be released on the target launch, the design department didn't get much time to really give thought about it, also the restructuring and maybe because of lay-offs it somehow affects the development of these devices and the line-up. Who knows, it's not like they will tell us what exactly anyways and the real reason about it. This is the way it is and it's there. This is many are now excited with this rumored "Panos Phone" for next year. This might be the first real answer to the market to try win-back from the consumers. More users interested with it, the better for us and for the ecosystem. Well see how the story develops for next year.
  • Lumia 950 with Mozo Leather Flip replacement cover looks just amazing and really make it a premium phone with its steel frame and premium leather.
  • They dont care about selling the 950's, they are phones for fans, just a phone to keep their loyal fanbase happy until the panos phone is ready, the panos phone is what they plan to relaunch windows mobile with
  • sure. the Unicorn. 5th relaunch. new chipset. high price. team in charge with no previous cell phone design experience. what could possibly go wrong. ;) I hope they at least market 950/xl in Europe. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • What a **** are you talking about? Have you actually seen this phone yourself? It's super premium and plastic feels amazing in a hand... I've got it and I love it !!!
  • You're saying this phone is to keep the loyal fan base happy??....
    Well, it's not working.
  • I know right ?? Basically the reason why i stick with my 1520. The sharp corners is what made it look different, of higher value and special. All the other phones are round, why now the high end windows phones ???
  • 830 isn't round and I think its the best Lumia so far till 950 arrived.
  • The sharp corners!! Exactly.. Older Lumia's looked, and felt great... I love those corners.. Looks so tuff compared to this soft cushy BS.. Reminds me of some of these soft ,cushy, skinny jeans wearing, so called fans, around here... Us adult MEN want something tuff!
  • That's were people differ, apart from the look, which arguably fits the tiles, the sharp corners are a major flaw economically and after the 1020, great device, I will never go sharp cornered again. Actually love the integrated cover that the snap covers of 640,950 provide. Those are sturdy and replaceable. The only thing that could make me move the coming years is potential functionality of an intel phone, will see...
  • I have to disagree with you... The 1520's corners are perfection.... And, my opinion is the best,, because I'm always right about everything,,,, all the time... Yep.
  • Generic, not genetic.
  • I love my windows 10 mobile predictive text.
  • Agree.. Doesn't look "Lumia"... Looks "Samsung"
    Fail.... A lot of people said that MS would ruin Lumia, and they were right.. Either that, or Nokias design team list enthusiasm once they realized they were working towards nothing... Sad. Hopefully Panos can save the situation.
  • Looks premium to me.
  • @It Wasnt Me:
    It is a sad and unprecedented slide of ,if people not only describe the cheap plastic disasters that are the Lumia 950 and XL as "premium" but continue to regard this catastrophe as the new "premium standard" by which to judge further devices...
  • I think we should consider this is a phone. It's ok if it is a design disaster so long as it works. It really is. A disaster is akin to the thrashing I gave your mom's Hyman.
  • How can his mom have an intact hymen...? Posted from my Note 5
  • Because he is my son.
  • I really like the feel of that late black 950xl, far from "cheap plastic disaster" that these "people" talk about
  • just because it isnt metal doenst mean it isnt premium, plastic is better for functionality in so many ways, it obsorbs more impact than metal, so more resilient, it allows for wireless charging, it improves wireless signal as metal blocks more reception. you people need to stfu about these **** metal phones, if thats all you want, then go buy an htc, they have nice metal phones..
  • There are in fact "premium" looking plastics. Lot of expensive cars use it, while their buyers think it isn't plastic. But, "absorbing impact"... Well, if you have an aluminum laptop, its corners absorb impact better than if it were plastic. While aluminum would get marks by absorbing impact, the hard drive would be safer than if it were an impact on a plastic body, which would either look ok -ish or broken after impact.
  • Exactly.... Why should we lower our standards?
  • Honestly most smartphones look pretty generic, and the rest are obscured behind cases anyway. It's what's on the screen that matters.
  • Yes Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I agree
    Posted via No One Cares
  • There are a lot of beautiful phones out right now, stop making excuses for the boring design of the 950 series Lumia's. The "Most people put cases on anyways" mindset only has become prevelent here since Microsoft made these new phones. Nobody used to say that when Lumia's were beautiful. 
