Verizon Wireless on Thursday will begin exclusive sales of the LG Lucid smartphone, offering it for $79.99 after rebate with a two-year agreement.
The device features a 4-in. touchscreen and runs Google's Android 2.3 operating system, though upgrades to Android 4.0 will eventually be available. It will run on Verizon's 4G LTE network, making it one of the lowest-priced smartphones to support faster LTE service, which Verizon now offers in more than 200 markets nationwide.
In addition to its low price tag, the Lucid includes a number of other features geared toward first-time smartphone users, according to Verizon. For example, step-by-step tutorials are loaded into the device to help newcomers, and a variety of shortcuts on the lock screen provide instant access to calling functions, messaging tools, voice mail and the camera.
There's also an app for business professionals called Polaris Office, which is designed to make it easy to open, create and edit Microsoft Office documents, including Word, PowerPoint and Excel files, Verizon said. The Lucid can also function as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 10 devices -- a feature that can be used by people who want to work together in a group.
Low-cost smartphones are expected to flood the market in coming months. On April 8, AT&T will begin selling the Lumia 900, a Windows Phone device from Nokia, for $100.
Some smartphones sell for as much as $300, an indication that wireless carriers and manufacturers are working to offer smartphone options that appeal to customers in both the high and low ends of the market, analysts have said.
While the Lucid's price tag is low, its features don't seem to be cut-rate. The phone is built with a 1.2-GHz dual-core processor and features a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with HD (1080p) video-capture capability. Verizon didn't reveal the megapixel rating for the front-facing camera.
As it does with other smartphones, Verizon will require buyers of the Lucid to purchase a nationwide talk plan starting at $40 a month, as well as a smartphone data plan, starting at $30 for 2GB of monthly data usage.
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 email address is email@example.com.