In January, HTC announced during the Consumer Electronics Show its lineup of three 4G phones. The phones included the HTC EVO Shift 4G from Sprint, the HTC ThunderBolt from Verizon Wireless and the HTC Inspire 4G from AT&T. At the time of the announcement, we only knew that the HTC Inspire 4G would be available during the first quarter. Now we have definitive word from AT&T that the smartphone will arrive this month.The addition of the HTC Inspire 4G brings with it a lot of firsts to AT&T. The smartphone is the first 4G phone offered by the carrier, and the first one to run Android 2.2 and the AT&T Mobile Hotspot application. The phone’s 4.3″ super LCD capacitive display will also be the largest in AT&T’s smartphone lineup. Other specs for the smartphone include:Android 2.2 platform Enhanced browser with built-in Adobe Flash Player 1 GHz Snapdragon processor 4 GB internal memory 8GB of microSD card storage 8 MP camera with autofocus, dual LED flash, face detection, geotagging, HD video recordingConnectivity includes Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, 3.5mm stereo audio jack, Micro USBTalk Time of 6 hours, Standby time of 15.5 daysNoise cancellation, Dolby Mobile and SRS WOW HD sound Next-generation HTC Sense platform with cloud services (allows for remote wiping and phone location)Mobile Hotspot support when used with a DataPro with Tethering planThe HTC Inspire 4G will be available at the AT&T website and company stores beginning February 13th. The smartphone will retail for $99.99 with a two-year agreement.Read more at AT&TBrian’s OpinionThe launch of the HTC Inspire 4G is another milestone in HTC’s plan to get ahead of the curve and offer some of the first 4G smartphones on the three largest wireless carriers in the U.S. The smartphone’s launch is also an indicator of AT&T’s desire to expand and diversify its smartphone portfolio to include more Android phones in addition to the Windows Phone 7 and iPhone models it already offers. That diversification is even more important this year now that the iPhone is no longer exclusive to AT&T and Verizon Wireless plans to offer it beginning February 10th.Speaking of the iPhone, it was curious to see that the iPhone is going to launch on the Verizon Wireless network without 4G. That gives manufacturers like HTC quite an advantage to lock in customers who are going to be more comfortable signing a two-year agreement with a smartphone that supports 4G. We’ll have to wait and see if Apple joins the 4G party when or if a new iPhone model is launched this year.As these 4G smartphones roll out over the course of the year we can expect Verizon Wireless and AT&T to go head-to-head to retain customers and increase subscriber rolls. There will no doubt be claims that one network is faster than the other, but at the end of the day subscribers need to do some research to learn even if the market they are in supports 4G yet. After all, a 4G smartphone means nothing if you don’t have the accompanying service.
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