What to Buy and Where to Buy It
The official US launch for Windows Phone 7 comes on November 8. Since that's just a few days away, I've taken the liberty of compiling info on the US release day offers and details. WP7 is already available in Europe, and by the time of its US launch will be out in 30 countries and on 60 different carriers.
AT&T is the company focusing most heavily on the WP7 launch. They will have devices available in their retail stores on launch day. No pre-orders will be allowed, but online orders will be taken starting on November 8. AT&T plans to carry 3 smartphones: the Samsung Focus, the LG Quantum and the HTC Surround.
T-Mobile will carry the HTC HD7 and (exclusively) the Dell Venue Pro. The HD7 is expected to launch on November 8, and the Venue Pro will be out "in time for the holidays". While the HD7 will be sold online and in T-Mo stores, the Venue Pro will only be available from certain Dell-chosen retailers.
Sprint won't be quite as prompt as the other two. They'll start taking pre-orders for the HTC 7 Pro on November 8, but only Microsoft employees will be able to get it that early. Honestly, pickings will be very slim for WP7 in both major American CDMA networks.
Microsoft has stated that WP7 devices will only sell on GSM networks this year. CDMA support- and the launch of Sprint's HTC 7 Pro, won't come until "the first half of 2011". We're unlikely to hear much from Verizon on the matter until then.
As for Devices...
The Samsung Focus has a 4" Super AMOLED display and a 1 GHz Hummingbird processor, plus 8 GB of memory. Expect $199.99 for AT&T's. Rogers will carry this in Canada.
The LG Quantum has a 3.8" display and a 1 GHz processor. It has 8 GB of storage and a 5 MP camera. It'll be $199.99 on contract with AT&T.
The HTC Surround has a 1 GHz processor and 16 GB of storage. It has a 5 MP camera and a badass sliding speaker. If you want a truly unique smartphone, the Surround is as far as you need to look. Those extra decibels will make it easier than ever to ignore the road on your morning commute. Again, $199 is the price with AT&T. It'll launch on Telus in Canada.
The HTC HD7 has a 4.3" display with a 1 GHz processor and a 5 MP camera. It will sell for $199 or $50 on T-Mobile through Wirefly.
The Dell Venue Pro is a business-oriented top-down sliding QWERTY smartphone. It has a 4.1" AMOLED display and a 1 GHz processor. T-Mo will be the carrier.
The HTC 7 Pro has a 3.6" screen and a sliding QWERTY keyboard. The processor is 1 GHz and there is 8 GB of internal storage, plus a 5 MP camera. It will launch on Sprint at some point next year.
Keep In Mind.
WP7's big strength is the ability to display pertinent information right on the home screen through the use of tiles. A larger display gives you more to work with. Note that Windows Phone 7 can't take microSD cards. This means that your phone is stuck with whatever storage it has stock.
While it is true that certain WP7 devices will be able to come with an SD card, that card is pre-installed by Microsoft and should never be removed or replaced. Seriously, it'll break the phone (or at least your data).
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One such device with the option for expanded storage is the Samsung Focus. Whatever phone you pick, make sure it has enough storage space for your needs.