Nokia Windows smart phones to debut in US

It seems smart phones are everywhere these days, but T-Mobile and Nokia are banking their newest venture on the 150 million people in the United States who haven't upgraded their cell phones yet.

Finnish phone company Nokia is set to release the first of its smart phones in the U.S. Jan. 11, 2012, which is when T-Mobile rolls out the Nokia Lumia 710 running Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango."

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Nokia is betting its future on Microsoft's Windows Phone platform, having largely stepped away from its Symbian mobile operating system platform. Company officials hope to broaden Nokia's smart-phone reach in U.S. markets via Microsoft's OS.

The Lumia 710 is the economy-priced version of the two Windows smart phones that Nokia unveiled in late October. The device is "expected" to cost $49.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate, based on a two-year service agreement that includes a voice and data plan. (The "expected" phrasing comes from T-Mobile's announcement.)

In announcing the Lumia 710's availability on Wednesday, T-Mobile articulated some reasons why Microsoft and Nokia still have a shot despite market leads held by Google's Android-based devices and Apple's iPhones.

Cole Brodman, chief marketing officer at T-Mobile USA, made the argument that T-Mobile's voice and data plans, combined with the relatively inexpensive new Nokia device, would be attractive to first-time smart-phone buyers.

"Our research shows nearly everybody in the U.S. wants a smart phone, but many believe they can't afford it," Brodman said in a statement.

In the same news release, former Microsoft partner executive and current Nokia Americas President Chris Weber added that "this is the perfect first Nokia Lumia experience and the start of our re-entry into the U.S. smart-phone market."

Michael Stroh, who posts regularly on the Microsoft Windows Phone blog, wrote that the T-Mobile version of the Nokia phone will come "pre-stocked with popular apps, including ESPN, Netflix, The Weather Channel, Slacker Radio, T-Mobile TV, and Nokia Drive for voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation." The voice navigation app is being touted by Nokia as a major differentiator for their devices.


The device has a 3.7-inch ClearBlack WVGA touchscreen, a Qualcomm 1.4 GHz Snapdragon processor and a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera. Unlike the version launched in Europe, the Lumia 710 for T-Mobile in the United States is available only in white and black. European carriers have blue, pink and yellow versions, as well.

The other notable missing feature of the Lumia 710 and its higher end (but not publicly announced for America yet) sibling, the Lumia 800, is a front-facing camera (FFC). That omission is important because the Nokia devices will compete with a second-generation of Windows Phone devices that mostly have FFCs and because key Microsoft apps such as Lync and Skype are expected to eventually depend on FFCs for some functionality.

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