Nokia's Lumia 925 is a big T-Mobile win

T-Mobile will exclusively carry Nokia's new stunning metal Lumia 925, and that's good news for the no-contract carrier.

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Nokia' new thin, lustrous metal Nokia Lumia 925 is all that many of the company's fans have ever wanted in the so-far polycarbonate Lumia line .

Compared with the hulking plastic Lumia 920 , the 925 is rake-thin and feather-light -- 0.33 inches thick compared to the 920's 6.5-ounce bulk, and 4.9 ounces to the 920's 6.7-ounce tip-of-the-scale. If the Lumia 920 is a suit, then the Lumia 925 wants to be a tux.

If you're T-Mobile, carrying the dramatically slimmer and flashier metal handset is a big win for your new no-contract business . Not only does your 925 handset feel and look higher-end than any other Lumia, it's also the global flagship phone, the pinnacle of Nokie's Lumia pride, and the model behind which the Finnish phone-maker will throw the largest proportion of its marketing weight.

T-Mobile's metal Lumia luster isn't just skin-deep. Like the Lumias 928 and 920, the 925 has 4G LTE support, a 4.5-inch display (1280x768-pixel resolution,) a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon, and the same 8.7-megapixel camera with image stabilization and bonafide low-light muscle.

In the U.S., you might think that Verizon would be the giant to beat. After all, that carrier takes credit for the largest number of 4G LTE markets and overall fastest and most reliable 4G LTE service. In contrast, T-Mobile has the smallest number of subscribers of the Big 4 carriers and just recently got its first foothold in LTE .

Nokia Lumia 925
The Nokia Lumia 925 is the first Lumia to feature a metal frame. CNET/Andrew Hoyle

Verizon also has desirable high-end handsets, and has a long history of demanding certain design standards for its handset lineup -- just look at the Android-fueled Droid sub-brand Verizon crafted by cherry-picking models from its partner phone-makers.

Yet Verizon's Lumia 928, while thinner and sharper than the 920 , is still a block compared to the sleek 925. For a no-contract carrier that's traditionally been behind the pack when it comes to handset variety and price, T-Mobile sure looks like it's scored a goal with the most desirable-yet-powerful Windows Phone to date.

Metal legacy
Nokia is no stranger to aluminum. Before it launched its Lumia line, which was itself based on the N9 handset design, Nokia's flagship phones were known to have metal body accents -- just take the gorgeously-crafted (and colorful) Nokia N8. In many ways, the Lumia 925 is just Nokia returning to some not-too-distant roots.

Is Windows Phone enough?
Even though T-Mobile is set to sell the most unique-looking Lumia around the July time frame, that still isn't any guarantee of success.

T-Mobile's so far unpriced Lumia 925 will compete against two other Nokia handsets, the mid-range Lumia 810 and the $150 off-contract Lumia 521 , which Nokia reports has sold out with distribution partners like the Home Shopping Network and Walmart.

This will also be T-Mobile's first high-end Windows Phone selling for its full retail price, I'd guess about $500 or $600 when you add up the down payment and two years of monthly installments. And here's the risk: there's no precedent yet to suggest that there's top-dollar demand among T-Mobile's no-contract (and perhaps price-conscious) customers for a Windows 8 phone, compared to phones like the iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S4 that run the more feature-rich Android or iOS platforms.

On top of that, software on the ultrabudget Lumia 521 smartphone prqactically identical to the Lumia 925's; it's the hardware components that make all the difference. Will customers be willing to pay as much as $400 more for a ritzier camera, screen, and processor?

We'll just have to see. This is one of T-Mobile's rare opportunities to gain as a revamped carrier -- or lose if it turns out that metal construction simply isn't as meaningful or enticing as people think.

 

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