Although it has only been a few weeks since the launch of the HTC Thunderbolt, Verizon Wireless is prepping to launch its second 4G LTE smart phone. First seen at CES 2011 with a different name, the Droid Charge by Samsung packs strong punch. For starters it sports a 4.3 inch Super AMOLED screen, a 8 megapixel camera for HD video, and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video chat.
I am quite excited for the Super AMOLED display since it is probably one of the few available in a 4.3 inch size. Samsung’s technology generally offers vibrant colors and great visibility even under direct sunlight as we saw on the Sprint Epic 4G last year. The main 8 megapixel camera and the complementary LED flash is quite standard, but Verizon Wireless did not detail any official launch partners for video calls. I hope that it comes pre-loaded with Skype or Qik, unlike the HTC Thunderbolt that shipped without any.
The Droid Charge still runs the older Android 2.2 (Froyo) over the latest Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), which is a bit of a bummer. It is especially disappointing considering that Google might announce yet another new version of their OS less than a month from now at Google I/O 2011.
Unlike most portable hotspots that restrict the maximum number of connected devices to 8 users, the Droid Charge makes room for up to 10 users. Due to network speed limitations, that number gets cut down to just 5 simultaneous users when running on the slower Verizon Wireless 3G.
This announcement is quite exciting, but things take a big turn when it comes to pricing. This smart phone will run customers $300 with a new two-year commitment. That is quite expensive considering that number is the subsidized price. Aside from a few improvements such as a better display, it does not offer much more than the HTC Thunderbolt that goes for over a $100 less. Monthly plans begin at $40 for voice and $30 for data bringing the minimum total to $70 without even taking a texting package into account. For those interested, the Samsung Droid Charge will hit online and retail stores on April 28th. As a bonus, Verizon Wireless throws in the mobile hotspot feature at no additional cost “for a limited time.” This normally will run users around $20-30 extra per month.