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Thunderbolt & Sidekick Saddle Up for 4G

Ahead of the International CTIA Wireless 2011 show, a couple of U.S. carriers are getting smartphones that can deliver faster data downloads out into the public eye.

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.

For more
Keep track of the Thunderbolt and Sidekick below: — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

MMQoS 12/5/2012 | 5:10:28 PM
re: Thunderbolt & Sidekick Saddle Up for 4G

Did Verizon also announce the new 4G MiFi?  That device plus the new iPad2 with higher resolution I'm told, will start to test their 4G network.  I'm in Geneva so can't go to my VzW store.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:10:28 PM
re: Thunderbolt & Sidekick Saddle Up for 4G

I notice that Verizon is still offering "unlimited" data with the Thunderbolt. I wonder when these much ballyhooed metered billing plans will start coming in for the LTE smartphones?

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:10:27 PM
re: Thunderbolt & Sidekick Saddle Up for 4G

Yep $20 a month for 2GB WiFi data. I'm doing a separate blog as there's a lot of interesting billing stuff happening.

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