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AT&T Readies Its First LTE Phones

Sarah Thomas
10/31/2011
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AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s first two Long Term Evolution (LTE) smartphones, the High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) Vivid and Samsung Corp. Galaxy S II, will be hitting store shelves on Nov. 6, the carrier announced Monday.

At that time, the carrier will have its 4G network up and running in nine cities, with launches in Boston, Washington D.C., Baltimore and Athens, Ga., planned for Nov. 6.

AT&T says it is on track to cover 15 markets and 70 million Americans by the end of the year. The carrier also boasted that it has surpassed its commitment to offer 20 4G devices in 2011 and 12 Android devices. It now offers 22 LTE devices, primarily data dongles, and 21 Android smartphones or tablets.

Both the HTC Vivid and Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket are based on the Android operating system, but the Vivid will feature HTC's own Sense software. The Skyrocket comes just over a month after the carrier announced the 3G version of the same handset. The Skyrocket will retail for US$249 and the Vivid for $299, both with required two-year, tiered LTE data plans. (See Verizon Waiting for an LTE Galaxy?)

Why this matters
Device selection will be important in the operator battle for LTE dominance, but so will coverage, speed and latency. Right now, AT&T's main competitor Verizon Wireless covers 186 million people in 165 markets. Its LTE device portfolio includes more than 100 LTE smartphones, tablets and data dongles. Unlike Verizon, which falls back to 3G CDMA, however, AT&T has a faster high-speed packet access-plus (HSPA+) network for handoff. (See LTE's Immaturity in the US and 4G World 2011: Who Can Match Verizon's LTE Footprint?)

For more
Read up on LTE competition in the U.S. below.



— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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sarahthomas1011
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sarahthomas1011,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:50:13 PM
re: AT&T Readies Its First LTE Phones


LTE is an important differentiator for smartphones, but I think they're all starting to look alike. What hardware features will be most important to people - thinness, touchscreen? Or think it's at all about the hardware for LTE too?

sarahthomas1011
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sarahthomas1011,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:50:12 PM
re: AT&T Readies Its First LTE Phones


I agree. And, that explains why we hae all these patent lawsuits today. It's a tough balance though because these are the features that people want. I think that's why most handset makers are concentrating on software instead.

kaps
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kaps,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:50:12 PM
re: AT&T Readies Its First LTE Phones


Why do all the Android smartphones look alike? I think it's a testament to the "follower" mentality that many of the leading phone manufacturers have -- instead of just being a copy of the iPhone, why not try something really different? Like a decent flip-phone smartphone? (Does anyone like pocket or purse-dialing?)?


The only significant different Android phone out there is the 3D one from Sprint and HTC and I have to question the widespread appeal for that "feature." Until someone tries something really different or new these manufacturers are still chasing Apple from far behind. And when a 4G iPhone comes out, it may be game over except for the sub-$100 category. 

kaps
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kaps,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:50:12 PM
re: AT&T Readies Its First LTE Phones


Why do all the Android smartphones look alike? I think it's a testament to the "follower" mentality that many of the leading phone manufacturers have -- instead of just being a copy of the iPhone, why not try something really different? Like a decent flip-phone smartphone? (Does anyone like pocket or purse-dialing?)?


The only significant different Android phone out there is the 3D one from Sprint and HTC and I have to question the widespread appeal for that "feature." Until someone tries something really different or new these manufacturers are still chasing Apple from far behind. And when a 4G iPhone comes out, it may be game over except for the sub-$100 category. 

jdbower
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jdbower,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:50:12 PM
re: AT&T Readies Its First LTE Phones


It's interesting you've got that view.  There are small screen black slabs (much like the old Sony Ericsson P800/900 series if you want to go earlier than the iPhone), large screen black slabs, black slabs with curved screens, horizontal slider keyboards, fixed vertical keyboards, thick ones, thin ones, cheap ones, expensive ones, dual screen phones (Kyocera Echo) and even a handful of flip phones like the Motorola XT806.  Problem is flip phones seem dated today, half the screen real estate (or at least broken up into two chunks) and more associated with freebie phones than in the old StarTAC days. Android does have a lot of faults, but all looking the same isn't one of them.


The iPhone, on the other hand, has only a single model at a time.

kaps
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kaps,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:50:11 PM
re: AT&T Readies Its First LTE Phones


Out of all these "features" I would say the only one that really matters is the availability of a fixed keyboard -- vertical or horizontal. And that is not much in the way of innovation, it's just an ability to preserve the past while blending it with the future.


