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HTC Merge on Verizon

Well, will you look at that. More than seven months after we first got our hands on the Verizon-branded HTC Merge, it's finally headed to Verizon. But according to this screen shot we just got, it's only going to be available through third-party distribution, so don't look for it in a Big Red store.

Not familiar with the Merge? It first surfaced in the fall of 2010, sporting a great keyboard and world phone capability, meaning you can use it on overseas GSM networks (no LTE on this guy). But it had (and from what we've heard, still has) a fatal flaw -- Bing. It's had its Google location and search functionality stripped out and replaced with Microsoft's Bing. The Merge at one point was slated for a Q4 release on Verizon, but that never materialized.

So instead, we now find it relegated to third-party distribution only. That's not quite the same thing is a death sentence (and the Merge has since been announced on Alltel and Cellular South, which piggyback Verizon's network), but it's still a damn shame for such a nice piece of hardware from HTC. But these things happen.

We're trying to track down pricing and such, but figure it'll be in the $150-$199 range. Any more than that might be pushing it for, considering the pace at which newer (and faster) hardware is being released.

Thanks, anon!

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Reader comments

HTC Merge on Verizon today, but Big Red won't actually be selling it

27 Comments

Not sure if it's common practice, but given that it's such a lackluster phone to just now be released, I could see why they wouldn't want to have it in corporate stores. Verizon is coming out with so many new phones in the next few months that very few people would probably go to corporate stores to buy this and it would just be wasted floor space.

Most of the Verizon stores around me have about 6 or 7 copies of each phone repeated around the store. Not to mention at least 3 or 4 kiosks where you can watch a galaxy tab continually reset and reboot all day long.

I think they could clear out 8” of countertop space for a new world phone with keyboard. Considering most business users (that would be attracted to this thing) wouldn’t go to Best Buy to expense a new phone purchase.

-Suntan

Man, are your Verizon stores 10,000 sf stores or what? The only phone that any of the Verizon stores around me have more than 2 copies of is the iPhone and they only have 4 of those and this is at one of the larger Verizon stores in my area.

I think this is the first time it's happened for a smartphone, but the practice is pretty common. The last phone offered this way was the LG Clout, which was a basic (though high quality) flip phone. If you know what a 8300 was, think like that but brought up to modern designs. I don't know exactly how they choose which phones go where, but it's happened before. As for people looking at this phone: I handled one late last year and it was easily one of the best feeling devices I've ever held. The keyboard on it is REALLY good, so if you need one, this is a definite buy. The world phone capabilities are nice too.,

Not unheard of. My last regular cellphone was the Nokia 6256i which Verizon banished to Radio Shack.(Probably because Nokia told VZW to "stuff it" when they wanted Nokia to put on that horrible red VZW UI) Regardless,the 6256i was an excellent tri-band phone that I still keep for emergencies. The Merge is probably still a solid phone.

I'm actually musing just buying this out of contract and saving my upgrade. Still torn between this, Dinc2, and Charge.

I really wanted it but having had to wait for months caused my interest to wane. Then again, it's my first smartphone so it might be perfect for what I want.

i thought 3rd party distribution meant best buy and Verizon stores? has Verizon ever sold a phone that you couldnt even purchase in their stores? thats weird.

This phone should have been out in December or January..and without Bing. This phone is basically doomed at this point. I was telling my fiancee to jump onto a family plan with me for it but if this is how they'll be handling its launch I can only assume the support is going to be lacking too so thats a big no at this point.

Well the Ally actually sold a decent number of units, but you're right it wasn't the best phone. The HTC merge is a fantastic phone.

If this phone was released last Oct, this would have had OG Droid Success. A world phone on VZW with a great keyboard. Now, nobody cares.

Nothing wrong with the merge. Lots of people want a decent slider and this is a good one. At the rate sliders are coming out this one won't be outdated for awhile.

I wonder how hard it would be to root and strip out the Bing.It was done on the Fascinate so,if anything,shouldn't it be easier on the Merge? De-Binged the Merge can still be a solid device.Verizon should have another keyboard Android device,especially since they passed on the LG Genesis.

