Two years ago, Sprint released what at the time was a groundbreaking phone -- the EVO 4G. It was one of the first Android phones to make a big splash with a fast processor, big screen, and Sprint's 4G WiMax network access.
Today Android phones with killer specs are a dime a dozen. But Sprint's hoping its new HTC EVO 4G LTE, which will cost $199.99 when it goes on sale on May 7th, can give it the lead again the way its predecessor did.
"This will be the benchmark that a lot of phones are compared to," Sprint's Senior Vice President of Product, Fared Adib, told ABC News.
The new Android 4.0 phone, which is very similar to the HTC One X that has been released in Europe and is coming soon to AT&T, has a dual-core processor, a giant 4.7-inch 720p Super LCD display, and a high-end 8-megapixel camera. It also has NFC (Near Field Communications), which allows one to pay for something by tapping against a terminal or friend's phone, using an application like Google Wallet. And by the way, it makes phone calls.
However, it's not all hardware components that Sprint's marketing. It's differentiating the EVO 4G LTE with some unique design tricks, including a kickstand and some very attractive red accents.
"One of the big feats we accomplished with the new EVO is a new aluminum stage frame construction. The red accents are also a big part of the EVO heritage," Jonah Becker, the lead designer of the device, said. "We also have integrated one of the favorite features of the original -- the kickstand."
And the kickstand and those design details certainly do stand out. The phone's black back and red accents give it a very distinct look. And while it is large because of the wide screen, it's well built and comfortable to hold. The high resolution display, in particular, is beautiful, with crisp text and images.
But Sprint's LTE network, which isn't yet lit up, puts the phone at a disadvantage compared to what carriers like Verizon and AT&T offer. Sprint made a move to transition away from its 4G WiMax network to a completely new LTE network late last year.
Adib says he doesn't worry about being behind the two other U.S. carriers.
"Eventually all the networks catch up with each other," he said. "We think that it is going to be a great experience even on 3G. People typically buy on two-year contracts. By the time they buy this they will have some level of deployment of LTE," he said.
Sprint is expected to roll out its LTE network in six markets in the first half of the year.
Adib also pointed to Sprint's unlimited data plans as a differentiator. He says the carrier plans to keep them around for a while. AT&T and Verizon cap their LTE offerings at 4GB a month.
Sprint also says the EVO 4G LTE will be one of the first phones to support HD Voice, which gives better audio quality. It is based on components in both the phone and the network.
"People still use voice, and we think they will fall in love with voice all over again," Adib said.
In other words, they'll like making phone calls on it. Perhaps our phones haven't changed that much after all.