In a move that is likely to upset every single AT&T customer to some degree, the nation's number two carrier has decided that its current upgrade fee (a cost tacked on whenever a current customer renews their contract and gets a new phone) isn't covering the rising cost of subsidized smartphones. The current upgrade fee is $18, and will soon be doubled to $36, matching the current fee at Sprint.
A new tablet is coming to the Sprint network next month, though it's definitely on the budget-minded side of things. The ZTE Optik will be available to Sprint customers starting February 5th through Sprint's online store, with a brick and mortar appearance to follow on March 11th. Here's a quick breakdown on the need-to-know specs for the Optik:
1.2GHz dual-core processor (we'd expect TI OMAP 4430, but that's a guess - yours is as good as ours)
Early rumours indicated that the Samsung Stratosphere would be released in September, and there were even leaked press shots of the device. However, here we are in October, and Verizon has just now taken the wraps off of the Stratosphere.
Billed as the "first 4G LTE smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard," the Samsung Stratosphere packs a hefty package, including:
Android 2.3 Gingerbread
1 GHz Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor
4-inch (800x480) WVGA Super AMOLED display
5-row slide-out QWERTY keyboard
4GB on-board memory
4GB pre-installed microSD card (up to 32GB supported)
5MP rear camera, 1.3MP front camera (720p HD playback and 480p recording)
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
The Stratosphere is clearly targeted towards the business user as alongside the QWERTY keyboard, the device will also have "enhanced B2B-enabled connectivity services from Cisco, the most comprehensive mobile implementation of Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) and support for secure remote device management from Sybase Afaria." Additionally, the device will support "Samsung’s Enterprise Platform enhancements such as VPN, encryption and Mobile Device Management (MDM)." This is a powerful phone that looks to attack RIM's enterprise stronghold and take-away market share from the BlackBerry by offering support for features corporate users find essential.
Tablets come in two flavors: either Wi-Fi only, or packing 3G/4G from a carrier. In the former, it can be purchased without a contract and usually for a lower price. The 3G/4G model typically costs more (although it may be cheaper thanks to a carrier subsidy, which is offset by the cost of the plan), and comes on contract.
It looks like Sprint is changing the way things are done in order to keep up with the competition, which doesn't always translate into good news for the consumer. The early termination fee (ETF) is getting an overhaul that will go into effect on September 9th, which will bump the ETF on "advanced devices" (read: smartphones, tablets, netbooks, and notebooks) up to a maximum of $350, putting The Now Network's policy in line with that of VZW and AT&T.
I'm not sure how well this 4G-ified Tab 10.1 is going to do in terms of sales, but it's coming nonetheless. And in four flavors! And by that, I mean there's two storage options (16GB or 32GB) and two color options (grey or white):
These prices are, of course, subsidized with a new 2-year data contract. How subsidized? Try $100 off (yes, that's all). Sounds like Verizon is super confident about this thing, too.
AmazonWireless has gone slashing more prices today - this time on the EVO 3D. You can pick up the 3D on a new 2-year agreement or line addition to your existing Sprint account for just $150 right now. That's $30 less than it was yesterday, so if you've been waiting for the right price to pick up your 3D, now seems like the time to do it. Those looking to upgrade from their current Sprint handsets will still have to pay the old price ($180).
Last week, I listed the EVO Shift 4G in my roundup of the best Android phones under $50, but that was when it was priced at $40 on AmazonWireless. Wirefly has now gone and beaten that price silly, offering the QWERTY-keyboard slider phone for the low, low price of "free" if you open a new Sprint account, or add a new line to your existing plan.
The EVO Shift 4G does have a tiny 3.6" display, but it's also packing a next-gen single core Snapdragon processor and a big 1530mAh battery - along with a fresh update to Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread.
I'm not a big fan of the DROID Charge, but hey, to each his own. And apparently consumers haven't been such huge fans of the phone's notoriously high original MSRP ($300 on upgrade or new agreement), making it the most expensive subsidized Android phone to date.
Well, Wirefly has started playing hardball, and after having dropped the Charge down to $180 a month or so back, they've gone price-slashing yet again: you can now pick up the Samsung DROID Charge for $129.99 on a new Verizon account with a 2-year agreement, or when you add a line to your existing plan (sorry, it's still $200 if you want to upgrade).