NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Microsoft ( MSFT) is desperately trying to make a dent into Google's ( GOOG) dominance in the mobile computing business. Even Apple ( AAPL) has been ahead of Microsoft for five years now, and BlackBerry's ( BBRY) smartphone market share is approximately equal to Microsoft's.Verizon already is selling two Windows Phone 8 smartphones -- one from HTC ( HTC) and one from Nokia ( NOK). Most recently, Verizon ( VZ) has launched a second Nokia Windows Phone, this time the highest-end Windows Phone currently on sale in the U.S. market. The model number is 928. Let's start with the hardware. This is one thick, heavy and square brick. Fortunately, it is not too slippery, but rather feels OK in the hand, despite its size, weight and shape. I would not recommend it to people with small hands, however. The Nokia 928 feels extremely solid, but the weight implies the battery ought to have been much larger than its 2,000 mAh capacity. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has a 2,600 mAh battery, yet feels much lighter and thinner. Despite the moderate battery size, the battery life is great, however -- as it is on most Windows Phones. The only phone which clearly beats it in the battery life department is the Motorola Droid Maxx.
I recommend that prospective Nokia 928 buyers also consider the HTC 8X, because it feels better in the hand than the Nokia 928. It's thinner, has better rounded edges, and perhaps most importantly is made from a very pleasant non-slippery material. It's got a slightly smaller battery at 1,800 mAh and the camera perhaps isn't as good, but on the whole I have a sense that many people will still prefer the HTC 8X because it feels so great in the hand. The Nokia 928's display is 1280x768, or 15x9 aspect ratio. This is less than the 1920x1080 standard on the latest flagship Android devices. That said, the display is excellent in quality otherwise. The Nokia 928 doesn't have expandable memory. It comes in a single 32-gig configuration. In contrast, iPhone buyers can choose 16-, 32- or 64-gig configurations. Most Android phones have expandable memories. The Nokia 928 works on LTE on Verizon's network in the US, and on most GSM/HSPA networks abroad. Measuring a speed test on Verizon's LTE network, the Nokia 928 performed way ahead of devices on other networks, clocking 40 meg download speeds and 20 meg upstream.
The lack of apps for me, on the Windows Phone platform, comes down into two buckets: 1. Google. The only major Google app available is YouTube. All of the other Google services aren't available on Windows Phone, even though some of them are available on iOS. BlackBerry is in the same boat as Windows Phone here, by the way. 2. Everything else. The apps I use to listen to radio, read the news, monitor my car, charge my car, pay for coffee, chat with people and book a hotel are unavailable for Windows Phone 8. Any one of these missing apps makes the Windows Phone platform a non-starter for me personally.
The final analysis: The Nokia hardware is generally among the very best. The Microsoft Windows Phone operating system is overall very competitive. So should you buy the Nokia 928 on Verizon -- or for that matter any Windows Phone on any network? If you are 100% sure that you will not need any of the hundreds of thousands of incremental apps available on Android and iOS -- but not Windows Phone -- then by all means get the Nokia 928. I'm not among these people. The Windows Phone app deficit is simply a non-starter for me.