Sprint unveils HTC Evo Shift 4G and MiFi 3G/4G Hotspot

Mobile operator Sprint is jumping into 2011 with two new 4G/WiMax devices, the HTC EVO Shift 4G and the MiFi 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot. The introductions bring Sprint’s total 4G offerings to 17 devices spanning handsets, hotspots, and mobile solutions for computers, and continue the company’s push to establish its WiMAx service way out in front of the pack as rivals like Verizon Wireless get ready to roll out their own LTE-based 4G service in earnest.

“Sprint will continue to set the bar for feature-rich and customer-friendly 4G devices into 2011,” said Sprint CEO Dan Hesse, in a statement. “Our proven leadership as a 4G pioneer has allowed our customers to enjoy 4G from Sprint first, and these new products exemplify Sprint’s commitment to put industry-leading performance and capabilities in the hands of our customers.”

The HTC Evo Shift 4G runs Android 2.2 with HTC’s own HTC Sense interface rolled in on top: the device features a 3.6-inch capacitive touchscreen display and a slide-out QWERTY keypad for messaging needs. The EVo Shift 4G runs an 800 Mhz Qualcomm processor and features a 5 megapixel camera (that can capture HD video), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 wireless networking, assisted GPS, microSD removable storage (a 2 GB card comes with the phone), and integrated FM receiver, and usual spate of smartphone sensors (a compass, G-sensor, proximity sensor, and ambient light sensor). And, of course, the device can tap into Sprint’s 4G WiMax service (with download speeds in theory reaching up to 10 Mbps), and in areas where WiMax isn’t available the device drops back down to 3G service (with downloads in theory topping out at 3.1 Mbps). Users can also pay Sprint extra to use the device as a 3G/4G mobile hotspot that supports up to eight addition Wi-Fi devices. Sprint says the HTC Evo Shift 4G will go on sale January 9 for $149 with a $100 mail-in rebate and a two-year service agreement.

Folks who want to bring some of the WiMax magic to their Wi-Fi devices might want to check out the new MiFi 3G/4G Mobile hotspot, built for Sprint by Novatel Wireless. Like earlier MiFi models, the device enables up to five Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n devices (think tablets, notebooks, iPod touches, and the like) to connect to the Internet using either 3G or 4G WiMax service from Sprint. The hotpot also features a microSD slot for up to 32 GB of storage, location-based services, and an external status display with indicators to let users know what’s going on. The device supports Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems, and no special software is required to set up a Wi-Fi connection with the device. Sprint says the MiFi 3G/4G will go on sale February 27 for $49.99, with a two-year service agreement.

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