Of particular interest to observers is the appearance of a new Samsung model in the operator’s branded DeviceAnywhere database with the model number SCH-S720C. This is notable as the SCH series prefix is used by Verizon to denote its own models from Sprint versions, which carry the derivative SPH prefix for that carrier’s Samsung phones.
As configured for Tracfone/StraightTalk, the SCH-S720C features the following specifications:
With these specifications, the smartphone lands solidly in Tracfone’s midrange preferences for devices, though the smartphone also features native Divx decoding for video files which is a common feature on Samsung smartphones. The phone may also signal a new network lease deal with Verizon Wireless to offer an Android smartphone, as the most common customer complaint with the current StraightTalk Android lineup is the fact that the Sprint-powered line is limited to the much smaller native coverage footprint.
In addition. this comment from an anonymous commenter found on the Wontek prepaid review blog is rather telling as it quotes a StraightTalk representative:
This phone will be under the Straight Talk label and will require the $45 Unlimited Plan. It will run on the CDMA Verizon network, and will have a retail price of $179. It will be somewhat unlimited data, as it will allow up to 4GB of data usage per month.
Should the information pan out, the S720C may even be the widely reported prepaid Android smartphone that Verizon plans to release with its own much higher priced $80 monthly rate later this year after years of refusing to allow prepaid smart devices and data access on its network under its own offerings or as a part of network lease agreements for virtual operators, which signals a change of attitude by the carrier.
The change of heart may indeed be due to the increasing competition triggered by prepaid services such as StraightTalk, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile; while it offers its own prepaid monthly plan in the Unleashed offering, the plan is restricted to select feature phones without HTML browsers for $50 a month.
For StraightTalk to offer a Verizon-powered Android phone reflects Tracfone’s increasing influence on the US market, as the operator continues to grow year over year with its various brands, despite setbacks such as the cancellation of the LG Optimus 2X which was to be powered by T-Mobile, but was canceled due to T-Mobile and Tracfone failing to come to an agreement on network lease and support costs after months of online advertising.
Where T-Mobile failed to provide, Verizon Wireless may be able to drive more customers to the increasingly competitive service, as the possibility of offering 4GB of monthly data access and its much larger native coverage area will be a shot across the bow of other prepaid services, since the only other provider to offer more than 2GB of prepaid data access is T-Mobile with its $30 Monthly 4G plan at 5GB of access per month, while Virgin Mobile now throttles after 2.5GB and AT&T recently realigned its plans to offer 1GB per month.