Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse confirmed that the carrier would launch a smartphone based on Google's Android platform later this year. "The reviews say now it's ready for prime time," Hesse said at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference, according to CNET. "It wasn't when it first came out."
Hesse declined to discuss which handset maker would provide the device.
In April, when Samsung clarified its Android plans for North America, the company made it seem as if it would be designing two distinct handsets for the market, with one made for Sprint and the other for T-Mobile USA. Currently, Sprint and T-Mobile are the only two openly declared U.S. carriers in the Google-led Open Handset Alliance.
While Hesse did not talk about specific handset makers that might supply Sprint with its Android phone, he did dole some praise on Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha, who has been tasked with turning the company's ailing handset business around, and is focusing Motorola's efforts on Android. The Sprint chief executive said he was "cautiously optimistic" of Motorola's turnaround.
"Some things I can't disclose, but I'm pretty impressed on the handset side with what Sanjay has been able to do there since he's been there," Hesse said.
Hesse also commented on one of Sprint's major smartphone initiatives: the Palm Pre. He reiterated a stance he took earlier in the year, saying it would take a few months to gauge whether the device has been successful. "You won't know if we have a real hit on our hands until its been out three months, four months, five months ... It's too early to tell," he said. "We're just getting it rolled out in decent quantities for direct distribution."
He added that Sprint has not seen a lot of Pre returns, countering speculation among analysts of a high rate of return on the device. "There's things all over people are speculating," Hesse said. "Most of the speculation I read is wrong."
Sprint reports its earnings on Wednesday, and the carrier is expected to provide detailed sale results for the Pre.
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