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The HTC Evo 4G is an exciting device because it has a lot of "firsts." It is the first handset with WiMAX in the United States and the first handset with any 4G air interface in the United States. It is not the first with WiMAX or first with 4G in the world though, since there have been smartphones with WiMAX in South Korea and Russia already. In Russia in was a 2G/4G smartphone, and in South Korea they were 3G/4G smartphones.

HTC Evo 4G

I was at the HTC Evo 4G event in NYC last evening. Mundane details that were announced: The HTC Evo 4G will be available on June 4th for $199.99 with a 2-year contract. This is a great subsidized price for a phone that has top specifications. The more interesting new details are:

  • $10 per month premium for WiMAX: This is on top of whichever voice and data plan the user gets.

  • $30 per month for mobole hotspot service: The phone can be used as a mobile router and share connections over Wi-Fi with up to 8 devices at the same time.

  • Qik software included: This device has two cameras - an 8MP on the back and a 1.3MP camera on the front for video conferencing. It was revealed yesterday that the device will include Qik videoconferencing software. Additionally, Sprint will be providing developers with a guide so they may more easily develop applications that take advantage of the front-facing camera.

  • Simultaneous voice and data on 4G: EV-DO cannot handle simultaneous voice and data, but today's EV-DO smartphones can do this when transmitting data over Wi-Fi. With WiMAX in the smartphone, it can do simultanous voice and data over WiMAX as well - voice over CDMA 1x and data over WiMAX.

Out of these, the most interesting one related to business and strategy around 4G service pricing is the $10 premium for WiMAX. There were always questions as to how much Sprint would increase ARPU by increasing data plan pricing for WiMAX. Sprint chose to offer data plans for non-phone devices - USB modems, laptops, and netbooks at the same price, which to the end user looks like free 4G on top of the same price for 3G, but is split somehow in the back-end. Now that Sprint is introducing its first phone with WiMAX, it has chosen to price the data plan at a $10 premium. The WiMAX service includes truly unlimited data over WiMAX. It will be interesting to see how this pricing strategy differs from what Verizon Wireless and other mobile operators come up with for thier 4G devices.