That Apple Mac computers are more expensive than Windows-based PCs is readily apparently to anyone who has shopped for both. But now it’s true of smartphones as well: The coming generation of Windows Phone 8 devices will significantly undercut iPhone pricing.
On Sunday, electronics retailing giant Best Buy began offering the Windows Phone 8-based Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC Windows Phone 8X smartphones for preorder. Both are the flagship devices for their respective companies, and both offer high-end specifications, not to mention features that Apple won’t get around to adding to the iPhone until the next revision in late 2013. And yet both devices significantly undercut iPhone pricing.
The Lumia 920 costs $149 with a new AT&T wireless contract, and the HTC 8x costs just $99. Apple’s iPhone 5, meanwhile, starts at $199—$50 more than the Lumia 920 and $100 more than the HTC. But that version includes only 16GB of non-expandable onboard storage. A version with the same 32GB as the Lumia costs another $100, coming it at $299, or double the price of Nokia’s handset. (The HTC features 16GB of non-expandable onboard storage, like the iPhone 5.)
These phones also undercut the flagship Android smartphone, Samsung’s Galaxy SIII, which costs $199 with a new 2-year contract at AT&T. This device also offers 16GB of storage, but it’s expandable via microSD.
And these new Windows Phone 8 smartphones are high-end, flagship devices. Other Window Phone 8 devices, including the Samsung ATIV-S, the Nokia Lumia 820, the HTC Windows Phone 8S, and others are coming to the US market in the weeks ahead and will be sold via a variety of carriers, like the iPhone and Android. Given the low-ball pricing on the Lumia 920 and HTC 8X, most of these other phones will cost even less, further undercutting iPhone pricing.
(Pity the poor Apple customer: You can of course save some money by buying a 1- or 2-year-old and somewhat obsolete iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S instead. Imagine walking into a Toyota dealership and being offered a “new” 2010 Camry as a cost-saving gesture.)
Best Buy’s Windows Phone 8 smartphone pre-sale originally included five versions of the Lumia 920, in colors such as red, yellow, white, cyan, and black, as well as a “California blue” (i.e., purple) version of the HTC 8X. As of Monday morning, only the 8X—which does come with 16GB of storage, not the 8GB listed on Best Buy’s pre-sale page—was still available. It’s unclear whether the Lumia has sold out or was pulled for some other reason.
Windows Phone 8 will be launched next week in San Francisco, and new devices will be in the market by November. According to information previously provided by Microsoft, the platform supports a number of features not included in the iPhone, including Near Field Communication (NFC, for Tap and Send plus e-wallet integration), better security through SIM-based secure element, storage expansion with microSD, and of course the superior Windows Phone OS, which offers deeper integration with online services. Both platforms have comparable digital media ecosystems, but of course the iPhone has a significant lead with apps, though Microsoft does claim a reasonable 100,000 apps for Windows Phone.