This week we will be recapping all the major carriers’ plans to launch Android phones. I decided to start with Sprint because they are most likely the next major US carrier to join the Android revolution. Along with T-Mobile, Sprint is the only other US carrier to join the Open Handset Alliance. Samsung has already confirmed Android phones for Sprint and T-Mobile and now all we can do is wait. The following is an overview of what Sprint customers can expect with their first Android experience.
Sprint has yet to announce a launch date for Android devices, but it should be in the later half of 2009. The first Android based Samsung phone is expected overseas in late June, with two more US models to follow. Before Android makes it debut, Sprint must get the Palm Pre launch to get out of the way in June. My best guess would be an October time frame.
There were rumors last year that Sprint would release a device in 2008, but those plans were delayed because of the carriers concern over Google’s vision. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said the Android platform was not “good enough to put the Sprint brand on it.” It appears Samsung has solved this problem by offering a device that is less about the “Google experience” and more focused on the Android platform. My favorite thing about Android is the seamless integration of Google services, but it looks like Sprint has chosen a different path.
Sprint is already advertising the first 4G network available in Baltimore and Portland. Soon it will be coming to Chicago and Philadelphia. The 4G network is run by Clearwire and uses WiMAX technology. Motorola, Nokia, and Samsung have expressed interest in releasing dual mode 3G/4G products and Sprint is likely to release the first 4G Android device.
While T-Mobile is still rolling out their 3G network, Sprint completed most of their 3G updrage in 2007. Sprint’s 3G network (Power Vision) includes many extra services such as Sprint TV, Sprint Radio Stations, Sprint Music Store, Sprint On-Demand, and more. It will be interesting to see which of these features make their way to Android. For more information on Sprint’s network, check out their coverage map.
Sprint prefers to roll their data plans in with the minute plans. The “best value” currently offered is the Simply Everything plan for $99 a month. This includes unlimited data, direct connect, txt, and minutes. Currently, there are three tiers of data plans that will most likely be offered for Android phones.
- $99.99 – Unlimited Everything
- $89.99 – 900 Minutes, Unlimited Data, Messaging, Direct Connect
- $69.99 – 450 Minutes, Unlimited Data, Messaging, Direct Connect
The Sprint plan offered for $69 is very competitive with T-Mobile. Unlimited data and text on T-Mobile is $35 and a comparable minute plan is $39. Sprint beats that price by $5 which would save you $120 over a 2yr contract.
Samsung will release the first Android phone for Sprint, but we have no further details on what model or features will be included. The latest Samsung smartphone offered to Sprint customers was the Instinct. The build is similar to the upcoming HTC Magic in that the device is touch only. Samsung also offers the Impression on AT&T which features a full slide out keyboard.
Other manufactures likely to release Android devices for Sprint include HTC, Motorola, and LG.
Sprint customers who have been patiently waiting for Android will finally be rewarded in 2009. They might even see the first 4G Android device. What remains to be seen is what changes will Samsung make to the Android platform? We know most carriers are scared of Google, but it’s the Google services that make Android so valuable. Will Samsung allow all the Google programs to be added instead of the Sprint counterparts? If you are a current Sprint user, please share your thoughts on Android and Samsung’s plans to strip out the Goolge services.