New 3G, 4G Cellphones Hit Market

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New 3G and 4G smartphones hit the market in recent days as key carriers reported that smartphones accounted for a still-growing percentage of their users in the first quarter.

The new phones include:

• White iPhone 4, which had been delayed for 10 months because of unspecified manufacturing difficulties.

• Verizon’s second 4G LTE smartphone, the Samsung- made Droid Charge, which at $299 joined the HTC-made 4G ThunderBolt, which retails for $174 to $249 depending on the outlet.

• Verizon’s 3G HTC-made Droid Incredible 2, which adds global 2G and 3G roaming capability, frontfacing video camera, a longer battery life, and thinner form factor compared to its predecessor. The Android 2.2-based 3G smartphone is priced at $199.99.

• Verizon’s first ruggedized Android-based smartphone, the Casio G’Zone Commando, retailing at $199.99 through the carrier’s on-line store and through its B2B sales force. It joins the first ruggedized Android smartphone, the Motorola i1, launched last year by Sprint for its iDEN network.

• Google Nexus S 4G phone, available May 8 on the Sprint network through all Sprint channels at $199. It’s Sprint’s fourth 4G phone, but will be Google’s first 4G model, which features what Sprint calls a “pure Google experience.”

The product announcements follow continued gains in smartphone penetration rates in the first quarter, as reported by key carriers.

Activations of Verizon’s iPhone 4 and HTC’s 4G Thunderbolt accounted for 54 percent of the carrier’s retail postpaid net subscriber additions of 906,000, up from the 412,000 postpaid net adds from the year-ago quarter.

In the first quarter, Verizon also boasted that it activated 2.2 million iPhones. Although that number didn’t match AT&T’s first-quarter iPhone activations of 3.6 million, Verizon didn’t start offering the iPhone until Feb. 10, and the carrier’s iPhone rollout to all of its distribution channels wasn’t complete until mid March, the carrier said.

The iPhone and ThunderBolt purchases helped push the percentage of Verizon subscribers using smartphones to 32 percent from the fourth quarter’s 28 percent.

At AT&T, the carrier said more than 5.5 million smartphones, including iPhones, were activated on the AT&T network in the first quarter, up more than 60 percent from the year-ago quarter and marking the carrier’s third-highest quarter ever for smartphone sales. Sixty-five percent of the carrier’s postpaid-phone sales were smartphones.

The carrier’s iPhone activations were up over the year-ago quarter despite Verizon’s launch of a CDMA iPhone in mid-February. Activations hit 3.6 million, up from the year-ago 2.7 million though down sequentially from 4.1 million in the fourth quarter and 5.2 million in the third quarter, which marked the carrier’s bestever iPhone sales quarter and was the first full quarter of iPhone 4 sales.


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