Sprint announced Wednesday that the HTC Evo 4G LTE smartphone will go on sale May 18 for $199.99 with a two-year contract.
Pre-orders began Monday for the device, which runs Android 4.0 and will operate over Sprint's faster LTE network that is set to launch mid-year in six U.S. cities.
The HTC Evo 4G LTE smartphone
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse unveiled the Evo at a New York City event in early April. Hesse said the smartphone sets the gold standard as a multimedia experience because of its 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, its large 4.7-in. display and other features. Sprint advertises the Evo as offering future HD voice capabilities. However it also noted that taking advantage of the voice technology requires HD Voice-capable handsets on either end of a call and an HD Voice-capable network, which Sprint said it "plans on deploying ... in the future."
The 4.7-in. screen of the HTC Evo also fits within the trend toward larger screens, especially for phones that U.S. carriers sell. The iPhone, the single most popular smartphone, is 3.5 inches, but analysts expect a larger screen in the next-generation iPhone when it launches later this year.
The Samsung Galaxy S III, announced last week in London, will feature a 4.8-in. touchscreen and will launch on a U.S. carrier sometime this summer.
Smartphone buyers want phones with bigger screens and that run on faster LTE networks, although LTE has been found to sap smartphone batteries faster than older models, according to tests. Metrico Wireless found in thousands of tests that four models of LTE smartphones on both Verizon Wireless and AT&T networks lasted less than five hours for streaming video and Web browsing. The test included the Motorola Razr Maxx, which has a large 3300 mAh battery.
The HTC Evo's battery is 2000 mAh, above average for today's smartphones. However, Sprint noted that Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 processor is designed for power efficiency and long battery life.
The HTC Evo will come with Google Wallet, a mobile payment application that uses a Near Field Communication chip inside. The phone also has an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera.
Sprint offers unlimited data plans for its customers as part of a total smartphone package that costs $80 a month. Sprint's LTE-capable phones will revert to 3G service where LTE is not provided. The first six LTE cities planned for mid-year launch are Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio.
Most carriers are seeing LTE speeds at 10 times faster than 3G, and Metrico's recent tests found both Verizon and AT&T comparable for LTE downloads, averaging up to 17Mbps on AT&T.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.
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