Last week Sprint released the HTC Evo smartphone, the first 4G handset to reach market. So the first question now that 4G has arrived is whether it is even worth it? The short answer is honestly: probably not yet, with the emphasis on yet.
While it is true that 4G is now here, depending on where you live, it might not actually be “here” for you. Sprint’s network is only supporting 4G in pockets of cities across the United States. In total there are about 36 U.S. cities such as Seattle, Chicago and Dallas that support 4G, but notably New York and San Francisco – two tech hotbeds – don’t have it yet. Likewise, once out of central business districts it is likely that the 4G network won’t offer blanket coverage, and certainly not to the greater metro areas. This will most certainly change, and it could change in very quick order. At this point we’re likely to see all the major carriers soon upgrade their respective networks. In just a couple of years 4G could be the new 3G.
And that’s the other issue. 4G offers the promise of ultra fast Internet speeds, which could be about 10 times faster than the current 3G networks. So is this the handset for business travelers? Well, as we just stressed, it isn’t widely supported across the country. The other issue is that 3G had offered similar promises when it replaced 2G networks – and for the most part 3G has had no shortage of problems, notably with AT&T’s own 3G networks not being able to handle all the data usage in major areas.
Yet another factor to consider is that for a while it seemed as if 4G wireless technology would solve the issues of different platforms, notably the split between GSM and CDMA – the two primary wireless protocols in the United States. For a while it seemed as if there would be a single 4G network protocol in the guise of WiMAX. But not so fast.
Verizon Wireless and AT&T, the two leading carriers, are going with another technology called LTE. This is an interesting turn of events as Verizon was a CDMA carrier whilst AT&T utilized GSM. Now Sprint, another CDMA carrier, is going with WiMAX. But to further confuse matters, it has been reported that the International Telecommunications Union is claiming that WiMAX is really more of the 3G family.
Thus business users considering the upgrade should think about upgrading to the HTC Evo for the handset today, while thinking about the network for tomorrow. From this point of view, it isn’t a bad handset. The Sprint HTC Evo, which is priced at $199.99 (after $150 online discount and $100 mail-in rebate with two year contract), is quite a phone. The Google Android (version 2.1) powered handset features a 4.3-inch WVGA display, includes HTC sense touchscreen technology, 1GHz Snapdragon process and includes a 32GB MicroSD slot and HDMI output for viewing of HD content on a monitor/HDTV. The work-meets-fun handset further includes WiFi, WiMAX and GPS.