AT&T Goes Big With 21 Mbps Infuse 4G Smartphone

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On May 15, AT&T will begin selling a new smartphone that offers not one, but two, firsts for the carrier. The Samsung Infuse 4G has a 4.5-inch display, the largest of any AT&T smartphone yet, and will also support downloads of up to 21 Mbps when it arrives for $199 with contract. Prior handsets with the 4G tag top out at 14.4 Mbps. The carrier also notes that at 8.99 mm thick, the Android handset is the thinnest 4G-capable device in the country.

Unlike some of the newest handsets, the Infuse 4G doesn’t offer a dual-core processor. Instead, a 1.2 GHz chip powers the Infuse 4G, which should still show a performance boost over most handsets from the prior year. A roundup of some key specifications include:

  • Google Android 2.2 with Samsung TouchWIZ user interface
  • 800 x 480 resolution display
  • 16 GB of internal storage, support for microSD memory expansion (2 GB card included)
  • 8-megapixel camera with 720p video support, 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera for video chat
  • Dimensions: 5.2” x 2.8” x .35”
  • Weight: 4.9 ounces

To entice buyers, AT&T is pre-loading a special version of Angry Birds on the Inspire 4G, which includes a special “Golden Egg” level. The first 500,000 Infuse customers also receive a $25 voucher for Samsung’s Media Hub store, which rents and sells movies. This could help Samsung’s media ecosystem (something I’ve been watching develop in preparation for the company’s answer to Apple’s iPod touch) gain traction.

Aside from the fast mobile broadband speeds, which will vary based on location and AT&T’s ongoing network expansion, the star of the Infuse 4G may be the display. The screen is built using Samsung’s Super AMOLED Plus technology, which offers 50 percent more sub-pixels for rich, vivid colors, and the display should provide better visibility outdoors. A review unit arrived here earlier this morning, and I’m extremely impressed with the screen on the Infuse 4G so far. An included adapter with the phone allows HDMI connections for viewing on a larger display if the 4.5-inch screen isn’t big enough.

The large-screened Infuse reinforces a trend I’ve been watching for the better part of a year as handset displays are growing in size. There are a few exceptions: The recently announced HP Veer 4G  uses a 2.6-inch display, while Apple’s iPhone continues as a 3.5-inch device. I think Apple will eventually move to a larger screen, because handsets with a 4-inch (or larger) display are still pocketable, but offer larger software keyboards and more immersive experiences for gaming and video, two mobile activities on the rise.

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