Sprint launches HTC Evo amid buzz, bugs

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) launched its first 3G/4G smartphone, the HTC Evo 4G, to lines around the country. But there smartphone has faced a flurry of reports about a bug in the device's storage system and concerns about battery life.

Sprint’s HTC-built Evo phone goes on sale today.The nation's No. 3 carrier is hoping the device will become a hot seller, and has been promoting it as its flagship product. Customers formed lines of various sizes at Sprint stores across the country to get their hands on the high-end device, which sports a long list of impressive features.

However, there are also concerns about a glitch in the phone's internal, 8 GB microSD memory card. Some users who tried to save files to the card received an error message citing "insufficient file permissions." Other customers found the phone could not access the card at all. HTC has acknowledged the issue and promised a fix soon.

"We have seen this crop up intermittently in some of the Evo 4G devices," HTC spokesman Keith Nowak told Wired. "We have identified the cause, are testing a solution and expect to have a software solution available very shortly that will be automatically pushed to phones over the air. Many users are finding that a power cycle or switching the card out seems to rectify the issue, in most cases."

HTC CEO Peter Chou also acknowledged recently that heavy users of the phone may experience weak battery life. "We are trying to innovate here," he said. "We're aware of the problem. I hope someday this won't be an issue."

Nonetheless, Sprint is holding launch parties for the phone across the country, and has started a new ad campaign to promote the Evo as the country's first 4G smartphone. Sprint has been focusing on its WiMAX service throughout the year, and the Evo will provide the company with its most visible showcase yet to demonstrate the capabilities of Clearwire's network, especially for functions such as high-definition YouTube video streaming.

The phone will cost $199.99 with a two-year contract and after a $100 mail-in rebate for a new line or eligible upgrade. Sprint said the ideal pricing plan for Evo customers will be Sprint's Everything Data plan for $69.99. Customers will be charged a mandatory $10 add-on fee for accessing Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network. The phone also supports free video chat services from Qik, though for higher resolution video calling customers will have to pay $5 extra per month.

The Evo's specification list is astonishing. The device has a 4.3-inch touchscreen display, an 8-megapixel camera on the back, a 1.3-megapixel camera on the front, HD video capture, Android 2.1, HTC's Sense UI, Qualcomm's (NSYE:QCOM) 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, support for Adobe's Flash technology in the browser and a hotspot capability (whereby it can broadcast a WiFi signal for up to eight devices). The hotspot service will cost $29.99 extra per month.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Wired article
- see this Engadget post on the lines for the Evo
- see this Phone Scoop post
- see this Engadget post

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