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Windows Phone Marks U.S. Gains

Chicago — The Windows Phone 8 OS posted gains today with separate announcements by U.S. Cellular and Sprint that they have begun offering their first Windows Phone 8 smartphones.

U.S. Cellular is launching the 4G LTE Samsung Ativ Odyssey today though its website and on Thursday in stores at $49. The device features 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, 4-inch Super AMOLED screen, 5-megapixel camera, 8GB internal storage, 64GB MicroSD card slot, Xbox Live integration, nearfield communication (NFC) technology and a built-in photo editor.

Sprint announced July 19 availability of HTC’s LTE-equipped $99 8XT through direct and indirect channels. Previously, the carrier announced the 8XT’s price and planned availability sometime during the summer. At that time, Sprint also announced plans for its second Windows Phone 8 smartphone, the Samsung Ativ S Neo at $149, with availability sometime in the summer.

With U.S. Cellular’s launch of the Ativ Odyssey, the carrier’s LTE lineup consists of 15 devices, including the Samsung Galaxy S4 and data devices. The devices operate in LTE mode in markets reaching 61 percent of the population within its markets in 16 states, and the footprint will expand to 87 percent of the population in its markets by the end of the year.

The HTC 8XT can be used in LTE mode in about 110 Sprint-network markets, and the carrier plans to expand its LTE footprint to 200 million people by year’s end.

 The HTC 8XT brings dual front-facing speakers for the first time to a Windows phone. Other key features include Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor with 1.4GHz dual-core CPUs, 1080p video capture, 1GB RAM, 8GB ROM, 64GB MicroSD slot, 4.3-inch display, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS and 1,800 mAh lithium-ion battery. It also features an 8-megapixel main camera with autofocus, LED flash and 1080p video capture. HDR recording uses dual microphones and audio processing to record stereo sound.

 Other 8XT phone features include front-facing 1.6-megapixel camera, multi-shot burst mode, and a dedicated Windows Phone camera button to open the camera even when the phone is locked or sleeping.