Last week we noted that AT&T’s first markets for HD Voice over its LTE network would be live on May 23. The carrier still plans to launch the service and will offer a compatible phone on the same day. Customers will initially need the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini handset to place or receive HD Voice calls.
In a news release on Monday, AT&T(s t) detailed both the phone and its cost. You can pick up the Galaxy S4 Mini for $49.99 with contract or take advantage of either zero down Next 18 or Next 12 programs; expect a monthly phone payment of $14.24 or $18.50, respectively, for that route. Why does that sound inexpensive compared to other new phones? This handset is a smaller version of last year’s Galaxy flagship phone so it’s not quite cutting-edge.
The handset has a 4.3-inch AMOLED handset with 960 x 540 resolution, for example. That’s actually the same size and resolution as the $129 Moto E budget phone. The Galaxy S4 Mini runs on a 1.7 GHz dual-core processor, includes 16 GB of internal storage, and has a pair of cameras: 8 megapixel in the back and 1.9 megapixels up front. A few premium features include NFC, infrared remote capabilities Samsung’s S Beam software.
It’s a bit of shame that a new handset is needed for AT&T’s HD Voice calling, as other third-party VoIP apps offer similar service with wideband audio for improved clarity. Bria for Android is a good example. I assume the carrier will start adding the function to new phones going forward, however, possibly paving the way for HD Voice to the masses with Apple’s(s aapl) next iPhone.