Droid Charge on Verizon LTE goes on sale April 28

With $300 price tag, smartphone also has unlimited data for $29.99

Verizon Wireless and Samsung announced that the Droid Charge, Verizon's second LTE smartphone, will go on sale April 28 for $299.99 with a two-year agreement.

The Charge has a 4.3-in. display and runs Android 2.2 -- just like the HTC ThunderBolt, the first phone running on Verizon's LTE network. The ThunderBolt shipped March 17 for $50 less, at $249.99.

Verizon will continue to offer unlimited data service for $29.99 a month with the Charge, as it does with the ThunderBolt and the iPhone 4.

Verizon officials have indicated that the company will eventually move to usage-based data pricing, probably in midsummer; it's unclear whether that step will result in the elimination of unlimited data plans.

The Charge will come with a free mobile hot spot feature for a limited time. With that feature, a Charge will be able to offer LTE connections for up to 10 nearby Wi-Fi-ready devices or five 3G CDMA devices.

The phone also has a 1GHz processor and support for HTML 5 Web browsing. A rear-facing 8-megapixel camera complements a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera, allowing users to take still photos or engage in video chats.

The onscreen virtual keyboard supports Swype technology for quick typing without the need to lift a finger off the screen.

The Samsung Charge is the official name for the Samsung 4G LTE smartphone announced by Verizon in January at the International CES trade show. A Verizon spokesman said the company expects to launch another LTE phone, the LG Revolution, by July. A fourth Verizon LTE phone, the Motorola Droid Bionic, is currently being modified -- it's undergoing changes to the form factor, features and functions seen in the model that Verizon showed in January. The Bionic will launch this summer, Motorola said this week.

Verizon on Thursday also said it is now offering LTE service in 45 metro areas, including these six newly added locales: Clarksville and Cleveland, Tenn., Columbia and Hilton Head, S.C., Wilmington, N.C., and the Greater Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania.

LTE supports download speeds of 5Mbps to 12Mbps, and upload speeds of 2Mbps to 5Mbps. Those speeds are about 10 times faster than the speeds available using Verizon's CDMA-EVDO network.

Verizon also sells mobile hot spot devices for LTE access and USB modems for laptops.

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 mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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