Samsung, Nokia LTE smartphones coming to Europe in Q4

The number LTE handsets available in Europe is finally poised to take off

A souped-up version of the Galaxy S III from Samsung Electronics and Nokia's Lumia 920 and 820 are among the LTE smartphones that will go on sale in Europe during the fourth quarter.

The availability of smartphones with LTE in Europe has been very limited compared to the U.S. But as the number of countries with commercial services grows, so will the number of smartphones with LTE consumers on the continent can choose between, according to Francisco Jeronimo, research manager at IDC.

On Tuesday, Everything Everywhere, a joint-venture between Orange and T-Mobile in the U.K., said it will launch a commercial LTE service this year with the Galaxy SIII LTE and the newly announced Lumia 920 and 820, as well the HTC One XL and Huawei's Ascend P1 LTE.

"The U.K. is one of the biggest markets in Europe, and the launch of commercial services there will help drive handset volumes which is what the vendors need to put out more devices," said Jeronimo.

Everything Everywhere isn't the only operator in Europe which will start selling the LTE-version of Galaxy SIII. It will also become available from a number of operators in the Nordic countries, according to Samsung.

Vodafone in Germany will announce its target launch datefor the phone in the next week, a spokesman said via email.

It already has a page where German consumers can register their interest.

The European version of the Galaxy S III combines LTE with a quad-core processor, which is still a rare combination among high-end smartphones. Last month, LG Electronics launched the Optimus G, which also combines the two technologies and will also go on sale in the fourth quarter.

The Galaxy S III LTE -- or 4G as it has been dubbed for the Nordic market -- and the Optimus G also have 2GB of RAM, twice the amount in the existing 3G version of Samsung's bestseller. Just like the 3G version, it has a 4.8-inch super AMOLED screen with a resolution of 1280-by-720 pixels.

The Galaxy's feature list also includes CS (Circuit-Switched) Fallback, a mechanism that allows smartphones to access the Internet using LTE and then switch to GSM or 3G when there is an incoming call. That means the radios for GSM and 3G as well as LTE don't have to be turned on at the same time, which increases battery life.

One of the aspects of LTE that has received a lot of attention is the use of a plethora of different spectrum bands across the world.

The new version of the Galaxy S III comes in two iterations: one with LTE over 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz, and a second one that switches the 800MHz band for the 900MHz band, according to Samsung in Sweden.

Support for those bands makes it a good fit for a rollout across Europe.

Besides Germany and the Nordic countries, commercial LTE services in Europe are also offered in countries including Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal as of July 11, according to data from industry organization GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association).

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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