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Worker drones don't need PCs says Microsoft, give 'em phones instead

Trio of new Lumia handsets seek to tempt from iOS, Android

Windows Phone has had a very rocky history, but Microsoft thinks it may have found a winning strategy to get its handsets into the business market – let them be PCs.

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At a press conference in New York, Microsoft unveiled the Lumia 950 (5.2-inch screen) and 950XL (5.7-inch screen). The phones are designed to work as mini-computers. Plug them into a display port and Microsoft boasts you can run work apps via a screen and keyboard to turn the device into something that could replace the beige box.

"We want to put Windows 10 in your pocket," said Panos Panay, Microsoft's VP of Surface computing. "There's 110 million people using Windows 10 right now. If you haven't thought about these phones wake up! The opportunities are unbelievable."

The handsets can cope with both Phone apps (where Microsoft suffers a significant software shortfall) and also Windows 10 universal apps. The handsets can also run 32-bit applications via remote desktop, and carry Continuum for app flexibility and control.

To make this possible, Microsoft put some serious grunt into the 950 and 950XL. They run a Snapdragon 808 six-core processor and 810 eight-core chip respectively and carry 32GB of storage, with a microSD port that can add in more space.

For consumers, both phones carry 20 megapixel cameras with triple LED flashes, and a five-megapixel camera up front. That preserves Lumia's reputation as the mobile camera leader, and Redmond promises that the camera software is best in class.

Microsoft has also added a specific camera button to the handsets. Paney said it was a return to the good old days when you could just point and click.

Both phones have Type C USB connectors for fast charging and data transfer. That's par for the course with a modern phone, although Microsoft is sticking to the proprietary Surface charger for its fondleslabs and Surface Book, claiming it gives even faster charging times.

Both handsets go on sale October 26 priced at $549 for the 950 and $649 for the 950XL, excluding tax. For that price maybe the beige box is a better cost option, but try sticking one of those in your pocket.

The third handset in the Lumia lineup is the 550. This barely rated a mention in the press conference, with Panay saying it was simply an entry level phone ($139) that would let people try out a Windows 10 handset. ®


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