Sprint Announces Its First Android Phone: The HTC Hero

HTC Hero

Despite a ton of hype and a lot of attention from the technology community, phones sporting Google’s Android operating system still aren’t a common site on U.S. mobile carriers. Now Sprint is looking to get into the Android game, announcing that the HTC Hero will be the company’s first Android-based handset—and it will go on sale October 11 for $179.99…with a two-year service contract and after both a $100 mail-in rebate and $50 “instant savings” deal.

“The arrival of HTC Hero and the Android platform to Sprint’s network is an important milestone for our customers and the U.S. wireless industry,” said Sprint’s senior VP of product development Kevin Packingham, in a statement. “With the dependability and coverage of Sprint’s 3G network, HTC Hero users will appreciate a much better experience than is possible now with any other Android phone operating in the United States.”

The HTC Hero features a 3.2-inch capacitive touchscreen display, a video-capable 5 megapixel camera, a microSD slot for up to 32 GB of removable storage, integrated GPS, Bluetooth 2.0, and a trackball for easy navigation and scrolling. The HTC Hero also features an accelerometer and light sensor that help fuel innovative features; for instance, the Hero can be silenced just by turning it over. The Hero’s interface is built around HTC Sense, which lets users set up different “Scenes” for different aspects or roles in their lives: a “Work” Scsne might feature email and a calendar, where a “Geocaching” scene might have weather updates, music, and maps at the ready—along with Twitter feeds from fellow geocachers. Scenes are designed to be fully customizable by the user to bring information they need right to the home screen. The Hero also features HTC Footprints, which enables users to create location-tagged digital postcards on their phones, with a picture, notes, or an audio message.

Of course, users can also tap into Sprint services like Sprint TV, NFL and NASCAR feeds, and Android features like Google Maps, GMail, and YouTube—as well as more than 8,000 applications and widgets available through the Android Marketplace.

The HTC Hero with Android will go on sale October 11 through Sprint retail, online, and phone sales, as well as through Best Buy: the Hero will run $179.99 after a $50 instant rebate and a $100 mail-in rebate—so long as you sign up for a two-year service contract.