Samsung Galaxy Note II to be sold through US carriers starting at $299

Samsung enlisted Kanye West to plug its new device, a 'phablet' that's somewhere between a phone and a tablet

Samsung on Thursday confirmed the pricing and availability details for its Galaxy Note II, a smartphone-tablet hybrid that comes with version 4.1 of Google's Android OS, known as Jelly Bean.

The smartphone will be available from all major U.S. carriers starting at US$299, said Kevin Packingham, chief product officer at Samsung Mobile USA, at an elaborate press event near Penn Station in New York City that was to include a performance by rap star Kanye West.

AT&T has already said that the Samsung Galaxy Note II will be available for $299.99 with a two-year contract starting in November. Sprint will start selling the phone Oct. 25 for the same price, also with a two-year contract. Availability dates from T-Mobile and Verizon were not immediately announced.

The device is somewhere between a tablet and a smartphone, sometimes referred to as a "phablet." It has a 5.5-inch display and succeeds the original Galaxy Note, which went on sale in February with a 5.3-inch display. The new model weighs 180 grams and has a screen resolution of 1280 by 720 pixels. Improvements over its predecessor include a quad-core, 1.6GHz Exynos processor made by Samsung.

Some people carry a smartphone, a tablet and even an e-reader, so Samsung has wrapped them in one device for about $300, Packingham said.

The device was first released in South Korea, Samsung's home country, late last month. It will eventually be sold in 128 countries through 260 carriers. An unlocked 32GB model was originally priced at US$970 without a contract.

The Galaxy Note II offers 16 hours of talk time and comes with 32GB or 64GB of storage. Other features include an 8-megapixel rear camera, 1.9-megapixel front camera, and a micro-SD slot for up to 64GB of extra storage.

"The Galaxy Note II is the ultimate device for multitasking," Packingham said. For example, users can take notes while on a phone call.

Samsung has sold about 10 million Galaxy Note devices to date, according to the company.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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