The trend toward low-cost Android phones continued in the United States as Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZW) introduced the Pantech Breakout, a 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) smartphone the carrier will begin selling Sept. 22 for $99 on contract.
The Pantech Breakout is based on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" operating system, fueled by a 1GHz, single-core processor on Verizon's fastest ever network.
At a time when Verizon is offering 4G LTE handsets such as the Samsung Droid Charge and Motorola Droid Bionic for $300 on contract, the Breakout is targeted to mid-tier customers who prefer hardware that's softer on their wallets at the point of sale.
There's no question this is a value purchase intended to lure more subscribers to Verizon. The Breakout is the least expensive Android handset running on Verizon's speedy new network, which promises download speeds of 5 to 12M bps and upload speeds of 2 to 5M bps.
The breakout includes a 4-inch touchscreen with 480-by-800 resolution, a virtual QWERTY keyboard with Swype gesture software. Preloaded onto the phone are Google Mobile applications, such as Search, Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps, which includes the popular Maps Navigation turn-by-turn GPS app.
The handset also has a modest 5 megapixel rear-facing camera with HD video capture to 720p, as well as a VGA front-facing camera for still shots and video chatting.
The device also serves as a 4G LTE mobile hotspot supporting up to 10 WiFi-enabled devices, which will cost consumers $30 a month should they choose to activate it to connect their laptops and other WiFi gadgets to the Web via the Breakout.
There are several reasons why the Breakout is low cost compared to its high-end handsets, such as the Droid Bionic or Samsung' Galaxy S II. Those devices are using dual-core processors, have screens with higher resolutions, and do video capture in 1080p, among other perks.
The Breakout will cost customers $99 after a $50 mail-in rebate, which will be in the form of a debit card; upon receipt, customers may use the card as cash anywhere debit cards are accepted.
Customers that purchase the Breakout smartphone must subscribe to a Verizon Wireless Nationwide Talk plan, which starts at $39.99 for monthly access, along with a smartphone data package beginning at $30 a month for 2GB of data.
The Breakout follows the low-cost Sprint Gingerbread-based Kyocera Milano smartphone, which costs $49.99 on contract and the Impulse 4G Android 2.2 smartphone, which AT&T began selling yesterday for $29.99 with a two-year contract.