Samsung lowers cost of LTE smartphones with Galaxy Express

At least one analyst expects the price of LTE smartphones to drop as shipments increase

Samsung Electronics is expanding its portfolio of LTE smartphones with an international version of the Galaxy Express with a lower price tag to help make the technology accessible to more users.

Global LTE smartphone shipments are expected to triple this year, allowing the technology to take off on a grander scale and driving down device prices, according to market research company Strategy Analytics.

Samsung doesn't say what the Galaxy Express will cost, but the specifications provided by the vendor hint at a lower price tag. The smartphone runs Android 4.1 on a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, has a 4.5-inch screen with a resolution of 800 by 480 pixels and a 5-megapixel camera.

With the exception of the processor, it's the same spec as AT&T's existing U.S. version of the Galaxy Express, which has a dual-core 1.5GHz processor and costs US$450.

The international Galaxy Express can access LTE networks in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz bands. Today, 1800MHz is used in almost 60 commercial LTE networks around the globe, making it the most popular LTE spectrum band. The 39 countries where 1800MHz is used for LTE include Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Africa, South Korea and the U.K., according to industry organization GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association). Including the other frequency bands, the phone can now be used in 55 countries, according to GSA's estimates.

LTE smartphone shipments will grow from 90.9 million units in 2012 to 275 million in 2013, according to Strategy Analytics.

By the end of 2013, there will be numerous mid-range models available for under $200 wholesale, according to Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics. However, LTE won't start to spread to the low-priced devices until 2014 or 2015, he said.

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