Sweden gets Europe's first LTE smartphone

The Galaxy S II LTE is on the way to stores now, according to Samsung

Thanks to the imminent availability of the Galaxy S II LTE, Sweden will become the first European country where consumers can pick up a phone with integrated 4G technology, Samsung said on Wednesday.

Sweden, along with Norway, were the first countries in the world to get LTE (Long Term Evolution) in 2009, but it has taken until now for a smartphone to become available. At the same time, smartphones with LTE have become the norm in the U.S.

The availability of smartphones will help boost LTE's popularity in Europe, according to Bengt Olsson, head of communications at TeliaSonera.

The Samsung Galaxy S II LTE is on the way to stores now, and Tele2 will get it first, while TeliaSonera will follow soon thereafter, according to a Samsung spokesman.

Part of the explanation for the lack of phones is that European operators haven't been as aggressive as their U.S. counterparts when it comes to rolling out LTE, according to Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight. Also, the auctioning of spectrum has taken much longer in Europe, and still hasn't taken place in the U.K.

As operators in additional countries launch commercial networks, Europe will become a more interesting market for the phone makers, and more devices will become available, Olsson said.

More phones for more countries are expected to be announced at Mobile World Congress, according to Blaber, who also expects that European operators will start offering smartphones with LTE even though they won't have a commercial network up and running by the end of the year.

The Android 2.3-based Samsung Galaxy S II LTE, which was announced in August, operates on 800MHz, 1.8GHz and 2.6GHz LTE networks.

The product also has a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED plus screen and an 8-megapixel camera with LED flash, which can record video at 1080p. It measures 129.8 x 68.8 x 9.5 millimeters and weighs 130.5 grams. That compares to 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5 millimeters and 116 grams for the original version, which has a 4.3-inch screen.

The phone costs 5,040 Swedish kronor (US$750) excluding valued added tax and possible subsidies.

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