MetroPCS, the fifth-largest wireless carrier in the U.S., plans to unveil a no-contract smartphone in the first part of 2011.

MetroPCS CEO Roger Linquist, speaking at the UBS 38th Annual Media and Communications Conference, said the company was looking at a price point similar to the Craft, which it unveiled in September. The Craft, however, isn't classed as a smartphone.

The Craft was rolled out at $299. Most smartphones are in the $400-500 range, Linquist said.

The new phone would be an android-based model. We should see other Android-based models by the end of the year [2011], he said.

When AT&T introduced the iPhone, it was very popular, but the iPhone is tied to AT&T and is relatively high cost. I think Android is a good answer, he said. For no-contract phones, Linquist said he sees Android as taking a dominant position. In 2011 the story will be Android in the no-contract word, he said.

One concern is whether MetroPCS's network will be able to handle the traffic; when AT&T introduced the iPhone there was a lot of congestion as users turned on data-heavy apps. Linquist said the company will have an LTE network in place by the end of 2012.

He added that while MetroPCS would like to buy more spectrum, it has enough as it is. More efficient use of the network the company does have is one reason it doesn't need to do a massive overhaul. Splitting cells, for example, is one method. The question is can you buy spectrum more cost-effectively? Linquist said.

Another aspect of the LTE network's efficiency is the use of voice over Internet protocol. We think VoIP will be the best quality, he said, adding that the user should be able to move between the cell network and VoIP seamlessly.