In its first public event in South Africa since acquiring Nokia at the end of April, Microsoft announced that it would be bringing two new Lumia smartphones to South Africa within the next few months including a new flagship model.

The company also took the chance to announce that Windows Phone 8.1, which is the version of the OS installed on the two new handsets, will be shipping to all Windows Phone 8 compatible devices in South Africa within the next few months as well as an over-the-air update.

Lumia 930

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That new flagship is the Lumia 930 which is essentially a more palm-friendly version of the Lumia 1520 phablet that we saw launched late last year. On the inside it has the same quad-core 2.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor along with 2GB of RAM which proved to be more than enough grunt for the incredibly snappy Windows Phone 8 platform then and it’s the same case with the 930. The display is a more comfortable 5 inches in size but retains the full HD 1080×1920 resolution that we first saw in the Lumia 1520 with Nokia’s ClearBlack technology that helps improve readability in direct sunlight. Also along for the ride is the 20 megapixel rear camera with its Carl Zeiss lens from the largest Lumia which offers fantastic photos from our initial inspection.

On the outside there is a change from the Lumia design philosophy we have come to know over the last few years. While the back is still clad in various forms of colourful, soft-touch polycarbonate the frame is an all aluminium affair. It gives the impression that the 930 is a little thicker than it really is, which is not to say that the phone is thick to begin with, at 9.8mm it’s just thicker than many of its contemporaries. It’s a fantastic combination of materials that offers a chance to splash some colour for those looking to stand out or just an elegant looking phone for the more conservative consumer with the black model.

The Lumia 930 is expected to arrive in South Africa some time around September this year with no official price yet for the phone, although we suspect that it will be somewhere around the R8 000 – R9 000 mark that a premium smartphone usually attracts.

Lumia 630

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In its press release Microsoft touted the Lumia 630 as “the successor to the successful Lumia 520” which was immediately a heap of pressure to bundle on top of the yet-to-be-released smartphone. The Lumia 520 was one of the most successful smartphones sold in South Africa last year and did a lot to win over a large chunk of consumers to the Lumia and Windows Phone brands. In fact, we loved it so much that it won the award for the ‘best budget smartphone’ last month.

The Lumia 630 then has a lot of work to do to impress us. Like the Lumia 520 it replaces, the Lumia 630 has a collection of swappable brightly coloured, glossy plastic shells which harken back to the Nokia Xpress covers that were all the rage in the 90s. Snapping them on and off proved to be simple enough while not being so easy that they would pop off in every day use.

It will be the first smartphone running Windows Phone 8.1 when it arrives in South Africa in July for R1 999, just R100 more than the price that the Lumia 520 launched at this time last year. For your money you get a vastly more capable quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor and 512MB of RAM to go along with 8GB of storage. As with all Windows Phone devices, even a paltry half a GB of RAM is enough to keep everything ticking over smoothly in the Lumia 630.

The hardware specs are rounded out by a 4.5 inch 480×854 resolution display that won’t blow anyone away with a pixel density of 218pp (the Lumia 930 is at the high-end of the scale with 441ppi), but nevertheless manages to offer a great looking display for its price. The 5 megapixel camera from the Lumia 520 is back along with an FM radio and a 1830mAh battery to power everything.

We’re looking forward to getting our hands on the new Lumia phones to give the a thorough test soon, so keep an eye out for their reviews.