Nokia is reportedly testing a 4G LTE version of its Lumia 800 Windows Phone for AT&T and Verizon, as the company preps a potential U.S. launch for a comeback.
The Finnish phone maker is in talks with AT&T and Verizon to bring the phone to the U.S., but both carriers are holding out for LTE support, according to CNET. Windows Phone software does not support LTE, but Nokia’s testing indicates a version of the platform that can grant AT&T and Verizon’s request may be on its way.
Nokia initially said it hoped to appeal to U.S. customers by offering low-end handsets and capture carriers’ interest by being “additive” to their business, instead of trying to take away sales from the iPhone and high-end Android devices. However, the company is now planning a flagship device for a U.S. launch in early 2012.
Manufacturers often test devices on carriers’ networks before launch, but Nokia’s actions point to its plans in the near future, especially as the Lumia gains traction outside the U.S. Lumia handsets have sold well in Europe and bodes well for Nokia’s partnership with Microsoft to once again make a dent in the U.S. market, especially if its devices can find a home on more than one carrier.
Nokia is reportedly working closely with U.S. carriers on future smartphones, but in order to put out its first device in the country quickly, the Lumia handset is likely going through an accelerated development process.
The carriers may not consider a Lumia smartphone a flagship device, but Microsoft and Nokia only have one chance to make a good first impression together in the U.S. At a time when LTE is becoming a major feature in high-end smartphones, Nokia’s inclusion of the technology could avoid a possible misstep in its much-awaited U.S. launch.
Analysts believe the Windows Phone platform will be second only to Android in market share by the year 2015. Nokia’s Windows Phone-based devices must perform well for that prediction to come true, and launching with an LTE-capable device may drive up the chances for early success.