After spotting what looked like the AT&T edition of the LG Optimus One last week, we were all set to see the carrier join the rest of the US networks with an Optimus One of its own. Today AT&T announced not one, but two such models: the LG Phoenix on a standard contract setup, and the LG Thrive, the first pre-paid smartphone for the carrier.

The two models are essentially the same inside, with differences in their feature sets determined in software. The pre-paid Thrive, for instance, will lack the ability to act as a mobile hotspot, or share its connection over a physical tether; for those options, you’ll need an on-contract Phoenix.

The Optimus One hardware design is getting a bit long in the tooth, with its 3.2-inch QVGA screen sounding downright archaic compared to the four-inch-plus qHD displays now becoming popular. Couple that with a 600MHz processor, and you’ve got the makings for a smartphone on a budget. That’s what makes the Optimus One such a good choice for AT&T’s first foray into pre-paid smartphones; it’s well-established hardware that’s at a point in its lifespan where it’s possible to offer the phone with no contract at a price comparable to current on-contract models. The Thrive will sell for about $180 as part of AT&T’s GoPhone program.

While the Thrive will appeal to users who don’t want to get tied down by a service commitment, the Phoenix will fill the niche of a low-end contract phone, good for maybe adding a line to a family plan or for a novice smartphone user. With a two-year agreement, the Phoenix will run you about $50.

AT&T will begin sales of both the LG Phoenix and LG Thrive on April 17.

Source: AT&T

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