Why Wait for iPhone 4G? Sprint's EVO 4G Breaks Sales Record

Sprint's HTC EVO 4G Breaks Sales Record
Sprint's HTC EVO 4G Breaks Sales Record

Ahead of Apple's (AAPL) widely expected iPhone 4G launch, Sprint (S) has announced that its new flagship phone, HTC's EVO 4G, set a new sales record for the company.

"Friday sales of HTC EVO 4G marked the largest quantity of a single phone sold in one day ever for Sprint -- the record was previously held by both Samsung Instinct and Palm Pre," Sprint said in a statement. "In addition, the total number of HTC EVO 4G devices sold on launch day was three times the number of Samsung Instinct and Palm Pre devices sold over their first three days on the market combined."

Of the recent rivals to the iPhone, perhaps no device has been ballyhooed as much as the EVO 4G, which runs Google's (GOOG) Android operating system. It is billed as the first 4G smartphone, but that won't be its most immediately striking feature for many -- Sprint still has to expand the high speed wireless network to several major cities.

Rather, consumers will be wowed by the huge display, powerful microprocessor and other cool features -- for example, the phone doubles as a WiFi hotspot. Early reviews were positive. "If you want the biggest, brawniest, most ridiculously muscular phone you can buy, it's the Evo," tech blog Gizmodo wrote.

The strong initial performance will give a boost to Taiwan-based handset maker HTC, which has emerged as a powerful new player on the smartphone scene, thanks to its partnership with Google. HTC also manufactures the Droid Incredible and the Nexus One, both of which run the Android OS.

Sprint Bets Big on 4G

Sprint said the heavy sales volume led to shortages at retailers around the country. "HTC EVO 4G has more than lived up to our expectations that it would be one of the most anticipated technology products of the year," said Kevin Packingham, a Sprint SVP. "We are working closely with our partners at HTC to increase the supply and get EVO 4G into the hands of everyone who wants one as quickly as possible."

For years, Sprint has operated in the shadow of the two American mobile giants, Verizon Wireless (VZ) and AT&T (T), but the company is making a move to become a more serious competitor. Sprint is the majority owner in Clearwire, which is aggressively rolling out a high-speed wireless network.

By the end of the year, Sprint hopes to have expanded its 4G coverage to Los Angeles, Miami, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, New York, Boston, Washington D.C., Denver and San Francisco.