Following the lead of AT&T Wireless, both T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless are now selling Windows Phone 8 handsets in the United States. Each is currently offering two models from which to choose, and each has a single model that is exclusive to that carrier.
AT&T was first to market last week with three Windows Phone 8 handsets: the flagship Nokia Lumia 920, the mid-level Nokia Lumia 820, and two versions of the stellar HTC Windows Phone 8X, one with 16GB of storage (in California Blue) and one with 8 (in yellow). The HTC 8X is my preferred and recommended Windows Phone 8 handset, but none of these other devices should be ignored: Each is excellent in its own way, and the Lumia 920, in particular, has a market-leading camera that can take on the iPhone 5 camera on even footing. I’ve published a preview of the Lumia 820 and will soon provide a full-review.
T-Mobile is now selling two Windows Phone 8 handsets. On this carrier, the HTC 8X is available in California blue with 16GB of RAM for $200 (with new two-year contract or eligible upgrade). And T-Mobile is offering the Nokia Lumia 810 exclusively; this device offers just 8GB of internal storage and has a sub-HD 800 x 480 screen. But don’t be fooled: The storage is expandable, the screen is gorgeous, and this device is a bargain at just $150. My preview of the Nokia Lumia 810 is available now on the SuperSite for Windows, and a full review will be posted soon.
For its part, Verizon Wireless will eventually offer three Windows Phone 8 handsets, but two are available immediately. Verizon’s version of the HTC Windows Phone 8X is available in three colors: black, California blue and—exclusive to Verizon—red. It costs $200 and comes with 16GB of internal storage. Verizon is also exclusively offering the Nokia Lumia 822, in grey, black, and white, and featuring 8GB of expandable storage for just $100 after a mail-in rebate. Like T-Mobile’s 810, the Lumia 822 is based on the Lumia 820 and is likely an exceptional handset with an excellent camera. (However, I won't be reviewing this model.)
Verizon will offer a third Windows Phone 8 handset, the Samsung ATIV Odyssey, sometime in December. This device is exclusive to the carrier and is possibly a rebranded version of the previously announced Samsung ATIV S handset, which isn’t yet available on any US carriers. As with the Lumia 920 and HTC 8X, the ATIV S is considered a flagship Windows Phone handset with high-end specs, but it’s unclear whether the Odyssey falls into this category. Verizon says it will provide more information about this exclusive device soon.
With Windows Phone 8 handsets now available on three of the nation’s four largest carriers—Sprint says it will begin offering Windows Phone 8 devices in early 2013—Microsoft’s smartphone platform now has the availability it needs to take on the Android and iPhone market leaders.
The question, as always, is whether it’s already too late. So far, Windows Phone has yet to make a dent in smartphone market share, and the bestselling Windows Phone maker, Nokia, has seen its market position nosedive since adopting the platform. According to Gartner, Nokia has fallen from third place in the smartphone market a year ago to seventh place this year, and it sold just 7.2 million smartphones in Q3 2012, good for 4.3 percent market share. But less than half of those were Windows Phone handsets.