Sprint had previously announced at the start of the year that it will launch two new Windows Phone 8 devices this year, one each from HTC and Samsung. Now, it’s believed that Sprint will be launching the HTC Tiara, likely a code name and not the final branding for the HTC-made Windows Phone 8 device, and the Samsung ATIV S smartphone, which would be the first time that the high-end Samsung Windows Phone 8 device will be appearing in the U.S. by summer.
Both devices are said to hit retail shelves by May or June.
The Tiara was first spotted in a leak a month ago boasting more modest mid-range specs, so it will not be the HTC 8X that we’re used to seeing on rival carriers AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. The Tiara will have a dual-core 1.2 GHz Snapdragon processor, 1 GB RAM, and a 4.3-inch WVGA resolution Super LCD 2 display, rather than the 720p HD display on flagship Windows Phone 8 devices. Specs that are leaked for the Tiara places the device right in the middle of HTC’s Windows Phone lineup, slotting the Tiara in the middle of the HTC 8S and the HTC 8X flagship.
The introduction of the Samsung ATIV S will offer Sprint some differentiation at the high-end of the spectrum. Both Verizon and AT&T are now carrying the HTC 8X and AT&T is also offering the Nokia Lumia 920 flagship while Verizon is poised to be carrying an updated Lumia 928 with improved design and inclusion of Xenon flash for the rear camera. The ATIV S will compete against the Lumia 920 series and the HTC 8X and will be the first time that the high-end Samsung-made phone is appearing in the U.S. Rival carrier Verizon Wireless is carrying a more pedestrian ATIV Odyssey that fills the mid-range space.
The ATIV S could be seen as a hardware port of the popular Samsung Galaxy S3 Android flagship for the Windows Phone space.
The last Windows Phone for Sprint was the HTC Arrive. That phone was the only Windows Phone 7 model to be released in the U.S. with a sliding QWERTY hardware keyboard and was targeted at business users. Sales of the device, Sprint later confessed, were modest leading Sprint to be more cautious about the platform when Microsoft announced Windows Phone 8.
The cautious strategy is a double-edged sword for Sprint. On one hand, early sales success of HTC’s and Nokia’s flagships may lead to more visibility to the platform in the U.S. where iOS and Android still dominate the mobile space. However, on the other end, a rumored summer launch, according to The Verge, may make these devices less appealing as Microsoft is poised to release an update to the Windows Phone platform later in the year that may bring with it new hardware. This would make Sprint’s device appear stale if beefier hardware shows up later in the year.