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Sprint's Android-Powered WiMax Smartphone Cometh

Today the Wall Street Journal reports that Sprint plans to launch its first WiMax smartphone next week at the CTIA trade show. The device will be made by HTC and is called the Supersonic.
Today the Wall Street Journal reports that Sprint plans to launch its first WiMax smartphone next week at the CTIA trade show. The device will be made by HTC and is called the Supersonic.The Journal cites unnamed sources in its article, but they say Sprint's CEO Dan Hesse will announce the device during his keynote address at CTIA next week in Las Vegas. The CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association) is the lobbying organization that represents the mobile industry and its spring trade show is typically attended by more than 40,000 people.

I've heard different timeframes from all the parties involved here, and an announcement next week is much earlier than even Sprint has said it will happen. Sprint's WiMax parter, Clearwire, told me that it didn't expect any WiMax smartphones until well into the fourth quarter of the year. Even if Sprint does announce a device next week, I think it will be months before it becomes available for sale.

The HTC Supersonic will be a smartphone, though no one appears to know for certain which operating system it will run. Details about the device itself are slim, though a report from January noted the following:

  • Codename is "Supersonic" -- a name we've heard at least once before.
  • Feels a lot like you'd expect an Android-powered HD2 to feel thanks to a 4.3-inch non-AMOLED display and a svelte shell. (For reference, the HD2 is 11mm thick, but we don't have exact dimensions here.)
  • It's got a kickstand on the back. This wouldn't be a first for HTC; the Imagio on Verizon has one, for example.
  • Runs Android 2.1 with HTC's Sense UI.
  • It was seen in white; production devices could be available in different colors, of course, but white seems like it'd be an intriguing choice for a phone of the HD2's size and shape.
  • The phone's software stack is buggy enough right now (in January) to suggest that we're not looking at a release any time soon, but we don't have details on the projected launch window.
  • It's fast -- Snapdragon fast, it seems, though no one confirmed the processor under the hood.
Right now, offering a "4G" smartphone could help Sprint, at least in the short term. No other network operator can make that claim. WiMax is the next-generation networking technology that Sprint has chosen to deploy. Sprint's competitors are banking on Long Term Evolution for their 4G network play.

Can Sprint and HTC deliver a cutting-edge product that delivers the speed WiMax makers claim are possible? Hopefully we'll find out next week.