New details have now emerged about a new LTE-enabled Chromebook set to be introduced under the CTL NL7LTE-branding for use on Sprint's 4G network, thanks to a new announcement from the carrier. The release of the new Chrome OS gadget is a joint project between Sprint, CTL, and Google and a small part of the service provider's Sprint Business and IoT platforms. As such, connectivity options include Cat. 9 LTE, capable of up to 450Mbps downloads speeds and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, as well as Bluetooth 4.2. The device is also now known to be sold via a further partnership between CTL and Hyperion on the sales and distribution front for education and business customers for just $299. Android Headlines also found that the CTL NL7LTE expressly for the Sprint Network can be found right now on CTL's website, although it's not scheduled to be available until mid-December. Finally, Sprint has confirmed that an unlimited data plan for the device will be available from $15 per month and that, as a Google Cloud premier partner, it will be selling and deploying G Suite licenses alongside.
Background: This particular Chromebook had already recently been spotted on Sprint's business-oriented website well in advance of the carrier's announcement. What's more, the similarities between the build and specs compared to other "NL7LTE"-branded CTL Chromebooks helped determine exactly what the specs would be at the time. So there isn't much to be surprised by with the new announcement. Specifically, this Chromebook is a rugged, lightweight clamshell design that tips the scales at 2.5lbs and has been drop-tested up to just over 2.25-feet. While not confirmed, the HD webcam that's mounted just above the 11.6-inch 1366 x 768 display panel appears to swivel – judging by the images included on CTL's site and the description that says it can do both "world-view" shooting and video chats. Setting that aside, the heavily fortified frame also includes a retractable carry handle, two USB Type-A 3.0 ports, two USB Type-C ports, a microSD card reader and 3.5mm audio jack. The keyboard is water-resistant with anti-peel keys while Chrome OS itself is driven by an Intel Apollo Lake N3350 dual-core processor, 4GB DDR4 RAM, and 32GB storage. The battery is rated at 12-hours without LTE enabled.
Impact: All of those specs add up to equal something that's not quite as powerful as the only recently launched competition – the Samsung Galaxy Pro LTE – but which holds its own quite well in plenty of other ways. Not only should this Chrome OS netbook be usable for just about any business or education task, particularly given its ready access to Google's app suite, custom enterprise software and Android apps, and possibly Linux applications. It's also bound to be much more durable. That should come in especially handy for the education sector but also for those whose business activities take them out of the office or into areas or work sites where damage might befall their laptop. Moreover, placing function over form means that the Chromebook CTL NL7LTE costs around $300 less, on average. That could be just what Sprint needs to get its own foray into LTE connected Chromebooks off to a competitive start.