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Microsoft doubles down on affordable smartphones

One day after Samsung and HTC unveiled their respective 2015 flagship smartphones Microsoft on Monday announced the latest additions to its Lumia line, the Lumia 640 and 640 XL. The new Lumias follow up on last year’s Nokia Lumia 635 and 2013′s Nokia Lumia 520, two of the most popular Windows Phone 8 devices. Similar to those Lumias, the new phones are targeted towards the low-to-mid budget consumer, with an off-contract price of 159EUR (approximately $177 US) for the LTE version of the 640 and 219EUR (around $244) for the LTE version of the 640 XL. Both devices however, promise to offer a surprising amount of bang for the buck.

 

They will come in a variety of colors and feature quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processors with 1 GB of RAM, large HD screens and front-facing cameras, welcome additions to the lower end of the Lumia line and sure to please those upgrading from a Lumia 635 or 520. The Lumia 640 will offer a 5 inch HD screen with a 5 megapixel rear camera and 1 megapixel front shooter while the larger 640 XL opts for a 5.7 inch HD display, 13 megapixel rear lens and 5 megapixel front camera.635608453083725453-640-Collection-2

The devices will have 8GB of storage included, though that can be expanded up to 128GB through microSD cards. Microsoft is also including 30GB of OneDrive storage once the camera roll backup feature is turned on, as well as a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal which adds access to the PC, Mac and tablet versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint and an additional 1TB of storage. Initially the phones will run Windows Phone 8.1 but Microsoft is promising an upgrade to Windows 10 when the new software is available later this year.

The latest Lumia phones also notably do not feature Nokia branding, the original creators of the Lumia line of devices. Microsoft completed its acquisition of the Finnish company’s smartphone business last year. It released the Microsoft Lumia 535 late in the year, though that device was not widely distributed in the U.S. The Lumia 640 and 640 XL look to be the first two Lumia devices not from Nokia to be widely distributed under Microsoft branding.

While the news of new lower-end Lumias may not satisfy those Windows fans clamoring for a flagship on the same tier as the high-powered new devices from Samsung and HTC, the new Lumias aim to keep Microsoft competitive in the growing affordable smartphone space. According to AdDuplex, devices in Microsoft’s cheaper Lumia 520 or 630 families accounted for over 55% of Windows Phones used last month. And the Lumia 520 and 635 consistently rank among the best-selling non-contract phones on Amazon.