That’s right, it just happened. Sprint and HTC just changed the smartphone arena with the introduction of the first 4G handset on the market: the HTC Evo 4G. It’s not just any handset, but rather the most powerful smartphone on the market. I was invited over to Sprint’s exclusive event during the CTIA Wireless show in Las Vegas and had the opportunity to test the phone. I honestly had fallen for the device after a quick skim through the specifications, but after a first glance at the device, I knew that this would be an important play for Sprint and that I actually wanted one. Before I dive in, skim through these specifications and let it sink in.
HTC EVO 4G Specifications:
- Network: Sprint 4G/3G compatible
- Display: 4.3-inch 800×480 capacitive
- OS: Android 2.1 w/ HTC Sense UI
- CPU: 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon
- Memory: 1GB ROM, 512MB RAM
- Camera: 8 megapixel w/ 720p video
- Front Camera: 1.3 megapixel
- GPS: Sprint Navigation + Google Navigator
- WiFi: 802.11b/g + HotSpot for 8 devices
- Bluetooth: 2.1 + EDR + Stereo Audio
- Music: FM Radio, Amazon MP3, 3.5mm jack
- microSD: 8GB included (32GB max)
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Proximity, Light
- Output: HDMI 720p content
- Battery: 1,500 mAh
This phone out ranks the Apple iPhone 3GS, Motorola Droid, Google Nexus One, and the HTC HD2 in just about every aspect. This phone can do just about everything anyone would possibly ever want their phone to do. And that’s a first for Sprint to secure a game-changing exclusive. Although they did have an exclusive on the Palm Pre, it simply wasn’t that cutting edge. And with their emergence into the 4G market powered by Clearwire’s WiMax, they’ve got a good head start over both Verizon Wirless and AT&T who are still working in LTE. If Sprint keeps going at this rate with Dan Hesse at the wheel, they might be able to turn around their losses and make a strong comeback.
I had a chance to test out the device thanks to Sprint’s kind PR team. The device was everything I expected. The screen was larger than I expected and looked gorgeous. The large 4.3-inch display truly shows it’s colors and seems that it would be bright enough to use under direct sunlight. The phone didn’t have a cheap plastic feel, but rather was robust much like the Motorola Droid. While the unit was a bit larger than the Apple iPhone 3GS, it still felt comfortable to handle and is still small enough to pocket. I also realized that with a 8 megapixel camera and 720p video recording, I likely wouldn’t need to carry a point-and-shoot or a Flip-type portable camcorder on me. HTC was strongly emphasizing sharing content. Therefore, it has the Qik live streaming app pre-installed. Plus, with a HDMI output, you can easily playback content on a HDTV.
Another thing that truly caught my attention was the front-facing camera. There aren’t too many well known phones in the U.S. market that sport one. Plus, even the famous Nokia N900 can’t use Skype for video chat. I managed to track down a product manger at Sprint that I drilled about whether they would allow video calls. His answer surprised me. It turns out that Sprint is completely open to allowing video chatting applications on their network, but there was one small hurdle: Android 2.1. The increasingly popular operating system apparently doesn’t have support for a secondary front-facing camera. According to the Sprint rep, HTC actually built support for that second camera into their “Sense UI” and are offering access for developers to tap into it with a SDK. That could truly shake up the market and cause some good competition to finally push video calls into the U.S. market.
There were two things I couldn’t get out of Sprint: availability and pricing. At this point, all we know is an expected “summer launch.” I asked Sprint PR team to throw me a ball park estimate on the cost and I was told that it would be a competitive price. We’ll be on the wait-list to get one of these units as early as possible. Stay tuned with us for more updates.