Sprint to sell Transform Ultra on contract for $80 on Nov. 13

Pre-pay carrier Boost Mobile offers the smartphone for $230 with no contract

Caption text goes here The Samsung Transform Ultra, a slider smartphone with a touchscreen and a Qwerty keyboard, will go on sale Nov. 13 for $79.99 after rebate and a two-year Sprint contract.

The device, with its 1 GHz Qualcomm MSM 8655 processor and 3.5-in. touchscreen, runs Android 2.3, but Sprint users can "completely customize" it, according to a statement from Sprint and Samsung.

At that price, the device will compete with many smartphones from Sprint and other carriers in the pre-pay market, which generally most attractive to younger customers who are first-time smartphone customers and haven't established credit.

The device is already on sale at Radio Shack and BoostMobile as a no-contract phone for $229.99. Boost Mobile is a pre-paid service run by Sprint. Boost's network is Sprint's CDMA/EVDO Rev. A 3G network.

A Samsung spokeswoman said the $79.99 price, after a $50 rebate, for the contract version will take effect through all Sprint sales channels on Nov. 13. Sprint could not be immediately reached to confirm that price, but Samsung said a formal statement is expected later Monday.

Sprint's strategy in taking a no-contract phone to a contract offer is in line with the company's overall strategy to beef up contract subscribers, which analysts say is important for the No. 3 carrier's growth.

The Transform Ultra has many features customarily found in smartphones , but at a lower grade. For example, it has two cameras, but the rear-facing one is 3 megapixels, while the new iPhone 4S has an 8 megapixel rear-facing camera. Both of the front-facing cameras in the Transform Ultra and iPhone 4S are much lower VGA quality.

The 3.5-in. touchscreen on the Transform Ultra is the same size as that on the iPhone 4S, but the Ultra's display resolution is just 480 x 320 pixels, well below the iPhone 4S's 960 x 640 pixels. Texting-focused phones with Qwerty keyboards tend to have lower screen resolutions than phones with no Qwerty keyboards.

The Transform Ultra comes with 2GB of storage internally, with a slot that supports a 32 GB microSD card. Its 150 mAh battery provides seven hours of talk time.

Overall, the Transform Ultra is 4.57 x 2.40 x 0.55 inches and weighs 4.9 ounces.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com .

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