By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New York – Major carriers outlined their plans for the Windows Phone 8 OS in greater detail, with phones becoming available by U.S. carriers starting in November.
Of the four national carriers, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon will offer Windows Phone8. Sales through Sprint, which has just begun to roll out 4G LTE service in a handful of markets, weren’t announced.
The phones will offer new OS features not previously highlighted by Microsoft, including a new Skype app that for the first time, makes incoming Skype calls look like any other arriving call. The Skype app also adds call waiting, enabling users to switch between a Skype call and a regular call.
In addition, Bing adds new features, including a For You feature that offers personalized recommendations for deals, restaurants, music, videos and the like based on a person’s location, previous searches and recommendations from Facebook friends. Another new Bing feature is the ability to swipe the Bing home page to see content relevant to you, including trending stories, local deals and the like.
A larger music catalog available through Bing Music makes it easier to determine what song is playing when the user lets the phone listen to the music. The phone then shows name, artist, and album, and where to hear or buy the song.
With Bing Vision, users can use their phone’s camera to look up product information. Bing recognizes text and presents the option to select words for a search. Bing Vision also detects product information from UPC codes, QR Codes and Microsoft Tag, as well as cover art for books, CDs, DVDs and video games.
Also with Windows Phone 8, phones come preinstalled with a phone version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, Microsoft said.
Here’s what the three carriers plans, according to carrier spokespeople and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.
AT&T: The carrier plans November availability of the Nokia Lumia 920 on an exclusive basis as well as November availability of the Nokia Lumia 820 and HTC’s Windows Phone 8X. All feature 4G LTE.
Verizon: The Windows Phone 8X by HTC and Nokia Lumia 822 will be available by Thanksgiving, both in three color options, and Samsung’s Ativ Odyssey, which will be exclusive to Verizon, will be available by the end of the year, the carrier said.
Details of the Samsung phone haven’t been released. All three feature 4G LTE.
The HTC phone will be available in blue, red and black at $199 with new two-year contract. The red and black models are exclusive to Verizon.
The Lumia 822 is positioned as a smartphone for first-time smartphone buyers. It will be the first U.S.-market CDMA/LTE Lumia phone announced to date by Nokia.
The Lumia 822, which will be a Verizon exclusive, will be available in black, white and gray at $99 with two-year contract and after a $50 mail-in rebate.
T-Mobile: The carrier announced expected Nov. 14 availability of HTC’s Windows Phone 8X and Nokia Lumia 810. They feature HSPA+42 4G technology.
With a Classic rate plan, the Lumia 810 will be priced at $149 after a $50 mail-in-rebate card with a two-year service agreement. When activated with a lower-priced Value plan, the phone’s price goes to $ 99 plus 20 monthly payments of $20 on the carrier’s installment plan with two-year commitment.
HTC’s Windows Phone 8Xwill be priced at $199 with Classic rate plan after a $50 mail-in-rebate card, and with a Value plan, the price is $149 up front plus $20 per month for 20 months.
The carriers also revealed some additional phone details.
HTC’s 8X offers 4.3-inch, 1,280 by 720 HD touchscreen with 341 pixels per inch, Gorilla Glass 2, and optical lamination to reduce reflections and glare. It also boasts Qualcomm S4 dual-core 1.5GHz processor, Micro SIM card, 16GB of storage, 1 GB of RAM, 16GB of memory, nearfield communications (NFC) and Beats Audio technology. There is an 8-megapixel rear camera with 1080p video recording, f/2.0 aperture and 88-degree ultra-wide angle lens to capture up to four people at once for Skype video calls.
In revealing more details about the Lumia 822, Verizon said the device features 4.3-inch display with Gorilla Glass, 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, 16GB of memory, MicroSD slot for up to 32GB of additional storage, removable 1,800 mAH battery, and wireless charging via an optional shell with built-in wireless charging technology.
Other Lumia 822 features include 8-megapixel 1080p camera with Carl Zeiss optics and dual-LED flash, front-facing 1.2-megapixel 720p HD camera, and global-ready capability for voice usage in more than 220 countries and data usage in more than 205 countries.
The Lumia 822 also features Nokia Drive+, a turn-by-turn voice navigation solution featuring offline access to pre-loaded U.S. maps and transit information. Other included Nokia services are Nokia City Lens, an augmented reality experience, and Nokia Music, an ad-free, subscription-free music streaming service with offline playback.
A suite of photo and video features includes Smart Shoot, which lets users remove moving objects and pick the best expression for each person in a group shot. Cinemagraph lets users turn photos into animated GIFs. Panorama mode captures an entire scene or landscape, and Creative Studio lets users enhance pictures with creative effects before sharing them.
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