Best Buy Prices 4G Thunderbolt At $299

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Minneapolis - Best Buy has priced Verizon's first 3G/4G phone, the HTC ThunderBolt, at $299 after activation, in its Feb. 27 Sunday circular.

Best Buy

has been tapped

by Verizon Wireless as the phone's exclusive national retailer.

When the ThunderBolt becomes available, it will be the only smartphone priced with contract to match the price of the U.S. market's most expensive smartphone, the 3G 32GB iPhone 4. It's available at $299 through both Verizon and AT&T.

When the ThunderBolt becomes available, however, is still uncertain. Although the Best Buy circular didn't mention availability, the retailer's website said the device is "coming soon." A Best Buy customer-service representative said the phone was originally supposed to be available Feb. 20, and then it was delayed to Feb. 24. A new date hasn't been set, the rep said.

The Best Buy website said the phone is available only for preordering at Best Buy stores with $50 deposit.

For its part, Verizon Wireless declined to discuss pricing or availability. The phone currently isn't in Verizon-owned stores, the spokesperson said.

Other high-end smartphones, priced with contract, currently top out at $249 after any rebates and contract commitment. Those models include the $249 MyTouch 4G from T-Mobile, the $249 4G T-Mobile G2, and the $199 Sprint Epic 4G, originally priced at $249, according to carrier websites.

Best Buy's price is with a two-year contract and required $29.99/month unlimited data plan. The price without a contract is $749.

The Android 2.2-based ThunderBolt has a 4.3-inch 800 by 480 WVGA touchscreen, 1GHz processor, DLNA, 720p video capture, kickstand, 8GB embedded memory, MicroSD slot supporting 32GB cards, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n/, hot spot capability supporting up to eight Wi-Fi devices, 8-megapixel back camera with 720p video capture, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for Skype video chats, FM tuner and assisted GPS.

The phone operates in 4G mode in Verizon's 700MHz LTE network and in 3G CDMA Rev. A mode in the carrier's 850/1900MHz network.


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