Verizon adds affordable 4G smartphone to lineup

The carrier will sell the Pantech Breakout, a 4G LTE smartphone, for $99.99, starting later this week.

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Roger Cheng (he/him/his) was the executive editor in charge of CNET News, managing everything from daily breaking news to in-depth investigative packages. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade and got his start writing and laying out pages at a local paper in Southern California. He's a devoted Trojan alum and thinks sleep is the perfect -- if unattainable -- hobby for a parent.
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Roger Cheng

Verizon Wireless is making its 4G LTE service a bit more affordable for the masses.

The Pantech Breakout. Verizon Wireless

Starting Thursday, the carrier will sell the Pantech Breakout for $99.99 after a $50 rebate and a two-year contract.

The Breakout marks the first reasonably priced 4G LTE phone in Verizon's lineup. Previously, the carrier had marketed 4G LTE smartphones as high-end devices. The Droid Bionic from Motorola and the Droid Charge from Samsung, for instance, cost $299.99 with a contract. Even the older HTC Thunderbolt costs $249.99.

The emergence of a more affordable smartphone underscores the rapid expansion of the 4G LTE ecosystem. It's a relatively high-profile product for Pantech, a Korean handset manufacturer known for making affordable, although typically under-the-radar phones.

The Breakout is the fifth 4G LTE phone for Verizon. AT&T, meanwhile, just launched its 4G LTE network in five markets on Sunday. AT&T has already launched a USB data card, mobile hot spot and tablet running on its 4G LTE network, but has yet to launch a phone.

The Pantech Breakout, meanwhile, will have custom widgets from the handset manufacturers and can share media files using Digital Living Network Alliance technology. The smartphone uses Android 2.3, known as Gingerbread, features a 4-inch capacitive touchscreen, a 5-megapixel camera with high-definition video capture, and an 8GB preinstalled memory card.

The phone can also create a mobile hot spot that can connect up to 10 devices to a portable Wi-Fi network.