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Category: Windows Phone 7

Microsoft Stores taking $25 deposit on Nokia Lumia 900

Nokia Lumia 900

AT&T, Microsoft and Nokia haven't said when the Lumia 900 will hit stores or how much it will cost, but if the flagship Windows Phone is a device you just have to have, you can now pre-order it.

Microsoft's retail stores are currently taking a $25 deposit for those looking to reserve themselves a Lumia 900 on launch day, whenever that is. The deposit offer was first reported by The Verge and confirmed to The Times on Friday through Microsoft Store employees.

Rumor has it that the Lumia 900 could launch in March at a price of about $99 on a 2-year contract, which would undercut top-of-the-line rivals such as Apple's iPhone 4S and the Android Ice-Cream-Sandwich-equipped Galaxy Nexus, built by Samsung.

In the U.S., the Lumia 900 will be exclusive to AT&T and feature a 4.3-inch display, a polycarbonate body in cyan or black, a 1.4-gigahertz Qualcomm single-core processor, 512 megabytes of RAM, 16 gigabytes of built-in storage, an 8-megapixel/720p video rear camera and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera.

I spent a bit of time with the Lumia 900 at CES in Las Vegas last month, and the phone did look quite impressive and something I thought could sell at $150 or $200 on a 2-year contract. Check out my hands-on look at the Lumia 900 below.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Facebook.com/nateog

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: A Nokia Lumia 800 smartphone sits on display inside a Nokia retail store in Helsinki, Finland. Credit: Ville Mannikko / Bloomberg

Nokia loses $1.38 billion in Q4, sells 1 million Windows Phones

Nokia Lumia 800

Nokia's multibillion-dollar bet on Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system is still in its early stages, but so far the bet is a financially losing one. Though, there are glimmers of hope.

The Finnish phone-maker reported a $1.38-billion loss for the fourth quarter of 2011 on Thursday, but the company also said that it has sold "well over 1 million Lumia devices to date."

While the Lumia sales so far don't come close to challenging heavyweights such as Apple's iPhone, which sold about 37 million units in the same three-month period, the consumer uptake is notable considering that the Lumias aren't sold in nearly as many markets as rival phones from Apple, Samsung and HTC.

The Lumia line is Nokia's first range of handsets running on the Windows Phone software, and since the series debut in October, Nokia has released just two phones -- the Lumia 710 and the Lumia 800 -- to Europe, Hong Kong, India, Russia, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

Only the Lumia 710 is currently available in the U.S. The newly announced Lumia 900, a phone designed specifically for the U.S. market, is expected to hit stores as early as March. Nokia has yet to launch its Lumia phones in China or Latin America, though the company said in a statement that would happen sometime in the first six months of the year.

Overall Nokia sales fell 21% in the last three months of the year, while smartphone shipments fell 31% from a year ago. Much of Nokia's smartphone dip is attributable to the decline in popularity of phones running the company's Symbian and MeeGo operating systems as consumers have turned to Google's Android platform and the iPhone. When Nokia agreed to take on Windows Phone, it stated that it would abandon Symbian and MeeGo as well.

The company's $1.38-billion fourth quarter loss follows a profit of about $980 million a year earlier.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: A Nokia Lumia 800 smartphone sits on display inside a Nokia retail store in Helsinki, Finland. Credit: Ville Mannikko / Bloomberg

Nokia's Lumia 900 Windows Phone may launch at $99

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Nokia's eagerly awaited Lumia 900 might undercut rival flagship phones on price in a big way, according to new reports Wednesday.

How big? Well, the tech sites BGR and CNet are reporting that an unnamed "trusted source" has told them that the Lumia 900 will sell for about $99 on a two-year data plan and launch March 18.

If the rumor is true, the AT&T-exclusive smartphone would come in at about half the price of the entry-level Apple iPhone 4S and even less than half the price of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. AT&T officials declined to comment on the reports.

That's a pretty good price considering the hardware the Lumia 900 offers (I was expecting a price of about $200 but no lower than about $150).

The Lumia 900 -- which I got a bit of hands-on time with at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this month -- features 4.3-inch touch screen with a resolution of 480 by 800 pixels.

The unique-looking new Nokia will also be available with either cyan or black bodies, a 1.4-gigahertz Qualcomm processor, 512 megabytes of RAM and 16 gigabytes of built-in storage.

An 8-megapixel  camera that can shoot up to 720p video is on back, while a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera sits above the Lumia 900's display.

