AT&T plans to launch a lineup of 4G LTE smartphones that feature a super slim form factor and extra long battery life. The delay in the release is related to the availability of the technology, but according to Ralph de la Vega, chief executive of AT&T’s wireless and consumer unit, “we think it’s worth the wait”. This new lineup utilizes a new circuit-switch fallback (CSFB) technology that allows the phone to run on the 4G network, but to “fallback” on to the 3G network when it’s out of the 4G coverage areas. The main difference between these phones and the LTE phones offered by competitor Verizon Wireless is that the Verizon phones use two separate radios for the 4G and the 3G with each one utilizing battery power and driving the need for a larger battery and body. Because a single radio will be employed in the AT&T models, a smaller, more compact battery lends itself well to the refined form and design of these new 4G LTE models.
AT&T’s launch of this line will be its breakout into the 4G LTE market. Despite Verizon’s domination of the 4G LTE market, AT&T hopes that it’s refined design and long battery life will be just the boost it needs to capture a piece of this market. The AT&T announcement comes on the heels of the Verizon’s announcement to expand into 13 more cities for a new total of 175 cities by the end of November.
Verizon’s five 4G LTE smartphones have demonstrated impressive speeds, but the large battery hogs are leaving users disappointed. The HTC Thunderbolt, the first Verizon LTE, lasts barely 8 hours– even on standby– before needing a charge. And while the other models in Verizon’s lineup – like the Samsung Charge- have shown some increased efficiency, they continue to lack the batter power to get the average user through the day.
Despite the bulky form and kind of pitiful battery life, Verizon’s 4G LTE models have been responsible for driving scores of new subscribers and the company is expected to report large profits for the 3rd quarter. With Verizon and AT&T now both strongly engaged in the 4G LTE market, sales of the LTE, EV-DO and HSPA-powered models will start to drop off, consumers are left wondering about the continued compatibility of their older 3G models on the carriers’ networks.
Despite AT&T’s late entrance into the 4G LTE market, if they’ve gotten their models right with this CSFB technology, they may finally be able to make strides over Verizon and capture more of the 4G market.