NEW YORK – The wireless industry is buzzing about the prominence of the first Windows Phone 8 smartphones in carriers’ marketing plans, the growing selection of smartphone/tablet hybrids, and the launch of HTC’s 5-inch smartphone, the company’s biggest-screen phone to date.
The industry is also talking about the price of AT&T’s Nokia Lumia 820, which at $49 suggests that carriers are trying to wean themselves off highly subsidized Apple iPhones.
Some of the new phones are exclusive to select carriers, including the $99 Galaxy Express and the 8GB version of HTC’s Windows Phone 8X at AT&T, the Nokia Lumia 822 and Samsung Ativ Odyssey Windows phone at Verizon, and a T-Mobile-locked version of Google’s LG-made Nexus 4.
Other hot new phones for the selling season include the first quad-core LTE phones, the Samsung Galaxy Note II and the LG Optimus G.
Phones that users draw on a screen with a finger or stylus — such as the Samsung Galaxy Note II, LG Mach at Sprint, and Verizon’s LG Spectrum 2 — are also getting carriers’ promotional attention.
Many of the new smartphones are priced at $99, including LG’s 4.7-inch Spectrum 2 Android 4.0 smartphone for the Verizon network.
The Verizon-exclusive HTC xxxx, however, is priced at $xxx, given its screen size, pixel that’s greater than that of the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy SIII.
Here’s a carrier-by-carrier sampling of what’s hitting the shelves:
AT&T: The carrier launched 4G LTE Windows Phone 8 smartphones priced from $49 to $199, including a previously unannounced — and exclusive — 8GB version of HTC’s Windows Phone 8X.
The new Windows smartphones are the:
• Nokia Lumia 920, available exclusively on the AT&T network at $99 with a promotional offer that includes a free wireless charging plate with purchase of the device;
• Nokia Lumia 820 at $49;
• Windows Phone 8X at $199 with 16GB storage, due in stores by Thanksgiving; and
• the exclusive 8GB version of the Windows Phone 8X, which is available in Limelight color at $99.
The carrier also planned Nov. 16 availability of the $99 Samsung Galaxy Express, an LTE smartphone that is exclusive to AT&T. It runs Android 4.0 and sports a 4.5-inch Super AMOLEDPlus screen and 1.5GHz dual-core processor.
Sprint: The carrier added its first LTE smartphone with QWERTY keyboard. The LG Mach at $99 features full QWERTY slide-out keyboard but is only 0.48 inches thick. Other key features include 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 4-inch WVGA 480 by 800 touchscreen. LG QuickMemo lets consumers use their finger to write personal messages on photos, website screen shots and the like for sharing.
Sprint also launched LG’s $199 Optimus G, a quadcore LTE phone with 13-megpixel camera. The Optimus G and Samsung Galaxy Note II phablet at $299 are the carrier’s first two LTE phones with quad-core processor.
MetroPCS: The no-contract flat-rate carrier, which plans to merge with T-Mobile, became the first carrier in the world to roll out so-called Rich Communications Services (RCS) to deliver such features as simultaneous voice and multimedia messaging as well as social presence.
The new 4G LTE network services, launched under the Joyn brand, are available on the Samsung Galaxy Attain 4G with an app download.
MetroPCS will roll out additional RCS-enabled 4G smartphones and services later this year and throughout 2013. Native smartphone support for Joyn services is due at a later date.
T-Mobile: The carrier’s first Windows Phone 8 smartphones are the Nokia Lumia 810 and Windows Phone 8X by HTC. The company also announced pricing on a locked version of Google’s new LG-made Nexus 4 with Android 4.2.
With a Classic rate plan, the Lumia 810 is priced at $19 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.
HTC’s Windows Phone 8X is 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 next-generation Google-brand phone, the Nexus 4, is available on the GooglePlay store at $299 for the unlocked 8GB model and $349 for the unlocked 16GB model with 4G HSPA+. The T-Mobile-locked 16GB version, however, is available through select T-Mobile retail stores and T-Mobile’s website at $199 with two-year service agreement on a Classic plan. Activated on a Value plan, the phone costs $199 up front, plus 20 equal payments of $20/month.
Verizon: The company is launching its first three 4G LTE smartphones with Windows Phone 8 and the Android-based LG Spectrum.
The Windows phones include the Windows Phone 8X by HTC, which will be available by Thanksgiving in blue, red or black at $199. The red and black color models are exclusives.
The Windows-based Nokia Lumia 822 at $99 will be available by Thanksgiving in black, white and gray at $99 after $50 rebate. The Windows-based Samsung Ativ Odyssey will be available by year’s end.
The Android 4.0 LG Spectrum 2 has LTE, 1.5GHz dual-core processor, nearfield communications (NFC) and 4.7-inch True HD display at $99. The phone is global-ready for voice and data.
Key features include wireless charging and LG’s QuickMemo.