So, do you think $99 is a fair price for the Lumia 900? Would $199 have been a better price? Feel free to sound off in the comments and check out our hands-on video with the Lumia 900 from CES below.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: The Nokia Lumia 900 in the foreground, with the Lumia 800 in the middle and an Apple iPhone 4S in the rear. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times

Skype coming soon to Windows Phone, later to Xbox Live

Skype on an Android phone

Skype can be used to make voice and video calls over the Web using PCs, a number of TVs and Blu-Ray players, Facebook and via smartphone apps found on BlackBerrys, Androids, iPhones and iPads.

Yet, despite Microsoft buying Skype at a price of $8.5-billion in October, you still can't make a Skype call on a Windows Phone handset. However, that will change soon, Skype and Microsoft said in a YouTube video produced at the Consumer Electronics Show last week.

If you're feeling a bit skeptical, you're likely not alone. Skype has been promising a Windows Phone app since April of last year. But a higher level of integration between Skype and its new owner Microsoft is inevitable, if not late.

Rick Osterloh, Skype's vice president of product, said in the company's CES video that the online calling service is working on apps for not only Windows Phone, but also for Microsoft's Xbox gaming console and the in-development Windows 8 operating system.

Osterloh also said that Skype is on an upswing of growth with the service recently passing 200 million monthly users who use more than 1 billion minutes a day. Also on the way is group-calling with up to 10 people on a single call, he said.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+
Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screenshot of a demonstration video of Skype for Android on a Samsung Nexus S smartphone. Credit: Skype

Nokia Lumia 710 Windows Phone is free at Wal-Mart with contract

Nokia Lumia 710

The Lumia 710, Nokia's first Windows Phone to hit the U.S., barely went on sale on Jan. 11 and already Wal-Mart is undercutting other retailers by giving the new phone away for free on a two-year contract.

T-Mobile USA, which launched the phone, sells the Lumia 710 for $49.99 on a two-year data plan, as do other retailers such as Best Buy. The price drop by Wal-Mart is a fast one and it's unclear if other retailers or T-Mobile itself will follow suit.

But if we do see more price drops on the Lumia 710, they will probably be motivated in part by the pending arrival of the new Lumia 900 at AT&T, which is rumored for sometime in March. An official release date and price haven't yet been disclosed for the Lumia 900.

The Lumia 900, which made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, has  a 4.3-inch display and a unique polycarbonate body.

But while the 900 packs a larger screen and a bit more style, it and the 710 are very similar on the inside, with both phones running Windows Phone 7.5 Mango on a 1.4-gigahertz Qualcomm processor and 512-megabytes of RAM.

The Lumia 710 has 8 gigabytes of built-in storage, while the Lumia 900 has 16 gigabytes. And the Lumia 710 features a 5-megapixel camera with a single-LED flash, while the Lumia 900 has an 8-megapixel camera with a dual-LED flash.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: The Nokia Lumia 710 Windows Phone from T-Mobile USA. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles TImes

CES 2012: Ford's Sync AppLink adds NPR, Slacker Radio to lineup [Video]

As General Motors introduced its first efforts to bring apps from your smartphone into your dashboard at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, Ford expanded its Sync AppLink system -- which does just that and launched about a year ago.

Ford Sync Destinations

When AppLink made its debut, Pandora was the only app a Sync user could operate via in-dash touch screen. Later, Stitcher radio gained Sync compatibility, which includes voice control as well.

Ford announced at CES in Las Vegas this week that apps for iPhones, BlackBerrys and phones that Google's Android would be added to the AppLink-friendly list, including NPR News, Slacker Radio, iHeartRadio, TuneIn Radio and Ford's own Sync Destinations turn-by-turn navigation app.

To see NPR News and Slacker Radio in action in a new Ford Mustang GT, check out our video from CES above.

Ford says that more apps that work with Sync's voice recogniton software are on the way. Oddly enough, Sync (which was developed through a partnership between Ford and Microsoft) has no AppLink compatibility with Windows Phone apps.

Just as with GM's in-car-app systems -- Chevrolet MyLink and Cadillac CUE -- AppLink can use apps only if it’s connected to a smartphone with the app installed, and it accesses data through the phone. Ford isn't selling any AppLink data plans.

