South Africa has seen precious few dual-SIM handsets on the market despite their prevalence in other emerging markets like Nigeria and India, and almost none in mid- to high-end handsets. Microsoft is changing that by making the Lumia 730 available locally for a recommended retail price of R4 499.
Dual-SIM phones aren’t popular with operators, as recently illustrated by the massive resistance Apple has encountered from US operators over its proposed Apple SIM that will effectively do the same job as a phone that supports multiple SIM cards by letting users select different carriers on the fly. It’s no wonder: if you can change operators easily you can take advantage of the efforts of each to undercut one another.
The first operator to offer the Lumia 730 is Cell C, which is offering it for R229 per month on its SmartChat 1GB contract. Other operators will doubtless follow, but they can still be used with the handset thanks to the secondary SIM slot.
Like its Lumia siblings, the 730 runs Windows Phone 8.1 and is clad in brightly coloured matt or gloss plastic (though it will only be available in dark grey in South Africa at first). Unlike its peers, though, the Lumia 730 includes a 5-megapixel wide-angle (24mm) front-facing camera, which speaks to its target market – the budget conscious youth market, or generation selfie.
Microsoft is also talking up the front-facing camera for Skype video calls and is throwing in three months of free Skype-to-landline calls with the Lumia 730. It’s also offering the first 250 customers who purchase the handset through Cell C or take it on contract a free Xbox 360 and games.
The Lumia 730 has the sort of specifications we’ve come to expect from mid-range devices, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core 1.2GHz processor, a 2 220mAh battery and a 4.7-inch HD OLED display (1 280×720 pixels) with a viewing angle of almost 180 degrees.
On-board storage is 8GB and can be expanded by up to 128GB via a microSD card slot. Users also get 15GB of OneDrive cloud storage. It remains to be seen what impact using a second SIM in the device will have on battery life, but it sure is great having the option.
With Microsoft having bought Nokia it came as little surprise earlier this month when the company announced that it’ll be dispensing with the Nokia name for the Lumia range – they’ll be Microsoft Lumia devices going forward. The company is hanging onto the name for feature phone devices, for now at least.