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Sprint unveils 4G-ready slider in Evo line

Jan 4, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Sprint announced a mid-range member of its Evo 4G smartphone line, adding a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and providing a new Novatel MiFi 3G/4G mobile hotspot accessory. The Android 2.2-ready HTC Evo Shift 4G scales back to an 800MHz Qualcomm processor, 2GB of memory, 3.6-inch touchscreen, and five megapixel camera, and loses the original 4G's front-facing webcam.

Tipped late last week by Radio Shack, the HTC Evo Shift 4G will be available on Jan. 9 for $150 with a two-year Sprint contract after rebate. The new Novatel Wireless MiFi 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot option, which is making its debut alongside the phone, will ship on Feb. 27 (see farther below).

HTC Evo Shift 4G

When the new MiFi ships, Sprint will have launched 17 4G-capable devices to support its highspeed Clearwire WiMAX network, says the carrier. These are said to include three phones, a 4G netbook and notebook from Dell, numerous USB modem options, and several mobile hotspots and routers.

The other two phones are the highly popular HTC-manufactured Evo 4G, which was the world's first commercial 4G phone when it shipped last spring, and the Samsung-built Epic 4G, a Galaxy S variant that shipped in late August.

Evo Shift 4G, front and back

Unlike the Evo 4G, but like the Epic 4G, the Evo Shift 4G has a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Otherwise, it pales in comparison to either of the other Sprint 4G phones, sitting squarely in the middle range of the Android market.

While the Evo 4G has a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, the Evo Shift 4G settles for an 800MHz Qualcomm MSM7630. According to Sprint, this still lets users play and record 720p video, with the help of the phone's five-megapixel autofocus camera. This is scaled back from an eight-megapixel model on the Evo 4G, which also offers a front-facing cam that's missing from the Shift.

Like the Evo 4G, the Shift offers 512MB RAM, but the supplied flash card tops out at 2GB instead of the 8GB data card offered with the original. The Evo 4G also had 1GB of internal flash, which does not appear to be the case here. In any case, a microSD slot is available for cranking the total up to 32GB.

While the Evo 4G stood out with a 4.3-inch screen — still one of the largest Android smartphone screens around - the Shift settles for a 3.6-inch, 800 x 480 capacitive display.

The screen is said to offer pinch-to-zoom capability, and is accompanied by proximity, motion, and light sensors, and a digital compass.

As a result of the smaller screen, the total dimensions are smaller, at 4.6 x 2.3 x 0.6 inches, while the weight is listed as 5.9 ounces. The 1500mAh battery is said to offer six hours of talk time.

Wireless capabilities match the Evo 4G, with 802.11n Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G radios, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS, and an FM radio, says Sprint. Average 4G download speeds are claimed to be 3-6Mbps. Other features are said to include a 3.5mm audio jack and a micro-USB port.

The phone ships with Android 2.2, as well as Adobe Flash, Android Market, Google Mobile Services, and the usual messaging functions and social networking widgets. Other apps include Visual Voicemail, as well as Sprint TV and NASCAR apps, says the carrier.

MiFi goes 4G

Novatel Wireless' first 4G-ready version of its MiFi mobile router will likely appear in slightly different form for Verizon's LTE 4G network, and possibly T-Mobile's 4G-like network as well.

However, it debuts right here with the Shift. Presumably it will also be made available as an option for Sprint's other 4G devices.

MiFi 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot

The MiFi 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot offers shared 4G bandwidth for up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices, and has a battery that lasts for up to four hours of usage and 60 hours of standby time, says Sprint. In addition to adding 4G support, the device offers an external display with status indicators for battery, signal strength, and number of connected devices, says Sprint.

The MiFi 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot provides shared storage capability through a microSD slot supporting up to a 32GB memory card, says Sprint. In addition, the new MiFi is said to be preloaded with the Linux-based MiFi OS, as well as widgets and application support.

The Evo 4G originally shipped with an option that was said to enable up to eight WiFi-enabled devices to share the 4G bandwidth. This was first provided via an optional $100 Sierra Wireless manufactured "Sprint Overdrive" mobile hotspot. The mobile hotspot claim moved to five users when the Epic 4G came out.


The Evo Shift 4G will be available from Sprint and resellers such as Radio Shack on Jan. 9. Pricing is $150 after a $100 mail-in rebate and activation on a new two-year service agreement (or eligible upgrade), and activation on a data plan with the required $10 Premium Data Add-On.

The MiFi 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot by Novatel Wireless debuts on Feb. 27 for $50, after a $50 mail-in rebate activation on a new two-year service agreement (or eligible upgrade).

More information on the Evo Shift 4G may be found on Sprint's Evo Shift 4G web page as well as on this Shift fact sheet page.

More on the new MiFi may be found on Sprint's MiFi 3G/4G page, which currently directs one to a fairly brief CES blog. Novatel's site appears to lack any information on the device at present.

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