Sprint to sell high-end AM-OLED phones from Samsung
*Advanced display technology, better battery life
*Sales to start in fourth quarter
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel (S.N) will sell phones from Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) featuring advanced AM-OLED display technology that provides longer battery life and enhanced video and photo images, company executives said.
Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode (AM-OLED) is an emerging technology that Samsung is pushing for cellphones.
Because AM-OLED is relatively new, manufacturing costs are higher. As a result, Sprint plans to introduce the technology in its phone line-up starting with more expensive phones that are suited for viewing media such as video, Sprint's director of customer acquisition, David Owens, said on Thursday.
While the majority of cellphones still have displays based on Liquid Crystal Display technology, Samsung has been touting the advantages of AM-OLED, which shows colors much more clearly and conserves power as screens do not need a backlight.
"That's typically more in a high-end phone ... It won't be across the portfolio," Owens said at a Sprint product launch.
A spokesman for the No. 3 U.S. mobile service provider said Sprint would start selling an AM-OLED device in the fourth quarter. A Samsung executive confirmed Samsung would provide a phone to Sprint based on the technology later this year.
"The vibrancy of the screen is world class," said Owens, who expects some phone customers to pay extra for a better screen to handle Web surfing and video downloads.
"Consumers are willing to may more as long as they're getting value," he said.
The Samsung Impression, sold by No. 2 U.S. mobile operator AT&T Inc (T.N), is currently the only AM-OLED Samsung phone available in the U.S. market.
Sprint also said it would sell another Samsung phone, the Reclaim, which includes bioplastic materials and uses a charger that beeps when the phone is recharged so the user can unplug it to avoid wasting power.
Samsung product executive Casey Ryan said it was Samsung's goal to have energy-efficient chargers with these alerts for all its phones no later than 2011.
"Over the next couple of years we'll start to streamline our manufacturing," for more eco-friendly phones, he said.
The reclaim will go on sale Aug. 16 for $49.99, after rebates, for customers who sign up for a two-year service plan. The device will go on sale at Wal-Mart (WMT.N) in September. (Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Ted Kerr)