Updated with full specs – Nokia officially announces Lumia 928 for Verizon, coming May 16

Updated with full specs - Nokia officially announces Lumia 928 for Verizon, coming May 16Confirming what has been the worst-kept secret in the mobile world lately, Nokia officially took the wraps off the Lumia 928 today, introducing its newest Windows Phone 8 device as the hero phone for US carrier Verizon.

To this point Verizon’s only Windows phones had been the well-received but somewhat underwhelming Lumia 822 and the HTC 8x. No longer. The 928 arrives as the de facto top of the line Lumia device on all carries (for now), marking the first time in the US that AT&T does not have access to Nokia’s top Windows Phone model.

Available for just $99 (after $50 rebate and with new contract), the 928 is an iterative update on the current king of Windows Phone, the Lumia 920. Packing PureView technology into a 8.7 megapixel camera, paired with Carl Zeiss lens and OIS, the 928 ups its predecessor by adding a xenon flash, a first for Windows Phones.

Elsewhere the 920 and 928 are pretty similar: 4.5 inch OLED (the 920 has an IPS, the 928 OLED) PureMotion+ HD screens, 2000 mAh batteries (though the 928’s voltage is 3.41 compared to the 920’s 3.7), 32GB of storage, LTE capabilities, wireless charging (that works with current Nokia accessories), and the same Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 running at 1.5 GHz.

But along with the improvement offered by the Xenon flash, the 928 also claims to offer better recording from a three-mic array that Nokia says reduces distortion (as seen in the video below), and a new speaker that’s been moved to the back from the bottom that Nokia claims to be louder than any other phone. The front-facing video camera also adds wide angle.

The screen, while the same size, also runs edge to edge on the front, eschewing the slight bezel that the 920 has surrounding it’s display.

The 928 will be available, at least initially, in only black and white. And while official dimensions haven’t been released, leaked specs have pegged the 928 to be thinner and most likely lighter than its admittedly hefty older brother. Nokia has now published the full specs page for the Lumia 928. Here’s the nitty gritty, compared to the 920.

928 is listed first in the comparisons:

Height – 928 133.0 mm  |  920  130.3 mm
Width  – 68.9 mm  |  70.8 mm
Thickness – 10.2 mm  |  10.7 mm
Weight – 162.0 g  |  185.0 g
Talk time (3g) – 16.2 hrs.  |  10.8 hrs.
Standby time (3g) – 541 hrs.  |  460 hrs.

So it’s thinner (though not as much as previously thought), lighter, taller and offers better battery performance.

In a move perhaps designed to bring new Windows Phone users into the fold, Verizon is also offering a $25 credit to the Windows App Store for buys, allowing them to sample some of the more than 145,000 apps available, including recent additions Pandora and Hulu Plus.

If you want to satisfy your 928 fix, read the official release notes from Microsoft, Verizon and Nokia.

Verizon’s time atop the Windows Phone mountain might be short-lived, however. Nokia has a May 14 event planned for London where they are widely expected to release their latest hero phone for AT&T, code name Catwalk. This device is expected to shun much of the polycarbonate of the 920/928 for an aluminium body. It remains to be seen if it will bring along the Xenon flash from the 928.

Take a peek below at a series of videos showing off the 928’s capabilities vs. the competition and the official release videos from Verizon and Nokia.