Sprint's Galaxy Tab in a Subsidy Orbit

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) will be subsidizing the Samsung Corp. Galaxy Tab to the tune of $200, if the customer signs a two-year contract.

On Nov. 14, Sprint will make the Galaxy Tab available with a two-year contract for $399.99. The carrier offers a choice of data plans with the new device -- a 2GB data plan for $29.99 or a 5GB data plan for $59.99 per month -- both with unlimited messaging.

That's a a different approach from that of rival Verizon Wireless , which will offer the gizmo unsubsidized for $600 upfront starting on Nov. 10. (See 4G World: Verizon Picks Up the Tab.) The total cost of ownership for two years on the Sprint tablet with the lower-priced $29.99 2GB data plan will be $1,119.75. With the higher $59.99 plan, the cost over the contract of the device becomes $1,839.75.

If you decided to opt for 1GB's worth of 3G data service for two years with the Verizon Galaxy Tab it would run you $1,080. The 5GB plan for 24 months will cost $1,800. The difference being that if you're feeling a little short one month then you can opt not to pay for 3G and just use the WiFi with the Verizon model.

So, you pays your money and you takes your choice.

Want to pay less up front but slightly more over time for the tablet? Opt for the Sprint version of the Galaxy Tab. Want to pay roughly $40 less over two years if you use 3G all the time, or have the flexibility to drop 3G if you need to? Then the Verizon Galaxy Tab is your choice.

Update: Sprint says it will also sell a Galaxy Tab with a no-contract option for $599.99. "The customer may also sign up for service on a month-to-month basis, with one of our rate plan options," says a company spokesman.

We're hoping to hear back from Sprint on whether the rate plans for the no-contract option are any different from the contracted data plans.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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