Perhaps this non-subsidized cellular device approach — where carriers don’t pay part of a phone’s cost in return for lengthy service contracts — is starting to pay off for U.S. consumers.
To wit: AT&T will offer the new Lumia 635 for nearly $30 less than competitor T-Mobile‘s full retail price. That may not sound like a big discount, but we’re not talking about a $600 phone here: You can pick up the new Windows Phone 8.1 handset for $139 at AT&T on August 8, so that discount represents a sizable percentage.
That’s not the only way to get the phone, though.
Starting on July 25, AT&T will sell the Lumia 635 for $99.99 to its pre-paid GoPhone customers. Note that T-Mobile is also selling the phone early for $99.99 to its MetroPCS customers. Following that, on August 8, all other AT&T customers can buy the phone off-contract and will get both a black and orange cover for the handset.
Aside from the $139 option, customers can pay zero down and either $5.84 per month for the handset in the Next 18 program or $7 a month for the Next 12 program. By comparison, T-Mobile is selling the phone for $7 a month over 24 months, which works out to $168; the same amount as its advertised full retail price. And both carriers have priced the Lumia 635 under the $189 MSRP that Nokia announced in April.
For the price, the LTE handset has much to offer. I had a chance to use one at a private Nokia event in April and while I wouldn’t call this a high-end handset, it’s very capable and has some higher-end features. The IPS display is sharp and bright, for example, and thanks to Windows Phone 8.1 software, performed faster than I expected on the low-power Snapdragon 400 chip.