For now, AppLink is available only in Sync-equipped Fiestas, Mustangs, Fusions, F-150s and Econoline vans, but the U.S. automaker is considering pushing AppLink out to other Ford brands, such as Lincoln, as well as to vehicles running older versions of Sync.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of Ford's Sync Destinations app. Credit: Ford

CES 2012: Lumia 900, Nokia's first 4G LTE Windows Phone, debuts [Photos and Video]

Nokia and Microsoft's first flagship smartphone for the U.S., the Lumia 900, made its official debut at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The new Windows Phone handset was first unveiled Monday by Nokia, and later that night Microsoft brought the new phone on stage in what was the final CES keynote speech from the tech giant best known for the powerhouse Windows PC operating system.

Photo: The Nokia Lumia 900 in the foreground, with the Lumia 800 in the middle and an Apple iPhone 4S in the rear. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh/Los Angeles TimesThe Lumia 900 so far has been confirmed as running only on AT&T's 4G LTE network and picks up stylistically where the Lumia 800 left off, with an attractive rounded polycarbonate body and a flat, sliced-off-looking top and bottom.

However, the Lumia 900 will have a larger screen than the Lumia 800 -- up to 4.3 inches from 3.7 inches. The resolution of the display will remain 480 by 800 pixels, as is standard for all Windows Phone handsets.

The new Nokia will be offered from AT&T in either cyan or matte black and feature a 1.4-gigahertz Qualcomm processor, 512 megabytes of RAM, 16 gigabytes of built-in storage, an 8-megapixel rear camera that can shoot up to 720p video and a 1.3-megapixel front facing camera for video chatting.

The Lumia 900 will be thinner than T-Mobile's Lumia 710, a 0.45-inches-thick 4G phone I reviewed last weekend.

Nokia officials also told me at CES that the Lumia 800 is finally going to get a U.S. launch as well, but it will be sold only as an unlocked phone. That means the Lumia 800 will sell without part of the cost of the phone being eaten up by a wireless carrier's subsidy, which may put it in the $500-range, though Nokia declined to specify.

Microsoft and Nokia also had no details to offer on pricing or a release date for the Lumia 900. As soon as we can, we'll get the phone in our hands for a full review. In the meantime, check out our hands-on video from CES with both the Nokia Lumia 900 above; and photos and of the Lumia 900 and Lumia 800 after the jump.

Continue reading »

Lumia 710, Nokia's first U.S. Windows Phone -- review

The Nokia Lumia 710 is a small, low-cost smartphone with some big, high-cost bets riding on its success.

The Lumia 710 is Nokia's first phone to hit the U.S. running Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system -- more specifically, Windows Phone 7.5 Mango. It's also the first tangible product to hit store shelves, in this case T-Mobile stores, as a result of a deal between Nokia and Microsoft announced in February and signed in April that's reportedly worth billions of dollars.

So is the Lumia 710 a good smartphone or not? Simply put, it is. It's a simple, low-end phone, but it's a solid little phone worth your consideration if you're new to smartphones or looking for an affordable Windows Phone handset. The Lumia 710 runs $49.99 on a 2-year contract with T-Mobile starting Jan. 11.

The specifications match-up with most entry-level Windows Phone handsets -- namely the Samsung Focus Flash and the HTC Radar 4G.

Nokia Lumia 710The Lumia 710 isn't thin by today's smartphone standards, coming in at 0.49-inch thick, but it doesn't feel bloated by any means, weighing 4.4 ounces.

A 3.7-inch touch screen is featured on the new Nokia, which looks good but results, disappointingly, in a bit of color distortion at extreme angles. The resolution of the screen, which is responsive and very fingerprint prone in the black colorway I tested, is 800 x 480 pixels. Video playback, apps, photos and websites all looked great on the Lumia 710.

The phone is powered by a single-core 1.4-gigahertz Snapdragon processor from Qualcomm, and 512 megabytes of RAM and 8 gigabytes of built-in storage are included. There is no microSD card slot for storage expansion and there is no front-facing camera for video chatting -- which falls in line with the lower-end expectations the Lumia 710's price reflects. Though it should be noted that the HTC Radar 4G, which sells for the same price from T-Mobile, does include a front-facing camera.

On the back is a 5-megapixel camera with a single LED flash, which takes clear, detailed photos and can also shoot 720p video. The camera can't match the 8-megapixel shooters found on higher end smartphones, but again, the Lumia 710 isn't a high-end $200 or $300 smartphone.

The Lumia 710 was fast and performed well. I won't go too deep into Windows Phone Mango (for more on that, check out my October review of Mango), but while it isn't the most complicated or power-demanding operating system out there, the Lumia 710 handled everything I threw at it. In about two weeks of testing, I never had an app freeze or crash on me. Call quality was good with voices sounding clear and no dropped calls experienced. T-Mobile's 4G network offered up fast downloads and uploads on the Lumia 710. Battery life was also great: I consistently got a day's worth of charge, no problem.

