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HTC EVO 4G from Sprint  (Source: Sprint)
Welcome to the future of smartphones

The next generation iPhone packs some pretty attractive hardware, but the HTC EVO 4G phone from Sprint packs virtually identical or superior stats in every category and will be available sooner.  Preorders for the phone just began exclusively at Best Buy -- with RadioShack and Wal-Mart soon to follow.  The phone itself will ship on June 4.

The EVO, like the iPhone fourth generation, features two cameras -- an 8 MP rear camera and a 1.3 MP front-facing camera for video conferencing.  The EVO, though offers something the iPhone can't -- 4G coverage in the handful of cities that Sprint has rolled out WiMAX services to.

Cities with 4G coverage include Georgia - Atlanta, Milledgeville; Hawaii - Honolulu, Maui; Idaho - Boise; Illinois - Chicago; Maryland - Baltimore; Nevada - Las Vegas; North Carolina - Charlotte, Greensboro, (along with High Point and Winston-Salem), Raleigh (along with Cary, Chapel Hill and Durham); Oregon - Portland, Salem; Pennsylvania - Harrisburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Reading, York; Texas - Abilene, Amarillo, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Killeen/Temple, Lubbock, Midland/Odessa, San Antonio, Waco, Wichita Falls; Washington - Bellingham, Seattle.

Like the iPhone the EVO can simultaneously handle data and voice transmission -- something its fellow Android phones on Verizon can't offer.  Unlike the iPhone, though, it features fully upgradeable memory via a microSD slot and a larger screen, measuring an impressive 4.3 in.  The Phone can also take HD video.

The phone also features dual flash (compared to one on the fourth generation iPhone prototypes), FM radio, and a hands-free kickstand for watching movies.  And the icing on the cake is a mini-HDMI port that will allow you to pipe video to external monitors and wireless tethering which will let you use the phone's Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capabilities to turn the phone into a mobile hotspot on the go.

Sprint announced yesterday that tethering for up to eight devices would be available for $29.99 a month.  A $10 premium is tacked onto the $69.99 Sprint charges for its unlimited everything plan to handle the extra expense of 4G.  The phone itself will retail for $199 after $100 rebate with 2-year contract.

In its announcement Sprint also extended a 30 day satisfaction guarantee.  Writes Sprint:

With the Sprint Free Guarantee, customers can take advantage of HTC EVO 4G for 30 days and if not completely satisfied, may return the device within 30 days to get reimbursed for the device purchase and activation fee, get both the early termination and restocking fees waived, and receive a full refund for the monthly service plan charges.

The EVO looks like a hot deal.  For around the price of an iPhone's service plan (and probably less for hardware) you will get 4G coverage, better hardware, and wireless tethering.  Or you can opt out of the tethering and get the other aforementioned perks at an even cheaper cost.  The EVO looks like it just may make Sprint's 4G investment finally pay off.

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RE: Voice and data at the same time?
By cgalyon on 5/13/2010 3:04:23 PM , Rating: 2
Strangely I've seen another Sprint phone (Touch Pro 2) achieve voice and data simultaneously without using WiFi already. It appears to be more a limitation of how the phone hardware implements voice/data than anything else at this point. I'd imagine, then, that you don't need to have WiMAX to achieve this, but it'd be great if some Sprint users could confirm/deny this once the EVO launches.

By jnemesh on 5/13/2010 3:23:52 PM , Rating: 4
I have a Palm Pre, and I can confirm that you CAN have simultaneous voice and data, but only when connected via WiFi. The problem is that for whatever reason, the CDMA archetecture used by Sprint and Verizon can not handle voice and data simultaneously. This applies to EVDO as well as 1xRTT data. WiFi uses a separate radio, so it can operate independantly of the "phone" radio. I imagine that the WiMax phone also has a separate radio for data connections, so it should be able to handle a call and data at the same long as you are in a 4G area.

RE: Voice and data at the same time?
By mcnabney on 5/13/2010 5:06:40 PM , Rating: 2
CDMA was designed to operate only one radio at a time. That means no voice and data at the same time. Don't like it, whine to Qualcomm. LTE will function at the same time as voice.

However, if you are running Skype on your VERIZON Blackberry or Android device you CAN use both voice and data (since voice is being handled by VoIP under Skype).

RE: Voice and data at the same time?
By themelon on 5/13/2010 5:26:04 PM , Rating: 2
EVDO revA, a CDMA tech, does simultaneous voice and data. I just do not think it was widely deployed.

RE: Voice and data at the same time?
By mcnabney on 5/13/2010 9:54:18 PM , Rating: 2
Nope. I have heard a lot of excuses for it, but it is part of the spec going back to 1xRTT. The best excuse I have heard is to improve battery life, which makes sense due to CDMA's power inferiority to GSM.

Truthfully, until I heard AT&T's smarmy ad I had never even tried using data while on a call. I have played games while on a call (God bless the Mute function while on a conference call...), but have never tried to connect online. You can write text and MMS, but they do not get sent until after the voice call.

Also, FYI - Clearwire is considering switching to LTE. Seriously. In 2012 Wimaxx could be dead in North America. Happy shopping....

RE: Voice and data at the same time?
By bodar on 5/14/2010 10:05:38 AM , Rating: 2
I've heard that it may be possible to switch device from WiMax to LTE with a firmware update, and if not they should have the spectrum available to run both for a while.

Additionally, Clearwire and Sprint would have to deal with the already deployed WiMax devices in the hands of customers, either by running a legacy WiMax network for several years, pushing out a software upgrade for those devices (likely not as easy as upgrading the towers), or by taking the expensive step of replacing all customer-owned WiMax cards with LTE cards. Of all options, running a legacy WiMax network for a few years seems to be the most likely option, giving Sprint and Clearwire the time to let those contracts expire and pull the plug.

By ThePooBurner on 5/18/2010 3:00:15 PM , Rating: 2
ou can write text and MMS, but they do not get sent until after the voice call.

This is 100% incorrect. I have text conversation at the same time as a call all the time. Even MMS. I have an LG 8350 flip-phone on verizon.

By notposting on 5/14/2010 12:01:11 AM , Rating: 2
Are you sure? For domestic calls I have read it just uses your voice minutes and goes through the voice network. It only kicks into true VOIP for international calls.

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