Microsoft will launch a new Lumia 11 inch tablet in March 2019, running Android, and designed to compete with a number of new smart tablet offerings from competitors.
Lumia 8 inch tablet
Read our recent coverage of the Lumia 8 inch Android tablet here.
Lumia 11 inch tablet
The new 11 inch Lumia tablet from Microsoft will compete against a range of new offerings from competitors including the iPad Pro, Samsung Galaxy Book, and keyboard-toting devices from Lenovo, Google, and the popular Asian brands.
The main difference between the 8 inch and 11 inch devices will be LTE and the keyboard accessory.
We can expect the Lumia tablet to feature:
An 11 inch touchscreen with finger and pen input
Qualcomm Snapdragon 8-series processor
Dual rear-facing cameras
Wifi AC and AX
Qualcomm LTE option
An SD card slot for additional storage
USB-C port for charging and accessories
An additional USB-C port (two total)
Seven to nine hour battery life
Keyboard connector pad
Pen silo or magnetic pen holder
Android Pie operating system
Access to the Microsoft Android Store
Access to the Google Play Store
Amazon Alexa voice assistant features pre-loaded
In late 2018, we are seeing evidence of Microsoft transitioning away from Cortana and adopting Amazon Alexa as a voice assistant. This is happening across Microsoft's voice enabled products, including Windows 10, smart speakers, IoT devices, and home automation accessories.
Given Amazon's lead in this area, it's not surprising that Microsoft would choose Amazon Alexa, rather than partnering with Google or Apple to replace Cortana.
Many home automation products such as light bulbs, speakers, and smart appliances already work with Alexa; and many Alexa-enabled devices also work cross-platform with Google Assistant.
In early 2019, a range of new laptop and desktop computers will emerge from OEMs like HP, Lenovo, LG, Acer, ASUS, Dell, and others, running updated versions of Windows 10. At that time, we're likely to see Cortana branding fade away, and Alexa become more prominent. Expect to see Alexa-enabled stickers on new PCs in stores, and in television advertising from Microsoft.
The keyboard will be a slightly-tweaked version of the keyboard for the Surface Go 10 inch tablet. We expect the usual A-Z, 0-9, punctuation, and other keys, along with an Android function row, volume, brightness, and so on. The small trackpad from the Surface Go keyboard is expected to be stretched out for the Lumia tablet.
We are hearing unconfirmed reports that the screen may be compatible with the Surface Pen and other Ntrig based pens. Microsoft is apparently undecided about including pen support on the Lumia range at this stage.
Why hold back on Pen support? Maybe to keep the Microsoft Courier dream alive.
If pen support is approved, we anticipate it will be compatible with Ntrig pens, rather than the Wacom based pen standard.
While competitors such as the iPad Pro and Google Pixel Slate at 11 inches have pen support, Microsoft is wanting to keep a low price point on the Lumia tablet. Including pen support means building in the required technology to layers of the screen, adding cost to the device.
We've already seen the overpriced Surface Go fail the affordability test.
The slow sales of the Surface Go can mostly be attributed to its Pentium Gold processor, a slow and silly inclusion for what was meant to be a premium device. Microsoft could have put a Core m3 or Core i3 fanless processor in there, but, for reasons unknown, they didn't.
Microsoft and Android
While it may seem unusual to some readers that Microsoft would release an Android tablet, it starts to make sense when you consider that Microsoft owns patents over the core technology of the Android operating system, and has previously used those patents to obtain fees from Android OEMs such as Google and Samsung.
Microsoft and Lumia
Microsoft obtained the rights to the Lumia brand when it purchased Nokia in 2013-2014, in an effort to bolster its Windows Phone offering, way back in the days when Stephen Elop was at Nokia, and Steve Ballmer was CEO at Microsoft.
While Microsoft has since sold off the majority of the assets it acquired as part of the Nokia deal, it still holds a number of patents, licences, and other artifacts from its ownership of Nokia's mobile phone division.
To avoid confusion between Windows and Android, consumer marketing for the device will focus on the Lumia brand, the Android operating system, its software features, and physical features.
Don't expect to see strong Microsoft branding on these devices, as is seen with the Surface product line. Microsoft will be wanting an invisible wall between its Lumia Android devices and its Windows-based Surface and PC products.
Expect to see products announced in early 2019 (January) and become available in March 2019.
Until next time,
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