New 4G LTE smartphones are taking center stage at CTIA Wireless 2012 this week in New Orleans, where AT&T and Verizon each unveiled plans for new handsets from Samsung and HTC on Monday.
AT&T has 4G LTE networks up and running in 35 U.S. markets, with LTE going live in more metropolitan areas such as Salt Lake City and Austin, Texas later this year. Verizon has LTE networks available in 230 U.S. markets.
HTC's Droid Incredible will become Verizon's 23rd smartphone with 4G LTE capability when it launches in the weeks ahead. The phone is powered by Ice Cream Sandwich -- Google's Android 4.0 mobile operating system.
AT&T intends to launch a new 4G LTE Windows Phone from Samsung on May 20. The Samsung Focus 2 will be priced at $49.99 when subscribers sign up for a two-year service contract. The Focus 2 will be AT&T's third handset powered by Microsoft 's WP7 mobile OS.
Samsung Focus 2 Capabilities
Handsets running Microsoft's Windows Phone mobile OS have not yet gained widespread U.S. adoption -- with Nielsen reporting that just 1.7 percent of American smartphone owners had one as of March. Still, Samsung is a brand name with which U.S. consumers are very familiar, and AT&T is betting that many price-conscious consumers will consider the Focus 2 an attractive option that fits their budgets.
Samsung's Focus 2 smartphone integrates 8 GB of internal memory; Wi-Fi , Bluetooth and GPS radios; and a single, 5-megapixel camera with 4x digital optical zoom. Moreover, though the handset has a bright, 4-inch Super AMOLED screen, the display resolution is limited to 480x800 pixels.
Still, smartphone competition is no longer just a hardware race, noted Francisco Jeronimo, an IDC research manager based in Europe.
"It is a usability competition for the simplest and most pleasing experience with innovative features," Jeronimo said.
This helps to explain why AT&T is trying to convince U.S. consumers that the Windows 7.5 operating system powering the new Samsung Focus 2 will provide them with an effortless and intuitive user experience.
"Personalized Live Tiles, for example, provide a quick look at updates on people, e-mails, social media feeds," wrote Jonathan Church, director of product marketing management for AT&T, in a blog post. "You can pin icons to the start page for instant access to favorite applications." (continued...)