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A $99 Lumia 900: Just what Microsoft and Nokia need

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Updated. After much anticipation, AT&T (s t) officially announced launch details for the Nokia(s nok) Lumia 900, the first LTE Windows Phone(s msft) handset for the U.S. On April 8, the Lumia 900 will be available for $99 with a two-year plan commitment, making it one of the least expensive LTE phone debuts to date. Such pricing is likely backed by a higher level of subsidies from Microsoft, Nokia, or both, in order to restore both brands to prominence.

The new Lumia model runs on Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.5 operating system and uses a 4.3-inch display with Nokia’s ClearBlack AMOLED screen technology. A wide aperture (f/2.2) and angle lens (28 mm) with 8 megapixel camera and dual LED flash adorns the back of the device while a 1 megapixel front camera is available for video chat apps. Note that Microsoft purchased Skype last year and is working to integrate the service into Windows Phone.

Neither AT&T nor Nokia appear focused on marketing the specifications for the Lumia 900, but specs matter less when it comes to Windows Phone. I’ve run it on a two-year old smartphone with a last-generation processor and it’s at least as fast for most tasks than any current phone on the market. The Lumia 900 uses a single-core 1.4 GHz processor, for those that wonder, but like Apple’s iOS(s aapl), Windows Phone is optimized for slower chips; that helps with performance and battery life.

Having used — and been impressed with — a Nokia 800, which is similar in design, I suspect most will find the hardware to their liking. And it’s paired with Windows Phone 7.5, which is a solid improvement over Microsoft’s initial smartphone platform, launched in 2010. Windows Phone 7.5 also just topped 70,000 apps in its Marketplace.

Combine that with LTE service in a growing number of AT&T markets, along with a low $99 up-front investment and the Lumia 900 could mark the biggest step yet for the mobile comebacks of two one-time leaders: Microsoft and Nokia. I have a review unit already lined up, so I’ll have a chance to see if I’m overly excited by the Lumia 900 package or if I’m right about that comeback.

Update: Prior to publishing this post, I asked AT&T what the no-contract price for a Lumia 900 will be. After publication, AT&T responded: $449.99, which is generally far less expensive than prior unsubsidized Nokia phones in the U.S.

11 Responses to “A $99 Lumia 900: Just what Microsoft and Nokia need”

  1. David McCormack

    I’m an Android user and developer but I reckon that as soon as I can get my hands on a Lumia 900, Android will just be something I use at work. My dirty little secret is that I love WP7. Actually, it’s probably more accurate to say that I love Metro. When you’ve used it for a few hours (on WP7 or Win8) everything else seems a bit naff afterwards. Do I need shading, highlights, shadows, transparency, texture, fog, and cute little raindrops on the screen? No. I need content, clarity and speed. The rest is just fluff. I think a lot of people would do well to ditch their Microsoft prejudice and recognise something truly innovative when they see it.

  2. Out of curiosity Kevin, what “two-year old smartphone with a last-generation processor” have you been trying it on?

    I am an iOS user through and through, but would like to try out Windows Phone 7 for myself.

    Thanks, and continue the excellent work.

  3. John Nemesh

    They could give this thing away for FREE and still have problems selling it! Give me a UI that wasnt designed by a FIVE YEAR OLD, and I may consider it. Oh yea, it doesnt help that this “flagship” phone only has a single core CPU (DONT tell me it doesnt matter, it most certainly DOES…otherwise you would be able to record 1080p video!)…while every other major manufacturer is launching QUAD CORE phones this spring! Have fun with your bricks guys…hope you can sell the ones you already manufactured!

    • some guy

      Haha obviously you know nothing about computer systems. The whole point of a graphics processor is the same as that of a DMA, which is to off load from the cpu onto other cores for a specific task (such as recording and encoding 1080p video). A smartphone should by no means require a central quad core, even dual core is a bit much. However, marketting people do a wonderful job because idiots like you don’t do your own research and just believe dumb shit you read. Most smartphones have dedicated graphics chips these days if you did do you homework.

  4. Ever get Deja Vu? Word Perfect was the king, and Microsoft’s Word, well, was Microsoft’s Word.

    Apple is King, Android is cool but in a bit of a mess, Jobs is gone, and Microsoft has something to prove. If Android/Google don’t get their platform cleaned up and KIS’d quickly, my next phone is most likely going to be a Windows Phone… The ‘dark house’ seems to be getting traction — exciting times ahead…