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5/13/2010
11:10 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Sprint's EVO 4G Streets June 4 For $199

Sprint recently revealed the pricing and release date information for its first WiMax smartphone, the HTC EVO 4G. It's coming sooner than you thought. It will arrive in Sprint stores in mere weeks, on June 4, and is priced at a competitive $199 (after rebates). What's really interesting are the required data plans.

Sprint recently revealed the pricing and release date information for its first WiMax smartphone, the HTC EVO 4G. It's coming sooner than you thought. It will arrive in Sprint stores in mere weeks, on June 4, and is priced at a competitive $199 (after rebates). What's really interesting are the required data plans.The $199.99 price tag of the EVO 4G is completely reasonable. That's the sweet spot for smartphones, and is actually a bit more aggressive than I expected. The EVO 4G is, after all, the first 4G/WiMax phone to become available in the U.S. It's also good that Sprint is pushing the EVO 4G out the door before Apple gets around to announcing the next-gen iPhone. It will have at least a few weeks on store shelves before the iPhone arrives.

Let's talk about plan pricing for a few moments. Like most smartphones sold by Sprint, the EVO is going to require a minimum $69.99 Simply Everything Plan. That's voice (~450 minutes), web, and messaging. Sounds good so far, right? Well, Sprint is adding a mandatory extra $10 fee for EVO 4G users, which it is calling a "Premium Data" add-on. That $70 monthly plan just jumped to $80. I think the WiMax-powered 4G experience warrants an extra monthly data fee. As much as I'd like to keep the $10 per month myself, it is perfectly fair for Sprint to try to recoup the billions of dollars it has spent building out the WiMax network (which, by the way, is only available in 32 markets right now).

But here's the real kicker: The $10 Premium Data plan is mandatory even if you don't live in a market where WiMax is available. Yes, you read right. Sprint will charge you the extra $10 WiMax fee even though its WiMax network may not blanket your town. Nice, huh? When asked about this, Sprint explained that the EVO 4G has other premium services on board (a.k.a, two-way live video chat) that warrant the mandatory fee.

Despite the mandatory $10, the total package of $80 is still pretty decent.

Wait. There's more. The EVO 4G comes with a mobile hotspot creator application. If you want to use the EVO 4G as a data modem for other Wi-Fi equipped devices, that privilege will cost you an extra $30 per month above and beyond the $80 minimum. That's in line what what most operators charge for tethered smartphones (which are typically being used to supplant the need for stand-alone laptop dongles). The real interesting bit is that the EVO 4G will support up to eight connected Wi-Fi devices. That means your business could give one employee an EVO 4G with the hotspot feature and that employee can then provide wireless internet to eight other employees. When you look at it that way, the $110 seems pretty reasonable.

Last, that $110 buys you absolutely unlimited internet. There is no data cap, no extra fees, you can use as much mobile WiMax network power as you want. Sound good? Sprint is banking on it.

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