The worst kept smartphone secret in the US is finally official. After numerous rumors, and after we were tipped with almost press-quality shots last week, the HTC EVO Shift 4G has arrived on Sprint for $149.99, after a $100 mail-in rebate. That is on contract, of course, and the $10 monthly fee for using Sprint's WiMAX service is still required.
Dubbed as the successor of the acclaimed HTC EVO 4G by Sprint itself, the HTC EVO Shift 4G adds a physical slide-out QWERTY, and shrinks the screen size to 3.6" with 480x800 pixels of resolution, from the 4.3" on the EVO 4G. That means text will be crispier to read, which is a good feat, since the phone comes with the Amazon Kindle app preinstalled. The addition of a physical keyboard means dimensions of 4.6"x2.3"x0.6", and 5.9 ounces of weight, pretty significant. The handset is slightly smaller, thinner and lighter than the T-Mobile G2.
The HTC EVO Shift 4G is powered by a second-gen Snapdragon chipset, clocked at 800MHz, has 512MB RAM/2GB ROM, and a 5MP camera with LED flash, capable of HD video. The chipset differs from the one on the T-Mobile G2 with the WiMAX instead of HSPA+ connectivity, but otherwise it has similar capabilities, and we have seen this silicon overclocked to 1.9GHz by enthusiasts.
Other than that, the phone features the full suite of connectivity options - Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1, A-GPS and FM radio - as well as the usual for a high-end handset proximity and ambient light sensors plus accelerometer and digital compass. The 1500mAh battery is rated for 6 hours of talk time.
The HTC EVO Shift 4G will have the newest version of HTC Sense UI, which means it will sport some offline navigational capabilities and access to HTCSense.com for remote backup and management of the phone. HTC has big plans for the future of HTC Sense, and the EVO Shift 4G is the first phone from a US carrier with this version of the acclaimed interface, so here is a feature that sets it apart.
Sprint has placed Sprint TV and Nascar Sprint Cup Mobile on the handset, and is planning to release the HTC EVO Shift 4G to the masses on Sunday, January 9th.
The carrier also announced its 17th 4G device - a Novatel MiFi 3G/4G hotspot for $49.99 on contract, after a $50 mail-in rebate. This one will be available across all retail channels on February 27th.