Sprint badly needs to accomplish two goals: sign up new customers, and keep the customers it already has. The first part of Sprint's one-two punch strategy to accomplish these goals went into effect in October, when it began offering Apple's iPhone for the first time. On Wednesday, Sprint wound up the second punch, which it will deliver by the end of June: the HTC EVO 4G LTE smartphone.
The EVO 4G LTE will be one of the first devices offered by Sprint that's capable of accessing its forthcoming LTE network. Sprint has promised it will launch LTE in six markets by mid-year, and the EVO 4G LTE's availability will likely coincide with the network's arrival.
Sprint is late to the LTE game. It bet (poorly) on WiMax to provide it with next-generation mobile broadband services. Though it grew its WiMax coverage to 70 markets across the U.S., its partner, Clearwire, has had capital issues and ceased building out the network more than a year ago. Sprint is now in the middle of converting its WiMax network into an LTE network. Once it gets LTE up and running, all four of the major network operators in the U.S. will offer it.
[ Sprint's 4G LTE offering will have a formidable competitor in the iPhone. Read more at iPhone Top Seller At AT&T, Spring, And Verizon. ]
The EVO 4G LTE is a variation of the One X series already announced by HTC. It has a different look thanks to some changed materials, but the base features are the same: 4.7-inch Super LCD with a 720p HD display, dual-core 1.5GHx Snapdragon S4 processor, 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture, Beats Audio, and Android/Sense 4.0. It is one of the few smartphones that includes a kickstand to provide a level surface for watching videos.
The device will be available for pre-order starting May 7, and will sell for $199 with a new two-year contract.
Sprint is banking on one significant factor with the EVO 4G LTE: customer loyalty.
Sprint spokesperson David Owens told InformationWeek that its original EVO line--which was the first WiMax smartphone to reach the market--was a huge seller. In fact, more than 7 million customers have picked up EVO-branded devices since the original EVO launched in June 2010.
Many of those original EVO owners are just now coming off their two-year contracts. Sprint is counting on those customers to stick with Sprint and scoop up the EVO 4G LTE in record numbers when it goes on sale later this year.
Will they? The EVO 4G LTE is certainly a lust-worthy device, just like the other One X devices made by HTC.
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