Microsoft announce Lumia Denim update and Lumia 830, Lumia 730 handsets

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Microsoft’s press conference at IFA in Berlin has just finished, and here’s all of the new stuff that you need to know about!

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Lumia Denim

So first the software – Lumia Denim is the next update that will be rolling out to all Lumia handsets. This will add the new features from Windows Phone 8.1, such as live folders and the ability to customise how long the snooze lasts on the alarm app.

More importantly, the update introduces what Microsoft is calling “Hey Cortana”: You can now activate Microsoft’s Siri-style assistant by simply saying “Hey Cortana!” in the markets where it is available. Unfortunately this doesn’t include the UK – with “late 2014” being pencilled as when we can expect it.

The big improvements appear to be in the Lumia camera app, which adds support for 4K video recording. One nifty feature was that because 4K video is so high quality, you can pick out individual frames and save them as pretty decent quality photos in their own right. There’s also a “Rich Capture” mode which automates the flash and HDR based on conditions.

There was also talk of a specialist “Lumia Selfie” app – which though spoken about in the context of the Lumia 730 (see below) appears to be a part of the Denim update. What this does is offer a number of different Instagram-style filters for your photos, and perhaps most cleverly a mode to take selfies with the more powerful rear camera by using an audible beeping to position the phone so it is pointing at your face (faster beeps mean you’re more on target).

Lumia 830

The Lumia 830 is what Microsoft is calling an “affordable flagship”. So that’s “mid-range” to you and me. The phone itself is ultra-thin – at 8.5mm and is powered by a 1.2ghz quadcore Snapdragon processor, and has a 5″ screen. The main camera is 10MP, with a 1MP front facing camera. It’ll come running Lumia Denim out of the box.

Apparently it’ll be about €330 without a contract – which is about £260.

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Lumia 730

Like a number of other manufacturers, Microsoft has also come up with what it is trying to position as the “selfie” phone. The 730 has a 4.7″ screen and is also powered by a 1.2ghz quadcore snapdragon processor, and sports only a 6.7MP rear camera. Interestingly though the front-facing camera is a comparatively massive 5MP – and crucially comes with a wide angle lens that means you can fit more people into the shot when you’re taking selfies or Skyping. During the press conference this involved an awkward demo where Microsoft staff wearing German football shirts tried to recreate the famous Oscars selfie. Apparently Microsoft is throwing in three months of free Skype Worldwide with this phone.

The phone appears to be mostly aimed at developing markets as there will also be a dual-SIM version – the Lumia 735 – available as an alternative. The 4G version will cost around €219 (£175) and 3G €199 (£159).

Microsoft Screen Sharing for Lumia Phones HD-10

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In a classic piece of Microsoft product naming, Microsoft has given this the longest name possible. But it does sound like a pretty clever accessory. Essentially, it comes in two parts: One plugs into your telly like a Chromecast, and the other sits on your coffee table, and has NFC. The idea is that to share content to your TV all you have to do is touch your Lumia against the NFC receiver and the phone will be paired with the TV, allowing you to share content. It seems like a really neat solution if you’re a multi-Lumia household, or you don’t want to faff about with wireless networks and the like.

Nokia Wireless Charging Plate DT-903

And finally, Microsoft also announced an updated wireless charging plate. All you have to do is swap out your phone’s plastic backing plate for this new one, and you’ll be able to charge up too. Apparently the new plate will also subtly change colour to indicate various notifications.

So that’s it – what do you think of the new products? Let us know in the comments.

James O’Malley