The first 3G/4G handset hardware lands at a competitive $200 June 4th and the base monthly service package will run $80 a month. Which is $10 more than every other Sprint smartphone… despite CEO Dan Hesse’s CTIA keynote proclamation: “With 4G, we’re giving you more for free.” Sprint’s positioning the $10 surcharge as a Premium Data Charge, rather than a 4G tariff. And they really have to given Clear’s limited (but expanding) 4G footprint. However, “unlimited” data, 3G or 4G, truly means unlimited with the EVO. In the bigger picture, and for most, Sprint’s service plans are still more economical than the competition. That $80 also nets you unlimited texts, unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling (any network), on top of 450 minutes of calls to domestic landlines.
Unfortunately, the much touted EVO wireless tethering is a $30/mo add-on. Sprint’s positioning this is an economical alternative to an aircard ($60/mo), but it’s more than I’d like to pay for an infrequent, “emergency situation” laptop link. I’d rather have the traditional 5GB data cap and connect/utilize the handset any way I please. A wireless carrier shouldn’t get to dictate my software or hardware choices. But this is the “network non-neutrality” marketplace we operate in. Fortunately, there are alternative methods of tethering available – that do not involve the carrier. (Unless you get their attention with obscene data usage.)
As for me, I’m still torn. Neither the pricing not timing are deal breakers. But I was set on a well-documented and slimmer Sprint Nexus One. Whereas, the EVO may be too large for its own good (or my pocket) and we’ve yet to learn real-world battery performance or of any first generation technical issues related to 3G/4G switching. Verizon coverage at the office isn’t as good as Sprint’s, but it’s still better than the AT&T blackhole while the Incredible will meet my needs. Plus, I’ve just learned that VZW offers a 1 year contract – which would free me of their supersized (though mostly understandable) $350 early termination free. Either way, I’ll shortly be leaving AT&T and Apple behind… as coverage, cloud, and open trump the iPhone OS polish.