T-Mobile USA will sell the 4G Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus tablet beginning Nov. 16 for $450 using an unusual payment scheme: After an initial payment of $250, buyers will make 20 monthly payments and be required to sign up for a two-year wireless plan.
T-Mobile's 4G wireless version of the 7-in. touchscreen tablet runs over its fast HSPA+ network as well as Wi-Fi; several national retailers will offer, or have begun offering, Wi-Fi-only versions for $400. Best Buy joined some other retailers in starting sales of the Wi-Fi version this week.
The Tab 7.0 Plus has 16GB of internal storage, a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and runs Android 3.2.
T-Mobile will also offer the 7-in. Springboard with Google tablet on Nov. 16 for $70 less than the Tab 7.0 Plus. The Springboard tablet is also subject to a down payment and monthly payments.
Both new tablets from T-Mobile require the up-front down payment and 20 monthly payments of $10 apiece. (The Tab's initial down payment after a $50 rebate is $249.99; the SpringBoard's is $179.99.) A two-year wireless agreement is also required that can range from $20 to $30 a month, depending on whether a customer also has voice coverage. Over two years, the cost could be as high as $1,180 for hardware and wireless service.
Analysts said the lower up-front down payment cost is designed to draw in buyers.
"This is classic marketing, highlighting to consumers the entry cost, but not the overall cost," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. "Consumers should do their homework before purchasing anything. The highlighted entry fee is 20% to 30% of the total costs, which is slick marketing, but not exactly truth in total costs."
However, Tom Mainelli, an analyst at IDC, said T-Mobile "isn't doing anything devious..., just trying to spread the cost of the hardware out over the life of the product."
But he added he would probably not buy the device from T-Mobile because it's "not a particularly good deal" with the hardware costing $499 before rebate, well above the $199 for the 7-in. Kindle Fire that goes on sale Nov. 15. But he also noted that he Kindle Fire has fewer features than the Tab 7.0 Plus, including no 4G wireless.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is email@example.com.