Sprint: 4G smartphone coming by mid-year

Sprint Nextel said it will launch its first dual-mode 3G/4G smartphone in the first half of this year running on Clearwire's mobile WiMAX network, a few months earlier than many had been expecting.

Paget Alves, Sprint's president of Business Markets, said in an interview with Forbes that the device will be out by the summer and that he expects business and government users will use the phone as well, not just consumers. Sprint has been extremely coy about the device, which may turn out to be the rumored HTC Supersonic.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse has repeatedly stressed the importance of both building up Clearwire's network and the need for compelling devices. Clearwire, which Sprint holds a majority stake in, plans on rolling out mobile WiMAX to 120 million POPs by the end of the year, with market launches in Boston, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.  "We need to get more markets turned up, and then we need to get more devices, and then we can make more progress in that regard," Hesse said during the company's fourth-quarter earnings conference call.

In a recent interview with FierceWireless, Hesse did not comment directly on the possibility of the carrier launching the Supersonic, but said that Sprint's planned dual-mode gadgets would take advantage of greater processing power, faster speeds and bigger screens--thereby giving customers a better video experience. "Because you can download data so much faster, the video experience will be so much better on 4G," he said. "And you'll see larger, higher-resolution screens generally on 4G."

The Supsersonic is rumored to run on Google's Android 2.1 platform with HTC'S Sense user interface on top of it, and have a 4.3-inch touchscreen display, a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor and a 5-megapixel camera.

Addtionally, Clearwire CEO Bill Morrow has said his company is committed to launching a dual-mode 3G/WiMAX smartphone in the second half of the year, and has hinted that it may run on Android.

For more:
- see this Forbes article
- see this Brighthand post
- see this Engadget post

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