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Sprint Preps Tri-Fi Hotspot, HTC LTE Smartphone

Sprint will sell two new LTE products starting May 18, the HTC EVO 4G LTE smartphone and the Sierra Wireless Tri-Fi, a mobile hotspot like you've never seen.

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Sprint's LTE 4G network may not have launched yet, but that isn't stopping the company from adding to its roster of LTE-capable devices. On May 18, the HTC EVO 4G LTE and Sierra Wireless Tri-Fi Mobile Hotspot reach Sprint stores to tempt your lust for 4G.

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 1.5-GHz 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 became available for pre-order starting May 7. It costs $199.99 with a new two-year contract. Sprint's Unlimited Everything plans start at $69.99 per month. Sprint will deliver pre-orders by May 18, when it will also arrive in Sprint's retail stores.

The EVO 4G LTE will be among the first few devices offered by Sprint that are capable of accessing its forthcoming LTE network. The LG Viper and Samsung Galaxy Nexus, both of which support LTE, are already available for sale.

[ LTE is generating a lot of activity. Read CTIA 2012: AT&T, Verizon Debut LTE Phones. ]

Sprint has promised it will launch LTE in six markets by mid-year and cover 120 million POPs by the end of the year. By the end of 2013, Sprint expects to have a significant portion of its 3G network covered with LTE.

The Sierra Wireless Tri-Fi joins the EVO 4G LTE and other LTE devices on May 18, as well. The Tri-Fi (think a square-shaped hockey puck) is a mobile hotspot like you've never seen before. It supports Sprint's CDMA 3G network, its WiMax 4G network, and its forthcoming LTE 4G network. That means the Tri-Fi (three networks, so "tri" instead of "wi", get it) will have you covered with speedy Internet pretty much anywhere for several years to come.

It will costs $99.99 after rebate with a new agreement. Sprint's mobile broadband plans start at $34.99 per month for 3 GB of data.

Sprint is late to the LTE game. It bet on WiMax to provide it with next-generation mobile broadband services. Though it grew its WiMax coverage to 71 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 is committed to running its WiMax network through 2015, so the Tri-Fi will have 4G access on two different networks.

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