New Smartphones Tap Low, High Ends

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NEW YORK —

Carriers and handset vendors announced new smartphones at prices ranging from $29.99 for a 3G model to $79.99 and $199 for 4G models.

The $199 models include Sprint’s 3D “glasses-free” 4G smartphone; the HTC-made Android-based Evo 4G; and U.S. Cellular’s first Windows 7 smartphone, the $199 HTC 7 Pro with sliding QWERTY keyboard and tilt-up touchscreen that creates the appearance of a tiny laptop.

Motorola’s Photon 4G for Sprint, due sometime this summer, will also tap the top as Sprint’s first 4G phone with widespread international roaming, but pricing wasn’t released.

At lower price points, T-Mobile announced plans to expand its selection of entry-level Android smartphones with the planned launch of two Samsung-made models, including the carrier’s lowest-priced 4G Android phone to date. That’s the $79.99 Samsung Exhibit 4G, due in June.

T-Mobile’s other new sub-$100 Android phone is the Samsung Gravity Smart, a slider due in June at $69.99 in red and blue and at $29.99 for a gray-color version available only on T-Mobile’s website.

Here’s what the carriers announced:

Sprint:

The carrier announced its first Motorola- made 4G smartphone — the Photon 4G — and the first Motorola phone for Sprint’s Virgin Mobile prepaid brand as part of a plan to expand its roster of Motorola devices.

Both Android phones are due sometime this summer at an unannounced price and will be among more than 10 Motorola products that Motorola will add to the Sprint lineup this year. Those products include the previously announced 3G Android-based XPRT and the Wi-Fi-only Xoom tablet.

The 4G phone is the Photon 4G, which is Sprint’s first 4G phone with widespread international roaming capability, thanks to the inclusion of GSM voice, GPRS/EDGE data, and W-CDMA voice and data in foreign GSM/W-CDMA bands. It’s also the first U.S.-market 3G-CDMA/4G phone with such international roaming capabilities. For Sprint it’s the carrier’s fifth 4G phone available or announced to date.

The Photon, like Motorola’s Atrix 4G for Verizon, will come with optional HD multimedia dock that connects the phone via Bluetooth to a larger display, keyboard and mouse to browse the web, view smartphonestored content, and edit and create Microsoft Office documents. The dock will also display smartphone video via HDMI on a TV screen. Later on, the carrier plans to launch a laptop-like dock into which a docked Photon will act as the device’s engine, said Sprint product chief Fareb Adib.

The Photon features 1GHz dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, 4.3-inch qHD display, kickstand, Android 2.3 OS, enterprise-grade security, 3G/4G mobile hot spot capability for up to eight Wi-Fi devices and 1080p output.

The other new Motorola Android phone, available exclusively to Virgin, is the Motorola Triumph, which will be Virgin’s third Android phone.

In a separate announcement, Sprint said it will begin offering its first 3D “glasses-free” 4G smartphone on June 24 at $199 with two-year service agreement.

That smartphone is HTC’s Android-based Evo 4G, which could become the first 3D glasses-free 4G smartphone available in the U.S. unless AT&T announces earlier availability of its planned LG-made Thrill.

In launching the glasses-free HTC-made Evo 3D, Sprint is offering what it calls the world’s first phone with 4.3-inch, qHD 3D display. Its dual 5-megapixel rear-facing cameras capture video in 720p 3D and 1080p 2D. Movies in 2D and 3D can be downloaded via the Blockbuster On Demand app for rent or purchase. All 3D sources can be displayed in glasses- free 3D on the phone’s screen, and via HDMI output or DLNA/Wi-Fi, the 3D video can also be displayed on a 3D TV. The content will also be displayed on a 2DTV in 2D form.

T-Mobile:

The carrier is building up its selection of entry-level Android smartphones with the planned launch of two Samsung-made models, including the carrier’s lowest-priced 4G Android phone to date.

The low-priced 4G Android smartphone is the $79.99 Samsung Exhibit 4G, due in June with the 21Mbps versions of HSPA+ 4G technology. It will join the $99 Sidekick 4G as the carrier’s first 4G phones at less than $100. The Exhibit 4G will feature Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS, 1GHz processor, and Samsung’s Media Hub service, which offers downloads of movies and TV episodes on a purchase and rental basis. It also comes with front-facing camera for video chats over Wi-Fi and cellular.

The other sub-$100 Android phone is the Samsung Gravity Smart, also due sometime this month at $69.99 in red and blue and at $29.99 for a gray-color version available only on T-Mobile’s website. The Gravity Smart features Android 2.2 OS, slide-out QWERTY keyboard and a 3.2-inch touchscreen.

U.S Cellular:

The carrier launched its first Windows 7 smartphone as part of a promise to expand its smartphone portfolio this year to include seven new Android smartphones.

The CDMA 1X EV-DO carrier also promised to offer its first 4G LTE smartphone this year as part of a first wave of 4G devices coming in November.

With the addition of the new Windows 7 phone, the company offers 14 smartphones consisting of two BlackBerry models, eight Android models and two Windows models, the company’s website shows.

The new Windows 7 phone, which joins a Windows 6.5 phone, is the $199 HTC 7 Pro, which is the same phone as the HTC-made Arrive launched by CDMA carrier Sprint earlier this year. They’re the first Windows Phone 7 handsets to combine a sliding QWERTY keyboard with a tilt-up display that creates the appearance of a tiny laptop.

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