Sprint Vital's Specs Stir Buzz, But that May Not Be Enough
Sprint wants to get the facts straight about its next smartphone release. In fact, Sprint's fact sheet has been vital to generating buzz about the new device, which will debut Friday with a 5-inch, 720p screen and 13-megapixel camera for $100 with a two-year contract.
Dubbed Vital, Sprint is rolling out an affordable smartphone with high-end features. The smartphone will run Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean and use Sprint's 4G LTE network. The phone, manufactured in China by ZTE, carries a 1.5-GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor and is near-field communication and Wi-Fi capable. There's 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of internal memory and a microSD card slot supporting up to a 64 GB memory card
Vital enables personal and business e-mail and text messaging, as well as IM through Google Talk and all the usual Google Mobile wireless services you'd expect on an Android device. Vital users can also tap into corporate Outlook e-mail using Microsoft Direct Push Technology/Microsoft ActiveSync.
Killer Differentiator Missing
Carl Howe, vice president of Research and Data Sciences at Yankee Group, said the Vital is one of many new mid-priced Android phones hitting the market.
"I say mid-priced because while it will sell for $100 with a two-year contract, that's a subsidized price. The actual hardware price is more likely to be $300-$400, making it a mid-priced smartphone," Howe said.
"Mid-priced phones can be very challenging to succeed with because they aren't cheap enough to appeal to the true bargain shopper who buys an iPhone 4 for free, for example, nor are they usually able to successfully compete with the true hero phones such as the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S 4."
That said, Howe does believe Vital will find a niche of buyers, but he doesn't see much differentiation with a host of other smartphones in the same category.
"Great Android phones are now a highly mature market with hundreds of competing models," he said, "so Vital needs a killer differentiator to stand out from the crowd. I'm not sure I see one."
Stacked Out Services
Vital is stacked out, but it's not much different than other smartphones in its space. Vital offers dual cameras: a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash and video capture and 1-megapixel front-facing camera.
There are a cadre of Sprint services, but those aren't unique to Vital. Sprint ID lets you personalize an Android smartphone with apps, widgets, and ringtones. Sprint Zone offers access to your wireless account, phone tips, news, and list of top apps. Sprint TV and Movies brings to the device more than 15 channels of live sports, live breaking news and full episodes of daytime, primetime and kids entertainment. And Sprint Music Plus is a full-featured music store and player for music tracks, ringtones, and ringback tones, including millions of DRM-free music tracks and tones updated daily.
Meanwhile, GPS Navigation allows turn-by-turn directions and search options and the phone also offers Text-to-Speech voice services, is TTY capable for the hearing impaired, and enables voice actions for text, calls, e-mails, maps, go to Web, note to self, directions, and watch a video.