NEW YORK –
4G-equipped smartphones came in at the low and high ends in recent days along with a smattering of new entry-level 3G smartphones.
Highlights include the launch of Verizon’s $99 4G Pantech Breakout, marking the carrier’s lowest launch price for a 4G phone to date and matching the price of Sprint’s first $99 4G smartphone.
Other recent 4G introductions include:
• the first two T-Mobile 4G phones to operate in the carrier’s 4G HSPA+42 network, both with dual-core 1.5GHz processors.
• AT&T’s version of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S II.
In 3G phones, T-Mobile unveiled its first Black- Berry Curve with new BlackBerry 7 OS, and prepaid carrier Cricket unveiled its first ZTE-brand smartphone.
All of the smartphones are based on the Android OS, helping propel an upsurge in Android adoption. A Nielsen survey conducted in August found that 43 percent of U.S. smartphone owners have an Android device and that a majority of smartphone purchasers in the previous three months – or 56 percent — opted for Android.
“Recent acquirers are important as they are often a leading indicator of where the market is going,” said telecom research director Don Kellogg.
The survey also found that 28 percent of all smartphone users own an Apple iOS smartphone and that the same percentage of recent smartphone buyers bought an iOS device.
Among new Android devices, the 4G Pantech Breakout became available exclusively on the Verizon network at at $99, marking the carrier’s lowest launch price for a 4G phone. It follows the Sept. 8 launch of the Motorolamade Droid Bionic at $299, the May 26 launch of the LG-made Revolution at $249, the April 28 launch of the Samsung-made Droid Charge at $299, and the March 17 launch of HTC’s Thunder- Bolt 4G at $249.
The $99 Pantech Breakout also follows Sprint’s Aug. 21 launch of the $99 Samsung Conquer 4G. It was Sprint’s first 4G smartphone to launch at less than $100.
Verizon’s $99 4G phone became available Sept. 22 with Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS, 1GHz processor, 4-inch capacitive touch display (480 by 800), and Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) capability.
Other features include 4G mobile hotspot feature supporting up to 10 Wi-Fi-enabled devices, virtual QWERTY keyboard featuring Swype technology for faster typing, 5-megapixel autofocus rear-facing camera with HD video capture up to 720p, VGA front-facing camera for still shots and video chatting, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0 with stereo and audio/video remote control (AVRC) profiles, and 8GB pre-installed MicroSD card.
The $99 price through Verizon’s direct channels comes after $50 mail-in rebate in the form of a debit card.
At AT&T, the carrier plans Oct. 2 availability of its version of the Samsung Galaxy S II, priced at $199 for its with 4G HSPA+ 21Mbps network. Sprint has already launched its own 4G version of the Galaxy S II.
The S II is thinnest smartphone on each carriers’ network, and AT&T has the thinnest version of all, at 8.89mm in depth at its narrowest point.
The AT&T version features the Android Gingerbread 2.3 platform, 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, dualcore 1.2 GHz processor, Motion UX sensors, 8-megapixel camera with 1080p video capture, and HDMI output, enabling 1080p display on a TV of rented or purchased movies and TV shows from the Samsung Media Hub service.
Also in 4G phones, T-Mobile unveiled its first two 4G phones to operate on its HSPA+42 4G network, said to deliver peak data download speeds of 42Mbps in more than 150 U.S. markets.
Other select 4G phones from T-Mobile operate in HSPA+ 21 mode on its 4G network.
Both phones – the $259 HTC Amaze 4G and the $229 Samsung Galaxy S II – have been showing average download speeds approaching 8Mbps with peak speeds around 20Mbps, the carrier noted.
Both phones also feature dual-core 1.5GHz processors, delivering more processing power than any other smartphone announced to date by U.S. carriers. The Galaxy S II versions for AT&T and Sprint feature dualcore 1.2GHz processors.
The Amaze 4G and Galaxy S II will be available in an online presale via
beginning Oct. 10, with sales through T-Mobile retail stores and select dealers nationwide starting Oct. 12. Prices through T-Mobile stores are after a $50 mail-in-rebate card.
The carrier also announced its first HSPA+42 mobile hot spot, the Huawei-made T-Mobile Sonic 4G Mobile Hotspot, which connects up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices to its HSPA+42 network. It’s expected to be available in October at an unannounced price.
The HTC Amaze 4G offers multiple high-performance camera features, including 8-megapixel camera, 1080p video capture, zero shutter lag, dual-LED flash, dedicated camera button and the carrier’s first direct-to-camcorder button. The device also offers such new camera-related features as SmartShot, which captures five photos to deliver the best shot of people with smiles and open eyes. Another new camera feature is PerfectPics, which automatically creates a separate album prioritized by picture quality, the presence of faces, and such criteria as important calendar events.
The device runs on Android 2.3.4 and offers the HTC Sense user interface, 4.3-inch qHD super LCD multitouch display, and NFC capabilities for wireless searching, information sharing and, in the future, mobile payments, the carrier said.
Other Amaze features include HTC Watch service, which enables downloads of movies and TV shows for purchase or rental, and T-Mobile TV service, which enables live streaming of TV programs and on-demand TV.
For its part, the Samsung Galaxy S II will feature the largest screen size available on a T-Mobile smartphone with 4.52-inch Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen display. The device uses the Android 2.3.5 OS.
The Galaxy S II also streams thousands of premium movies and TV shows through Netflix, accesses T-Mobile TV in “Mobile HD” quality, and downloads TV shows and movies from Samsung Media Hub service. The phone features DLNA compatibility and HDMI out to display content on an HDTV.
Also at T-Mobile, the carrier announced plans for the BlackBerry Curve 9360, at $79.99 (after a $50 mailin rebate card in direct channels). It’s the carrier’s first Curve with the new BlackBerry 7 OS.
The 3G smartphone became available in black Sept. 28 and will be available in an exclusive merlot color starting Oct. 12. Sprint launched its first Curve with Black- Berry 7 OS on Sept. 9 at $79.
For its part, prepaid carrier Cricket launched its first smartphone from China’s ZTE. Cricket is the first carrier to launch the ZTE Score, which became available September 25 in Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile locations at a suggested $199. It will also become available soon through Cricket stores and other dealers.
The Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) phone features 600MHz processor and a 3.5-inch HVGA capacitive touch display.