Sprint Announces HTC Evo 4G, Emphasizing Multimedia

Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse introduced the HTC Evo 4G, which he called the country's 4G smartphone, during a high-profile presentation at the CTIA Wireless 2010 conference in Las Vegas on March 23. Running Google Android 2.1 and boasting a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and 4.3-inch capacitive touch screen, Sprint is betting that users interested in using their smartphone for intensive multimedia will be attracted to the device. Having recorded fairly substantial customer erosion and financial losses over the past few quarters, Sprint is investing heavily in a 4G network that it sees as the way of the future.

LAS VEGAS-Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse announced a 4G-capable smartphone, the HTC Evo 4G, during a high-profile presentation at the CTIA Wireless 2010 conference on March 23. Boasting that it would take multimedia to "a whole new level," Hesse demonstrated the device, which boasts a 4.3-inch capacitive touch screen and the Google Android 2.1 operating system, for media and analysts.

The HTC Evo 4G will apparently make its debut during the summer. "It's a fast device with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor," Hesse told the audience. "It's a terrific smartphone, even in 3G markets." The device incorporates two cameras: an 8-megapixel module with auto-focus and an HD-capable camcorder, and a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera.

Hesse then introduced Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, who explained that HTC and Sprint had been working on the project hand-in-hand with Google since May 2008 to deliver what he described as "the world's first fully integrated 4G consumer handset."

Chou continued: "I think the Evo 4G gives a clear indicator of how mobile broadband experience is starting to move beyond the fixed-line broadband experience by what it offers in terms of local and personal relevance." The HTC Evo 4G plays into that as a "holistic video and multimedia experience. As you know, the mobile video experience hasn't been really embraced yet due to network speed limitations."

As with other smartphones making their debut at CTIA, including the Samsung Galaxy S, the HTC Evo 4G will include a substantial social-networking element, aggregating content from a variety of services such as Twitter, Facebook and Flickr into a continually updated "flow." Unlike some smartphones being shown at the conference, including Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 Series devices, the HTC Evo 4G will apparently provide Adobe Flash support.

Sprint made a limited number of HTC Evo 4G devices available to analysts and members of the press following the executive presentations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the smartphones feel and operate very much like the Nexus One and HTC Droid Eris.

Sprint 4G capability is currently available in 27 markets, with plans to expand into Houston, Boston, Washington, D.C., New York City and San Francisco by the end of 2010.

Sprint has been working to ease its subscriber loss over the past few quarters, an effort helped by its recent acquisition of Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile USA. On Feb. 10, the company reported that it had lost a net 148,000 subscribers during the fourth quarter of 2009, better than the 545,000 who apparently left the network during the third quarter.

At the same time, the company has also been working to narrow its financial losses, which totaled $980 million for the fourth quarter-an improvement, nonetheless, over the $1.6 billion that had been lost during the same quarter a year earlier.

With that sort of financial pressure bearing down, Sprint has been gambling that users will be drawn to the prospect of a 4G network, with plans to invest an addition $1 billion into Clearwire's WiMax 4G technology. Intel, Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House Networks have plans to contribute another $500 million to that effort.