MetroPCS has launched yet another low-priced LTE smartphone in its bid to get every customer migrated to its LTE network during its LTE for All transition campaign, with ZTE being the latest to launch a lower-priced device in the ZTE Anthem 4G for $219.99 after rebate and will be available within the next two weeks.
The Anthem 4G features a 4.3-inch WVGA display powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Snapdragon processor, a 5-megapixel main camera with 1080p video capture and a VGA resolution front-facing camera. An HDMI port and Dolby Surround round out multimedia features while Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth 3.0 are also included. 512MB of RAM, 4GB of on-board storage, and support for microSD storage are also on tap all being underpinned by Android Gingerbread, a curious decision given that ZTE’s latest release in the Warp Sequent for Boost Mobile is launchedwith a slower single core processor and Android Ice Cream Sandwich.
With ZTE’s push to make smartphones more cost-effective for carriers and customers, its decision to launch its first 4G LTE device on MetroPCS with Android Gingerbread can be seen as taking a major step backwards, as carriers are either rolling out Ice Cream Sandwich updates or releasing new phones with the updated operating system while MetroPCS customers are increasingly demanding devices that will receive updates instead of having to buy new hardware.
In more LTE related news, MetroPCS CEO Roger Lindquist was one of the featured speakers during the annual Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference held this week and admitted that the rollout of VoLTE was more challenging than originally anticipated, with Lindquist further elaborating that the transition to VoLTE across its LTE markets would take an additional 4-6 months based on the initial data gathered from the initial launch in the Dallas/Ft. Worth home market where the company’s headquarters is based. Chief among the issues presented with the transition according to Lindquist is the optimization of base station equipment, which is currently ongoing in the Dallas market in order to further optimize the new service.
While the optimization of equipment and cellsites is underway, Lindquist did confirm that customers in ther area are reporting much improved call quality over VoLTE compared to the legacy CDMA 3G network currently in place (I can confirm the improved call quality, having demoed the new service recently and will write my thoughts on the new service and what it means in our next MetroPCS review soon). With the new timetable in place, a late Spring / early expansion of VoLTE across its LTE network is very likely, though the hurdle of properly configuring base stations for the service is a sticking point that has yet to be resolved and can cause the timetable to slip.
Finally, MetroPCS has reported yet another milestone for its LTE network by confirming that 1 million customers are now actively subscribed to the data network after confirming 700,000 subscribers on the network earlier this year.