Nokia and Microsoft have announced the new Lumia 900 smartphone, the high end centrepiece of their mobile business partnership, will run on the new 4G AT&T network in the US.
Nokia and Microsoft have used the Consumer Electronics Show 2012 to unveil its new Nokia Lumia 900 phone, part of its series of phones in partnership with Microsoft that aims to bring the world's largest mobile phone maker back into relevance in the smartphone segment.
The phone will be the first Nokia Windows Phone to feature LTE speeds (Long Term Evolution - one of the 4G standards being used in the US) on the new AT&T network, which both companies hope will drive adoption of its new standard and help it compete with Google's Android and Apple's iOS devices.
"The introduction of the Nokia Lumia 900 with AT&T is another significant milestone in the ongoing rollout of Nokia's global smartphone strategy," said Chris Weber, president of Nokia Americas.
"The Nokia Lumia 900 is designed specifically with the US in mind and the announcement of this collaboration with AT&T, in addition to other recent announcements, signifies a new dawn for Nokia in the US."
Several 4G networks are already active in the US and South Korea, and are gradually being rolled out around the world - except for the UK which will not see any 4G mobile networks until 2015 due to bureacratic wrangling.
It appears Nokia have gone back to the original body of its now-defunct N9, which ran the failed Symbian operating system. The 900 will run Windows Phone 7.5 Mango, and will features a larger screen (4.3-inches) and a front facing camera, both of which were missing from the Lumia 800 - which CBR reviewed here. Nokia also claims it will have much better battery life.
"This device signals several things: firstly, that Nokia is serious about the US, launching arguably the flagship Lumia device in the US before the rest of the world; secondly, that Nokia has the clout with Windows Phone to allow it to be first to market with an LTE device; and thirdly, that AT&T is now seriously into the business of offering LTE phones. The device will get significant marketing support from Nokia and AT&T, and therefore has the best opportunity of any Windows Phone launched to date to do well in the market. However, that's not to say it will be a blockbuster: the exact timing and pricing will be major factors too, and those have not been announced yet," said Ovum's chief telecom's analyst Jan Dawson.
The Lumia 800 remains a European exclusive and has not been released in the US as of yet, but the lower end Lumia 710 has been.
A Nokia spokesperson told CBR that there are no confirmed release dates for the Lumia 710 or Lumia 900 in the UK, nor have any price points been determined.
"We will have more details regarding [US] pricing and exact availability as we get closer to sales start in the coming months, but today we are focused on launching the product with AT&T into the US only."
Nokia and Microsoft are both banking on the AT&T deal to drive mass uptake of the device, and push app developers and other software developers to create content for the device.
Consumers now consider apps and the extras surrounding the phone to be as important as the device itself, and this has caused a problem for the its Windows Phone Marketplace which has limited offerings (around 50,000 apps) compared to its rivals (Android passed 400,000 apps last week, Apple is around 500,000). Microsoft will be starting a new Windows Store for Windows 8 phone and tablet devices.
[update: Nokia has just announced that the Lumia 800 will be on sale in the US in early February. It will also be available in Canada on TELUS]
[update 2: Nokia and Microsoft have also announced some new and exclusive apps for the Windows Phone Marketplace: CNN, Univision, ESPN Sports Hub and Sesame Workshop rich reading titles. Nokia-only exclusivity periods vary by content provider.]