New York - Sprint announced plans for June 4 nationwide availability of the nation's first 3G/4G phone, the HTC-made EVO 4G at $199 after $100 rebate.
The Android 2.1-based phone will pack two capabilities not previously mentioned by Sprint: simultaneous 3G voice and 4G data plus two-way EVO-to-EVO and EVO-to-PC video chat capability. Video chat is available through Sprint's 3G and 4G data channels as well as through WiFi.
EVO will be the first device on the market to provide two-way video chat in either 3G or 4G networks, Spring CEO Dan Hesse said during an EVO launch event here. The device will use an Android video-chat app and service developed by Qik. The capability will be available as an upgrade to a preloaded Qik app. Pricing of the upgrade wasn't announced.
Though Sprint's 4G network is currently available only in 35 markets, expanding to 50 during the summer, Sprint will launch the Android smartphone nationwide, not just through Sprint-owned stores, said senior product VP Kevin Packingham. Outlets will include all of Sprint's indirect retail partners, including Best Buy, RadioShack and WalMart, he told TWICE during an EVO launch event here.
Although EVO is priced comparably to select 3G Android smartphones, the phone will be costlier to use compared to other models. The phone will be bundled with an Everything Data plan, which starts at $69.99/month, but Sprint will also require an additional $10/month premium-data add-on. The premium is justified because the handset's performance and features, such as video chat and simultaneous voice and data, will encourage more data usage - even in 3G markets -- than is typical of other smartphones, consumer marketing VP David Owens told TWICE.
The $69.99 plan includes 450 minutes of calling to landlines, unlimited mobile-to-mobile calls, and unlimited data.
On top of the $69.99 and $9.99 charges, consumers will pay an additional $29.99/month if they want to activate the phone's mobile WiFi hot spot feature, which uses WiFi to deliver cellular-based Internet access to up to eight WiFi-equipped devices simultaneously. Sprint said the price is half the monthly cost of its current Mobile Broadband data plans, which use dedicated 3G/4G modems.
The full-touchscreen EVO, the country's first Android-based 4G phone, accesses Sprint's 4G Mobile WiMAX data network and 3G CDMA 1x EV-DO Rev. A data network as well as Sprint's 3G voice network. Only one other 4G WiMAX phone is available in the world, and that's an HTC-made model sold in Russia, HTC said.
EVO features the latest Android OS (version 2.1), 4.3-inch multitouch touchscreen and a built-in kickstand for viewing videos. It also comes with 720p HD camcorder, 8- and 1.3-megapixel cameras (one to enable video chat), 1GHz Qualcomm-made Snapdragon processor, built-in HDMI output, and Flash video support in its Web browser for viewing Internet videos.
In 4G WiMAX networks, EVO delivers peak download speeds of more than 10 Mbps, peak upload speeds of 1 Mbps, and average download speeds of 3-6 Mbps. In Sprint's 3G EV-DO Rev. A network, EVOdelivers peak download speeds up to 3.1 Mbps, peak upload speeds of 1.8 Mbps, and average download speeds of 600 kbps-1.4 Mbps.