The Merge has the same guts as the Desire-Z and G2, so I don't see why it couldn't be rooted and run a Gingerbread build of Cyanogen or Virtuous ROM.

When I was still using Blackberry I could search Google and use it that way. I am not a Bing fan. I prefer Google. Unfortunately, Verizon has a contract with Microsoft so that is why all the phones are getting Bing. I wish they gave a choice to the consumer.
I am glad it isn't on my Incredible.

I've been waiting for a long time for this phone. Now, I'm not so sure. I want a good phone with a slide out keyboard.

Too little, too late.

Pros: Keyboard, HTC Sense, fast single core processor

Droid 3 Pros: Keyboard with number row, possibly stock Android, possibly LTE, 4" screen, FFC, HDMI out, and Motorola build quality. NO BING!

I love my DInc in spite of its flaws. The worst offender being calls randomly going quiet and having to call the person back. Been through 3 Droid Eris's before now on my 2nd DInc, and they all have had that same problem. The Droid Pro I tried for 30 days did not.

If the keyboard is light years beyond that of the Droid 3 then it's definitely worth a look. But, it was pushing the age limit 7 months ago. Now? Being locked into a phone essentially already 7 months old tech, for a full 2 years, is a waste of an upgrade. And it's worth no more than $300 full retail.

And it has Bing, to top it all off. Sad. Give us the same form factor with all the goods, please.

So what type of third party store(s) will be selling the mythical merge? Are there any official carriers announced yet?

It's still my theory that the only reason this phone didn't materialize back in November as it was originally slated to was due to the fear of competition with the heavily invested Droid 2/D2G's. At that time there was alot of interest in this phone, and it definitely stood the chance of cannibalizing sales of the D2's; considering the amount of money spent in advertising (and most likely, the number of phones ordered from Motorola) any real threat to the D2's could have hurt profits and distracted the customer base from the flagship Droid product line.

I think the reason we are finally seeing this phone release comes down to two events:
(1) The launch of the iPhone on Verizon has reduced their reliance on the Droid line. You can see this in the reduced advertising of the Droid line compared to last year. (Yes, the Thunderbolt has gotten a fair amount of airtime, but it is also the only 4G set available for now.)
(2) The hardware is dated, and the Droid 3 is right around the corner. D2's are coming up on their end-of-lifes, and by now this phone offers about no threat to their lineup. Based on the comments I've read in the different blogs, most people that were interested in this now sit on the fence at best - it may be better to just wait and see what other keyboarded phones may come along in the next few months. (Hopefully we see SOMETHING in addition to the D3.)

Weird that I've checked Best Buy's site for this "Unicorn" and it's not there. I wouldn't buy the phone for myself, but for my wife it's perfect since she's been unhappy with her Palm Pre Plus. I have my upgrade along with our 3rd lines that I want to give her so that she joins the Android Army, but the stipulation is that it must be a lightweight phone, and have a great keyboard. Makes me think of just waiting on the HP Pre 3 for the wife. Where's the freakin' Charge by the way?

I've had the Merge for a little over a month now and really do like this phone. It's my first Android, so take that with a grain of salt. I have no complaints what so ever. It is not locked to or pre-loaded with Bing. Google is the default, but of course it's your choice what search engine you prefer. Alltel is my carrier and they have done very little to make it an Alltel phone, just the boot screen. The phone is not even branded. Great phone in my opinion.

I want to add that Wi-Fi sharing is disabled and supposed to be an option with an update that's supposed to come sometime in ealry summer. Wi-Fi sharing works fine. Thethering works great too and it's unlimited. The keyboard is one to the best feeling of all the phones I looked at and is the main reason I picked the Merge. This phone is still a bit of a mystery phone, even on HTC's website, not to be found anywhere. Hopefully that changes. I guess Alltel didn't buy into the support side of it with HTC. I haven't built up the nerve to root it yet, but probably will depending on the frequency of OTA updates. I'm open to any questions out there if anybody would like to know more.

US Cellular will have the merge at the end of May. It seems to be a quality phone so it will be a good addition to their lineup. Hopefully there will be a Gingerbread update offered at some point.