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First WiMAX phone to debut next week?

Sprint to punt HTC Supersonic

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The first WiMAX-capable smartphone is said to be slated for introduction next week by Sprint Nextel.

The phone will be the widely rumored HTC Supersonic, according to a report in Wednesday's Wall Street Journal citing the ever-loquacious "people familiar with the matter".

The introductory honors will be borne by Sprint Nextel chief executive Dan Hesse at next week's CTIA Wireless show in Las Vegas, Nevada, perhaps in a presentation during the The Path to 4G all-day session on Tuesday. Hesse is also expected to pump the Supersonic during his keynote presentation on Wednesday.

As The Reg has repeatedly reported, the race to 4G between WiMAX and LTE continues to accelerate. WiMAX may have a head start - Sprint partner Clearwire is busily building out its WiMAX network, with the goal of covering 120 million potential customers by the end of this year - but LTE is rapidly gaining support from such mobile-service heavyweights as AT&T, Verizon, Orange, Sony Ericsson, Nokia, and others.

Sprint is betting heavily on Clearwire. Witness not only its $7.4bn stake in a $14.5bn Clearwire joint venture in May of 2008, but also the additional $1.18bn it pumped into the company last November.

It can be argued that the introduction of the HTC Supersonic now - it had originally been rumored to appear later this year - is an effort to entice customers hungry for high-speed mobile broadband to sign long-term contracts before the LTE tsumani swamps the market late this year and into 2011.

If so, the Supersonic appears to be a good phone upon which to bet the farm - at least if leaked details turn out to be correct. The smartphone is reported to have a 4.3-inch 480x800 display, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor running the HTC Sense UI on top of Android 2.1, and to be equipped with such now-standard smartphone niceties as a touch interface, compass, accelerometer, Bluetooth, five-megapixel camera, and GPS.

We'll find out more next week - that is, if those "people familiar with the matter" prove to be correct. ®

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