Sprint's first sub-$100 4G smartphone set for Aug. 21 sale

Android 2.3-based Samsung Conquer runs 1 GHz processor; has two cameras and other high-end features

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Samsung Conquer 4G
The Samsung Conquer 4G

Sprint's first sub-$100 4G smartphone, the Samsung Conquer 4G, goes on sale Aug. 21.

While many powerful new smartphones cost between $150 and $200, the 3.5-in. touchscreen Conquer will sell for $99.99 with a two-year agreement and after a rebate, Sprint and Samsung said.

The Conquer has a 1 GHz processor, similar to some recently unveiled higher-priced smartphones, as well as two cameras for video chat.

The device runs Android 2.3 and has a 2GB card for storage. It also includes a MicroSD slot that can support a 32GB card.

Sprint and Samsung called the device an "affordable 4G smartphone." However Sprint. like all the major carriers, subsidizes the upfront hardware costs to attract customers to two-year plans that can ultimately cost in the thousands of dollars.

Sprint requires activation on its Everything Data plan for $69.99 a month plus a $10 monthly Premium Data add-on for smartphones.

At $80 a month, a customer would pay $1,920 for two years of service at Sprint. The carrier said its service charges are less expensive than rivals Verizon Wireless or AT&T.

Sprint has sold 25 smartphones and devices that can run over its fast WiMax 4G network.

That 4G network was first activated in Baltimore in September 2008, and is now available in 71 cities in 28 states. When not on 4G WiMax, the Conquer will revert to slower 3G speeds.

Sprint describes average data download speeds of up to 1.4 Mbps on 3G and up to 6 Mbps on WiMax.

The Conquer has a 3.5-in. 320x 480 touchscreen, weighs 4.1 ounces and measures 4.57 x 2.38 x 0.46 inches. By comparison, Apple iPhone 4 comes in at 4.8 ounces and is a tad smaller than the Conquer at 4.5 x 2.31 x 0.37 inches.

From the front, the Conquer looks surprising similar to the iPhone 4. However, the Conquer has Android's telltale four buttons at the bottom, instead of iPhone's single round home button.

Sprint doesn't sell any version of the iPhone, but is rumored to be getting a model dubbed the iPhone 4S this fall.

Verizon Wireless and AT&T compete with Sprint's fast WiMax network with Verizon offering comparable 4G speeds on LTE. AT&T is about to launch LTE as well in several cities, but boasts comparable 4G speeds over HSPA+.

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 mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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