At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Motorola announced two new Droid-branded smartphones: the Droid 4 (see above) and a newcomer to the RAZR line called the Droid RAZR MAXX (see in the gallery below). Let’s start by looking at the former’s specs. The Droid 4 packs a 4-inch qHD display with scratch and scrape resistant glass, a dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB of RAM, an eight megapixel shooter with 1080p HD video capture and Mirror Mode to display images and video on an HDTV, 16GB of onboard memory, and it also features the Droid’s signature five-row QWERTY keyboard. All of this and it’s only it’s only half an inch thick. It will come preloaded with Android 2.3.5 Gingerbread and Moto says it will be upgradable to 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich in time. The Droid 4 will take advantage 4G LTE speeds when it releases on Verizon Wireless “in the coming weeks.” No price announcement just yet.
The Droid RAZR MAXX, the successor to the reboot RAZR, doesn’t deviate too much from its relative. The big difference between the two is battery life. The “MAXX” refers to the smartphone’s giant 3,300 mAh battery pack which Moto promises can deliver a whopping 21 hours of battery life on a single charge. The larger battery makes the new RAZR slightly thicker measuring at 8.99 mm. Another upgrade: the MAXX comes with more internal storage, 32GB to be exact. Like the Droid 4, the MAXX will be 4G LTE super-charged on VZW’s network and pricing and availability is TBA. PR and a Droid 4 promo clip sit after the break.
Verizon flipped on its 4G LTE service back in December 2010 and since then it’s rather quickly spread to 190 million US cities and 118 million major airports, covering more than 200 million Americans. At long last, the time has come for the competition to throw their hats into the ring.
In early September, AT&T launched their 4G LTE service in 5 markets (Chicago, Atlanta, San Antonio, Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston) to complement its HSPA+ network (also known as “faux-G”). Later in November they expanded to eleven additional markets including Athens, Ga., Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. On January 5, AT&T added another eleven markets to the mix, and they’re big ones: New York City metro area, Austin, Chapel Hill, Los Angeles, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, Raleigh, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. Ma Bell calculates that this addition makes AT&T 4G LTE available in a total of 26 markets to 74 million consumers. The company expects its 4G LTE deployment to be mostly complete by the end of 2013.
And then there’s Sprint. They’ve been innovating behind Verizon and AT&T, only just announcing their first major markets to receive 4G LTE. Dallas, Atlanta, Houston and San Antonio will be the first four markets to see the faster speeds in the first half of 2012. Sprint is also working on boosting their 3G speeds as well. They call it Network Vision: “Sprint customers can expect to enjoy ultra-fast data speeds, improved 3G voice and data quality, and stronger in-building signal penetration providing a more reliable wireless experience…everyone in the upgraded areas is expected to benefit from the advanced 3G/4G LTE network.”
With 4G LTE markets spreading across America like wildfire from Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint, consumers can expect new smartphones to release this year that take advantage of the faster voice and data speeds that 4G provides. Rumor has it that the next iPhone will in fact be compatible on VZW, at least. Now that AT&T isn’t allowed to swallow T-Mobile, the network that made popular the Sidekick is going to have to act quickly if they want to remain the race; their speedy HSPA+ network won’t stand a chance once the other three carriers are boasting their expansive 4G LTE ones. Let the games begin.
On July 2 T-Mobile halted sales of the Sharp-produced, Danger-powered Sidekick. On May 31 they pulled the plug on the Danger Service, effectively shutting down data services for the fliptastic handset. Today they made good on their promise that the “storied Sidekick franchise” would continue with the introduction of the T-Mobile Sidekick 4G. The “new and fresh experience” they hinted at has been detailed today in a press release straight from the carrier. Though the new Sidekick holds on to that long-lasting brand and shares similar looks to its predecessors, things have changed considerably. The Sidekick 4G is manufactured by Samsung and it runs Android 2.2. It’s the first Sidekick to have a touchscreen which measures 3.5-inch (WVGA). A sturdy “pop-tilt” hinge reveals a five-row QWERTY keyboard that Sidekick owners should be well adjusted to by now. The device is powered by a 1GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor and packs a back-facing 3 megapixel camera and a front-facing VGA camera for video chatting. T-Mobile Video Chat powered by Qik is preinstalled to enable that function. Speaking of preloaded items, the Sidekick will also come loaded with Facebook and Twitter apps, YouTube, T-Mobile TV, Slacker Radio, and Samsung Media Hub; that hub allows customers to rent or purchase movies and TV shows from CBS, Fox, MTV Networks, NBC Universal, Paramount, and Warner Bros. T-Mobile has also included two Sidekick-specific messaging features called Group Text and Cloud Text. The former lets customers create, name, manage and participate in reply-all group text conversations; the latter allows customers to text with friends or groups across platforms (i.e. using a PC or smartphone). Lastly, T-Mobile’s DriveSmart service helps prevent distracted driving by automatically informing incoming callers and text messages that the Sidekick user is driving and will respond at a later time.
The T-Mobile Sidekick 4G, which takes advantage of T-Mo’s “4G” HSPA+ data speeds (download speeds of up to 21 Mbps), will be available in matte black and pearl magenta when it goes on sale “later this spring.” Exact release date and pricing has not been disclosed yet. Long live the Sidekick!
Update: Along with the PR you’ll also find a brief video demonstration of the “killer messaging device” after the break.
