The fallout from Hewlett-Packard's decision to discontinue its hardware and consumer operations continues with the news that the HP Pre 3 smartphone will not be sold in the United States.
HP's weekend price drop for its TouchPad devices led to retailers being sold out of the ill-fated tablets at the time of this writing. When PCMag.com attempted to clarify if a similar price cut was being instituted for the other WebOS devices, the answer was yes and no.
As in: yes, the Pre 3 will go on sale shortly in the UK and France for the equivalent of $75 and no, the smartphone will not be sold in the U.S. at all.
This equates to approximately $425 in savings for French and British customers, making the Pre 3 even more of a bargain than HP's simultaneously released TouchPad models (whose U.S. prices dropped about $200 for the 16GB version and about $350 for the 32GB version). The article also confirmed that German units were sold out of the Pre 3 completely.
PCMag did state that U.S. users who purchase the Pre 3 elsewhere could conceivably find that their unlocked device will work to some extent on AT&T's and T-Mobile's networks. The Pre 3 can hit both carriers' 2.5G EDGE networks. For 3G bands, though, it has 900, 1900, and 2100 Mhz. AT&T users need 850 and 1900 for full coverage, so they'll get limited 3G. T-Mobile users need 1700 Mhz, so they'll be stuck on EDGE.
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HP's earlier WebOS 2.0 smartphone, the Pre 2, was released in October of last year and is currently available in the U.S. (for the time being), with a cell plan from Verizon for $50 or unlocked in the $450 range.
The future of WebOS is uncertain at this point, with HP simultaneously discontinuing support for the hardware devices but also pledging to continue to evolve it, update and support it, according to Stephen DeWitt of HP's Palm division. Consumers will have to balance the impressive specifications of the Pre 3 against the additional effort and savvy that it will likely take to get the most from the device without major carrier coverage and support -- and the bargain price versus the generally limited lifespan of a mobile device.
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