By Mark Long / Mobile Tech Today. Updated March 26, 2012.
AT&T is poised to launch Nokia's new flagship Windows smartphone, which is compatible with the U.S. wireless carrier's high-speed 4G LTE network. Available for pre-order on March 30 and delivery beginning April 8, the Nokia Lumia 900 will be priced at $100 for customers signing new two-year wireless service agreements.
The Lumia 900's exclusive U.S. launch on AT&T's network gives Nokia a significant opportunity to grow its North American market share after several years of humdrum regional sales. The goal is to quickly build on the modicum of success that Nokia has already achieved through T-Mobile's introduction of the entry-level Lumia 710 last January.
The Lumia 710 has quickly become one of T-Mobile's most popular smartphones offerings. On the other hand, Nokia's first Windows Phone 7.5 model for the U.S. market has been priced at $50 or even offered by third-party vendors for free when subscribers sign up for new two-year service commitments at T-Mobile.
What sets AT&T's $100 Lumia 900 apart from T-Mobile's $50 Lumia model is the flagship device's 8-megapixel camera, which includes exclusive Carl Zeiss optics.
"The Lumia 900 is impeccably designed with clean lines and a camera that rivals stand-alone digital cameras on the market today," said AT&T Senior Vice President Jeff Bradley.
Designed with the U.S. in Mind
The Lumia 900 represents a major change in Nokia's philosophy because it is a smartphone expressly designed for the North American market. This is a huge departure from Nokia's past policy of building new products for sale in Europe and other overseas markets, and with the U.S. introduction coming significantly later down the pike.
"The Nokia Lumia 900 is designed specifically with the U.S. in mind, and the announcement of this collaboration with AT&T, in addition to other recent announcements, signifies a new dawn for Nokia in the U.S.," said Nokia Americas President Chris Weber.
The low price of Nokia's new flagship product is all about generating a significant buzz for the company's U.S. market re-entry. Partner Microsoft is hoping the Nokia 900's Metro-style user interface will capture significant attention among U.S. consumers in advance of the software giant's rollout of the similarly designed Windows 8 operating system for PCs, laptops and tablets.
Cutting Through the Clutter
Still, Nokia, Microsoft and AT&T will have to work hard to overcome the hoopla surrounding Apple's iPhone 4S as well as popular new Android models from Samsung and other vendors. One way to cut through the media clutter is to heavily promote the smartphone's high-resolution front-facing camera, which has a large-aperture, wide-angle lens.
On the software side, Nokia also hopes to attract customers by packing the Lumia 900 with one of the best apps package that the handset vendor has to offer. Among other things, the new smartphone is designed to run Nokia Drive, which delivers free voice-guided, GPS-enabled, turn-by-turn navigation instructions.
Also on tap is a state-of-the-art music playback system featuring Monster's Purity HD On Ear stereo headset, together with ESPN Sports, CNN and Univision content delivery apps. Additionally, the new smartphone packs a hefty 1839 mAh battery for extending talk time hours as well as operation in the standby mode.
The winner of the Best of CES 2012 award will also ship with AT&T-specific apps to further expand the handset's entertainment horizons. For example, Nokia 900 users that are also U-verse TV subscribers will be able to watch their favorite TV shows on the fly, remotely schedule digital video recording sessions and access the U-verse TV guide.