  • Very true. In fact I used to carry my 720 and 925 naked because they were premium and beautiful. Nokia new how to make colourful aesthetically pleasing phones. MS, not so much. Posted from my Note 5
  • yea, because the 950 and every other phone wasnt a nokia design?
  • I think he also means the colors.
  • + 920 Red
    + 930 Orange
  • Excuses? From where I work I see people and their phones all the time, and very few of them stand out. I certainly wouldn't be able to identify them any better than "Oh, a Samsung/iPhone" any better than others would say "Oh, a Nokia/Lumia". This is an industry issue, not a Microsoft one.
  • True.
  • Not my, 1020!
  • Indeed that alot of smartphones nowadays tend to look generic, its not surprising especially for brands that actually don't make hardware. That doesn't mean that its an excuse for not trying to be more unique or iconic on their own. Car industry at least manage to make cars have distinct and identity to a certain extent to specific brand. The problem is Microsoft manage to make Lumia looks like those generic phones in the marketplace, they stopped trying. During x30 series, Lumia have its own distinct aesthetics and it doesn't look like some chinese generic android phones from unknown brands. Even some Lumia x40 series retain those qualities. Though it is mentioned that Lumia 950 series and 550 are Nokia designs, it doesn't even feel like it and if they're indeed are, they seem like rejected designs shelved for a reason.
  • I Agree. I am glad this new Samsung looking phone is cancelled. And no camera button? That's the worst possible thing I can imagine of. Suddenly my 830's value has increased alot now.
  • you need glasses if you think this looks anything like a samsung. do you even know what a samsung phone looks like? google S6, S6 Edge, or Note 5. Not even close.
  • Eventually people will understand that almost no one from the Nokia design team moved to Microsoft and that the only thing that moved were the design portfolios that Nokia had already in stock (from where the 950's designs came). If Microsoft failed to attract talent to Microsoft Mobile as they did to the Surface team, that's another problem. One that'll hopefully be resolved now that Microsoft Mobile is almost gone and the Surface team is taking charge. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Is that the plan? Yes I understand the rumors that Panos' team will be designing the "surface phone". Are you stating that Microsoft Mobile name is going away?
  • it looks like Micromax
  • Exactly, the only Nokia Lumia that had a white bezel was Lumia 710 (as far as I remember)
  • The design team from Nokia never came over to Microsoft apparently.
  • Aren't these all the last Nokia style phone anyway, I thought I heard that they won't be making any new designed phones till Q1-Q2 2016
  • It looks better than 950 imho. Hope 650 will address the midrange need.
  • Other sites claim the 850 and 750 will be released the 750 in jan2016
  • ...and it's nonsense.
  • Daniel has spoken lol i dont take anyone else's word on microsoft over his lolol
  • Stop roaming in WMPowerUser :D
  • Yeah, that's obviously not going to happen. Terrible time of year to release phones in the first place, and Microsoft would have announced something by now if they had any intention to actually sell them.
  • They don't need to crowd things up.  550, 650, and 950.  Wonder if they'll decide to do a phablet version of the 650 like they did with the 640?  That could be cool.
  • L650 would address mid-range with its SD410 processor.  It was kind of strange that L640, L730 and L830 all use the same SD400 processor.  No wonder that L830 couldn't go anywhere even it got a pretty case.  L650 should do well.  But I there is room for an upper mid-range with SD617 and 1080MP as rumored.  If it supports Continuum with a price around $400, It would have great appeal to the old L730-L830 and business crowd.  There is just such a big gap between L650 and L950.  The huge 40% drop in 3Q sales has sent chills to the back of all the WP developers and consumers alike.  Streamlining strategy is OK but the back breaking is not.  MS has to be very careful not to be biased toward any market sectors.  You have to fire all cylinders from top to bottom, consumers and business alke.  Instead, MS has casted doubts in many minds in the last couple years.  Hopefully, Nandella's new strategies won't turn into new mistakes.
  • I think you mean 1080p =)
  • Exactly..the gap between 650 and 950 is actually very huge..650 will cost around 13000 INR ($190) and 950 costs 44000 INR ($650)..If they plan on making three phones a year, one should be around $150-$200, middle tier should be $250-$300 and highest tier should be $400+..
