Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) pulled the wraps off a series of relatively low-cost Lumia phones, including the long-rumored Nokia Lumia 730, a so-called “selfie phone” that has been anticipated for weeks.
The primary feature on the Nokia Lumia 730 is its wide-angle 5-megapixel HD front-facing camera, which Microsoft says is "built for Skype and selfies." Manufacturers usually save their best camera technology for the rear cameras of smartphones, but many companies, including Sony Corp. (NYSE:SNE) and HTC Corp. (TPE:2498), have begun to capitalize on the nation's selfie obsession. The Sony Xperia C3 also features a 5-megapixel front camera, while the HTC Desire 820 features an 8-megapixel front camera. Not even five years ago, 8-megapixels were the standard for the main camera located on the back of a phone.
One big benefit of the push toward higher-quality front lens cameras is simple: Better photos because selfie-takers can easily see their own face, instead of snapping blindly with rear-facing cameras. The on-screen shutter button on most touch-screen devices makes taking selfies with a rear-facing camera cumbersome.
Most selfie phones have mid-range price points, roughtly $250 to $425, that are likely to pique interest in more ways than the way their updated front cameras pique interest. High-end manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics Inc. (KRX: 005930) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) have not quite entered this part of the market. Though Samsung’s new Galaxy Note 4 features a 3.7-megapixel front camera, which the manufacturer says is perfect for taking selfies, the device is not being marketed as a selfie phone. Currently, there is no indication that Apple will upgrade the quality of its main camera or put an emphasis on selfie taking with the upcoming iPhone 6.
Other than its 5-megapixel front camera, the Nokia Lumia 730 has modest hardware specifications. The device includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB of RAM and just 8GB of internal storage. Its main rear camera is a 6.7-megapixel lens with LED flash. The Lumia 730 also includes MicroSD support to expand its internal storage and dual-SIM support for those using their phone in more than one location.
Microsoft’s other new devices include the Nokia Lumia 735, which is similar to the Nokia Lumia 730, but also includes support for 4G LTE networks. The Nokia Lumia 830 is being marketed as a mid-range phone with high-end specifications. In particular, it brings the high-end Nokia PureView camera technology to its mid-range line. Availability for the devices has not been specified, but the Nokia Lumia 730 is priced at 199 euros ($257) off-contract, while the Nokia Lumia 735 is 219 euros ($283) and the Nokia Lumia 830 is 330 euros ($427).