If you’ve wondered how Windows Phone will manage to capture new customers in an ever-more crowded smartphone market, here’s one answer: price. The top tier Windows Phone 8 handsets are going to start at $100 with a contract.
AT&T announced on Tuesday that it will sell Nokia’s Lumia 920 for $100 on a two-year contract, the Lumia 820 for $50 and the HTC 8X starting at $100. The phones are surprisingly inexpensive, and definitely priced to appeal to budget-conscious smartphone buyers.
Nokia’s Lumia 920 will be an AT&T exclusive at launch. The 32GB model of the phone will be available for pre-order starting November 7 and in stores November 9 for just $100 with a two-year contract. That’s significantly less than what most had anticipated, and compared to Apple’s iPhone 5 and high-end Android devices, the up-front cost of the Lumia 920 is a bargain. The phone will be available in five colors (black, yellow, cyan, red and white). To make the deal sweeter, AT&T will throw in a free wireless charging plate while its supplies last.
The mid-tier Lumia 820 on AT&T will also be available November 9 from AT&T, with pre-orders open on November 7. The carrier will sell the phone, which is slightly less specced-out than its 920 counterpart, for $50 with a two-year contract. That’s $50 less than the Lumia 822, Verizon’s exclusive model of essentially the same phone, which the carrier is selling for $100 with a $50 mail-in rebate and two-year contract.
The HTC Windows Phone 8X will also start at $100 for an 8GB model, though the 16GB model will cost $200 on AT&T with a two-year contract — the same price Verizon announced in October. The 8GB model will be available in blue and yellow, and the 16GB model will only be available in blue. AT&T has not set a specific release date for the HTC 8X, only saying that it will be in stores “before Thanksgiving.”
Despite announcements from Nokia and HTC announcements in September, and a flashy Microsoft Windows Phone 8 launch event at the end of October, until now we hadn’t seen many details on Windows Phone 8 handset pricing.
Both the HTC 8X and Lumia 920 received good reviews from the technology press, Wired included. The phones, spec-wise, are competitive with the iPhone and flagship Android devices like Samsung’s Galaxy S III and Google’s new Nexus 4. But considering how little mindshare and marketshare Windows Phone currently has, it makes sense for the phones to be available at such reasonable prices. It’s unclear whether Microsoft, Nokia, HTC and/or the carriers are subsidizing the costs of the phones, but the aggressive pricing does indicate that the companies are serious about getting Windows Phone into consumer pockets.