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Nokia lures photographers with new Lumia 900

Nokia uses the Consumer Electronics Show to hold a coming-out party for its new Windows Phone-based Lumia 900, with a 4.3-inch AMOLED screen and dual cameras.

Nokia's new Lumia 900
Nokia's new Lumia 900

Nokia used the Consumer Electronics Show to hold a coming-out party for its new phone: the Lumia 900.

It's based on the Windows Phone platform, will use AT&T's 4G LTE network, and boasts a 4.3-inch AMOLED screen that's designed for rich media experiences, the company said at a launch event today in Las Vegas. (By comparison, the Apple iPhone's screen size is 3.5 inches.)

But the company's announcement wasn't as far-reaching or as detailed as some customers might have hoped: there's no word yet on on the Lumia 900's pricing or availability. And there was no news of tablets or the phone's availability on other carriers.

Other features: Carl Zeiss optics in the camera with an F2.2 aperture lens with a 28mm focal length, a front-facing camera as well, a dual LED flash, 16 GB of internal memory, and a polycarbonate case available in black or blue.

Nokia's official Lumia 900 specifications say: "Inside, there's a 1.4GHz processor, running on an updated chipset, to support LTE. It'll keep the phone running smooth and make sure everything happens now. For the tech aficionados, it's a 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon APQ8055 + MDM9200."

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop said that engineers agonized about making it sleek and very useful, and succeeded. He said that while he wants to enlist as many carriers as possible, he had no additional announcements to make today, and also declined to describe any plans to jump to an additional 16GB or 32GB of storage.

from left: Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, Nokia's Stephen Elop, and AT&T's Ralph de la Vega
from left: Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, Nokia's Stephen Elop, and AT&T's Ralph de la Vega CNET/Lori Grunin

In response to a question about marketing support from carriers, Elop said that first, you need a good product. After that, you need to educate consumers about the unique experience of the device.

After the initial Lumia 900 announcement, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer took the stage to say that Windows Phone will join Android and Apple's iOS to become the third strong ecosystem in smartphones, a not-so-subtle jab at BlackBerry maker Research In Motion. There are more than 50,000 apps in the Windows Phone marketplace already, Ballmer said.

AT&T sold more Windows Phone devices than any other carrier in the U.S. but still has a long way to go, Ballmer said. He predicted that the Lumia 900 will help boost those sales figures and acknowledged that Microsoft has "room to grow" in pushing Windows Phone 7.

"I believe that Nokia will be back in the U.S. in a very big way," added AT&T's wireless chief, Ralph de la Vega.

In October, Nokia announced its first Windows Phone smartphones in Europe, the Lumia 800 and Lumia 710. And in December, it introduced the Lumia 710 for T-Mobile USA.

Jan Dawson, chief telecom analyst at market research firm Ovum, said the Lumia 900 will help differentiate Nokia from other companies selling Windows Phone devices:

This device signals several things: firstly, that Nokia is serious about the US, launching arguably the flagship Lumia device in the US before the rest of the world; secondly, that Nokia has the clout with Windows Phone to allow it to be first to market with an LTE device; and thirdly, that AT&T is now seriously into the business of offering LTE phones. The device will get significant marketing support from Nokia and AT&T, and therefore has the best opportunity of any Windows Phone launched to date to do well in the market. However, that's not to say it will be a blockbuster: the exact timing and pricing will be major factors too, and those have not been announced yet.

My CNET colleague Kent German notes that Nokia will have a bit of a balancing act to undertake: "LTE and fast processors continue to impact battery life on new smartphones. Giving one without hurting the other will remain a challenge."

Nokia announced its partnership with Microsoft early in 2011, making Microsoft's Windows Phone platform its exclusive smartphone operating system. Since then, the company has been working hard to get new smartphones on the market. For several years, Nokia has been nearly nonexistent in the U.S. market. And the company hopes that its new Windows Phone products will get it back in the game. But it faces stiff competition from dozens of Google Android devices and Apple's iPhone.

If you're interested in the blow-by-blow of today's announcement, here's CNET's archived live blog. And here's CNET's report from earlier today on AT&T's own event a few hours earlier.

CNET's Marguerite Reardon contributed to this report

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