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Nokia Lumia 822 hands on: Windows Phone returns to Verizon!

If you’re a fan of Windows Phone but a subscriber of Verizon, you’ve lived an unfortunate two years. Only one Windows Phone was released on Verizon, and it wasn’t a particularly great one (the HTC Trophy). However, after a lot of work, Microsoft has finally convinced the big red carrier to get onboard with Windows Phone 8. A number of LTE-enabled Windows Phones are coming to Verizon and the Lumia 822 will be the most budget-friendly of the pack at only $50.

The 822 does not feel as svelte as other Nokia phones, like the Lumia 820 and 920, but it’s heft isn’t uncomfortable either. I found it quite comfortable to hold, and because the back cover can be removed, you can buy extra 1800mAh batteries if you travel a lot. That cover also holds Nokia’s new wireless charging technology, so you can actually charge your phone with any one of a number of wireless base stations that do away with the fuss of Micro USB cables, though you can charge the 822 the old fashioned way, as well.

On the inside, the Lumia 822 packs some decent processing power with a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor (same one as the Samsung Galaxy S3), 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal file storage, an 8-megapixel auto-focus rear camera with dual LED flash, and 4G LTE connectivity. The screen is a lower 800 x 480 pixels — the same resolution as all Windows Phones up until now — but the 4.3-inch OLED display looks fantastic with Windows Phone. OLED screens give off particularly vibrant color and have the deepest blacks (black pixels aren’t backlit at all), which help the Lumia’s screen look good even at a lower resolution. Compared to competing budget Windows Phones, Nokia doesn’t appear to be skimping on much outside of the resolution.

Windows Phone 8 is different looking than iPhone or Android at first, thanks to its unique Start screen full of Live Tiles, but experienced users and beginners should be able to pick it up pretty quick. The OS builds on previous versions of Microsoft’s smartphone operating system in some solid ways. Verizon is the first carrier that will allow the OS’s Data Sense feature, which lets you easily monitor your data usage for the month, and see which apps are hogging your bandwidth. Features like this are becoming essential now that carriers are heavily metering data usage.

The Lumia appears to be a more durable phone than others, which might serve you well if you have kids (or are just accident-prone). Windows Phone has a new feature called Kids Corner that lets you create a special Start screen filled with only the apps, music, videos, and other content that you specifically approve, allowing you to hand your kid the phone without worrying whether he or she will dig into Settings and delete everything, or screw up something else. Read our hands-on with Windows Phone 8 to learn more about these features, and others.

For $150 – $250 less than a top-of-the-line smartphone, the Lumia 822 packs some decent processing power and memory. It’s not going to win awards for its design or screen resolution, but Windows Phone 8 is a solid operating system that’s worth checking out. If you’re going to renew over the holidays and have a budget, check out the Lumia 822. It will be out on Verizon Wireless for $50 by Thanksgiving weekend.