Nokia's Pricey Lumia Phones Hit Europe In November

Nokia Lumia 920 and 820 go on sale in select European markets come November, with initial prices that are troublingly high.
Nokia revealed today that the Lumia 920 and Lumia 820 will go on sale in November in several critical European markets. They'll reach Germany and Italy first, followed later in the year by Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Russia. Missing from the launch list: the U.K., France, and, of all places, Finland. Nokia has yet to share U.S. launch plans for the pair of smartphones.

Nokia's carrier partners also revealed pricing for the devices. The new Lumia smartphones will not be cheap. In Italy, the Lumia 920, which is the more capable of the two devices, will sell for 599 euros ($771) and the mid-range Lumia 820 will cost 499 euros ($641). In Germany, the Lumia 920 will cost a little bit more, at 649 euros ($834). German pricing of the 820 wasn't immediately announced.

Weighing unsubsidized prices across markets isn't necessarily an apples-to-apples comparison. The unsubsidized Apple iPhone 5 (16GB) costs $649 in the U.S., as does the unsubsidized Samsung Galaxy S III. (Both devices cost close to the US$830 mark in Germany, though.) These are the two devices the Lumia 920 is gunning for, and it will hit the market with a relative price. That might not work out so well for Nokia, though, as its hardware isn't necessarily viewed in the same class as its competitors.

[ For more on Nokia's new smartphones, see Nokia Lumia 820, 920: Windows Phone 8 Details Scarce. ]

It's unclear how these prices will translate once the Lumia 920 and 820 reach the U.S. Though Nokia hasn't said when the devices will reach American shores, they'll likely arrive before the end of the year. In the U.S., wireless network operators subsidize the cost of cell phones, which is why today you can walk into a wireless retail store and pay only $199 for the new $649 iPhone 5. Of course, a two-year contract is required to qualify for that subsidized price.

Earlier this year, the Lumia 900 hit AT&T stores with the incredibly low price of $99. The 900 had LTE 4G, a 4.3-inch display, and an 8-megapixel camera. AT&T later dropped the price of the Lumia 900 to just $49 on contract. It costs $399.99 without a contract, which is down from the original retail price of $449.

It's unlikely that the Lumia 920, which has more advanced processors, a better display, an improved camera, and the Windows Phone 8 platform, will cost less than $199 on contract. It could easily cost more than that, but Nokia will have to be aggressive with its U.S. pricing if it hopes to sell against the iPhone 5, GS3, Galaxy Note II, and other competitive smartphones.

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