Verizon Wireless said Tuesday morning that its first LTE phone, the long-awaited Thunderbolt, will finally be launched onto the market on Thursday. The High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) phone, which sports a 4.3-inch display, is going on sale for $249.99 with a two-year contract. (See Verizon Confirms a Thursday Thunderbolt Strike.)
Verizon says its network can deliver average download speeds of 5 to 12 Mbit/s. The phone is offered with an unlimited Long Term Evolution (LTE) data plan for $29.99 a month if bought with a voice plan (those start at $39.99 a month).
T-Mobile US Inc. , meanwhile, is revitalizing its Sidekick brand with a new pop-out keyboard-equipped phone from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC). The device runs on T-Mobile's amped-up 3G HSPA+ 21Mbit/s network, which can deliver data downloads in the 5 to 8 Mbit/s range. T-Mobile markets this HSPA+ service as "America's largest 4G network."
This Sidekick isn't the same as the old Danger HipTop device, as it runs Android and sports a touch screen along with a large keyboard. The original Sidekick could be viewed as a precursor to the Android phones, however, as its parent firm, Danger -- eventually bought by Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) -- was originally led by Andy Rubin. Rubin is now in charge of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s open-source Android operating system.
Why this matters The Verizon Thunderbolt had suffered a couple of delays to its launch. The phone will be a useful barometer in gauging just how much interest there is in smartphones on Verizon's newest mobile network.
The operator is undercutting Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s 4G offering with its pricing of an unlimited data service plan at a possible $69.99, compared to Sprint's $79.99 price point -- although, the Sprint plan does include unlimited voice.
The Sidekick, meanwhile, shows that T-Mobile is trying to make good on its promise of launching a multitude of devices this year to take advantage of its 21Mbit/s network. The Sidekick has traditionally been aimed at a texting-obsessed younger market, which will now be able to get faster video and multimedia downloads on the phone. It is due out later this spring.
Keep track of the Thunderbolt and Sidekick below:
- When Will Thunder Strike Verizon?
- Verizon's First LTE Phone Delayed?
- CES 2011: Verizon Takes 10 With LTE
- CES 2011: HTC 4G Phones for All!
- Microsoft: Gimme Danger