MetroPCS, Samsung Launch First LTE Smartphone | Wifi Walker, J B Chaparal Properties

MetroPCS, Samsung Launch First LTE Smartphone

MetroPCS today announced the first LTE smartphone available in the U.S., the Samsung Galaxy Indulge. This Android-powered smartphone will go on sale on Feb. 11, three days before the HTC Thunderbolt hits Verizon Wireless.

The Galaxy Indulge is a scaled-down version of Samsung’s popular Galaxy S line of smartphones. This is an Android 2.2 smartphone with a slick plastic body and slide-out keyboard of small, rubbery keys. The phone has a 1-GHz Samsung Hummingbird processor, a 3.2-megapixel camera and an 320-by-480 LCD screen. Since MetroPCS doesn’t have contracts and doesn’t subsidize its phones, the Indulge will cost $399.

The Indulge comes with a 4GB microSD memory card with the movie “Iron Man 2” pre-loaded, along with a bunch of custom MetroPCS apps. The two most interesting are a “virtual credit card” that lets you charge purchases to your MetroPCS account as if it was a Visa card, and MetroPCS Easy WiFi, which auto-connects to a range of public Wi-Fi networks.

The phone works on MetroPCS’s 4G LTE and 2G CDMA networks. The 4G system is currently in 13 major metro areas in the U.S., and the 2G network is nationwide. MetroPCS promises varying 4G speeds based on how much spectrum they have in each city. In most cities, it says you can get at least 5Mbps down, but speeds will be lower in Boston and Philadelphia. In a quick test in New York, I got speeds around 2.5Mbps down.

MetroPCS has attracted some controversy because of its service plans, though. The company’s $60 per month service plan includes unlimited data, although you can’t tether your phone to a PC. That’s pretty normal.

But the $50 per month plan segregates types of Web content, which Internet freedom advocates have said violates net neutrality. Specifically, you get unlimited “Web browsing” but 1GB for “video, audio and games.” This gets really complicated when you start hitting Web pages with embedded music or videos. MetroPCS said on Wednesday that most embedded content on Web pages wouldn’t fall under the cap.

The Indulge is MetroPCS’s second LTE phone, after the Samsung Craft. The $299 Samsung Craft, which is not a smartphone, was targeted at heavy YouTube users and has been selling well, MetroPCS executives said.

We’ll have a full review of the Indulge soon.

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