Stylistically, the Lumia 710 is a bit plain, though not at all unattractive. The curved back plate on the phone is coated in a rubberized plastic that is grippy and comfortable to hold in the hand no matter what you're doing on the phone. The back plate is removable and Nokia is selling different colors -- cyan, magenta, yellow, black and white -- which thankfully can help add a bit of style.

Continue reading »

Windows Phone reportedly passes 50,000 apps

Foursquare app on Windows Phone 7 Mango

Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system has reportedly passed 50,000 published apps, hitting the milestone just 14 months after its launch.

The 14-month time frame for 50,000 apps is second only to Apple's iOS, which hit  50,000 published apps in 12 months, according to a report from All About Windows Phone, a website that tracks Windows Phone apps and hosts a Windows Phone app directory as well.

Google's Android reached 50,000 apps published in its Anroid Market in 19 months, the report said.

For its part, Microsoft declined to comment on the report, neither confirming nor denying that it has passed the 50,000 mark. All About Windows Phone, a site not affiliated with Microsoft, said it compiled its data "from our own tracking system," which is also used to power its directory of Windows Phone apps.

"It took just over a year to get to 40,000 apps, but just 40 days to add the next 10,000 apps," showing increased growth for the Windows Phone operating system, Rafe Blandford, who runs the All About Windows Phone site, wrote in the site's report.

But just because more than 50,000 apps published doesn't mean that every Windows Phone user has access to all of those apps, Blandford said.

"Of the 50,126 items published to the Marketplace, just under 6,000 are no longer available," meaning they were removed by Microsoft or withdrawn by the publisher, he said. "In addition, some apps are only available in select markets. This means the number of available items to a consumer, in a given market, is lower than the number of published items."

In the U.S., about 42,655 apps are available for download, the report said.

Of the apps published to the Windows Phone Marketplace storefront, about 58% are free, compared with about 69% of apps being free in Google's Android Market and about 43% free in Apple's iOS App Store, Blandford said.

Both Android and iOS have published about 10 times more apps than Windows Phone so far, he said, though the two rivals have been offering downloadable apps since 2008.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Nathan Olivarez-Giles on Google+

Twitter.com/nateog

Photo: The Foursquare app running on a Windows Phone handset. Credit: Armand Emamdjomeh / Los Angeles Times

T-Mobile to bring Nokia Lumia 710 smartphone to U.S. in January

T-Mobile is bringing the Nokia Lumia 710 smart phone to the U.S. in January, the companies announced Wednesday
T-Mobile is bringing the Nokia Lumia 710 smartphone to the U.S. in January, the companies announced Wednesday.

The entry-level phone is the first Windows Phone from Nokia in the U.S. and is targeted at the 150 million Americans who have yet to make the transition to smartphones. 

The Nokia Lumia 710, capable of running on T-Mobile's 4G network, "delivers high-performance hardware, Nokia's best social and Internet experience, and access to popular smartphone applications and services from Windows Phone Marketplace," the companies said in a statement.

The phone provides one-click access services such as Netflix and also gives users access to signature Nokia experiences, including voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation. 

"Windows Phone offers a compelling mobile OS choice for people who want a smartphone built around them, their family and friends," said Cole Brodman, chief marketing officer of T-Mobile USA. "We expect it to play a more prominent role in our lineup and marketing efforts in 2012."

Brodman noted that the company's research showed "nearly everybody in the U.S. wants a smartphone," but many couldn't afford one. 

Chris Weber, president of Nokia Americas, said the Nokia Lumia 710 was the ideal "first-time smartphone" that delivered the most compelling Windows Phone experience in its price range.

"This is the perfect first Nokia Lumia experience and the start of our reentry into the U.S. smartphone market," Weber said. 

Available in a black or white finish, the Nokia Lumia 710 features a 3.7-inch scratch-resistant display and a Qualcomm 1.4 GHz Snapdragon processor. It also has a 5-megapixel camera with Nokia's camera technology, enabling people to take pictures in almost any light and share the shot on social networks in seconds. 

The Nokia Lumia 710 is scheduled to be available online and at T-Mobile retail stores, select dealers and retailers nationwide starting Jan. 11. The smartphone is expected to cost $49.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate card, with a two-year service agreement and qualifying Classic voice-and-data plan.

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-- Andrea Chang

Twitter.com/byandreachang

Image: Nokia's Lumia 710 smartphone. Credit: Nokia and T-Mobile

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