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HTC EVO Pays Sprint's First 4G Smartphone Dividend

Sprint (s s) said today that the HTC EVO 4G phone outsold prior bestsellers, the Palm Pre (s palm) and Samsung Instinct, by a factor of three on its first day of availability. Sprint doesn’t provided actual sales figures, saying only that more EVO handsets were sold in one day than the Pre — the sales of which were estimated at around 50,000 units its first weekend — and the Instinct in their first three days of availability combined. The EVO sales numbers are driven by the phone’s fast 4G connection, 4.3-inch display and Google’s Android (s goog) platform.

Although initial testing of the EVO’s 4G connection — around 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up — shows speeds only two to three times faster than standard 3G phones, smartphone customers crave any amount of faster connectivity. With a speedy wireless pipe, media streaming on the EVO’s large display provides a more seamless experience with less buffering. And 4G paired with the front-facing, secondary camera of the EVO enables video chatting — not a mainstream feature today, but one that’s expected to generate 30 billion video calls by 2015, according to our latest GigaOM Pro report on the subject (subscription required).

The initial success of the large-screened Android device shows that potential customers weren’t scared off by the $10 monthly “premium data fee” required with the EVO. Although Sprint claims this additional charge isn’t due to the handset’s 4G compatibility, access to the faster WiMAX network is the only major data difference as compared to other smartphones. Customers that don’t have 4G coverage are still required to pay this fee, which could have put a damper on initial demand for the EVO as it’s generated a fair amount of criticism.

Sales records for the EVO come at a perfect time for Sprint, which lost 504,000 post-paid customers in the most recently reported quarter and currently has a higher churn rate than both AT&T (s t) and Verizon (s vz). The question now is, how many EVO customers traded up from a Palm Pre or other Sprint smartphone vs. those that came from a different carrier? Given the sheer number of comparable superphones on other carriers — those with a 1 GHz Qualcomm (s qcom) Snapdragon CPU and high-resolution touchscreen, for example — and the limited availability of 4G coverage, I suspect that the majority of EVO owners were already with Sprint. Regardless, with its majority stake in Clearwire (s clwr), Sprint is betting big on a national 4G network and the EVO is the first smartphone dividend paid on this investment.

12 Responses to “HTC EVO Pays Sprint's First 4G Smartphone Dividend”

  1. Elbonian, Overland Park, Ks

    All of Sprint’s top-of-the-line smartphones (Samsung Instinct, Palm Pre, etc.) have required the $10 premium data plan. My understanding is that Sprint expects users of those phones to blow through so much data that it charges the extra fee to relax their ordinary data cap (not sure of the exact numbers, but my Blackberry plan had a 5 GB data cap and no $10 fee).

  2. “Although initial testing of the EVO’s 4G connection — around 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up — shows speeds only two to three times faster than standard 3G phones,”….

    Sprint marketing compares min 3G speed with max 4G speed. This comparison results in a 10x speed improvement. At least, that’s what I’ve seen on other websites, probably quoted from Sprint.

  3. Umed Rawat


    I think even trading up a good news from either Palm pre or any other phone as it means Sprint locked them in for a 2 year contract and with the added 10$ to each phone per month would only add to the revenue.

    I bought the phone on the 5th and while buying EVO, in front of me I saw 3 customers porting there AT&T numbers to Sprint for a better connection and better phone.

    I think Sprint has a winner here and they should be happy that they launched the EVO before Apple came out with iPhone 4.

  4. Speaking of Sprint sales, Instinct was so heavily promoted, if they did the same to Pre, PALM would have not been sold to HP.
    Instinct sold more at that time, but there were plenty of phones left for sale after day 1. With Palm Pre I noticed few stores out of inventory. With Evo, almost no store that I checked has a phone for sale, almost all of the phones for the week are either reserved or pre ordered. That is impressive.

  5. Kavin,
    I was waiting for your post. I checked the phone on Saturday. Its tough to get a real store model in BestBuy/Shack/Walmart. I ended up going to remote Sprint store for checking this phone.
    All things equal, the phone beats every other phone out in the world in Screen size and Speed combination. Dell streak might be bigger , but is slow. I checked Google Earth,Maps,YouTube HD and browser over 3G. Everything worked with no lag. Considering the 3G signal was weak where I tested, I was really impressed at the phone’s antenna.

    Another information that I would like to share which many of the blogs are missing , Sprint’s 4G network is available in few cities that were not yet officially have 4G. Few folks on a forum I post said they were seeing a 4G signal in Washington D.C, though it is not officially turned on. I guess the 10 dollars are worth for getting early 4G.