Sprint says HTC Evo 4G smartphone set for U.S. debut

Wireless carrier Sprint on Wednesday said HTC's Evo 4G smartphone, which could provide unprecedented data transfer rates to smartphones, will debut in the U.S. on June 4.

The availability of the smartphone was announced at a Sprint event held in New York City on Wednesday evening. The smartphone will be able to connect to WiMax wireless networks in specific coverage areas for voice and data applications. The device is priced at $200 with a two-year service agreement, according to Sprint officials.

WiMax (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) is a wireless technology that provides fast data-transfer rates over a wider area than Wi-Fi. When it fully develops, it will be able to provide data transfers faster than 3G mobile broadband technology.

The smartphone's 4G connectivity could enable many new applications. There is increasing demand for rich-media applications on mobile devices, and 4G could provide the necessary bandwidth to meet those demands. It could also enable videoconferencing involving multiple people.

The Evo 4G phone has a big 4.3-inch screen and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor. It includes two cameras -- a back-facing 8-megapixel auto-focus camera and a forward-facing 1.3-megapixel camera -- which could allow multipoint videoconferencing.

The smartphone could also function as a "hotspot" to which other Wi-Fi-enabled devices can connect to either share data or surf the Internet. At the event, demonstrations showed Apple's iPad tablet connecting to the Evo to surf the Internet.

Sprint could not provide specific battery life for the smartphone with 4G capability, but a company spokesman estimated the life to be more than five hours.

The phone runs Google's Android 2.1 operating system, and more than 35,000 apps will be available for the device. The device supports Adobe's Flash video platform, and will also able to play back 720p video on a external monitor via an HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) cable. Small screens are not usually designed to play high-definition video.

Sprint currently offers 4G connectivity in 32 U.S. cities, and covers 41 million people. By the end of 2010 the company said it will cover 120 million people. But where 4G connectivity isn't available, the smartphone will switch to the 3G network.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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