Windows Phone, Microsoft's mobile operating system, has managed to become a popular choice for users on a budget all around the world, but it seems that things are about to become much difficult for the platform.
Earlier this week, the first smartphone running under the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system has landed on shelves, namely the Nokia Lumia 630, which is also the cheapest smartphone that Nokia has unveiled with the platform loaded on top.
Microsoft has announced the availability of this mobile phone in Asia first, but users in various European countries, including Russia, the UK, and others, can already buy the phone or pre-order it.
Being the very first Windows Phone 8.1 smartphone out there and also the cheapest Nokia handset with this new platform version loaded on top is expected to help the Lumia 630 become highly popular among end users out there.
However, Lumia 630 has been launched with a price tag starting at €119 ($163) before taxes and subsidies, and this could prove an issue. A dual-SIM flavor of the smartphone has also been announced, priced at €129 ($177).
Undoubtedly, being able to grab a smartphone at such a low cost can easily prove a great option for many users out there, but the competition at the entry level of the market became more fierce only a couple of days before Lumia 630 has been released.
New, cheap Android handsets arrive
Also this week, Motorola has unveiled its cheapest smartphone to date, namely the Moto E, which runs under Android and which sports a price tag of only $129 (€94) in the United States.
Despite this ultra-low price tag, the Moto E still includes appealing hardware specifications, thus being able to attract a lot of users to its side, especially on emerging markets, as Motorola is targeting it specifically at them.
The best part about the Moto E is not the fact that it is very cheap, but the fact that it also includes great hardware specifications for its price point as well.
It comes with a 4.3-inch touchscreen display, a dual-core Snapdragon 200 processor, 1GB of RAM, 4GB of internal memory, a microSD memory card slot, and a 5-megapixel camera on the back.
With these specs inside, with a sub-€100 price, the Moto E will certainly prove a killer device in many countries out there, clearly capable of helping Android better compete in the low-level segment.
But this is not the only new phone that Microsoft needs to fear, as Motorola also announced a 4G LTE version of the Moto G, its cheapest Android handset until the brand-new Moto E went official.
Lumia 630 might not be able to compete against Moto E
One thing that is certain right now, at least in my opinion, is the fact that Nokia Lumia 630 won't be able to properly compete against Moto E and that Windows Phone 8.1 will need a cheaper handset to arrive soon in order to fill that spot.
Nokia Lumia 630 has been released with a 4.5-inch touchscreen, a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal memory, a microSD memory card slot, and a 5MP rear camera, putting it close to the Moto E, but the price it comes with might not help it.
A cheaper Windows Phone 8.1 handset, however, could easily become the thing that Microsoft's mobile platform needs in order to remain highly competitive on the entry-level market.
And since the Nokia Lumia brand has already managed to attract millions of people, a new, cheaper handset in the series could easily prove a winner, I believe. Moreover, I think that the best choice for Microsoft would be a successor for the Nokia Lumia 520, the most popular Windows Phone device.
In fact, one such phone has already been spotted online, in the form of Nokia RM-1027, which is supposedly set to land on the market as the Nokia Lumia 530, thus proving a real Lumia 520 successor.
Nokia Lumia 530 could be the next most popular Windows Phone
The Lumia 530 name has made it to the headlines a few times before, being spotted for the first time back in March, when leaked info suggested that it might sport the codename of Nokia Rock.
Back in April, AdDuplex unveiled that the Nokia RM-1027 had made an appearance in its database, and the same model number was spotted earlier this week on a benchmark website, which suggests that it might be indeed set to be released commercially.
Should this handset indeed be the Nokia Lumia 530, we'll certainly see it arriving on shelves with better hardware capabilities when compared to those included in the Lumia 520 last year.
For those out of the loop, we should note that the most popular Windows Phone device out there was released with a 4-inch screen, a 1GHz dual-core processor, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal memory, a microSD memory card slot, and a 5-megapixel camera on the back.
Most probably, Nokia Lumia 530 will sport a larger screen and a better processor inside, though I doubt that it will feature more RAM, especially with the Lumia 630 already available with the same amount.
Even so, if priced close to the Lumia 520, the new device will certainly manage to turn into a winner and might easily dethrone its successor as the best-selling Windows Phone handset.
With Windows Phone 8.1 loaded on top right out of the box, a Lumia 530 will certainly be able to compete not only against Moto E, but also against other cheap Android devices out there.
Windows Phone is still lagging behind Android and iOS, and Microsoft clearly needs to change that one way or the other, and the release of a Lumia 520 successor could prove the right way to do it.
More cheap Windows Phone devices are needed
One thing that you will certainly agree upon is the fact that one smartphone won't be enough to help Microsoft in its attempt to grab even more market share in the entry-level segment, and other similar handsets will also be needed.
Lately, a great deal of mobile phone makers have announced plans to join the Windows Phone 8.1 party sooner rather than later, and many of them are expected to release highly affordable smartphones too, including Lava, Lenovo, Micromax, and others.
However, considering the popularity that the Nokia Lumia brand enjoys at the moment among Windows Phone enthusiasts, the Lumia 530 is the one device that will certainly rise above them all.
Microsoft's mobile operating system has come a great way in the past several years, and Nokia's smartphones were those to help it the most, something that I do believe will continue to happen for a few more years.
Of course, Nokia's Devices and Services division is part of Microsoft now, which means that, technically, new phones coming with the Lumia name attached to it are not Nokia phones.
The reality, however, is the fact that they will be built by the very same people who designed the existing Lumias out there, which means that the 530 will come with the same quality as its predecessor.
One way or the other, we're about to witness a fierce battle between Android and Windows Phone at the low level of the market, with Lumia 530 (and Moto E) being two of the best fighters there.
What remains to be seen, however, is when exactly Microsoft will release the cheapest Windows Phone 8.1 device. With Motorola's smartphone already out and Lumia 520 looking somehow old, it'd better hurry up.