Sprint plans to sell AM-OLED phones from Samsung

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel will sell Samsung Electronics phones including an advanced display technology that will improve battery life and video and photo quality, according to executives for the companies.

David Owens, Sprint’s director of customer acquisition, said on Thursday that the No. 3 U.S. mobile service provider would sell high-end phones with displays based on Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode, an emerging technology Samsung is pushing for cellphones.

While the vast majority of cellphones still have displays based on Liquid Crystal Display, Samsung has been touting the advantages of AM-OLED, which shows colors much more clearly and conserves power as screens do not need a screen backlight.

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.

“That’s typically more in a high-end phone ... It won’t be across the portfolio,” said Owens, who sees such phones becoming available for Sprint customers next year.

“The vibrancy of the screen is world class,” said Owens who sees some phone customers paying extra for a better screen as they are increasingly buying advanced phones for features like Web surfing and video downloads.

“Consumers are willing to pay more as long as they’re getting value,” Owens said.

Casey Ryan, a product manager for Samsung confirmed that his company would sell a phone with an AM-OLED to Sprint.

Currently Samsung Impression, sold by No. 2 U.S. mobile operator AT&T Inc is the only AM-OLED Samsung phone available in the U.S. market.

The executives were speaking at Sprint’s New York launch of another phone the Samsung Reclaim, which includes bioplastic materials and uses a charger that beeps when the phone is recharged so the user can plug it out to avoid wasting power.

Ryan said Samsung’s goal was 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 in September.