HTC’s Merge may not have been subject to the same public speculation over its long-delayed release as the Thunderbolt has, but it’s arguably been through even more than the LTE smartphone. Ever since it looked like Verizon would be launching the phone last August, no one’s seemed anxious to see it brought forward to retail. Instead, it’s been languishing behind the scenes, popping up in the occasional WiFi Alliance or FCC document, only to be finally announced by HTC last month to be headed to “multiple North American carriers beginning in spring 2011″. Spring’s finally here, and Alltel is stepping up to the Merge plate, opening pre-orders for the phone starting on March 28.
The Merge is notable for being a CDMA world phone. That is, in addition to the CDMA radio it will use with Alltel in the States, the phone will also support quad-band GSM and UMTS band I for 3G operation in Europe. With its QWERTY slide-out keyboard, this broad compatibility could help it lure some business users away from their BlackBerrys.
Look for the Merge to arrive running Android 2.2, powered by an 800MHz CPU, and garnished with HTC Sense, of course. Alltel is offering the smartphone at around $125 with a two-year service agreement.