Yes, Microsoft launched the Lumia 830 as its “affordable flagship”, but for die-hard power hungry spec loving “I need the best” users that felt mildly insulting, and most certainly underwhelming. Microsoft however did state that a flagship device won’t arrive until Windows 10 is ready, which isn’t going to be anytime soon (not in this half of the year), so essentially users are left without a real flagship until what’s likely going to be September (7 months from now). The least Microsoft can do is to get it right, and to do that a couple things are MUST HAVE.
- Windows 10- Obviously Microsoft have already gone on record saying that the flagship won’t launch until Windows 10 is ready, but Windows 10 better be perfect by then if we’re going to have to wait.
- Snapdragon 810 processor (at least)- With Microsoft’s release of the Lumia 640 and 640 XL earlier this week they already missed out on the newer generation of chips, using the older Snapdragon 400 rather than the newer Snapdragon 410. They can be forgiven of course since neither of those phones is a flagship device, plus the 410 is a relatively new chip (released in December 2014); however if we’re going to be waiting another 6 or 7 months, the internals better not be dated.
- 5″ to 6″ display- Depending on what comes first, a successor to the Lumia 1520, or to the 930 then we’re probably either looking at a “normal” sized flagship device, or a phablet (or possibly both; as we might see a Lumia 940 and a Lumia 940 XL), either way the 5″ and 6″ screen sizes are currently the trending sweet spot for phones, preferably with as little bezel as possible.
- More Pureview technology along with 20+ MP camera- As much as we’d all love to see it, it’s unlikely that Microsoft’s first true Windows 10 flagship will be another camera-centric device, as amazing as the Lumia 1020 is a camera bump that size has no place in the impossibly slim standards set by today’s flagship devices. Instead Microsoft should focus on producing good looking, high quality images without going overboard in terms of sensor size and physical camera size; both the iPhone 6+ and the Note 4 take very impressive pictures without a 41 MP camera, and certainly without such a huge bump; and Microsoft should strive to do the same.
In terms of the actual megapixel count, although it’s just a number (as Apple has proven with the 8 megapixel camera of the iPhone 6/6+); given the fact that both the Lumia 1520 and 930 have a 20 MP camera Microsoft’s next flagship should have a similar MP count, or a t least a good explanation to why my old phone has more.
- A proper front facing camera- For the love of all that is holy Microsoft, it’s not very difficult, something Nokia obviously never understood; it’s seemed as if front facing cameras were always an after thought for Nokia, focusing all their imaging prowess on the main camera; then slapping a measly 0.9 MP camera on the front (I’m looking at you Lumia 830). This is made even more ridiculous by the fact that the Lumia 730/735 launched right beside the 830 with a 5 MP FFC. It seems Microsoft have gotten the memo at least, given how the last few budget devices also came with a 5 MP front facing camera, so hopefully the’ll be sane enough to give the flagship similar if not better treatment.
- Micro SD Storage- Microsoft and Nokia have flip-flopped around including Micro-SD storage in their device, the most glaring of omissions being in the Lumia 930; however now with all of Lumia Camera 5’s features and 4K recording it’s an absolute must (unless the device ships with 128 GBs of storage).
- 3,000 mAh battery (or more)- I’ve never truly experienced a Nokia/Microsoft device with a reliable battery; sometimes the battery would last all day, other times I’d be searching for a power outlet by 2 PM; the solution is simple. Bigger batteries. Please.
Besides the list above there are several other features that Microsoft would do well to include in their upcoming flagship, but would be forgiven for omitting, including:
- Finger print scanner- When the iPhone 5s launched with touch-ID I was among the first to call it out as a lame gimmick, but having actually used it it’s very useful; especially for unlocking your phone on the go, or authorizing a payment via NFC. a device launching with Qualcomm’s new “Snapdragon Sense ID” would be especially interesting, given the sensors ability to scan your fingerprint through almost any surface including glass, metal and even plastic.
- Preferably a QHD display– Although the HTC M9 launched with a 1080p display, more and more manufacturers are switching to even higher resolution QHD display, which although might not make a huge visible difference to the average person (or anyone at all) it remains a number game that will result in points against Microsoft if they continue to use a 1080p display.
- Smart covers- Windows Phone already supports “smart covers” (since WP 8.1 Update 1) as attested by the HTC One M8 for Window’s “Dot Cover”, however I personally find the Quickcircle case for LG’s phones the most useful of smart covers, which in general feels actually useful, rather than an aesthetic feature. Any form of smartcover on a Lumia would be a welcome addition, and with a little bit of creativity the possibilities are exciting.
- Wireless Charging- Although with Nokia’s previous commitment to the wireless charging movement it’s highly unlikely to see a flagship device come from Microsoft without wireless charging, I wouldn’t mind having to plug in a cord if ti meant making room for a bigger battery.
- Slim Profile <8 mm- I’m going to be realistic and accept that this isn’t always possible, if it is excellent; if not then I’ll live as I’m not one to embrace the fat shaming movement, just as long as the phone isn’t obscenely thick.
- 3 GBs of RAM- Although Windows Phone has never been a resource hungry OS, it remains to be seen whether Windows 10 will be the same; and with Microsoft’s move to release all devices with at east 1 GB of RAM it seems that might be the optimal RAM to get the best WIndows 10 performance. And nothing says Future proof like 2 extra GBs of RAM.
- Wider range of 3rd party accessories- Although not directly in Microsoft’s hand, it would be great to see them strike a deal with the big case manufacturers out there (Spigen would be my favorite) to provide a wider range of high quality 3rd party accessories.
Essentially Microsoft have a huge task in front of them, not only do they have to create a flagship device capable of carrying its own against the Galaxy S6, iPhone 6, the HTC M9 and the upcoming LG G4; but the device has to make up for the delayed cycle launch by being “future-proof” to make up for the next cycle discrepancy where the same flagship will likely end up pitted against the next generation of Samsung and Apple flagships, a tall order to say the least.
What other features would you like to see in the first Windows 10 flagship?