Verizon intros mid-line $99 Nokia Lumia 822

Nokia Lumia 822

Verizon customers holding out for a new Windows Phone 8 handset have an exclusive choice: On Monday, Nokia announced that Verizon will offer the Nokia Lumia 822 for $99 with a contract. The device is a mix of new features with an older screen, however: The 4.3-inch touchscreen uses an 800 x 480 resolution.

Nokia is definitely targeting those who may not yet have a smartphone, with Olivier Puech, President of Nokia Americas, saying as much in the company’s press release:

“With the Nokia Lumia 822, first-time smartphone buyers – and those ready to switch – will get high-quality performance on both their device and Verizon Wireless’ incredibly fast 4G LTE network.”

I agree with the first-time smartphone buyers statement, but less so with the “those ready to switch” comment. On Monday morning on the U.S. west coast, Microsoft is holding a Windows Phone 8 event where I expect we’ll see more debuts of capable handset from a number of Microsoft’s hardware partners. If Verizon picks up one or more of these with additional features or functions and just a small price difference — say a starting price of $149 with contract — the exclusive Lumia 822 will have a very limited audience in terms of those who already use smartphones.

To be sure, the Lumia 822 has some decent hardware, software and features. It uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 chip, supports Verizon’s LTE network, and has an 8 megapixel camera with the traditional Carl Zeiss optics. Nokia Maps, City Lens and Drive+ software is also included, and of course, the phone runs Microsoft’s latest operating system. It’s certainly not a bad deal for $99. However, I expect that current smartphone customers will gravitate towards slightly more expensive Windows Phones that offer higher resolution displays such as HTC’s 8x.

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