The rest of the list -- thick vs thin, round vs. corner screens -- that's like saying a brand of car is innovative because it comes in different colors or with a four-door option. The iPhone continues to innovate, with Siri and Facetime... game-changing technologies. There is no compelling reason to pick one Android phone over another, except for personal preference on minor architectural details.


And you will have to explain to me the functionality advantage of the Kyocera Echo, as long as you are citing it. Two split screens? What application needs that? Like the Motorola "docking laptop" thingy it's an idea without a need... as opposed to Siri, which actually addresses a problem.

kaps
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kaps,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:50:11 PM
re: AT&T Readies Its First LTE Phones


Out of all these "features" I would say the only one that really matters is the availability of a fixed keyboard -- vertical or horizontal. And that is not much in the way of innovation, it's just an ability to preserve the past while blending it with the future.


The rest of the list -- thick vs thin, round vs. corner screens -- that's like saying a brand of car is innovative because it comes in different colors or with a four-door option. The iPhone continues to innovate, with Siri and Facetime... game-changing technologies. There is no compelling reason to pick one Android phone over another, except for personal preference on minor architectural details.


And you will have to explain to me the functionality advantage of the Kyocera Echo, as long as you are citing it. Two split screens? What application needs that? Like the Motorola "docking laptop" thingy it's an idea without a need... as opposed to Siri, which actually addresses a problem.

jdbower
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jdbower,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:50:10 PM
re: AT&T Readies Its First LTE Phones


I disagree.  A sliding split screen is just about as useful (and popular) as the flip phone model you requested and identified as innovation.  They're niche devices, what consumers want are the black slabs because they're the common denonimator.  Does a car company fail to innovate just because they've got four wheels and a door?


I don't view Siri as innovation to solve a problem, I don't think anyone was going around saying "I'm lonely and I really think I need to hold a conversation with my phone."  As for innovative, voice recognition is very old and tying it to an AI backend a la CleverBot just doesn't seem as useful as just voice recognition on its own able to return a variety of information (I don't care that it's 53 degrees out, I want to see a graph of the past and future temperature and the chance of precipitation over time as well as a forecast - that takes forever to say but a fraction of a second to view).  Apple is good at refining technology, but great at marketing and creating a need for a problem you never knew existed.  I still don't see the benefit to Siri, but I may in the future (I saw no benefit to tablets with HP's models, I saw none to the iPad, but now I'm seeing a few potential uses for cheap throwaway models so I am coming around).


As for the "lapdock" or whatever they're calling it, if it wasn't for a proprietary design I'd be interested in one.  It's a great way to have a phone and a dumb terminal so I can on-demand have a large screen and a real keyboard.  What I can't justify is getting one that's dedicated to a single phone manufacturer that will be out of date in a year's time.  Give me a wireless, standards-based, multi-vendor KVM protocol and I'd be all over it.


We'll probably have to agree to disagree on this one, but it seems like there's a huge variety of experimentation on the Android front (and hopefully soon WinMo) that gets dismissed as niche or gimmicky, but the same gimmicks on Apple are positioned as the greatest thing ever despite being mostly a tweak on an older idea.

kaps
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kaps,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:50:08 PM
re: AT&T Readies Its First LTE Phones


It's one thing to invent technologies, it's quite another to make them easy and useful. That counts as innovation in my book. Maybe the best kind.


Or do you still see people using pre-iPod MP3 players?


Not sure why lots of folks tend to stay hung up on "someone else invented that." Making something usable is more than half the battle. Skype is a good example as well, there are plenty of VoIP players but hundreds of millions on Skype. Why? Easy and free.


You can argue all you want about other choices but... people are only lining up to buy iPhones. The market isn't stupid. It's spending for a reason.

kaps
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kaps,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 4:50:08 PM
re: AT&T Readies Its First LTE Phones


It's one thing to invent technologies, it's quite another to make them easy and useful. That counts as innovation in my book. Maybe the best kind.


Or do you still see people using pre-iPod MP3 players?


Not sure why lots of folks tend to stay hung up on "someone else invented that." Making something usable is more than half the battle. Skype is a good example as well, there are plenty of VoIP players but hundreds of millions on Skype. Why? Easy and free.


You can argue all you want about other choices but... people are only lining up to buy iPhones. The market isn't stupid. It's spending for a reason.

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