Lumia 928's quiet unveil breaks from past Verizon launches

Rather than the usual press conference or product announcement, the Lumia 928 gets a tweet from the carrier.

Nokia Lumia 928
Say hello to the new Nokia 928. Verizon Wireless

When Verizon Wireless and HTC wanted to promote the launch of their last holiday flagship phone, the Droid DNA, they held a big, splashy event in Manhattan.

For the debut of the Nokia Lumia 928 on Friday, Verizon fired off a tweet.

The distinct lack of fanfare today is a subtle indication of where Verizon thinks the Lumia 928 belongs in its lineup. While Nokia calls it its flagship phone for Verizon, Verizon certainly doesn't think the Lumia 928 is its flagship phone.

Nokia finally getting its higher-end phone at Verizon is a victory for the Finnish handset vendor and its attempts to break back into the U.S. The company was knocked for previously striking an exclusivity deal with AT&T in exchange for a bigger promotional effort. While Nokia got more Lumia 920 commercials on the air, it also locked itself out of the largest carrier in the U.S.

With the Lumia 928, Nokia finally gets to tap into Verizon's big customer base. But just how aggressively it will be promoted remains a big question. If the sole tweet is any indication, Verizon may not be willing to pour too many resources in Nokia's direction.

The Lumia 928, after all, is a variant of the Lumia 920 that was AT&T's flagship smartphone during the holidays. It's unlikely that Verizon is eager to parade around a phone that was widely touted by its archrival just a few months ago. While the Lumia 920 was well-regarded, no one has rushed to call it a blockbuster success.

Not that the Lumia 928 is any kind of slouch. It essentially has the same guts, but in a smaller, lighter body. That eliminates one of the key criticisms of the Lumia 920: its unwieldy bulk and weight. The phone also has an Amoled display and brighter Xenon flash, giving it a few minor improvements.

Despite intriguing rumors of an aluminum body, the Lumia 928 rocks a polycarbonate (plastic) body like its Lumia 920 brother.

The Lumia 928 is attractively priced at $99 with a two-year contract, coming in at the same price as the Lumia 820, which was a lower-end option and the sole Nokia product at Verizon.

A Nokia representative said the company is taking a different approach to the launch, having slowly teased the Lumia 928 with videos through the week, leading up to Friday's announcement.

"We don't always have to do a huge press event for every device," said a Nokia representative. "I wouldn't read into it at all."

The representative added that both Nokia and Verizon were excited about the product.

Nokia appeared ready to gear up for a bigger launch a few weeks ago, when it began scheduling briefings with the press. The meetings were cancelled several days later -- something the Nokia representative chalked up to changes in schedules.

A Verizon representative said the carrier introduces a lot of phones, and can't hold events for all of them. She declined to share more about their efforts to promote the phone, but noted it tends to focus on its service and network.

Nokia, meanwhile, has had a full plate recently. The company on Thursday unveiled the Asha 501, a colorful phone with quasi-smartphone capabilities that retails for $99 without a contract. The phone is intended for emerging markets.

On Tuesday, Nokia is holding another event in London to talk about another product, although some believe it could be a variant of the Lumia 928, known as the Lumia 925.

Verizon will begin selling the Lumia 928 on May 16. At that point we'll see how aggressively it positions the phone in its stores.

Updated at 12:54 p.m. PT:to include a response from Verizon.

 

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