The HTC Evo 4G, the Android-running smartphone being called the country's first 4G phone, is scheduled to debut on the Sprint network June 4 for $199. Just shy of the carrier's big day, however, several retailers have announced special deals on the HTC handset, offering it at Sprint's price, and with a two-year Sprint service contract, but without the extra $100 upfront investment that customers who buy directly from Sprint will receive back through a mail-in rebate.
Walmart, Best Buy and Radio Shack each had the Evo 4G up on their sites by June 3, with pricing of $199 and no mention of the rebate.
The Evo 4G runs Android 2.1, includes WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, GPS with Sprint Navigation, and a digital compass. Its twin points of pride, however, are its 4.3-inch WVGA capacitive touch screen-just about as large as they come, shy of the 5-inch display on the Dell Streak tablet-and its ability to connect to both 3G and 4G networks.
Introducing the Evo 4G at CTIA Wireless 2010 in March, HTC CEO Gary Chou noted that mobile video hasn't really been embraced yet, due to network speed limitations, but that HTC and Sprint are working to change this.
"I think the Evo 4G gives a clear indicator of how the mobile broadband experience is starting to move beyond the fixed-line broadband experience by what it offers in terms of local and personal relevance," Chou continued.
Sprint is a majority shareholder of Clearwire, which currently offers 4G coverage, through deployments of WiMax technology, in nearly 30 metropolitan areas. On June 1, Clearwire announced an expansion of its network to the Washington, D.C., area as well as to Kansas City, on both the Kansas and Missouri sides of the border.
Sprint, which hoped for a comeback with its June 2009 launch of the Palm Pre, has struggled through recent quarters, but slowly is building itself back up, losing fewer customers each quarter and reporting stellar customer-service ratings. The Android-based handset is certainly a part of what it's hoping is a plan toward a full recovery.
During the carrier's April 28 first-quarter 2010 earnings calling, CEO Dan Hesse offered with enthusiasm, "The January launch of the award-winning and critically acclaimed Sprint Overdrive 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot, the upcoming launch of the world's first 3G/4G Android handset, the HTC EVO 4G, and the introduction of the industry-first true money-back guarantee demonstrate Sprint's innovation."
Hesse continued, "Our ongoing focus on improving the customer experience, generating cash and strengthening the brand continues to pay off."