Sprint's growing 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network will soon play host to four new devices: the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1, the LG Optimus G, the LG Mach and the Sprint Plug-in-Connect Tri-Mode USB.
To take care of a bit of housekeeping, neither prices nor launch dates have been shared for these devices, but a safe guess is that they'll arrive in time to make holiday shopping lists. Additionally, since rolling out LTE alongside its 4G WiMax network in July, Sprint has made it available in 24 cities. By the time Christmas trees are being lugged to curbs or back down basement stairs, it will be in more than 100 cities.
As for those devices, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 is a direct competitor of the Apple iPad. Sprint calls it the first tablet to combine connectivity with its 3G and 4G networks with a 10.1-inch touch-screen, Android 4.0 (that's Ice Cream Sandwich, in the Google dessert parlance) and a 1.5GHz dual-core processor.
The Tab 2 10.1 has a rear-facing 3-megapixel camera with LED flash and video capture and a front-facing VGA camera that can be used for video calls and unlocking the tablet via face-recognition software—very James Bond. When the fun of being James Bond disappears, there's also on-device encryption and VPN access, to keep IT managers happy.
The tablet measures 10.1 by 6.9 by 0.38 inches, weighs 1.29 pounds, comes with 1GB of RAM, 8GB of ROM and support for a 64GB microSD card. The 7,000mAh battery is said to last "all day."
When LG introduced the Optimus G in August, it was the first to pair LTE with Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 Pro Quad-Core Krait processor and new Adreno 320 GPU.
LG explained, "The Snapdragon S4 Pro runs at 1.5GHz and features Asynchronous Symmetric Multiprocessing (aSMP), which enables each core to power up and down independently, for maximum performance with better battery life."
The Optimus G features a 4.7-inch WXGA True HD IPS Plus Display with a resolution of 1280 by 768 pixels, runs Ice Cream Sandwich, has a 13-megapixel rear camera with what has regrettably come to be known as a "cheese shutter" and a 1.3MP front camera.
It also comes with a few extra features that speak to the phone's power. A QSlide function, for example, lets a user see two screens at once—video or game can be faded, in order to send an email, while the video or game still runs and can be faintly seen. Videos can also be zoomed in by five times, and a Dual Screen, Dual Play feature allows mirroring between the phone and a TV or monitor but also the ability to display different content between the two, so that a user can, for example, show a presentation on the monitor while viewing relevant notes on the phone.
Finally, the Optimus G measures 5.19 by 2.7 by 0.33 inches, weighs 5.11 ounces and has 2GB of RAM and 32GB of ROM.
The LG Mach pairs a 4-inch WVGA touch-screen with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, making it one of the thinnest Sprint devices to do so. The Mach measures 4.64 by 2.56 by 0.48, weighs 5.92 ounces, and comes with 1GB of RAM, 8GB of eMMC (embedded multi-media card) storage and a microSD slot for 32GB more.
Ice Cream Sandwich is here, and so is the ability to support up to eight devices on its Mobile Hotspot capabilities. There's a 5MP rear camera with flash and video, and a VGA camera up front. The Mach can also download mobile ID packs, which can help users to "cut through the clutter of more than 600,000 apps in the Google Play store," as Sprint said in its statement—offering possibly the least-flattering descriptor ever of a full app store—and find content that suits them.
Rounding out this fab four is the Sprint Plug-In Connect. It's a tri-mode, USB-based mobile broadband solution, which means it keeps users connected to the optimum network they find themselves in, whether that's 4G LTE, 4G WiMax or 3G. Without software or installations, a Plug-In Connect can be shared across desktops or laptops running Windows, a Mac OS (10.4 or higher) or Linux. Sprint says it works like an Ethernet cable—plug it in and off you go.
Sprint also points out that the smartphones will require an Everything Data plan, which starts at $79.99 a month and offers unlimited data with no throttling.