Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZW) will sell a high-end Android smartphone called the "Samsung Droid Prime" in October in lieu of the Samsung Galaxy S II Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" handset, according to a leading mobile gadget blog.
Much of the mobile tech industry was aghast to learn Verizon would not offer the Samsung Galaxy S II handset. The phone maker has scheduled a media event in New York City for Aug. 30 (rescheduled from Aug. 29 due to Hurricane Irene), where AT&T (NYSE:T), Sprint (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile are expected to present their Galaxy S II models.
Verizon opted not to sell the device, though it did not say why.
Boy Genius Report said Verizon opted not to sell the highly anticipated handset because it wouldn't compete effectively with Apple's iPhone 5 when it appears in September or October. The device is expected to have a redesigned shape, a faster processor and better cloud integration.
"Verizon doesn't think the Samsung Galaxy S II will be competitive with the iPhone 5 when it launches," a source told BGR.
Rather, Verizon will offer the Samsung Droid Prime, slated as the first handset with the Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" (ICS). ICS combines holographic widgets and other features from Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android "Honeycomb" build tailored for tablets.
Verizon did not respond for comment as of this writing.
It's pretty much impossible to deny the existence of a Samsung device using the "Prime" brand at this point. Geek.com said Samsung's legal team confirmed the existence of a "Nexus Prime" smartphone in a cease-and-desist letter to prevent some folks from releasing the phone's firmware.
Whether it's the Samsung Droid Prime, or the Samsung Nexus Prime, it seems clear this is the device Verizon has eschewed the Galaxy S II for. It's a bold, risky bet, albeit sort of understandable.
It's bold and risky because the Galaxy S II sold more than 5 million units in less than three months overseas, stoking pent-up demand in the United States. It's understandable because if AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile all launch Galaxy S II devices as planned, they will saturate the market with three somewhat similar Gingerbread phones.
But mostly, Verizon wants a device to separate from the pack versus the mighty iPhone 5, which is enjoying its own frenzied demand ahead of its launch.