CTIA: Sprint Uses 'Instinct' To Compete With iPhone

Sprint hopes to trump Apple and AT&T this summer with a touch-screen smartphone that uses its $99 unlimited voice, data services, and text messaging plan.

The Instinct touch-screen phone includes a 3-inch display and multimedia capabilities to compete with the Apple iPhone.
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With their sights clearly on the Apple iPhone, Sprint Nextel and Samsung on Tuesday introduced a touch-screen phone with a 3-inch display, multimedia capabilities, and QWERTY keypad.

Dan Hesse, president and chief executive of Sprint, unveiled the Instinct at the CTIA Wireless conference in Las Vegas. Available this summer, the smartphone represents Sprint's direction of offering devices that give consumers everything they want from a wireless carrier: voice, data, and multimedia services. "People want the whole package," Hesse said during his keynote speech.

The Instinct has the same look as the popular iPhone, which has a larger screen at 3.5 inches. Both devices, however, are similar in size and weight. The Instinct measures 4.57 inches by 2.17 inches and weighs 4.4 ounces, while the iPhone is 4.5 inches by 2.4 inches and weighs 4.8 ounces.

The Instinct, which is exclusive to Sprint, runs on the carrier's high-speed CDMA EV-DO Rev A network for text messaging, e-mail, and connecting to the Web. The smartphone has a 2-megapixel camera for still pictures and video recording and comes with a 2-GB MicroSD memory card that's upgradeable to 8 GB. The device supports the Bluetooth wireless standard for connecting to peripheral devices but does not support Wi-Fi for connecting to the Web. The iPhone, on the other hand, supports Wi-Fi.

The Instinct has GPS-enabled audio and visual turn-by-turn driving directions. The system, which is powered by TeleNav, also includes one-click traffic rerouting and more than 10 million local listings. For Web search, the smartphone uses Microsoft's Live Search.

For entertainment, the Instinct can access Sprint's video-programming network, which includes sports, news, and TV shows, and the Sprint Music Store, which sells tunes for 99 cents each.

Pricing for the Instinct will be disclosed later. The device, however, requires the user to subscribe to the Sprint Everything pricing plan, which provides unlimited data starting at $70 a month.

Hesse said Sprint's strategy is to simplify pricing by offering one price for unlimited use of all its services. The company recently introduced the "Simply Everything" plan, which includes unlimited voice, data services, and text messaging for $99 a month. "We think Simply Everything kicks off a new era in wireless," Hesse said.

Hesse predicted that consumers would favor all-you-can-eat plans over pricing based on "buckets" of minutes or limited data access, which are too confusing. "Nostradamus couldn't predict what your phone bill will be," he said.

For future Internet connectivity, Sprint remained committed to WiMax, which Hesse said would eventually give the company a "two-year market advantage" in providing higher Internet speeds to customers. "WiMax is not slide-ware," he said. "It works now."

Sprint's XOHM WiMax business unit is testing the high-speed service in Chicago and the Baltimore-Washington area.

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