April 04, 2012, 9:08 PM — With its LTE launch just around the corner, Sprint Wednesday took the wraps off its first big-time LTE-capable smartphone, the HTC Evo 4G LTE.
From a specifications perspective, the new smartphone features all the bells and whistles users have come to expect in early 2012: A dual-core 1.5GHz processor, a 4.7-inch HD display screen, an 8MP rear-facing camera, Android 4.0 ("Ice Cream Sandwich"), LTE connectivity and Near Field Communications (NFC) connectivity that's used to run the Google Wallet mobile payment application. The device costs $200 with a two-year service contract and will be available for preorder on May 7. Although Sprint doesn't yet have its LTE network up and running, the carrier is scheduled to launch LTE services in four cities in the next two months, with more to come by the end of the year.
In addition to its basic specs, the device also features Sprint's first attempt at implementing its HD Voice technology that the company says will make for clearer voice calls that eliminate most background noise. Although Sprint hasn't yet announced what spectrum it will use to handle HD Voice, Sprint could choose to tap the 15MHz of spectrum on the 800MHz band that it will free up by shutting down its iDEN network next year. Sprint's initial LTE deployments are slated to run on the PCS band that spans 1850MHz-1915MHz and 1930MHz-1990MHz. Sprint says its HD Voice capabilities will come online sometime in late 2012.
The new device generated mostly positive initial buzz among tech journalists on Twitter. Gizmodo, for one, called the device "one serious piece of slick" while IntoMobile said the device featured a "sexy red" kickstand, "sexy aluminum, sexy sexy sex sex!" The Boy Genius Report, meanwhile, said that it was "very impressed" with the device and said that the device's "4.7-inch Super LCD display with 720p HD resolution is absolutely gorgeous" and that its "dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 processor helps the Sense 4.0 user interface jump from screen to screen with ease."
The Evo brand of Android smartphones has been a staple of Sprint's line-up since 2010 when it launched the original Evo 4G, the first smartphone in the United States to feature 4G WiMAX connectivity. Sprint has since expanded the brand to include HTC devices such as the Evo 3D smartphone and the Evo View 4G tablet.