ORLANDO, Fla.-Sprint is making a big bet on the continuing popularity of 3D technology, with plans to roll out a tablet and smartphone capable of both shooting and displaying content in three dimensions without the need for special glasses.
The smartphone, the HTC Evo 3D, includes Google Android 2.3 (code-named "Gingerbread") running on a 4.3-inch display. A 1.2-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core processor will power the device's multimedia functions, which include shooting 3D images and videos via dual 5-megapixel cameras embegged into the back.
On the tablet side of the equation is the HTC Evo View 4G, a 7-inch device with 1024 x 600 resolution. Relying on a 1.5-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor to power 3D video and multimedia functions, and installed with the latest version of HTC Sense, the tablet can operate on both 3G and 4G networks. The dual video cameras enable video conferencing.
In a flashy presentation here at CTIA 2011, Sprint offered up the HTC Evo View 4G as a super-powered multimedia tablet capable of fulfilling everybody's needs, from e-reading to video playback. But that doesn't differentiate the device much from other Android-based tablets hitting the market, including T-Mobile's newly announced G-Slate and the Motorola Xoom, and so Sprint is hoping the combination of 3D and 4G will help carry the day.
For students and others who rely heavily on writing and scribbling, though, the HTC Evo View 4G's main selling point could be the HTC Scribe digital pen, which lets users draw and mark a document or Web page to their heart's content. In a short demo following the presentation, Sprint representatives showed off the pen's ability to highlight documents, circle and notate parts of Web pages, and even switch colors.
Sprint is clearly hoping that the red-hot 3D trend, having swallowed up movie theaters and televisions, will move to mobile devices. It joins a handful of other companies, including Toshiba, also making bets on 3D functionality in handhelds. Both the HTC Evo 3D and HTC Evo View 4G will debut sometime this summer.
Sprint faces increased competition in the mobile space thanks to AT&T, which announced March 20 that it intends to acquire T-Mobile for $39 billion in cash. Should that deal go through, it would place Sprint in a weaker third position behind carrier giants Verizon and AT&T.
During the CEO roundtable that opened CTIA, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets president and CEO Ralph de la Vega suggested to CNBC's Jim Kramer that the "need for additional spectrum" helped drive the deal with T-Mobile. "Few things in life grow 8,000 percent over four years," he said, before adding that the potential acquisition "helps alleviate the crunch by allowing the networks to be combined and more efficiently utilize that spectrum."
Kramer then turned to Dan Hesse, asking him what he thought of AT&T's announcement.
"My opinion doesn't matter. I think the FCC and the DOJ..." Hesse replied, referring in the latter case to the Department of Justice.
The room burst into laughter, but the FCC and DOJ are likely to take the implications of such a deal very seriously. Swallowing T-Mobile would make AT&T by far the largest carrier in the United States, and analysts feel the carrier will face substantial hurdles in getting the acquisition approved by government regulators.
Whether or not the deal clears, Sprint clearly hopes that 3D will let it level the playing field a little, at least on the devices side of things.