Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) said it will launch its first 3G/4G smartphone, the HTC Evo 4G, June 4. The carrier, beset by postpaid subscriber defections, is hoping the high-end device will lure customers to its network.
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 unveiled the pricing and release date at a launch event Wednesday in New York. The company said the device, which has access to Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) mobile WiMAX network and sports a front-facing camera along with a rear one, will run a new video chat service from Qik. Sprint is a wholesale customer of Clearwire and holds a majority stake in the company.
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 the WiMAX network, though, according to Sprint representatives who spoke to Phone Scoop. Like Clearwire, Sprint will not cap WiMAX data use.
The phone's specification list is astonishing. The Evo 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 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 WiFi service will cost $29.99 extra per month.
One aspect of the launch that is sure to draw attention is its proximity to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) WWDC event, which begins June 7. The company is widely expected to unveil the latest version of its iPhone at the event.
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. One hitch in Sprint's plans is the availability of WiMAX service. Clearwire's network rollout, which Sprint mirrors, is expected to accelerate this summer into 18 additional markets. However, some large markets--including New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington, D.C., Denver, Minneapolis, the San Francisco Bay Area, Miami, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh--are not expected to be commercially available until later this year.
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