Sprint's new HTC Evo 4G brings WiMax to the smartphone party

Hardware vendors have been holding press events to tout their latest gadgets for as long as there have been gadgets to tout, and those of us who have attended a lot of these tend to go with a rather world-weary attitude. The shindig held by Sprint last night to introduce its new smartphone, the HTC Evo 4G, was no different. Cheerful, friendly PR people? Check. Available alcohol and tiny stylish appetizers? Check. Carefully scripted presentation featuring various organization bigwigs plus representatives from  partner companies? Check and check. 

However, this time it was for a product that could actually be worth all the brouhaha. I had a chance to handle the Evo 4G at Sprint's introduction last night, and I've gotta say -- on first impression, the Evo 4G is a snazzy device.


Both wider and longer than either the Motorola Droid or Apple's iPhone, the Evo 4G was a bit too large to hold comfortably in my hand (although folks with larger hands won't have a problem), and it probably won't fit in many shirt pockets. But that's something I could live with if it meant working with that bright 4.3-inch screen. 

The Evo 4G comes with a lot of the features that people look for in their Smartphones these days:

  • A 1GHz Snapdragon processor, GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, an HDMI port, an FM tuner and Android 2.1. 
  • Dual digital cameras: an 8-megapixel camera that can record 720p HD content and a 1.3-megapixel camera facing the user. 
  • The ability to operate on a 4G WiMAX network, which means it's going to be fast. And users will be able to use it as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices.
  • An 8GB microSD card. It will accept up to a 32GB card (the memory card is located under the battery, so it's not something that you're going to be removing casually). 
  • A 1,500mAh battery. Sprint has estimated the life of the battery to be over five hours; the staffer who watched me check out the phone told me that he got about 16 hours on it using a 3G connection and 12 hours on a 4G connection. 
  • And a kickstand, so you can sit back and watch your videos. 

All this doesn't come cheap, of course. The phone itself will cost $200 (with a two-year contract and after a $100 rebate) -- not an unreasonable price for a high-end phone. But, as usual, it will be the extras that get you. Sprint's data plan starts at $70 a month, and there will be an obligatory additional $10 a month fee for the 4G network (even if there isn't one yet in your city). You want to use your new Evo 4G as a hotspot? That will be another $30 per month.

Still and all, on first look, it's a great-looking device. Currently, I'm a satisfied Droid owner, and there aren't a lot of phones that would tempt me to break my Verizon contract. Sprint will start selling its new smartphone on June 4 -- and assuming there was a 4G network where I lived (according to the press release, 4G service is currently available in 32 markets, with several major cities due to be added in 2010), the HTC Evo 4G could be one of them.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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