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3G/HSPA

Smartphones Steer Clear of Middle Way

12:00 PM -- Motorola Mobility LLC 's long-awaited Droid Bionic will finally launch on the Verizon Wireless Long Term Evolution (LTE) network Thursday, just one week before AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) begins selling its first Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. smartphone, the Impulse 4G.

Both these launches are notable even though they represent entirely different ends of the spectrum.

Verizon's new Droid is a top-of-the-line affair, the first smartphone to support both LTE speeds at 5-to-12 Mbit/s download and 2-to-5 Mbit/s upload and a dual-core 1GHz processor. (See Google at the Start of Moto's LTE Race, Moto Mobility Promises 5 LTE Devices for 2011, Moto Ships 250K Xooms But Waits on LTE and CES 2011: Moto's 4G Gadgets Blur Lines.)

The Huawei Impulse, on the other hand, belongs to a new class of entry-level smartphones targeted at price-conscious consumers. It will retail for only US$29.99 on a two-year contract (compared to the Bionic's $299 price tag on contract). (See Android & the Promise of LTE Boost Huawei, Huawei, ZTE: Global Devices With Nice Prices and Huawei Ups Smartphone Target.)

Both of these handsets are significant and are indicative of future trends -- carriers targeting the price sensitive and the price elastic, and smartphones either going all out or just enough. Middle-of-the-road smartphones certainly won't disappear, but they may struggle to find an audience -- something handset makers should pay attention to when choosing which route to take. (See Samsung & Nokia Push Midrange Smartphones and Smartphones to Account for 53% of Sales.)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:54:31 PM
re: Smartphones Steer Clear of Middle Way

Any update on the LTE capability for the Xoom tablet? Verizon's silence is deafening on that end.


And, $299 for a smartphone seems to be pushing the upper end of what a "subsidized" device should cost. At least with all the radios it should be able to heat your apartment or defrost your windsheild on winter mornings.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:54:31 PM
re: Smartphones Steer Clear of Middle Way

Any update on the LTE capability for the Xoom tablet? Verizon's silence is deafening on that end.


And, $299 for a smartphone seems to be pushing the upper end of what a "subsidized" device should cost. At least with all the radios it should be able to heat your apartment or defrost your windsheild on winter mornings.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:54:31 PM
re: Smartphones Steer Clear of Middle Way

I'm excited to try out the Droid Bionic on LTE in Chicago. Early reviews seem to really like it. My big question is on how the battery life will hold up. That still seems to be a problem on LTE phones.

Anne Morris 12/5/2012 | 4:54:30 PM
re: Smartphones Steer Clear of Middle Way

I'm not as familar with US subsidy strategies for smartphones, but there are indications in Europe that operators are investigating other options - such as long-term financing plans for smartphones when bought with a data plan. Is this also something US operators already do/are likely to consider in order to break away from increasingly expensive subsidies?

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