T-Mobile announced it will exclusively offer the Nokia Lumia 521, a smartphone that features a 4-inch touch-screen, 5-megapixel camera with auto focus and 720p high-definition video recording.
Beginning in May, the Lumia 521 will be available through Walmart, Microsoft's retail stores and T-Mobile retail channels. Exact availability and pricing of the device will be shared at a later date, a company release stated.
The device will also include exclusive Nokia applications such as Nokia Music, Cinemagraph, Creative Studio, Panorama, Smart Shoot and Here Drive, Maps and Transit. The low-end device, which sports a dual-core 1GHz processor, is expected to cost around $180 without carrier subsidies. The handset also includes 512MB of RAM, 8GB of internal storage, a microSD slot and runs the Windows Phone 8 operating system.
Nokia's decision to abandon its native Symbian operating system in favor of the Windows Phone OS represented a huge gamble for the company, and so far the payoff is far from certain. Nokia's brand loyalty is on the decline, and countless customers who previously bought the company's handsets are now switching to other products with better features, performance and applications, like Android handsets or the Apple iPhone.
T-Mobile is also rolling the dice in a separate gamble: The nation's fourth-largest carrier is the last of the top-four carriers to offer the iconic iPhone, but it's doing so in a brand-new way. Marketing the offer as an "un-carrier" move, T-Mobile is selling the iPhone without a contract for either $579.99 up-front or—to those who pass credit checks—for $99 down and 24 monthly payments (interest-free) of $20. That's for the 16GB model. The 32GB model is $199.99 down and the 64GB is $299.99, both also with 24 payments of $20.
The company, which garnered a significant amount of press for its so-called "un-carrier" attitude, announced last month a series of moves to address consumer frustration with the unnecessary cost and complexity of wireless technology, including simplifying its lineup of consumer rate plans to one plan for unlimited talk, text and Web, and offering customers the option of not having to sign an annual service contract.
T-Mobile has only just begun offering its new plans, and on March 26 lit up its first seven Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks. Still, the bluster and bravado that T-Mobile CEO John Legere has exhibited since stepping into the CEO role in September, and the promises of a new type of carrier that's up-front and straightforward—and offers the iPhone—appears to be working, but competition in the mobile space is fierce, and it is while the bold move certainly offers an alternative to American customers, that bravado may evaporate if T-Mobile is unable to persuade users to join the "un-carrier" movement.
T-Mobile is close to completing a deal to acquire U.S. prepaid carrier MetroPCS. In March, they announced the members of the board of directors of the combined company, upon completion of the proposed combination of the two companies. The highly contentious merger was approved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the same month after a long period of negotiation.