T-Mobile unveils Samsung Galaxy S II, HTC Amaze 4G

The high-end smartphones are the first to use T-Mobile's newly upgraded wireless network.

The T-Mobile Amaze 4G from HTC. T-Mobile USA

T-Mobile USA today showed off what are likely to be its flagship phones for the rest of the year: Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S II and HTC's Amaze 4G.

Both phones will be available on October 12, with the Amaze 4G selling for $259.99 and the Galaxy S II selling for $229.99, with both prices coming after a $50 rebate and a two-year contract.

The two smartphones are the first to run on T-Mobile's newly upgraded network, which the company says is faster than most consumers' home Internet connection. While T-Mobile lacks the spectrum to build a true 4G LTE network, it has instead put its resources behind an upgraded version of HSPA technology that delivers a higher connection speed.

Because of the faster connection, T-Mobile calls its network 4G, putting it on the same level--marketing-wise--as Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel. Cole Brodman, chief marketing officer of T-Mobile, said the phones should be able to average speeds at around 8 megabits per second, and peak speeds of 20 megabits per second--faster than the standard home DSL or cable connection.

T-Mobile has been aggressively cutting prices and putting out a number of affordable handsets in an effort to revitalize customer growth. The carrier is the fourth-largest player in the country and has dealt with several quarters of subscriber losses, partly due to the lack of eye-catching handsets, but also as a result of uncertainty caused by AT&T's planned takeover of the company.

In the second quarter, T-Mobile lost 50,000 net customers, largely due to the loss of 281,000 net contract subscribers, seen in the industry as the most lucrative segment.

Brodman, however, remained upbeat about T-Mobile's prospects.

"There's no better time to be a T-Mobile customer," he said in an interview with CNET today.

He said 75 percent of its device sales are now smartphones, and nearly a third of its base of customers use smartphones now.

T-Mobile's version of the Samsung Galaxy S II. T-Mobile USA

"We're seeing a rapid shift to the smartphone at T-Mobile," he said.

T-Mobile embarked upon a strategy to go after customers who have yet to move to a smartphone, a segment the company calls "affordable adopters" or "smartphone intenders."

"They want mobile technology, but are concerned by the ongoing costs and confused by the complexity," Brodman said.

That means competing against a broad swath of the industry, contradicting AT&T's argument that it doesn't consider T-Mobile competition. Brodman said his strategy affects all carriers, although he wouldn't outright dispute AT&T's claim.

"We fight against multiple fronts," he said. "We can't afford to compete against just one carrier."

Brodman reiterated that he believed the AT&T,T-Mobile merger would go through.

In the meantime, the company is trying to prop itself back up through a better selection of phones. The Galaxy S II is a variant of the original Galaxy S II that hit overseas markets. Sprint sells its own version, also known as the Epic 4G Touch, and AT&T's will hit the U.S. market next week.

The phone uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core chip, features a 4.52-inch Super Amoled display, and uses the Gingerbread variant of Android. Brodman said the phone is designed to be a media powerhouse, with shows and movies taking advantage of the handset's sharp screen.

The Amaze, meanwhile, will also have a Qualcomm dual-core processor and comes with HTC's Sense user interface. The device will be able to capture full high-definition video with its 1080p HD video recorder, features a 4.3-inch screen, and Gingerbread as well. In addition, the phone will have near-field communications capabilities, allowing it to eventually use a mobile-payment system at retail stores and New York cabs.

Brodman said the phone is intended for people who want to stay connected to their social networks.

In addition, T-Mobile said it plans to sell the Sonic 4G Mobile HotSpot in October.

 

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