Is There a Lack of Smartphone Diversity on Verizon’s 4G LTE Network?

Granted, 4G LTE and its consumer-facing devices are still in an infancy period having only been recently made available for purchase within the last few months, but the three Android smartphones–two of which are available today and one coming later this week–all exhibit similar traits. For one, all three devices are touchscreen-only devices so that means no physical QWERTY keyboard, no BlackBerry-styled QWERTY form factors, and no sliders, at least not yet anyways. Also, all devices are launching with a 4.3-inch display, so while you’re stuck with a touchscreen-only experience, you also can’t choose a smaller device if you prefer a device with a bit more compact form factor.

With news that the rumored Droid 3, a device with a sliding keyboard in landscape orientation, would not be a 4G LTE device, it seems that Verizon’s next-generation mobile broadband network will sport the same form factor and display size for much of the year, if not through 2011. While the carrier would probably add newer form factors and varying display sizes and technologies to its lineup of 4G Android devices in the future, customers interested in 4G LTE for now will not have variety.

There’s no denying that I’ve been a huge fan of 4G from Sprint (WiMax) and Verizon Wireless (LTE)–the former offers slightly slower speeds but an unlimited 4G data plan for all my data and content consumption while the latter offers more robust speeds but with more costs as the plans are metered on non-smartphone devices; both carriers offer unlimited 4G data plans for smartphones. However, that said, Verizon’s 4G lineup is a still a bit puzzling to me months after the carrier had unveiled the devices early this year at CES as the four phones introduced at the time all come with a 4.3-inch screen.

While it’s true that 4G LTE inclusion may be the killer feature–it’s the one feature that drove me to switch carriers and join the 4G LTE fray–the lack of choice with 4G devices seem to create sort of a conspiracy theory for me. Is Verizon Wireless downplaying Android and its hardware partners in favor of up-playing its network?

Another feature that LTE is lacking is screen resolution. Though the 4.3-inch Droid Bionic was said to be coming with a higher resolution qHD resolution, Motorola isn’t giving any more information about the device and the technologies employed except to say that the Droid Bionic will be launching later this summer with a different form factor, whatever that’s supposed to mean. The HTC Thunderbolt, Samsung Droid Charge, and LG Revolution are all launching with WVGA resolution. Granted, there is some variation in display technologies–the Samsung Droid Charge is the one launching with a Super AMOLED Plus display–the HTC, LG, and Motorola smartphones are all launching with LCD displays.

There’s even more uniformity when you look at processor specs between the Thunderbolt, Charge, and Revolution as those devices have single-core 1 GHz CPUs. Though the Droid Bionic is said to launch with a Tegra 2-powered dual-core CPU, it’s unclear if that will make the final cut after Motorola re-designs the phone.

Perhaps, the lack of diversity is what prompted Motorola to go back to the drawing board with the Droid Bionic. Does 4G require a 4.3-inch display to maximize your Android experience–whether you’re watching a video or browsing a photo–or are you craving more diversity? Are you waiting for more varied form factors to come to the 4G LTE lineup before joining the faster mobile broadband bandwagon or are you happy with what’s available today?

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Comments

  1. verizon sucks says

    Verizon doesn’t want HD on their 4G phones until later this summer, the same time they are going to a limited data plan. They were the first with Android and its funny that all the sudden now netflix will work on Android. Did you see its only 1 Verizon Android phone? They were the reason netflix wasn’t working on Android. Now you can get HBO GO on Android for free along with other services to watch movies. Its not that stupid unremovable Blockbuster app that no one wants to use. And if you do, Verizon gets their cut. I waa with Spint a long time ago and all my calls dropped. But now I use more data. Sprint is cheaper and they don’t throttle your speed if you try to watch a movie. F Verizon! When my contract is up, they can kiss my app.

    • Anonymous says

      Sprint is a “city carrier”, go even 15 miles out of my town, and you don’t have any service.  If you want the lower tier of carriers, and never leave the city, you have selected the proper phone!

      For those of us that travel or do expeditions outside of our city dwellings, Verizon is the only carrier to have.  I could also expand on how ATT used to leave me literally stranded pulling up reservations at even airports.  It’s not just the cell coverage, it’s also the backhaul.  Verizon is an expert at this compared to others like ATT.

  2. Anonymous says

    Most of the phones are indeed new, as LTE’s major roll out will occur by the end of the year.

    Why write an article like this when the author knows exactly how the rollout is working, and how handset manu’s are slowing releasing their devices in conjunction with this LTE rollout?

    At least you have the choice right now for real 4G on VZ in a ton of cities already!

    • verizon sucks says

      I’m not saying that Verizon doesn’t have the best phone service. They do, but use there” 3G” for anything more then basic internet and your screwed. Any time I watch a video more then 2 minutes I lose 3G. Verzon coverage is the best, but they treat their customer’s like a bunch of kids! We pay good money for 3G service and we should get it. Not to mention that they are the ones holding back manufacturers from updating to gingerbread. The same system that will help you run Netflix. They are holding everyone back and force you to buy a new phone to use any service that other providers are letting you get now. They are coming out with Android 4G phones without gingerbread? Watch, everything will get the upgrade when they switch to a limited data plan. And all the sudden netflix will work on all of their phones!! Sprint isn’t the best, but they want their customers happy and don’t hold you back.

      • Anonymous says

        I’m not so sure we can take any of your post serious, all based on your account name. 

        Please stop trolling.  Wow, 2 minutes into a video you lose 3G?  I’ve never had this problem.

        Again, your account name is “verizon sucks”.  It’s hard to take you serious in any way, shape, or form.

    • Chuong Nguyen says

      Point is that there is a lot of diversity on Verizon’s 3G network. It’s kind of surprising to see them not carry over some of the device diversity to 4G and launch all phones with essentially the same display size and form factor. Why not launch with one slider, or maybe convince a hardware partner to release a 4G-enabled Motorola Droid Pro? 

  3. GameDiversity says

    Still waiting for Verizon to release a stellar phone this year …. the Thunderbolt is nice ….. but I am guessing the Atrix and iPhone 4 are still the best phones out there …. hoping Bionic and Galaxy S2 (the Function) beat expectations. In fairness to Verizon and to the Manufactures, I think the schedule has been thrown off by delayed releases due to battery life (Thunderbolt) or upgrades (Bionic, Galaxy S2). Valid points thoughts, the phones do appear generally the same with variations in specs, not form factor.

  4. Pat Gehrke says

    The lack of a 4g with physical keyboard is a massive oversight for Verizon.  I have been with them over a decade and this is one of the first times I have considered switching and it is all for a 4g phone with a physical keyboard.  I cannot even find a decent rumor or leak of one being in the works.  They just keep cranking out candybar phones with minimal differentiation between them.  Compare that to the device offerings on Sprint and Verizon should be ashamed of themselves.  Sprint actually has a diversity of 4g devices and two with a physical keyboard.  Whatever the issue is over in the hardware side of the Verizon world, they need to get it together.  I’m only going to wait so long before I actually do the unthinkable and head to another carrier.  Being stuck on 3g when all my travels are in 4g markets (including home base) or having to deal with a virtual keyboard is not a situation Big Red should ask their customers to tolerate.

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