Sprint announced Wednesday that it will begin selling the HTC Evo 4G LTE smartphone on May 18, for $199.99 with a two-year contract.
The device, which customers could pre-order beginning on Monday, runs Android 4.0 and will operate on Sprint's faster LTE network, which is set to launch midyear in six U.S. cities.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse unveiled the Evo at an event in New York in early April. Hesse said the smartphone sets a high standard for multimedia experience because of its 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, its large 4.7-in. display and other features.
Sprint advertisements claim that the Evo will offer HD voice capability in the future. But the company does note that taking advantage of that technology requires HD voice-capable handsets on both ends of a call and an HD voice-capable network. Sprint has said that it plans to deploy such a network "in the future."
With its 4.7-in. screen, the HTC Evo joins the trend toward larger screens, especially for phones sold by U.S. carriers. The iPhone, the most popular smartphone, has a 3.5 in. screen, but analysts expect that the next iPhone will have a larger screen.
The Samsung Galaxy S III, announced last week in London, will feature a 4.8-in. touchscreen; it will become available through a U.S. carrier sometime this summer.
Smartphone buyers want devices that have bigger screens and run on faster LTE networks, although LTE usage has been found to drain batteries quickly, according to tests. Metrico Wireless found in thousands of tests that four models of LTE smartphones lasted less than five hours when used for streaming video and surfing the Web on both Verizon Wireless and AT&T networks. The test included the Motorola Razr Maxx, which has a large 3300 mAh battery.
The HTC Evo's battery is 2000 mAh, which is above average for today's smartphones. However, Sprint noted that Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 processor is designed to be power-efficient in order to preserve battery life.
The HTC Evo will come with Google Wallet, a mobile payment application that uses a Near Field Communication chip built into the device. The phone also has an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera.
Sprint offers unlimited data plans 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 available. The company is planning a midyear launch of LTE service in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio.
Most carriers report that LTE is 10 times faster than 3G, and Metrico's recent tests found that LTE download speeds on Verizon and AT&T were comparable, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.