Sprint Unveils HTC EVO Shift 4G

The Android smartphone has a sliding Qwerty keyboard, but a smaller screen than its predecessor and no user-facing camera.
Sprint HTC EVO 4G Smartphone
(click image for larger view)
Sprint HTC EVO 4G Smartphone

Sprint plans to release this weekend the HTC EVO Shift 4G, a WiMax-powered Android smartphone that's the successor to Sprint's most popular smartphone ever.

The Shift differs design-wise from its predecessor, the HTC EVO 4G, in the addition of a sliding QWERTY keyboard. Smartphone maker HTC has also reduced the size of the display in the latest device from 4.3 inches to 3.6 inches and has dropped the user-facing 1.3 megapixel camera that was available for video calls in the older model. The Shift's camera on the back has a lower resolution than the EVO 4G, 5 megapixels versus 8 megapixels.

The original smartphone, released last June, set a first day sales record for Sprint, as thousands of customers linked up for hours before Sprint stores opened. The phone went on sale at the same time at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Radio Shack, and some of the 22,000 retail locations reported temporary shortages.

The Shift, like its predecessor, is not cheap. The new smartphone costs $150 after a $100 mail-in rebate and a two-year service agreement. Sprint's 3G data plan starts at $70 a month, plus an additional $10 a month, if the customer wants access to the faster 4G WiMax service. The latter is only available in select areas. The Shift can also be used as mobile hotspot for connecting up to eight Wi-Fi devices to the Internet. Using that feature will cost an additional $30 a month. Sprint plans to make the Shift available through its stores and those of its retail partners starting Sunday.

The Shifts runs Google's Android 2.2 operating system and a Qualcomm 800 MHz processor. The device weight slightly less than six ounces and has a battery life of six hours of talk time. The Shift comes with an external 2 GB microSD storage card that can be expanded to 32 GB.

The original EVO had its customer satisfaction problems. Some users took to a variety of forums to complain of a crack near the power button. Among those users, some could not get a replacement, while others were offered a refurbished model if they were within 30 days of purchasing the phone. Other reported problems included the touch screen separating from the device.


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