“The wait is over”: Lumia 928 for Verizon Wireless launches May 16 for under $100

If you were paying close attention earlier this week, you might’ve picked up on some clues—buzz over a billboard spotted here, a magazine ad there—that our friends at Nokia had something special brewing. A moment ago, all was revealed.

Meet the Lumia 928, a new addition to Nokia’s award-winning Windows Phone 8 flagship lineup and its first exclusively for Verizon Wireless. Available in black or white, the phone goes on sale next Thursday for $99.99 (with $50 mail-in rebate and two-year contract). Pick one up and for a limited time you’ll also get $25 to shop at the Windows Phone Store, which now has 145,000 apps and games (read the fine print).

“Verizon Wireless customers: we heard you,” said Matt Rothschild, vice president of Nokia North America. “The wait is over.”

The Nokia Lumia 928 arrives on Verizon Wireless May 16 for $99

One push of its camera button or blast of its speakers and you’ll understand why online buzz around this new Lumia has been building. While the phone sports many of the same innovative features and specs that earned its sibling, the Lumia 920, Smartphone of the Year honors, you can tell Nokia designers wanted to give Verizon’s first flagship a unique spin. (Nokia likes to call it a “new expression” of the Lumia 920).

So, for example, the Lumia 928 has a super-fast Xenon flash that makes its 8.7MP PureView camera—widely considered the best low-light camera on the market—even more helpful in dim conditions and for freezing fast-moving objects. The phone also comes preloaded with Nokia’s handy Smart Shoot app for removing photobombers and other spoilers from the picture.

The new phone has a 4.5-inch OLED display screen for easier viewing outdoors. The device’s stylish polycarbonate body feels thin and light in the hand, and the glass extends to its very edge—a subtle but slick design touch.

Some innovations are less seen than heard. Tucked inside the Lumia 928 are three high-audio-amplitude-capture (HAAC) microphones and a new speaker, which Nokia says is one of the most advanced available for smartphones. These new audio components are designed to record and playback the sound more accurately and with less distortion—all the way up to a whopping 140 decibels (the equivalent ruckus of a jet engine). I can’t wait to hear it take on my AC/DC collection or, say, the new Vyclone collaborative video app that also officially launched today.

Need more concrete proof of the Lumia 928’s awesomeness? Check out Nokia’s new teaser videos, like the one below shot during a late-night roller coaster ride that compares the 928’s camera with the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3. And don’t miss all the additional coverage of the new phone—including this hands-on video Nokia put together—on Nokia Conversations, the company’s official blog.