Sprint Unveils First 4G Phone

Sprint today unveiled the HTC Evo 4G, the first U.S. phone able to tap into super-high speed networks, as the carrier hopes to win back lost customers with its lead in next-generation wireless technology.

The Overland Park, Kan.-based carrier said the Evo 4G runs on the latest version of Google’s Android software and features a large 4.3-inch touch screen, which is 30 percent bigger than the screen of the Apple’s iPhone.

It boasts two cameras — an 8.0-megapixel camera for taking photos and high-definition videos and a front-facing one used for video conferencing — and has an HDMI port to watch it on television.

The Evo 4G will be the first handset to run on Sprint’s fourth-generation, or 4G, technology called WiMax for download speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G. The phone falls back to its older 3G network when 4G isn’t available.

It can also function like a mobile hotspot and create a Wi-Fi connection for eight other devices.

Sprint said the Evo 4G will be available this summer and pricing will be announced at a later date.

“Sprint 4G speeds will take mobile multimedia, including live video streaming, gaming and picture downloads, to a whole new level,” said Dan Hesse, Sprint’s chief executive.

The struggling carrier is banking on the success of the Evo 4G, hoping it will provide a spark to its early 4G ambitions. After losing nearly 9 million subscribers over the last three years, it planned its comeback efforts on WiMax as a way to reverse its fortunes and win back the most lucrative data-hungry smartphone customers who are willing to sign long-term contracts.

Over the last year, Sprint and its network partner, Clearwire, have been racing to build out their 4G network. They currently offer service in 27 cities and have plans to expand to other markets.

Rival Verizon has also been testing its own 4G service using a competing standard called Long-Term Evolution, which it plans to launch sometime next year. Meanwhile, AT&T and T-Mobile are still planning their next-generation data service.

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