Sep. 26, 2011 at 3:37 PM ET
T-Mobile USA confirmed details on two upcoming super-powered Android phones, the Samsung Galaxy S II and the HTC Amaze, on Monday. At the same time, executives discussed the iPhone, and the fact that it's not going to come to the carrier this year.
Chief Marketing Officer Cole Brodman shared the information with me by phone prior to his appearance at a mobile conference in San Francisco.
The $229.99 Samsung Galaxy S II, which we've discussed recently, is a super-slim phone with a huge screen — 4.5 inches, the largest on a T-Mobile phone — and a dual-core 1.5GHz processor for serious power.
The second phone announced by T-Mobile is the $259.99 HTC Amaze, another dual-core "superphone" with an 8-megapixel camera. The key to the Amaze, though, is performance. There's better low-light performance, zero shutter lag, dual-LED flash and some interesting software enhancements.
The Amaze's "Smart Shot" feature takes the best shot — clear faces, no blinking — from five photos shot in sequence. And the "Perfect Pics" gallery organizes your shots by analyzing picture quality, presence of faces and even calendar dates, so it can emphasize birthdays and other special events.
Both phones will have NFC (near-field communications) for mobile payment when it becomes available to T-Mobile customers. The phones will be available Oct. 10 online, and in T-Mobile stores starting Oct. 12.
T-Mobile also announced the Sonic 4G mobile hotspot, a modem that provides Wi-Fi for up to five devices. It will be available sometime in October. The carrier did not announce its price.
The two phones and hotspot run at the highest current speeds available on the carrier's 4G network. Brodman says that current performance in internal testing revealed 8 megabits per second download speeds on average, with peaks up to 20 megabits, using the newest, fastest hardware.
Laptop Magazine recently rated T-Mobile second only to Verizon in a five-city 4G network test. However, though T-Mobile carrier did well, the average performance — using a handful of assorted 4G-marketed phones and modems — wasn't nearly as fast as the current claims.
When I spoke with Brodman, I asked about his alleged comments regarding the lack of an iPhone this year. He acknowledged the comments, saying that it was supposed to be an "internal discussion."
"Essentially, the iPhone 5 is a great device," he said, though it was not clear whether he had seen the phone, or has confirmation of its existence. "iPhones have been good devices. We'd love to have it. Apple knows our interest in the iPhone. The ball is in Apple's court."
Brodman went on to confirm a figure that has been mentioned before: "There are over 1 million iPhones active on our network today." These would be "unlocked" out-of-contract iPhones sold new or used on eBay and elsewhere, that can access T-Mobile's basic telephony and slower data rates with a SIM card from the carrier, but can't access the higher data speeds or the carrier-dependent functionality, such as the "visual voicemail" interface.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile USA marketing executive Andrew Sherrard told Reuters, quite bluntly, "We think the iPhone's great but we're not going to get it."
On our call, Brodman didn't discuss any new details of the troubled AT&T-T-Mobile merger proposal, though he did say, "We believe the merger is good for our customers. We remain confident that the deal will eventually get closed." On the other hand, "If the deal doesn't close, we've got the best network we've ever had."
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