Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone Selling for $99

Nokia's high-end Lumia 900 is selling for $99 with a two-year contract from AT&T, in a sign of the company's need for a hit smartphone.

AT&T will sell Nokia€™s high-end Lumia 900 smartphone for $99.99 with a two-year contract in the United States. The device, which boasts Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) and a 4.3-inch ClearBlack active-matrix organic LED (AMOLED) display, will go on sale exclusively from the carrier April 8.

Other features of the smartphone include support for AT&T€™s 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) network, a 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a rear-facing 8-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics (paired with a front-end aperture for video conferencing), and a selection of preloaded apps, including the ESPN sports hub and Nokia Drive turn-by-turn navigation.

Compare that to Nokia€™s Lumia 710, which sells for $49.99 with a two-year contract and features a 3.7-inch screen in addition to a 5-megapixel camera. The Finnish phone maker hopes that a collection of Windows Phone devices at a variety of price points will allow it to reclaim the initiative in a consumer market dominated in large part by Apple€™s iPhone and the growing family of Google Android handsets. Its willingness to cut the price of the Lumia 900 to midrange smartphone levels speaks to the desire to make that consumer adoption as rapid as humanly possible.

Early in 2011, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop made the controversial decision to abandon both the company€™s Symbian and MeeGo operating systems in favor of Windows Phone. That effectively makes Microsoft€™s software something of the ultimate bet for Nokia: Success could result in a broad-based revival of the company€™s fortunes, but any failure would be compounded by a total lack of alternate operating system on which to fall back. Windows Phone€™s tiny market share compounds the riskiness of the wager.

In addition to Nokia, other manufacturing partners, such as HTC, have committed to building a new generation of Windows Phones loaded with Mango, which includes hundreds of tweaks and additional features. During this January€™s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, HTC announced the Titan II, a 4G LTE-capable device with a 3.7-inch screen. However, many of those manufacturers are well-established in the United States; Nokia€™s quest involves breaking into that market, where it€™s maintained a negligible presence.

Along with the Lumia 710 and Lumia 900, Nokia also offers the Lumia 800. The latter includes a 3.7-inch screen, like the Lumia 710, along with a 1.4GHz processor and 16GB of internal user memory (along with 25GB of free SkyDrive storage for storing images and music).

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