The Microsoft Lumia 635 smartphone will be available to customers of Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile on Dec. 23, while postpaid customers of parent company Sprint will be able to obtain the phones starting Jan.16.
The Lumia 635 is the first Windows 8.1 phone to be launched on Sprint's network and the first to be offered to prepaid customers of Sprint's service brands, according to Sprint.
Sprint pricing for the smartphones, which were first unveiled with other carriers earlier this year, has not yet been announced. Sprint's Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile brands will sell the Lumia 635 for $99.99 on their Websites starting Dec. 23, and Boost Mobile will also sell the phones in its retail stores starting Jan. 9, according to Sprint.
The Lumia 635 includes a 4.5-inch capacitive touch-screen display, a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 quad-core processor, 512MB of RAM, 8GB of on-board storage and is expandable to 128GB of storage through a micro SD card slot. Also included is a 5MP main camera and a 1,830mAh battery.
Also included in the Lumia 635 in Microsoft's Cortana personal digital assistant, which helps users manage their daily tasks and can set reminders based on time, location and people.
"We are excited to welcome Lumia 635 as our first Windows Phone on our two no-contract brands—Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA—providing customers the ultimate in financial flexibility and choice," David Owens, senior vice president of product development at Sprint, said in a statement. "This device is the showpiece for our reinvigorated relationship with Microsoft, and we know our customers will appreciate all they can do with the powerful Windows Phone 8.1 operating system. Our Sprint postpaid customers will experience this device right after the New Year."
Sprint has been busy lately working to increase its customer base, thanks to a half-price wireless service offer it made recently to existing customers of competitors Verizon Wireless and AT&T if they move their service to Sprint. The "Cut Your Bill in Half Event" also matched a customer's data plan caps at half of their existing rates for new customers who make the service transfer.
The new offer is not set to expire and will be Sprint's lure for new customers in the future. The offer included unlimited talk and text to anywhere in the United States while on the Sprint network, regardless of a customer's current plan. Participating customers had to get new devices through Sprint, but received up to $350 in rebates per line to cover early termination fees with their existing carriers. The half-price offer was not extended to T-Mobile customers, which is intriguing because Sprint tried and failed to acquire T-Mobile earlier this year.
Since August, the big four carriers—Sprint and its three major U.S. competitors, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon—have been continuing to pummel each other over prices, data packages and other features in the war for more customers and revenue.
In October, Microsoft announced that it was rebranding its Nokia nameplate as Microsoft Lumia after acquiring Nokia's mobile handset business for $7.1 billion in April.
The Lumia line of Windows-based phones, despite being generally well-received, has barely made a dent in unseating Android and iOS from the top of the smartphone market. In September, analysts at ComScore named Android the top smartphone operating system for July 2014, with 51.5 percent market share. Apple placed second, with 42.4 percent, while Microsoft claimed a distant third place, with 3.6 percent.
Sprint announced disappointing financial results for the second fiscal quarter of 2014, having lost $192 million on consolidated net operating revenue of $8.5 billion, according to a November report by eWEEK. Sprint lost some 272,000 postpaid customers in the quarter and announced that another 2,000 employees will lose their jobs as the company tries to save money and turn its financial performance around, putting more sour notes on its earnings call.