The Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Google's top-of-the-line Android phone: $299.
The iPhone 4S, Apple's top-of-the-line phone: $199
The Lumia 900, Nokia's top-of-the-line Windows Phone: $99.
It's official: After weeks of rumors, AT&T has announced that the Nokia Lumia 900 will cost just $99 with a two-year contract and will be released in America on April 8.
The Lumia 900 has a 4.3-inch Clear Black display, an 8-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and a 1.4GHz single-core processor. The device will run on AT&T's new 4G LTE network.
Nokia execs like to talk about the unique design of the Lumia 900, and the way that it's immediately distinguishable from across the room, because of its sharp cornered edges and rounded back.
The real differentiator for the Lumia 900, however, will likely be Microsoft's Windows Phone OS, which many consumers are likely only somewhat familiar with, or have never seen or heard of at all. Despite solid critical reviews, the Windows Phone mobile operating system -- which emphasizes big, colorful tiles rather than the icons familiar from iPhone and Android -- has never taken off, holding under two percent market share in America and worldwide as of January 2012.
Both Microsoft and Nokia hope to turn this around with the Lumia 900. The two announced a mega-pact in early 2011, with Nokia ditching its own Symbian operating system in favor of the nascent, struggling Windows Phone; Nokia has since pledged $200 million for Lumia advertising (and that's just in America), and it will apparently spend up to $25 million to supply AT&T salespeople with Lumia 900s of their own. (We've heard from a reader that employees at at least one AT&T retail store are already equipped with their new Lumias, showing them off on the sales floor; given the size of the smartphone, and the bright colors, they're hard to miss).
Many (including this publication) have noted that a lack of apps is hurting the appeal of the otherwise enticing Windows Phone operating system: Currently, WP7 sits at about 70,000 apps, compared to about half a million for competitors Android and Windows Phone. Nokia and Microsoft will also be throwing a bunch of money at that, pledging $24 million on Monday morning to a Windows Phone app developer's campus at Finland's Aalto University. That money will go toward supporting developers who write apps for Nokia's smartphone platforms, including the app-hungry Windows Phone.
Speaking of money: At $100 with contract, the Lumia 900 becomes the cheapest flagship smartphone (compared to the iPhone and Galaxy Nexus) available. The Lumia 900 will be available exclusively on AT&T, hitting stores on April 8th, and in-store pre-orders begin on March 30. AT&T also announced that an all-white version of the Lumia 900 will be available on April 22; initially, only the black and cyan models will go on sale.