HTC Evo 4G LTE Clears Customs, Samsung Galaxy S III Ready for Preorder

The HTC Evo 4G LTE, held in U.S. customs following a patent dispute with Apple, is finally on its way to Sprint and waiting customers. In potentially more bad luck for HTC, the Samsung Galaxy S III can now be preordered on Amazon.

HTC€™s newest Android smartphone, the Evo 4G LTE, has received approval from U.S. customs and is headed for waiting customers, Dow Jones reported May 22, citing a person familiar with the situation.

The Taiwanese smartphone maker has faced falling revenue and market share in recent quarters, as it struggles to compete against Samsung€™s slew of Android-running smartphones and the Apple iPhone, among other devices. Working to regain some of the mojo it found last spring with its first Evo 4G smartphone, this spring it introduced the Evo 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) and the One X smartphones.

While the phones have been building some momentum with early orders, HTC faced a new challenge in the form of a patent dispute with Apple. The Evo 4G LTE had a promised sale date of May 18, but when an order issued by the International Trade Commission in December took effect April 19, the phones were held up at sea before reaching U.S. shores.

"HTC said last week it had worked around the design of the new phone to avoid the disputed technology that was ruled to be in violation of a patent held by Apple," Dow Jones reported.

Sprint has also updated a blog post for subscribers who preordered the Evo 4G LTE, telling them: "Your wait is almost over! Sprint expects to begin shipping HTC Evo 4G LTE for arrival on or around Thursday, May 24 to customers who preordered the device online from Sprint."

On May 16, the blog had included a statement from HTC, saying, "We believe we are in compliance with the ruling and HTC is working closely with customs to secure approval." Two days later, Best Buy contacted customers who had preordered the phone to say it wouldn€™t arrive on time, as it first expected.

HTC didn€™t respond to a request about where the delayed phones are now.

While HTC€™s first-quarter 2012 earnings release showed profits to have fallen 70 percent year-over-year, Samsung€™s first-quarter profits reached an all-time high of $5.16 billion, representing a 98 percent year-on-year increase, which it largely attributed to the success of its Galaxy devices.

Doing HTC no favors, has begun offering for preorder unlocked versions of Samsung€™s newest darling, the Galaxy S III. While Samsung hasn€™t announced when the much-hyped device will arrive in the United States, the Amazon site states, "This item will be released on June 1, 2012." Deeper into the fine print it adds: "Expected [dispatch] date on/after 4th June 2012. Data may be subject to change, if there is any delay to the launch date from manufacturer."

Unattached to a carrier, and so without a subsidy, the 16GB versions of the S III, in Pebble Blue or Marble White, are being offered for $800.

Samsung introduced the S III at a May 3 event in London. It runs Android 4.0, known as Ice Cream Sandwich, features a quad-core processor and has one of the largest displays on the market, a 4.8-inch high-definition Super AMOLED (active-matrix organic LED). Still, it€™s thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4S, with its 3.5-inch display.

The S III€™s more attention-grabbing features, though, are the six sensors it uses to engage with its user€”not just listening, as Apple€™s Siri digital assistant does, but watching, intuiting and acting. It can, for example, "understand" that a missed phone call and text from the same contact might constitute an urgent situation. Or, using its front-facing camera, it can watch the user and, seeing that the user is looking at it, not let the screen dim, even though it has gone untouched for an amount of time that would normally warrant it.

In short, in a market packed with generally indistinguishable Android smartphones, Samsung has found a way to stand out.