HTC manufactures dozens of aesthetically-charged handsets powered by Android and their acceptable skin HTC Sense. The Thunderbolt, however, is a standout. In just two days it will officially release and become Verizon Wireless’ first 4G LTE device on the market. VZW says that customers can expect download speeds of 5 to 12 Mbps and upload speeds of 2 to 5 Mbps in the 4G Mobile Broadband coverage area (check to see if you’re covered here). So if you’re not near a WiFi signal data speeds will be blistering fast (when compared to current 3G speeds, that is). Other specs include: 4.3″ WVGA display, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 8 megapixel rear facing camera with HD (720p) video recording, 1.3 megapixel front facing camera with video chat capability, 8GB of onboard memory and a pre-installed 32 GB microSD card, and around the back there’s a built-in kickstand. Additionally, the device can act as a Mobile Hotspot and can share its 4G connection with up to eight WiFi-enabled devices (a 2GB monthly cap is in effect). Note that after Verizon’s grace period ends on May 15 you’re required to pay an additional $20/month on top of your current phone bill to enable hotspot functionality. The handset is preloaded with Android 2.2 (Froyo) and HTC’s latest version of Sense (v2.0).
The HTC Thunderbolt lands on Verizon Wireless on March 17 and will cost $249.99 after signing a new two-year contract. Order from Verizon or Best Buy. According to the official press release (which is sitting after the break), the phone will launch with an unlimited 4G LTE data plan costing the standard $29.99/month. Like the other wireless carriers, Verizon will eventually transition its 4G data plan into tiered (read: data capped) options but for now it looks like Thunderbolt owners will have the freedom to go wild with their crazy fast speeds.
Update: HTC has put together a promo video featuring the Thunderbolt and its bold design. Check it after the break.
The Droid Bionic from Motorola is one helluva smartphone. It’s super fast, both in processing and network speeds. It’s one of the first mobile phones to pack a dual-core processor, with each core running at 1GHz, delivering up to 2GHz of processing power, and it’s Moto’s very first 4G LTE enabled phone. More specs: 4.3-inch qHD display, 512 MB of RAM, rear-facing 8-megapixel camera, front-facing VGA camera, HDMI out. It will ship with Android 2.2 (Froyo) on board. Moto’s also pushing Mirror Mode, a function that enables simultaneous streaming of video to the TV and on the device. All in all, this is a pretty solid device. 2011 is going to see a big push towards faster phones with larger, higher quality displays and right now the Bionic is the clear leader of the pack. Precise price point and release date have not been specified yet, but you can expect it the Bionic to land on Verizon Wireless in Q2 2011.
At CES 2011 Verizon kept reiterating the blazing speeds of 4G LTE. They claim the next-gen cell service is up to 10 times faster than current 3G speeds and they used a fun example on stage at their press event to show how these incredible speeds can be utilized. They invited Electronic Arts to show off Rock Band Mobile‘s multiplayer capabilities. Owners of select 4G LTE devices will be able to “jam together” with up to four friends over the network. Verizon is hopeful Android apps will take advantage of 4G LTE’s fast speeds with wireless connectivity functionality as featured in the upcoming Rock Band game. Look after the break for the PR which lists the 20 songs in the game; there you’ll also find a video demonstration. If you didn’t know, Verizon plans to expand its 4G network to blanket its entire 3G coverage area within the next three years.
Today Verizon announced that it will be turning on its blazingly fast 4G LTE wireless network on Sunday, December 5. The mobile operator claims it will be “the fastest and most advanced 4G network” in the country. They are starting small but the long-term plan is to eventually replace the current 3G network with 4G LTE (or Long Term Evolution). The network is initially launching in 38 major cities, including New York, Chicago, San Fransisco, and Los Angeles, and in more than 60 commercial airports coast to coast. They say it will immediately reach more than one-third of all Americans, and they expect the expansion to reach all current 3G areas by 2013. They are using the 700MHz spectrum for LTE deployment in the US to insure a “high-quality” network with “excellent coverage.” 4G LTE boasts speeds up to 10x times faster than 3G and a response time that’s over 2x faster. Faster speeds and reduced lag time promise better upload and download times, smoother video streaming and video chat, and sharing options. Verizon says customers can expect 5-12Mbps on the downlink and 2-5Mbps on the uplink. That’s pretty damn fast; compare those numbers to current 3G speeds (0.6-1.4Mbps download and 0.5Mbps upload). It’s also faster than the competition; it bests AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s HSPA+ (1-7Mbps download) and Sprint’s WiMAX (3-6Mbps download).
When Verizon officially launches its 4G LTE network this Sunday, customers will only have the option to use from two USB modems to hook up their laptops wirelessly to the network. Verizon says “consumer-oriented handsets” (aka cell phones and tablet devices) that will harness the new network will be available by mid-2011 and will be announced at CES. The LG VL600 (available on launch day) and Pantech UML290 (available “soon”) USB modems will each cost $99 after a $50 rebate and with a new two-year agreement. The data plan pricing is as follows: $50/month for 5GB monthly allowance, $80/month for 10GB. You’ll have to pay $10/GB in overage charges if you use up the allowance. There’s no cap on overages, a nice touch I guess. Both modems are backwards-compatible with Verizon’s 3G network. If you lose 4G reception the modem will automatically switch to 3G speeds on the fly. 3G to 4G does not work that way; if you move from the slower network to the faster one the switch will only take place once 3G downloads are complete.
And that about sums up today’s announcements. When the network goes live on Sunday, Verizon will provide street level coverage area maps so you can find out if you’re blanketed by 4G LTE. Be sure to look after the break for the official PR which includes a full listing of all cities and airports included in the initial launch window.
Update: It’s been confirmed that Verizon will offer the 4G LTE service off-contract, too. The monthly rates and overage fees remain the same; what becomes more expensive is the upfront cost for the USB modem. Instead of paying $99, you’ll be forced to pay$249.99 for a modem if you decide to enter the 4G world contract-less.