Verizon Wireless and AT&T kicked off CTIA Wireless 2012, a major industry-wide convention this year taking place in New Orleans, with introductions of new smartphones for their respective 4G Long-Term Evolution networks.
Verizon showed off the HTC Droid Incredible 4G LTE, a smartphone running Ice Cream Sandwich, as version 4.0 of Android is known, that will arrive in the coming weeks, though the carrier offered no pricing information.
AT&T, by contrast, introduced the Samsung Focus 2, Samsungs first 4G LTE smartphone to run Microsofts Windows Phone platformversion 7.5, known as Mango. It will be available May 20 for just $50 with a new two-year contract.
One thing the phones do have in common, on a field where the players have grown so large that one analyst recently joked that users will need to sew some oversized pockets onto their clothes, is a 4-inch display. Verizon marketed this feature as pocket-friendly.
The Droid Incredible 4G LTE runs on a 1.2GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, offers support for an up to 32GB memory chart, has a front-facing camera for video calls, has Mobile Hotspot capabilities to support up to 10 other devices and has a removable 1,700mAh lithium ion battery.
Its other specs bring to mind a new HTC addition to the AT&T lineup, the HTC One X. Both phones combine ICS with HTCs Sense 4.0 user interface, feature 8-megapixel cameras that can shoot photos while taking video, have screen-lock shortcuts that speed up the process of opening up favorite apps, and offer an enhanced audio experience, thanks to Beats Audiowhich is said to offer a listening experience closer to what the artist intended.
Both phones also build on the near-field communication- (NFC-) based Android Beam to allow users to share content with other NFC-enabled phones by tapping the two.
A Read Later feature, Verizon points out, lets users of Incredible 4G LTE save browser content for reading later, even when offline.
On to the Samsung Focus 2: Its now the third Windows Phone device in the AT&T portfolio, making AT&T the biggest backer of the budding OS.
Launching in Glossy Pure White, the Focus 2 measures 10.98mm thin and weighs 4.3 ounces. If a comparison helps to put those numbers into context, the iPhone 4S is 9.3mm thin and weighs 4.9 ounces, while Samsungs new enormous-but-skinny Galaxy S III is a svelte 8.6mm deep and 4.7 ounces. Verizon was slow to respond to a request for specs on the Incredible 4G LTE.
The Focus 2 has a 5MP camera that can shoot high-definition 720p video; built-in Bing Search; Microsoft Office Mobile and SkyDrive, for creating, saving and accessing documents on the go; a front-facing camera for video calling; and text-to-speech features for hands-free use.
Theres also the Windows Phone 7.5 OS, which the Nokia Lumia 900 has helped to win some fans, and of course that $50 price tag.
By pricing the Lumia 900 at $100, Nokia and AT&T raised eyebrowsand sold phones. The price point was cause for a good deal of conversation, as the pair, with Microsoft, tried to find a balance between incentivizing feature-phone owners over to a smartphone, and suggesting, wrongly, that the phone was a low-end model. With the Focus 2, AT&T appears to be experimenting again; it would very much like to attract subscribers to its full range of devices and platforms, making its business a little less iPhone-dependant.
Over at the Windows Phone Blog, Ben Rudolph described the Focus 2 as taking VERY good pictures and having a design that's ergonomic and super-comfortable to use.
Typing is where the design really shines through, he wrote, as the curved edges mean no hotspots on your hands and [help] you avoid cramping fingers (especially if you have big hands, like me).
While AT&Ts LTE network is expanding quickly, it hasnt yet reached Redmond, Wash., where Rudolph is. In an April 27 press release, announcing plans to bring LTE to Salt Lake City later this year, AT&T said the network is covering 260 million people. Verizon Wireless, introducing the Droid Incredible 4G LTE, said its LTE network now covers 230 markets across the United States.