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Sprint follows Verizon on Galaxy Tab, drops price to $399 with contract

by Phil Hornshaw

Sprint (S) has announced it’ll start offering Samsung’s Galaxy Tab on November 14, leaving Verizon as the first carrier to offer the tab on November 11, but giving costumers a lot more options as far as price.

Galaxy has the same hardware regardless of where it’s purchased – the difference comes in the mobile data plans offered by the two companies for the seven-inch tablet computer. At Verizon (VZ), the plan is pay-as-you-go; with Sprint, a two-year contract knocks $200 off the price, lowering it to $399. Customers can start preordering Galaxy with Sprint today.

It seems Sprint isn’t offering a contract-free price for Galaxy, and customers will have access to two possible plans: 2GB of data per month at $29.99, or 5GB per month at $59.99, and both plans include unlimited messaging from the tab as well. Meanwhile, Verizon’s month-to-month plan is for 1GB per month for $20.

Tether away with Sprint

In addition to the standard data plan, Sprint customers can also pay for some extra services. Another $29.99 a month enables the Galaxy to tether other devices and work as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, although it seems the same two data plans apply under that scenario – you don’t get more data if you pay for tethering.

If you decide to go for a Galaxy at Sprint, it’ll run you a total cost of at least about $759 for the first year with the cheapest data plan. Verizon’s Galaxy goes for a base price of $599 and another $240 for a year of service – so it’s actually about $839 for the first year, although with Sprint you’ll be shackled into a second year of service for a total of about $360.

Costs will add up over time

For comparison purposes, you could also take a look at Apple’s (AAPL) iPad costs: the cheapest iPad starts at $499, and if you get it at Verizon, it comes with its MiFi mobile hotspot, bumping the price of the whole bundle up to $630. That same 1GB Verizon plan kicks the whole thing up to $870 for the first year, and keep in mind that’s only the 16GB iPad. A 3G-enabled 16GB iPad through AT&T (T) goes for $630, with a 250MB data plan for $15 or 2GB for $25. At its cheapest, a year with a 3G iPad costs you $819, but with a data plan comparable to Sprint’s cheapest, the price is really $930.

After all those confusing numbers, the most important thing is that Galaxy with Sprint is the cheapest option for a tab with the 2GB data plan, if you don’t mind being stuck with a second year of its service. That, of course, doesn’t take into account a lot of other factors – like screen size, operating system, other hardware concerns and freedom to switch service providers. But when you break down the cost, even if it’s a couple of days late to the Galaxy party, Sprint should be a contender.