New Zealand's first Windows Phone 8 handsets, the Nokia flagship Lumia 920, will go on shelves tomorrow, after the new smartphone operating system was launched here by Microsoft and Telecom.
The Nokia Lumia 920, available in black for $999, includes what Nokia is calling PureView camera technology. The company claims it takes in five times more light than competing smartphones, without using the flash to capture clearer and brighter pictures, indoor video and when used at night.
The Lumia 920 comes with built-in wireless charging - it charges atop a wireless platform - and Near Field Communication (NFC). This means it can be used as a digital wallet on buses and in shops that also use NFC technology.
Both Nokia and Telecom hope the new smartphone, which on paper looks like it will leave the Apple and Android competition behind in the smoke, will help the Windows Phone smartphone operating system achieve more than the five per cent of the smartphone market it currently has. Windows, on the other hand, continues to dominate the personal computer market with 90 per cent of the world's installations.
Jason Paris, Telecom's chief marketing officer, said: "We believe Windows Phone 8 will go down extremely well with our customers, whether they are using it for business or in their daily lives, and of course the Nokia Lumia 920 has a ton of features that make it stand out - the top quality camera and mapping, and wireless charging - to name just a few."
Microsoft managing director Paul Muckleston joined Telecom New Zealand's retail chief executive Chris Quin in Auckland on Monday to launch Windows Phone 8, designed to complement Microsoft's new Windows 8 personal computer operating system that launched last month and is now pre-installed on new computers.
In fact Windows 8, with its new live tile start screen, is based on the Windows Phone 7 smartphone operating system that preceded Windows Phone 8.
"We see Windows Phone 8 as an important and growing part of the mobile market and a strong offering for our customers," Mr Quin said.
"The Windows mobile operating system continues to be deliberately different to others on the market, and it is great to be able to offer this sort of choice on our smartphone network.
"The creation of one Windows 8 ecosystem across mobile, tablet and PCs is a real strength and will have a hugely positive impact on business and consumers alike, who are familiar with Windows on their PCs and will quickly come to grips with the format on their phones."
Muckleston said: "Windows Phone 8 is the most personal and alive smartphone and puts people at the centre.
"Windows Phone 8 brings together some stunning hardware from our partners and best consumer experiences from Microsoft - Xbox, music and games, Skype, Internet Explorer and Office.
"By closely aligning Windows and Windows Phone, Microsoft has created an unprecedented opportunity for developers to take full advantage of the new re-imagined Windows family," Muckleston said.
Telecom is also offering the HTC 8S from December 6, a lower specification Windows Phone 8 device, which will retail for $499.
Samsung's middle specification Ativ S will cost $799 from Telecom and is expected to launch in February. Technology editor Chris Gardner will be putting the Nokia Lumia 920 through its paces and reviewing it next week. Follow me on Twitter @CHRISGARDNERNZ