Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile have already announced their Windows Phone 8 handsets that will be launching this year, but Sprint has been awfully quiet until today. On Tuesday, the carrier confirmed that it will release smartphones toting Microsoft’s mobile operating system come 2013.
“Sprint and Microsoft are partnering to bring Windows Phone 8 to Sprint’s customers—operating on its 4G LTE network—next year,” the company said in an emailed statement to PC Mag.
The American carrier, which is in the process of being acquired by Japan’s Softbank, has seen a mediocre launch with previous mobile devices from Microsoft. Its Windows Phone 7 handset, the HTC Arrive, saw dreary sales according to Sprint’s director of customer acquisition, David Owens, who spoke at CES last January.
Sprint has not revealed which manufacturers it will choose to carry, but it is likely that an HTC handset, such as its Windows Phone 8X, could appear on the roster. Nokia and Samsung have also announced Windows Phone 8 variants of their own, such as Nokia’s flagship Lumia 920 and Samsung’s ATIV Odyssey.
The news of Sprint’s Windows Phone 8 launch comes just as Microsoft’s head of Windows division Steven Sinofsky announced his departure from the company. Sinofsky, 47, took a lead role in bringing Windows 8 products to the market and is leaving the company only two weeks after the new software’s launch.
While Sprint may not have joined other leading carriers on the Windows Phone 8 bandwagon, it appears to be focusing its attention on the long-awaited Galaxy Note 2 from Samsung. It was also a full partner in Apple’s iPhone 5 launch back in September.
Verizon’s Nokia Lumia 822 and HTC Windows Phone 8X became available for pre-order on Friday, with the Nokia handset promised to ship by 11/13 and the HTC variant shipping by 11/21. A photo that is believed to be Samsung’s ATIV Odyssey for Verizon appeared on Twitter on Monday, but neither Samsung nor Microsoft have confirmed that it is legitimate.
AT&T appears to be the premiere Windows Phone 8 partner, as it was the first to officially unveil its Microsoft-oriented smartphones back in September. It was also announced that the Lumia 920 would be released as an exclusive to the carrier alongside its lower-end sister phone, the Lumia 820. A reportedly leaked training video for AT&T employees also indicated that these handsets would remain limited to the carrier for at least six months.
As for T-Mobile, the carrier has advertised that the HTC Windows Phone 8X and Nokia Lumia810 will simply be “coming soon,” but has not specified a launch window. T-Mobile currently offers a slew of Windows Phone 7.5 handsets such as the HTC Radar 4G and the Nokia Lumia 710.
Nokia’s Lumia 920 has received largely positive reviews from critics, with the general consensus being that although the handset is a bit heavy and cumbersome, it’ s a powerhouse.
“AT&T’s Nokia Lumia 920 isn’t for wimps,” read CNET’s review. “It’s big, it’s heavy, and it takes a power user to truly appreciate the phone’s special features. If you open your heart and your pockets, the Lumia 920’s smooth, streamlined design beautifully showcases all that the just launched Windows OS has to offer.”
We’ll be waiting for more announcements from Sprint as the New Year rolls in.