AT&T: Buy a phone, get a free tablet

The cell phone wars are heating up, thanks to a new offer from AT&T and Samsung. The deal: Buy a qualifying Samsung phone and sign up for a new contract from AT&T, and the network will give you a free Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 as a bonus.

There are more than a few little details to consider should you find this deal enticing. The biggest is that you'll have to add that Galaxy Tab 3 to your new AT&T Mobile Share data plan at a price of $10 a month extra. You'll have to commit for the standard two years, or sign up for AT&T Next, an installment plan which provides you with yearly device upgrades to your phone without additional expense. Trade-ins on your current handset are also available if you upgrade to the Next plan.

The list of supported phones eligible for the free tablet offer includes the Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy S4 Active, Galaxy Note 3, and Galaxy Note 3. Better get in on the deal quickly: The program is set to end on January 9, 2014.

The move is the latest in an effort from AT&T to maintain its competitiveness in the mobile phone market with archrival Verizon Wireless. In recent months AT&T has seen its market share slip, from 28.5 percent of the market in summer 2012 to 21.7 percent at the end of August 2013. Meanwhile Verizon has surged from a 30.2 percent share to a whopping 37.1 percent over the same time frame.

In addition to experimenting with device add-ons like this, AT&T has been finalizing the rollout of its 4G LTE footprint nationally. Most recently it added 4G coverage to six small markets, including Redding, Calif. and Watertown-Fort Atkinson, Wisc. The company's full coverage map now spans 447 markets and offers service to 250 million people, with a full 300 million consumers planned to be encompassed by AT&T's 4G service by the end of 2014.

On the other side of the fence, Verizon has been focused primarily on enhancing its 4G performance, most recently showcasing an 80Mbps download speed over the new spectrum it recently acquired. While AT&T has been wearing the speed crown for at least the last year, that title could soon be changing hands if -- and when -- Verizon's zippy performance upgrades are rolled out commercially and on a national scale.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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