Sprint has unveiled its long-awaited WiMax handset and the impressive specs indicate the wait has been worth it. Pricing and availability may be something else, however, because the company didn't release pricing for the HTC EVO 4G and the "summer" availability could drag out its presence in the market to late September.
Built by Taiwan's HTC, the handset has a 4.3-inch transistor liquid crystal display (TFT) LCD screen that demonstrates that Sprint -- and its WiMax partner Clearwire -- have big plans for 720p video. The handset features two cameras -- an 8-megapixel flash
camera and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera. The latter device indicates Sprint and HTC think users will want to make video calls
The EVO pushes standard mobile phone technology in other ways, through built-in mobile hotspot functionality that allows as many as 8 Wi-Fi devices to link to the EVO hotspot. Also, built-in voice-to-text messaging enables users to compose texts by speaking. The EVO is based on Google's Android 2.1 platform.
"Not only is this feature-rich device incredible on our Sprint 3G network, but Sprint 4G speeds will take mobile multimedia, including live video streaming, gaming and picture downloads, to a whole new level," said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse in a statement.
Sprint said it expects the EVO to be acquired by users of its current 3G CDMA network, although the handset is primarily aimed at Clearwire's mobile WiMax network, which is being rolled across the U.S. Sprint is the majority owner of Clearwire. The phone operates on both EV-DO Rev. A and WiMax.
The EVO has other advanced features that are routinely appearing on advanced smartphones including Qualcomm's 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, 1 GB built-in memory, 512 MB RAM, Wi-Fi 11b/g and 8 GB microSD card. Sprint said the handset will have easy-posting capability for YouTube and Facebook. See more specs here.
The EVO traces its ancestry to HTC's Hero and HTC's Sense user experience. "HTC and Sprint have a strong history of working together to bring customers technologies and advancements," said HTC CEO Peter Chou. "We believe that the HTC EVO 4G represents the best of Sprint and the best of HTC working together."
Sprint has been losing subscribers at a rapid rate over the past several quarters and the EVO " along with Clearwire's WiMax network " represent its best hope for regaining its lost momentum. The EVO gives it a lead in the 4G handset sweepstakes, but Verizon Wireless is planning to debut its nationwide 4G LTE network later this year. Verizon's LTE handsets aren't scheduled to appear on the market until next year.