No one expects Windows Phone to leap over Google Android and Apple iOS in a single bound, but industry analysts have been revising their projections for Windows Phone, now forecasting a dramatic surge in sales over the coming 12 months. Other data finds growing consumer awareness of and interest in the Microsoft platform, almost exactly a year after the first Windows Phone handsets became available on all major U.S. carriers.
The invitation to press and analysts shows three AT&T-branded smartphones with the distinctive Windows Phone user interface. Only one carries a visible manufacturer's name: Samsung. AT&T announced in September it will offer new three new phones, running the latest Windows Phone 7.5 firmware:
* Samsung Focus S, with a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus screen, and a 1.4GHz processor.
* Samsung Focus Flash, with a 3.7-inch Super AMOLED screen, and 1.4GHz processor.
* HTC Titan, with a big 4.7-inch display, and a 1.5GHz processor.
Prices, with subsidies and rebates, will range from $50 to $200 with a two-year contract and a $15 minimum data plan.
T-Mobile this week began selling the previously disclosed HTC Radar 4G phone, with a 3.8-inch screen and 1GHz processor, for $100 with a two-year contract. This Windows Phone 7.5 device will run on the carrier's 14.4Mbps HSPA+ network, but not its fastest HSPA+ 42 network.
Though not designed as a high-end phone, the Radar shows a new awareness of the relationship between styling, performance and price for Microsoft's mobile platform. Reviewers have been generally favorable, often in spite of an admitted built-in skepticism.
The Radar has a mainly aluminum design that gives it the heft and solidity of a much more expensive, and expensively built, phone, reviewers agree. Its 1GHz Qualcomm processor and 8GB of storage seem paltry compared to the dual-core chips on some high-end rivals. Yet reviewers found the UI and apps very fluid and responsive. "In fact, we were quite happy with its responsiveness, especially when using Mango's built-in apps, which pop open with very little delay," writes Zachary Lutz, reviewing for Engadget. "Yes, its RAM is limited to 512MB, but even when playing music in the background and surfing the web with multiple tabs open, the UI happily kept pace and never left us waiting."
Microsoft's emphasis on creating a highly integrated user experience for Windows Phone is gaining respect and notice. In his Radar review for InformationWeek, George Ou observed: "After seeing how Facebook and Microsoft Live and Twitter updates are consolidated into 'People Hub' and how Facebook and Microsoft Live photos are consolidated into Photos, it made me wonder if I even need a Facebook or Twitter app. The message app consolidates all SMS text messages, Facebook chat, Live Messenger chat -- and I presume Skype chat in the future -- into one place. That seems to be a much cleaner and simpler alternative to the kind of app and icon sprawl I'm used to on my Android smartphone."
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