Understandably most of the recent attention towards Verizon has been centered on it finally getting its hands on the iPhone. But while it’s being playing catch-up regarding Apple, the network has also taken a step towards the future with four manufacturers announcing LTE phones.
While the exact definitions are a matter of semantics, Verizon’s LTE offering is the most credible claimant to be a 4G network. Until now it’s been the preserve of laptop owners using wireless cards, but 2011 will finally see at least four handsets: HTC’s ThunderBolt 4G, LG’s Revolution, the Motrola Droid Bionic and an as-yet unnamed Samsung model.
PCMag has a good breakdown of the various specs: the main point is that the HTC, LG and Samsung models are much of a muchness, with the Motorola handset standing out with a dual-core processor, a larger touchscreen, and HD video output.
Exactly when the phones will be available isn’t yet public knowledge, though late spring/early summer appears to be the best bet. Verizon is already pre-registering for the HTC model, and appears to be implying it will be the first on sale.
Pricing is also yet to be announced. The current fees PC customers ($50 for 5GB a month, $80 for 10GB) appear aimed firmly at business users, so you’d expect to see a reduction for a wider consumer audience, particularly if there’s a separate fee for voice service. Either way the fees are going to be pricy, so it would certainly be tough to sell the handsets at anything more than the $199 that seems to be the standard subsidized price for top-end smartphones these days.
Verizon has also come up with a couple of selling points for the network itself. It’s promising Skype video calls to other 4G users or to PCs. There’ll also be a mobile edition of Rock Band on the HTC handset, the idea being that the high speed will allow co-operative play among users in different locations.