Nokia may once again rely on AT&T to make a comeback in the United States.
AT&T announced on Thursday that it will be the exclusive U.S. carrier for the Lumia 920, Nokia’s next flagship Windows Phone. The companies didn’t announce a price or release date, but it’ll probably be in early November, after Windows Phone 8 ships. AT&T will also sell Nokia’s mid-range Lumia 820.
AT&T was also exclusively sold Nokia’s Lumia 900, which launched in April.
The Lumia 920 has a 4.5-inch, 1280-by-768 resolution display, a dual-core processor and 1 GB of RAM. Its 8.7-megapixel camera has optical image stabilization and is supposedly well-suited for photos in low-lighting conditions (thereby addressing one of the biggest issues with Nokia’s last flagship, the Lumia 900). Nokia also hopes the phone’s display will be a big selling point, with enhancements for sunlight readability and the ability to tap with fingernails or gloved fingers.
Nokia’s Lumia 920 will also support wireless charging, but AT&T’s announcement delivers some bad news: The required accessories will be sold separately.
The Lumia 820 has a 4.3-inch display, 800-by-480 resolution display, a single-core processor, an 8-megapixel camera and 1 GB of RAM. It also has a microSD card slot for expandable storage. Although the Lumia 820 doesn’t have wireless charging built-in, the capability will be available through alternative back plates for purchase.
With the Lumia 920 going exclusively to AT&T, it’s no surprise that Microsoft is showing lots of love to HTC. Windows Phone has no chance of taking off without broad carrier support, and HTC already has commitments from AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile for its Windows Phone 8X and 8S handsets. Verizon, the largest wireless carrier in the country, hasn’t offered any new Windows Phones since early 2011, so its inclusion in that lineup is a big deal for Microsoft and HTC.
For Nokia fans who aren’t inclined to join AT&T, there’s still a glimmer of hope: In August, Engadget reported a rumor that Verizon will sell a variant of the Lumia 820, dubbed the Lumia 822. Wireless carriers have been known to claim exclusivity while their competitors sell slightly-modified versions of the same basic phone, so perhaps Nokia is working on something along that line. If not, it’s going to be a tough road for Nokia in a holiday season crowded with really good phones.