There's good news and even better news when it comes to smartphones built for the 4G Long Term Evolution network: the array of 4G LTE-friendly smartphones is increasing every day and 4G LTE networks are delivering on the promise of super speedy, stable network capabilities. But maybe the best news is that 4G LTE smartphones are getting more affordable as carriers compete for subscribers and smartphone makers strive to boost handset sales.
Consumers are increasingly reaching for the 4G LTE smartphone given the faster uploads, faster downloads speeds-who doesn't want that when you're running a few games, posting photos and videos on social networks, grabbing snaps of sunsets, while emailing and texting, and yes, even making that actual call now and then? Crisp, clear voice capabilities is still a big want for consumers. Carriers are constantly promising better 4G LTE service, with every player on board at this point, and some using it as their defining feature. One February report notes Verizon's 4G LTE network as the current fastest, with T-Mobile LTE, AT&T LTE, T-Mobile HSPA+, Sprint LTE, AT&T HSPA, Verizon 3G and Sprint 3G rounding out the list.
Obviously networks and smartphones have evolved from first generation analog cell phones (1G) and second-generation (2G) digital network capabilities. The standard 3G, known as mobile broadband, is looking a bit dated to most consumers but often it's the price of moving to 4G LTE that keeps consumers using 3G smartphones on 3G networks.
By year's end it's likely every network carrier will be offering up 4G network, and most will have 4G LTE capability, in play. Just keep in mind that you should make sure 4G LTE service is in your area, and if you're not a big data user or video streamer, you might want to hold off on a 4G LTE phone and network plan since you'll be paying for something you're not using.
But if the reverse is the case, the good news is that the cost of a 4G LTE smartphone is slowly dropping and carriers are expanding 4G LTE network-Verizon's nework is nationwide and AT&T's is pretty broad and catching up. Sprint should be competitive by year's end in 4G LTE coverage. Even T-Mobile and MetroPCS aren't slouching in LTE access.
So for those big data, streaming service fans it may be a good time to consider a budget-friendly 4G LTE smartphone.
Here's a peek at the features and specs of four budget-priced options. Memory, processor speed all play into the final handset cost as does whether you're purchasing off a contract or with a contract.
ZTE Grand Max+
Platform: Android 4.4.4 (KitKat)
|Memory/Storage/RAM: 2GB RAM + 16GB ROM microSDHC support, up to 32GB
CPU: 1.2GHz Quad-Core ProcessorBattery Time (Talk): Up to 6.5 hours
Price: $199 with service activation
Nokia Lumia 635
Platform: Windows Phone 8.1 with Lumia Cyan
Memory/Storage/RAM: 512 MB /8GB/ Expansion card supports microSD memory card for up to 128GB
CPU: Quad-core 1.2GHz
Battery Time (Talk): Up to 16.4 h (3G)
Network: Sprint/Cricket Wireless/Boost Mobile/Virgin Mobile/AT&T
Price: Ranging from free, through $145 at T-Mobile. $70 at AT&T, $100 at Virgin Mobile. (The AT&T deal is as a GoPhone, part of pre-paid line.
HTC Desire 510
Platform: Android/KitKat 4.4
Memory/Storage/RAM: 4GB/8GB / Expansion card slot supports memory card for up to 128GB/1GB
CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, 1.2 GHz, quad-core
Battery Time (Talk): Up to 16.1 hours (3G)
Cost: $1 with two-year contract at Sprint. At Cricket, $80 with activation. Rate plans run from $40 to $60, and $199.99 free of obligations.
Platform: Android 4.4.2 KitKat
Memory/Storage/RAM: 4GB/microSD slot for up to 32GB/1GB RAM
CPU: Qualcomm® Snapdragon 200 processor with up to 1.4GHz dual-core
Battery Time (Talk): Mixed usage up to 24 hours
Price: $199 unlocked new, $139 used
Here are further specs on the 4G LTE smartphones: