Samsung Galaxy Tab: Carrier Prices Compared

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All four major U.S. carriers lined up their offerings for the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the biggest competitor of the Apple iPad so far. AT&T will begin selling the tablet November 21, while Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have the Galaxy Tab on sale already. Essentially, all four carriers are selling the same device, but there are pricing differences across the board over the tablet's upfront and data costs.

Briefly, the Samsung Galaxy Tab features a 7-inch display with a 1,024-by-600 pixel resolution, runs on a 1GHz processor and 512MB of RAM, and is powered by Google's Android 2.2 mobile operating system. The tablet also has two cameras (3megapixels in the back, 1.3 in the front), 16GB of on-board storage, and Wi-Fi and 3G capabilities (see the Galaxy Tab compared to the iPad and other tablets).

Like with the Samsung Galaxy S Android smartphones line, all four major carriers are selling the Galaxy Tab. This time however, the hardware differences are only of internal antenna frequencies and bundled applications, as the tablet has the same specifications across the board of wireless carriers.

Which Carrier Has The Best Deal?

Click to expand and see the four carriers' Samsung Galaxy Tab offers side by side.

If you want to pick up a subsidized Galaxy Tab with a two-year contract attached, your best options are Sprint and T-Mobile. The two carriers sell the Tab for $400, though T-Mobile uses a $50 mail-in rebate. AT&T and Verizon only sell the Tab contract-free.

If you don't want to sign up to yet another two-year contract, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile sell the tab for $600, while on AT&T it will set you back $650, with a $50 credit voucher bundled for Samsung's media store on the tablet.

Since there is no Wi-Fi-only version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab (yet), all carriers are selling data plans bundled with the tablet. The lowest plans start at $15 for 250MB on AT&T (same plans as for the iPad), all the way up to $25 for 200MB on T-Mobile. The best deal for a cheap plan would be Verizon's $20-plan, which gets you 1GB.

If you are not prepared to shell out $80 for 10GB of data on, you can pay $40 for 5GB on T-Mobile, or $25 for 2GB on AT&T. Sprint charges $20 more for the same amount of data (5GB) than T-Mobile. As for the highest data plans, T-Mobile and Verizon have the cheapest price per GB ($8), but T-Mobile's plan is half the price (and data transfer) of Verizon's. T-Mobile's Tab can also benefit from HSPA+ network speeds of up to 14MB per second (in 55 U.S. cities).

All four carriers also bundle free Wi-Fi access via their nationwide network, which should come in handy when you are approaching your downloads limits. If you want to use the Galaxy Tab as a mobile hotspot, Sprint will charge you $30 extra per month, for pairing with up to five compatible devices. Sprint however, bundles unlimited SMS messaging on the Tab on both of its plans.

Which carrier would you choose for your Samsung Galaxy Tab? Sound off in the comments.

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