After nearly six months of build-up, the big rebirth of Windows Phone is at hand.
Microsoft has been trying to make a dent in the smartphone market for more than two years, with little success. This time around, the company is hoping that better hardware, broader wireless carrier support and an emphasis on personalized experiences will lead to wider adoption.
But of course, none of that’s possible without the actual phones. On Friday, the first Windows Phone 8 handsets from Nokia and HTC will launch on AT&T. Soon after, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless will launch their own handsets.
For more details on Windows Phone 8, check out my colleague Harry McCracken’s overview. Below, I’ll go over the phones and where to find them.
Nokia’s Lumia 920 is an AT&T exclusive, with an emphasis on photography and special apps, such as Nokia Drive for navigation and Nokia Music for ad-free curated Internet radio. Specs include a 4.5-inch, 1280-by-768 resolution display, a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 32 GB of storage, 1 GB of RAM and an 8.7-megapixel rear camera with low-light enhancements and image stabilization.
Nokia also has a mid-range phone, called the Lumia 820. It has a 4.3-inch, 800-by-480 resolution display, a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, a MicroSD slot, an 8-megapixel camera and a VGA front-facing camera. The 820 will be available on AT&T, but T-Mobile will sell the Lumia 810, and Verizon will sell the Lumia 822, which have different designs
and no wireless charging capabilities, but the same specs. (Correction: These variants do support wireless charging, just like the 820.)
HTC’s Windows Phone 8X is another high-end handset with a 720p display and a slimmer, lighter design than the Lumia 920. Specs include a 4.3-inch, 1280-by-720 resolution display, a 1.5 dual-core GHz Snapdragon S4 processor, 1 GB RAM, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 2.1-megapixel front-facing camera. Verizon’s version has wireless charging as well.
Finally there’s the Samsung ATIV S, which is similar to Samsung’s Galaxy S III with a 4.8-inch, 720p display. It hasn’t been announced for U.S. carriers, but a possible variant called the Samsung ATIV Odyssey is coming to Verizon. No details on that phone have been announced yet.
Here are the prices and release dates for the phones on U.S. carriers:
AT&T Windows Phones
- Nokia Lumia 920: $100 with a two-year contract, available on November 9. A wireless charging plate is included as a special promotion. Off-contract price: $450
- Nokia Lumia 820: $50 with a two-year contract, available on November 9. Wireless charging can be added through exchangeable shells, but they’re sold separately along with the charging plates themselves. Off contract price: $400
- HTC Windows Phone 8X: $200 for a 16 GB version in blue only, or $100 for 8 GB in blue or yellow, available November 9.
T-Mobile Windows Phones
T-Mobile’s a little bit different from the other major carriers. It offers two types of smartphone plans, a Classic Plan and a Value Plan. The Classic Plan is pretty standard, in that you pay a subsidized price for the phone, then serve out your two-year contract as usual. With the Value Plan, you pay an even lower price up-front, plus $20 extra for the next 20 months. However, the plan itself is about $20 per month cheaper than most comparable Classic plans, so in most cases, the Value Plan is the way to go.
- HTC Windows Phone 8X: $150 with a two-year Value Plan contract, or $200 with Classic Plan contract (both after a $50 mail-in-rebate), available November 14.
- Nokia Lumia 810: $100 with a Value Plan, $150 with a Classic Plan (both after a $50 mail-in rebate), available November 14.
Verizon Wireless Windows Phones
- HTC Windows Phone 8X: $199 with a two-year contract for the 16 GB model in blue, red or black. Pre-orders begin November 9 for shipping by Thanksgiving.
- Nokia Lumia 822: $99 with a two-year contract in black, white or gray. Pre-orders begin November 9 for shipping by Thanksgiving.
- Samsung ATIV Odyssey: Available in December, no word on price or specific release date.