The Lumia 650, Snapdragon 212 and tradeoffs


The Lumia with the distinction of being the last Lumia (currently planned) – the Microsoft Lumia 650 – has now been leaked and re-leaked so many times that Microsoft’s official announcement post will feel less like a surprise and more like a recap of what we know so far. Nevertheless, the Lumia 650 has been very divisive in terms of reaction to be blunt.

On the one hand, the Lumia 650 is rumoured to have a precision cut metal band wrapping its polycarbonate shell, it will be the first Lumia below the 8xx series to have a metal banded design, and it is very likely it will feel nice in the hand and look nicer than the 550 as well.

On the other hand, the rumoured internals of the Microsoft Lumia 650 are baffling. As the defacto midrange Lumia, the 650 series should ideally be an upgrade from the Lumia 640 before it. Not because Lumia 640 owners will be rushing out to buy a new Lumia right now, that would be absurd, but because otherwise the Lumia 650 would have no point.

Consider the Lumia 640 XL, it uses the Snapdragon 400, a 3-year-old chip, and is an overall good device for the price it sells for (£129-159). It has a large battery, WiFi Calling, VoLTE and a pretty good Zeiss lens 13MP camera. Despite that, the device still competes with newer devices like the Xiaomi RedMi Note 2 and Redmi Note 3, budget devices which have exceeded the Lumia 640 XL in overall specs and yet fall below it in pricing. The Lumia 650 is rumoured to be priced higher than the Lumia 640 XL and will most likely either match or exceed the relatively stable price of the 640 XL, but yet it will have a weaker camera than the Lumia 640. It will also have poorer battery life than the 640 XL and perform worse than it in terms of raw speed.

While the Snapdragon 212 does being some benefits over the Snapdragon 400 like X5 LTE and Bluetooth 4.1, there is no such thing as free lunch. It WILL be slower than the Snapdragon 400 Lumias and screen-casting won’t be as efficient, not to mention if Microsoft does extend Continuum to lower-end devices, an SD 2XX does not have the ability to drive external displays. If Microsoft had opted for the Snapdragon 412 instead of the 212, there would have been no feature loss and perhaps they would have been able to create some meaningful differentiation between the 550, 640 and 650 in terms of screen quality, camera quality and tangible features.

Specs aren’t everything, but they are part of a full package. Microsoft delaying the Lumia 650 to fix some issues show that they do care about the full package. If the SD 210 was chosen for cost saving reasons, then I think it would be more prudent for Microsoft to have used the funds for the Lumia 650 to push the devices made by other OEMs like the Vaio Biz, Nuans Neo and Liquid Jade Primo to the western markets. No matter how I look at it, I can’t see a justifiable reason for Microsoft using the SD 212 in a mid range phone in 2016.

What do you think of the rumoured specs of the Lumia 650? Let us know in the comments below.

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