Smartphone on a budget: Samsung Exhibit II 4G set for sale

T-Mobile prices device at under $30 after rebate with two-year plan

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The budget-friendly Samsung Exhibit II 4G smartphone is slated to go on sale Thursday for $29.99 after rebate with a two-year T-Mobile USA service contract.

The new phone will also be sold without an annual contract for $199.99, T-Mobile announced, putting its price tag in line with what many carriers charge for high-end smartphones subject to two-year contracts.

T-Mobile's decision to put the Exhibit II on sale at low prices -- a move it's making in the midst of its acquisition by AT&T -- is evidence of mounting price competition among carriers, analysts said.

The Exhibit II is the first 4G smartphone to be sold without an annual contract at Walmart stores, which will be the first retailer to put it on sale Thursday. It will be available at T-Mobile stores on Nov. 2.

T-Mobile noted that the low-cost device runs on its fast 4G network, which is based on HSPA+21 and HSPA+42 technology that theoretically offer downloads of 10Mbps or higher.

The Exhibit II has a 3.7-in. WVGA touchscreen and a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. That processor was at the high end of smartphone chips a year ago, but many of the latest smartphones have dual-core processors, some clocked at 1.2GHz or higher.

The Exhibit II runs Google's Android 2.3 operating system, a.k.a. Gingerbread. And that also puts it a step behind its most state-of-the-art competitors, since carriers are soon expected to start introducing devices such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus that are based on Android 4.0 (a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich).

Exhibit II has a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera and front-facing camera that supports video chat via Wi-Fi. In contrast, high-end smartphones, including the iPhone 4S, now feature 8-megapixel rear-facing cameras.

T-Mobile vice president of product management Andrew Morrison said pricing on the Exhibit II gives users a "compelling reason ... to step up to the benefits of 4G smartphones."

The Samsung Exhibit II 4G smartphone.
The Samsung Exhibit II 4G smartphone.

Calling the device "budget-friendly," T-Mobile said it is "feature-rich," with access to TV and movies through the Samsung Media Hub and T-Mobile TV. Access to Gmail and syncing with Exchange email are possible.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, send email to mhamblen@computerworld.com, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed .

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