Verizon hopes to draw first-time LTE smartphone buyers with the LG Lucid

Sales start Thursday; device features tutorials for beginners

Verizon Wireless will begin exclusive sales Thursday of the LG Lucid smartphone for $79.99, after rebate and with a two-year agreement.

The device features a 4-in. touchscreen and runs Android 2.3, with upgrades eventually available to Android 4.0. It will run on Verizon's 4G LTE network, making it one of the lowest-priced smartphones for faster LTE, which Verizon now offers in more than 200 markets nationwide.

In addition to the low cost, Verizon said the phone is designed with first-time smartphone users in mind. Step-by-step tutorials are loaded into the device for newcomers, and a variety of shortcuts on the lock screen provide instant access to phone, messaging, voicemail and the camera.

Polaris Office, an app, is also provided for business professionals to allow easy opening, creation and editing of Microsoft Office documents, including Word, PowerPoint and Excel, Verizon said. The phone can also function as a mobile hotspot for up to 10 Wi-Fi-ready devices for work groups.

Low-cost smartphones are expected to flood the market in coming months. AT&T will begin selling Nokia's Lumia 900 for LTE , running Windows Phone, for $100 starting April 8.

Some high-end smartphones sell for as much as $300, an indication that wireless carriers and manufacturers are working to offer both low and high price points for smartphones, analysts have said.

The Lucid's features are not too discounted, however. The phone comes with a 1.2-GHz dual-core processor and a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with HD (1080p) video capture capability. Verizon didn't detail the megapixel rating for the front-facing camera.

As with other Verizon smartphones, buyers of the Lucid must purchase a nationwide talk plan starting at $40 a month, as well as a smartphone data plan, starting at $30 for 2GB.

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 .

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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