Activa 4G, Huawei's First LTE Smartphone, Now at MetroPCS for $149

MetroPCS is now selling the Huawei Activa 4G, the phone maker’s first LTE-enable phone. Two MetroPCS prepaid competitors this week announced they’ll offer the iPhone 4S, though at 3G speeds and far steeper rates.

Prepaid wireless carrier MetroPCS has brought phone maker Huawei€™s first 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) smartphone stateside, with the June 8 introduction of the Activa 4G.

The Android-based smartphone runs version 2.3, known as Gingerbread€”which, despite being two iterations old, is actually on 70 percent of the Android devices currently used worldwide, according to Flurry. It features a 3.5-inch HVGA capacitive touch-screen with Swype support; a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with a flash, as well as a forward-facing VGA camera; DTS Envelo Technology for surround sound audio; and a GCT single-chip LTE solution.

After mail-in and instant rebates, it will retail for $149.

€œMetroPCS is committed to providing customers with advanced, flexible and affordable smartphone options through its no-annual contract services, and is the ideal partner for Huawei€™s entrance into a new era for smartphones and handsets,€ Michael Chuang, Huawei USA executive vice president, said in a statement.

MetroPCS offers contract-free plans with unlimited talking and texting, but 4G speeds that apply to only certain amounts of data. For example, a $40 plan offers a user€™s first 250MB of data at 4G speeds, though a $70 plan offers unlimited data at 4G speeds, as well as a MetroStudio Video on Demand app, for watching TV shows and more.

Virgin Mobile USA and Leap Wireless, MetroPCS competitors in the prepaid market, in recent weeks announced they€™ll soon begin selling an 8GB iPhone 4€”Virgin for $549, Cricket for $399.99€”and the 16GB iPhone 4S, Virgin for $649, Cricket for $499.99.

The contract-free Activa 4G, at $149, seems a pretty good deal, by comparison. And of course, the Huawei can go where the Apple iPhones can€™t: onto LTE networks. Surely, that should be consolation to some MetroPCS fans.

Those still pining for an iPhone, however, may not have to wait long. Analysts with investment firm Canaccord Genuity wrote in a June 5 research note that their checks indicated €œpending [iPhone] launches with several more tier-2 or prepaid U.S. channels, such as MetroPCS and Virgin Mobile.€

As for Huawei, this year it has set its sights on the United States, Europe and Japan, and expects to ship more than 100 million mobile phones, 60 million of them smartphones. In 2011, it shipped 20 million smartphones.

The China-based company€™s bread and butter is telecommunications equipment. While it currently sees device sales of $7 billion, in five years€™ time, it expects that to reach $30 billion, equaling its telecom business, Reuters reported April 25, following an interview with Shao Yang, Huawei€™s chief marketing officer.

During the first quarter of this year, the world€™s mobile phone shipments exceeded 398 million units, down from more than 404 million units a year ago. Smartphones accounted for 144.9 million and 101.7 million units, respectively.

Market leader Samsung shipped 42.2 million smartphones during the first quarter of this year, followed by Apple, which shipped 35.1 million iPhones. Nokia placed third, with 11.9 million units; Research In Motion fourth, with 9.7 million; and HTC, in fifth, moved 6.9 million smartphones. While the two market leaders boasted strong growth, Nokia, RIM and HTC saw shipments fall by 50.8, 29.7 and 23.3 percent, respectively€”which would seem to create an opportunity for a hard-pushing competitor.