The popular Windows Phone photo editing app Afterlight is now a universal app and available for your Windows 8.1 PC or Tablet. Afterlight is a powerful photo editing app that allows you to make quick edit and adjustments to your photos with a load of different filters, textures and frames. To this point the .99 Cent app has been only available on Windows Phone but the update today, version 1.1.0 for those keeping score at home, is universal. That means if you have already bought the app for Windows Phone you now have it available for your PC or Tablet. This includes any in-app purchases you have made as well as the app itself.
The Flipboard for Windows Phone app has been updated today, bringing with it a new Topics feature that allows you to find new content in the news-meets-magazine app based on your interests. The update, version 220.127.116.11 for those keeping score at home, allows you to define tags of subjects that you are interested in within the app. You can then quickly and easily find new content based on those tags, i.e. topics. There are over 34,000 topics within Flipboard so you shouldn’t have any problem finding that item of interest.
Over at the Microsoft Store online you can get an exclusive color option on the BLU Win HD Windows Phone. The new Smoldering Gray color is in stark contrast to the neon-like colors that the Blue Win HD is normally found online or at your local Microsoft Store but for those who want a bit more sedate (i.e. normal) color, the Smoldering Gray option is right for you. The 5″ Windows Phone only comes in this color when you order it online but it is still the same low price of $179 unlocked.
The Netflix apps for both Windows and Windows Phone received a minor update yesterday that all users should update to if you haven’t done so already. The update, version 18.104.22.168 for those keeping score at home, does not have any detailed release notes with it but it is widely suspected that this addresses a bug that was causing crashes on the streaming movie and television app.
In addition to the Lumia 640 announced today at Mobile World Congress, Microsoft also announced their new Phablet device, the Lumia 640XL. The 5.7″ device is a replacement for the now quite dated Lumia 1320 (my personal phone of choice) and it is a significant bump up in specifications over the 1320. Like the Lumia 640, there will be multiple variants of the Lumia 640XL: Single and Dual SIM 3G models as well as Single and Dual SIM LTE Models. It is expected to retail for around $245 for the Dual SIM LTE model which is a very attractive price point for what this device has to offer.
The Lumia 640XL will be powered by the Snapdragon 400 Quad-Core processor running at 1.2GHz and will sport 1GB of RAM. It will have 8GB of internal storage with expansion up to an additional 128GB with a MicroSD card. It has a 5.7″ IPS display running at 1280×720 with Glance screen and sunlight readability enhancements for when you are outside. The rear camera is probably the single biggest improvement over the Lumia 1320. The 1320 has a 5MP camera while the 640XL will have a 13MP camera. That rear camera can also shoot 1080p video and has a flash. The front facing camera is a 5MP wide angle fixed focus. It will also have SensorCore which is something the Lumia 1320 does not have either.
Another interesting change is that the Lumia 640XL will have a user replaceable 3000 mAh battery, something you cannot do on the Lumia 1320.
At Mobile World Congress today, Microsoft announced the new Lumia 640, a mid-range Windows Phone that is a step up from the popular Lumia 635. The Lumia 640 comes in three variants, the 3G Dual SIM, LTE Dual SIM and an LTE Single SIM and it is expected to sell for less than $200 when it reaches the US. Yes, the Lumia 640 is coming to the United States! It is expected to be with AT&T, T-Mobile and MetroPCS but what is unclear is which variant will be with which carrier. While I’ve voice my opinion on the need for a flagship Windows Phone from Microsoft, it is good to see this Lumia 640 as it is, specification wise, not bad at all for a sub-$200 device.
The Lumia 640 will run on the Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor at 1.2GHz and will sport a 8GB of storage on board. That can be augmented with up to 128GB on a MicroSD card. The rear camera is a 8MP autofocus capable of shooting 1080p video while the front facing camera is a HD 1MP wide angle. The display is a 5″ HD 1280×720 IPS that does support Glance which if you don’t have, once you do, will love. It is expected to launch this month in various markets globally.
As we come into Mobile World Congress 2015 in earnest this week, I’m reminded of a stark reality as a Windows Phone enthusiast. That reality is that beyond two devices that are both over a year old, Windows Phone has no flagship device. That, in itself, should not be news. If you are reading my site then you are likely a Windows Phone user or at the very least have a morbid curiosity on how the other 3.5% live (that’s the rough market share of Windows Phone) and know that there hasn’t been a flagship worthy Windows Phone in a long while. The last three devices of what many would consider “Flagship” were the Lumia 930 (Icon), the Lumia 1520 and you may be able to stretch and say the HTC M8 Windows Phone. The last of those was launched mid-year last year but the Lumia 1520 came out at the end of 2013 and the 930 early last year. In terms of half-life for mobile devices, that is an eternity. One could argue that the Lumia 830, the “affordable flagship” is a reasonable stop-gap but let’s be honest with ourselves here, it’s not a flagship device not matter what the marketing materials says.
Microsoft has been very busy on the low end of the market and you often hear the term “the next billion” when referring to the segment of the market that is moving from mobile phones to smartphones. There is, in many parts of the world, an untapped customer base, thus the next billion. But equally the argument could be made that Microsoft needs – indeed must – cater to the upper end of the market at the same time. They don’t have to look any further than their own competitors in the market to see this need yet seemingly are willing to ignore it. It is disappointing, frustrating and not helping win mind share around Windows Phone as a platform.
At Mobile World Congress today Acer announced their all new Windows Phone 8.1 device, the Acer Liquid M220. It represents Acer’s first Windows Phone 8.1 device and their first Windows Phone in four years but frankly, this is a huge disappointment. The specs of the Acer Liquid M220 are dismal and in fact do not even meet the minimum design guidelines for Windows Phone these days. In fact about the only positive I can see on this device is that it is Dual SIM. I would go as far as to say that if you are looking for a budget friendly Windows Phone, look at the Lumia 635. But hey, we have another vendor in the Windows Phone game, right?