  • $100, $300 and $450 should be the price points. The 950 needs to be cheaper if they want to make any headway into the market. You can buy a 128GB Nexus 6p for the price of the base 950XL. There is nothing the 950 does better than the Nexus. Nothing, including Continuum. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • those bezels
  • Toooo much bezel - looks like a dated Samsung and is not appealing in any way - Nokia curved screens, colours and uni-body designs were so much more appealing, attractive and unique.
  • To be fair its not a flagship so that bezel thickness is not surprising. This is also why I don't think having white bezel is a good idea since it just amplify how big the bezels are and it just expose the ugly holes for the sensors. Black front is always better in terms of looks.
  • Some people like white, it's a good option to provide.
  • could have done well in the markets that like gaudy gold (China, India, Middle-East etc.). Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Looks like a rehash of the L925.
  • Look like something huawei would make.
  • Yea my first reaction as well.
  • I agree
  • It says 650 is the last Lumia to be made. So windows phone has finally kicked the bucket. What a waste of time and money
  • Last Lumia-designed Lumia. Not last Lumia. Windows phone is here to stay. Microsoft simply cannot give up on Windows phone as the third largest tech company. It's the way of the future and they have plenty of innovation so... We'll see what panos has in store for us.
  • Apart from it looks nothing like the Honor 7, the Mate S, the P8 or the Nexus 6P...
  • **** that actually looks nice. Although most likely I'd still go for the high end flagship aka. 950XL but it would've been nice for ppl that like mid range phones
  • Glad they cancelled those bezels...wow
  • +1
  • Huge bezels and still no capacitive buttons? Yeah, can't say I'm impressed with the design. It's not terrible, but not good either.
  • Ni, it's terrible. Looks so un Modern Windows and has nothing unique, stylish or attractive going for it.
  • Chinese factory and BLU, this is your chance to steal it!
  • 830 or 640/50?
  • 830 over 640 anytime if you want style, feel,design,camera. If price, 640. 650 is yet unknown and if announced when Dan says it'll probably be wide available at March.
  • So the 830, while a previous generation, is still superior. Thanks
  • If you are a selfie lover.. 830 is not for you.. Trust me..
  • Yeah 0.9mp front. I'm not a selfie guy though. So that's ok
  • I have been using 830 for 10 months now, and I did compare it with 640, and I'm happy with my 830.
  • 640/50 basically the same to better specs than that device
    And significantly more cheaper and more bang for your buck Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I just got a L830 coming from a L930 and i don't think will ever go back. Wonder why making Selfies is even considered a feature, what's wrong with this society?
  • I'm actually looking forward to that style of 6XX series phone. It will do well on the MVNO carriers and its an area I felt Microsoft should've leveraged to build up market share. Android basically owns the MVNO market to themselves. A good price and nice style plus continued push to bring Windows 10 closer together.
  • This... Really... This
  • Shes sexy. maybe i could afford her. I dont have over 800 redaly availible for a phone at this time. Now a 2 year contract yes! Hey Telus do you hear me 2 year contract!!
  • Ok, so how does reports of a device similar to 850 spec with a 617 soc show up recently if its been cancelled for months. That doesnt make sense.
  • Online benchmarks are easily faked. Also, at least what I write is reliable. Remember when I squashed rumors of a cyan Lumia 950? Or go read my July write up on cityman/talkman and see how they held up. Hey, I could be wrong on this. I'm not Microsoft, but my sources have been accurate in the past and I have no reason to not believe. them. Plus, I have seen recent documents on the 650. I have not for the 850.
  • So what about a mid ranger Daniel? Now there is a empty spot in the line-up. No mid ranger, no affordable phablet like the 640xl. I understand they are preparing something new for q4 2016 but untill then they could have released something to cover the gap. They are repeating the Mclaren mistake. Cancelling something even tough they are left with nothing to show. Why can't MS synchronize themselves so they can have yearly releases across the line-up with a clear potofolio of devices? Instead of letting 18-24 months betwenn model refreshes? 820->830, 620->640, 1520->950xl, 930->850, 720->730. You can't build brand awareness and a following with this release schedule, while your competitors are consistent with their releases
  • Microsoft announced they are not competing with iOS or Android any more ... they said they are going to have just a hand full of devices instead of an entire line up.  The phablet we are going to get is the 9