The HTC Hero will debut on the Sprint network Oct. 11, marking the first Google Android-based smartphone for the nation's No. 3 wireless carrier. The open-source Android device will cost $179.99 with a two-year contract and $150 in rebates. The Hero joins the Palm Pre and the BlackBerry Tour 9630 in Sprint's smartphone lineup.
The Hero offers synchronization for a number of built-in Google mobile services, including Google Search, Google Maps, Gmail and YouTube as well as access to other applications built on the Android platform.
"The arrival of HTC Hero and the Android platform to Sprint's network is an important milestone for our customers and the U.S. wireless industry," Kevin Packingham, senior vice president of product development for Sprint, said in a statement. "HTC Hero users will appreciate a much better experience than is possible now with any other Android phone operating in the United States."
The device is the first U.S. smartphone to feature HTC Sense, an intuitive experience that allows the smartphone to be highly customized to the needs of the user. The device's seven-panel wide home screen can be populated with customizable widgets that bring information to the surface.
"HTC Sense on HTC Hero revolves around three basic principles: Make It Mine, Stay Close and Discover the Unexpected. These principles are based on the recognition that people want their mobile device to conform to their needs and wants," said Jason Mackenzie, vice president of HTC America.
Mackenzie said Make It Mine refers to customization: adding widgets, creating profiles and setting up user-specific functions. Stay Close helps users manage phone calls, e-mails, text, photos and other data. This is somewhat reminiscent of the iPhone 3G Spotlight feature, which can also collect related information from within all applications.
Discover the Unexpected is designed, according to Sprint and HTC, to "surprise [users] with small moments of joy and delight."
The Hero's processor is a 528MHz Qualcomm MSM7200A and supported networks include HSPA/WCDMA 900/2100MHz and Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE (Enhanced Data for Global Evolution) 850/900/1800/1900MHz. It measures 4.41 by 2.21 by 0.57 inches, and with the battery weighs 4.76 ounces.
The Hero features a digital compass and also includes GPS, a 3.5-mm stereo handset jack, a 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus and a Micro SD slot to expand beyond its included 512MB of ROM and 288MB of RAM. There's also an MP3 player and Windows Media Audio 9 player.