New York – The wireless industry is buzzing about the launch of the first Windows Phone 8 smartphones, the growing selection of smartphone/tablet hybrids, and the expected launch next week of HTC’s first 5-inch smartphone.
That premium HTC phone, a Verizon-network device, is expected to offer a pixel density greater than that of the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S III.
But vendors and carriers have also been busy launching a range of smartphones for a variety of niches, including 3G no-contract models to 4G LTE models with slide-out QWERTY keyboards. A key price point for Android postpaid smartphones with screen sizes up to 4.7 inches is $99.
Here’s a carrier-by-carrier sampling of what’s hitting the shelves:
Cricket: The no-contract carrier has begun offering the 3G HTC Desire C Android 4.0 smartphone at a suggested $179 in its direct and indirect channels. The phone features 3.5-inch HVGA full touch display, 5-megapixel camera/camcorder, deep integration of Dropbox, 25GB of free online storage and Beats Audio technology.
Sprint: Sprint is adding its first LTE smartphone with QWERTY keyboard. The LG Mach at $99 will be available Nov. 11.
The Android 4.0 Mach features full QWERTY slide-out keyboard yet is only 0.48 inches thick. Other key features include 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 4-inch WVGA 480 by 800 touchscreen, 1GB RAM, 8GB memory, MicroSD card slot supporting up to 32GB cards, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, and 3G/4G LTE mobile hot spot capability supporting up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices simultaneously.
It has a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with flash and 1080p video capture, 0.3-megapixel VGA front-facing camera, Bluetooth 4.0, and· LG QuickMemo, which lets consumers use their finger to write personal messages on photos, screen shots of web sites, and the like for sharing. Time Catch Shot lets users take up to five images and review the thumbnail images to choose the best shot
The 5.92-ounce Mach also features 1,700 mAh lithium-ion battery for up to 9.5 hours of talktime.
As previously announced, Sprint also plans Nov. 11 availability of LG’s $199 Optimus G, a quad-core LTE phone with 13-megpixel camera. The Optimus G and the currently available Samsung Galaxy Note II phablet at $299 are the carrier’s first two LTE phones with quad-core processor.
U.S. Cellular: The 4G LTE Motorola Electrify M Android phone becomes available at the carrier’s web store on Nov. 8 and in U.S. Cellular stores on Nov. 9. The price is $99.99 after $100 mail-in rebate in markets where U.S. Cellular offers 4G LTE service. The price is $149 after a $100 mail-in rebate in markets where LTE hasn’t been rolled out.
On Nov. 5, the carrier expanded LTE service to 30 new markets and by year’s end expects LTE to be available to 58 percent of the population within its network footprint.
The Electrify M features Android 4.0.4 OS upgradeable to Android 4.1 JellyBean, 4.3-inch “virtually borderless” Super AMOLED Advanced display, dual-core 1.5GHz processor, Corning Gorilla Glass, a splash-guard coating, Google Chrome browser, 2000mAh battery, 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with HDR, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video chats, and NFC support for sharing links, apps, YouTube clips and more with Android Beam.
Verizon Wireless: The LG Spectrum 2 Android 4.0 smartphone features 4G LTE, 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 4.7-inch True HD display. It became available at $99.99 in the carrier’s direct and indirect channels. The phone is global-ready for voice and data use in more than 220 countries.
Key features include wireless charging, Mobile Hotspot to share a 4G LTE connection with up to 10 Wi-Fi-enabled devices, 16GB of internal storage, MicroSD memory card support of up to 32GB, and QuickMemo, which lets users capture screenshots and add their own personalized commentary or drawings with a finger.
The phone also features nearfield communications (NFC) to share contacts, maps and websites by tapping two NFC phones together. The phone can also be used with programmable NFC-enabled LG Tag+ stickers to automate the selection of phone modes when the phone is tapped against the tag.
SmartShare makes it possible to wirelessly send pictures and videos to on a DLNA-enabled device for viewing.
The Spectrum 2 also features 8-megapixel camera with 1080p video recording, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, and such camera features as Time Catch Shot, which takes photos before the shutter button is completely pressed
The phone can be used with the $24 LG Premium Sleeve with Smart Display, which protects the phone and features a display to show notifications of missed calls, text messages, emails and voicemails.