Verizon launches Galaxy Nexus at $299, expands LTE to 200M POPs

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Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) launched the highly anticipated Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphone, the first phone running the newest version of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform, 4.0, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich. The launch of the LTE-enabled gadget was timed to coincide with Verizon's expansion of LTE coverage to 200 million POPs across the United States.

google galaxy nexus tv ad verizon wireless

Click here to watch Google's Galaxy Nexus ad.

After weeks of anticipation of when the device would launch--Verizon first announced its intention to launch the Galaxy Nexus in late October--Verizon said the device will go on sale for $299.99 with a two-year contract. The launch of the device was slightly marred by Verizon's disclosure that it will not preload Google's Wallet mobile payment solution on the device--notable considering the "Nexus" line of Google phones are offered as a "pure" Google experience to showcase the firm's Android system upgrades.

Google said Verizon asked that it not be preloaded on the device, and Verizon, for its part, said "in order to work as architected by Google, Google Wallet needs to be integrated into a new, secure and proprietary hardware element in our phones." Verizon, along with AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA, is backing Isis, a rival NFC-enabled m-commerce network slated to begin commercial trials in early-to-mid 2012.

Nevertheless, the launch of the Galaxy Nexus is sure to make Android enthusiasts happy. The Galaxy Nexus sports high-end hardware in addition to its bleeding-edge software. The Galaxy Nexus runs a dual-core 1.2 GHz Texas Instruments OMAP processor, has a 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED screen, 5-megapixel rear camera with zero shutter lag and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera and Wi-Fi and support for Near Field Communications.

While Motorola Mobility's (NYSE:MMI) Droid Razr has become Verizon's flagship LTE smartphone, the Galaxy Nexus is one of a slew of new LTE devices Verizon is pushing during the holiday shopping season, including the HTC Rezound and two new Motorola Droid Xyboard tablets.

With the launch of 11 new markets, including Dover, Del.; Lafayette, Ind.; Fitchburg/Leominster, Mass.; Duluth, the Rochester area and St. Cloud, Minn.; Manchester/Nashua, N.H.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Findlay/Tiffin and Youngstown/Warren, Ohio; and Indiana, Pa., Verizon's LTE network now covers 200 million POPs. The company's rollout of LTE is the fastest network technology launch in its history, and Verizon Wireless CTO David Small said the rollout is twice as fast as Verizon's EV-DO launch. The 200-million-POPs figure is also ahead of Verizon's previously established year-end goal of 186 million POPs covered with LTE. Verizon continues to expect to cover two-thirds of the U.S. population with LTE by mid-year 2012 and all of its 3G footprint by the end of 2013, a spokeswoman said.

For more:
- see this CNET article
- see this release

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