The HTC Merge, an Android handset with a landscape-oriented QWERTY slider, may be launching on regional carrier Alltel’s network rather than Verizon Wireless’s national network. It’s unclear if the leaked image is indication of such change as the handset shown in the picture is still devoid of physical branding other than a wallpaper on the phone depicting Alltel.
However, absent on the image obtained by Droid-Life is branding on the phone’s hardware–such as Alltel branding on the bezel around the display. Also not seen is the carrier’s logo or name in the phone’s software. On Android smartphones, the easiest way to glimpse the carrier’s name is through Android’s pull down notification menu.
The Merge, which would have been Verizon’s answer to the T-Mobile G2 and the recently launched HTC EVO Shift 4G on Sprint–both advertised as 4G smartphones with the former using T-Mobile USA’s HSPA+ network and the latter using WiMax on Sprint’s Now Network–but had been speculated to be delayed. There were some speculations that the Merge was delayed to include a 4G LTE radio for release, which would make it more competitive with offerings from Sprint and T-Mobile, but waiting that long would make the phone seem dated when it’s release. Instead, Verizon has chosen four phones–all with 4.3-inch displays–to launch for its LTE 4G network at CES. This may suggest that if the Merge was in fact delayed to support the carrier’s 4G LTE network, it would not be among the first smartphones out the gate.