Samsung Indulge from MetroPCS May Be First 4G LTE Android Smartphone

MetroPCS introduced the Samsung Indulge Feb. 9. It may beat Verizon's HTC ThunderBolt to market, making it the first available 4G LTE Android smartphone.

MetroPCS, the nation's fifth-largest wireless carrier, has introduced what may be the first commercially available 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) Android smartphone, the Samsung Indulge. According to a Feb. 9 statement from the carrier, the Indulge will go on sale this week.

The carrier, which doesn't tie customers to contracts or offer subsidies, will price the phone at $399.

"At about half the cost of other 4G smartphone service plans today, consumers can truly have it all," the carrier said in a Feb. 9 statement. MetroPCS offers $50 and $60 4G LTE smartphone service plans, the latter of which is an Unlimited Premium Plan for unlimited data access.

The Indulge features a 3.5-inch LCD touch-screen with a slide-out four-row QWERTY keyboard, and runs Android 2.2 and a 1GHz Samsung Hummingbird processor. The Samsung TouchWiz user interface is included, along with access to the Android Market, Google's suite of mobile services, including Google Search and YouTube and MetroPCS' MetroStudio-an integrated application that offers access to a catalog of music, ringtones and ring-back tones.

A 3-megapixel camera has a camcorder and auto-focus, and there is a music player and Stereo Bluetooth connectivity, and a microSD slot for up to 32GB of memory. The Indulge comes with a 4GB microSD card that's preloaded with the movie "Ironman 2."

"The Galaxy Indulge integrates two of Samsung's core product investments; the Android platform and bringing powerful and intuitive 4G-enabled devices to the U.S. market," Omar Khan, chief strategy officer for Samsung Mobile, said in a statement. "The Galaxy Indulge is loaded with the speed of the Android OS, true mobile broadband connectivity and a 1GHz processor with rich multimedia features for premium movie and TV content."

At the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in January, Verizon introduced the HTC Thunderbolt, calling it the "first 4G LTE smartphone." While the phone is rumored to go on sale Feb. 14, Verizon has so far only said that it's "coming soon." By the time it does, however, it may instead be the second 4G LTE smartphone.

LTE, according to a Feb. 8 report from research firm IHS iSuppli, is expected to be the predominant form of 4G worldwide, with subscriber numbers exceeding those of WiMAX-Sprint's 4G flavor of choice-by 2012. By 2014, WiMAX is expected to have 33.4 million subscribers worldwide, while LTE will claim more than 303 million users. To date, 10 operators have launched 4G LTE networks, though more than 30 are expected to power up in 2011.

MetroPCS currently offers 4G LTE service in 13 metropolitan areas, including Boston, Dallas-Forth Worth, Las Vegas, New York and San Francisco.

Samsung, not one for carrier allegiances, has also promised a 4G LTE smartphone to Verizon Wireless, along with a 4G version of its popular Galaxy Tab. Verizon introduced the devices at the CES event, along with a handful of other 4G LTE devices-10 in all. Among them were the LG Revolution and the Motorola Droid Bionic 4G smartphones.