WiMAX Stories October 9, 2014

If you’re a Sprint customer holding on to an old WiMAX smartphone or tablet, the end is nigh. The carrier is officially shutting down its retro 4G network on November 6th 2015. Sprint stopped producing WiMAX phones several years ago after making the jump to LTE like the rest of the world, but agreed to support the devices for an extended period of time.

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WiMAX Stories May 24, 2012

Original EVO 4G, left, new, less 4G EVO ONE, right

When the original HTC EVO launched on Sprint two years ago, it was a game-changer of a phone. It was the first Android device with a 4.3-inch display, 1GHz Processor, 4G WiMAX, and a host of other new technologies including something important that is often jokingly overlooked: a kickstand.

Consider this: Nokia’s current flagship Windows Phone 7 device carries the same 4.3-inch 800-by-480-pixel resolution and single core processor with 512MB of RAM. This is two years later, mind you. And, there are still lots of other phones that lag behind the original EVO. In fact, in one important way, today’s review-ee, the HTC EVO One, also lacks the original EVO’s ability to do 4G data. (Oh, and what perfect two-year contract renewal timing otherwise!)

Sprint finds itself in the middle of a debilitating transition from WiMAX to LTE on its mobile network. I will not go into the details, because it is water under the bridge, but the long story short is that Sprint is migrating to LTE from its previous 4G technology called “WiMAX.” Sprint has a host of phones running WiMAX now and needs to keep the lights on those devices until 2015 (including offloading some bandwidth to its pre-paid customers). At the same time, it has to eek out some spectrum for a new type of 4G service and still keep those 3Gers happy.

The One Family: Evo One(Sprint), One X (AT&T) and One S (T-Mobile)

Unfortunately, Sprint is only now ramping up its LTE offering as AT&T and Verizon already have many major cities covered. When the EVO One is released today (after a longer than expected layover in customs thanks to Apple), it will not be able to use LTE 4G anywhere. Worse yet, it does not have WiMAX radios, so it is basically on the same level as the iPhone for Sprint customers network-wise.

The original EVO launched at the same time that Sprint’s 4G was rolling out, so you might be saying, “Big deal? The EVO had to wait for 4G and was a success.”

Things have changed immensely over the last two years. If you are buying a superphone in the U.S. now, you expect a super network. The EVO ONE will have to wait a long time to even access a two-year-old-type of 4G speed. Sprint is rolling out its LTE in Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, and San Antonio with some mystery markets, but it should have only 10 markets covered by July. That means only a small percentage of the U.S. is going to be able to really use this phone.

(As an aside, this is Sprint not learning from its WiMAX rollout. Sprint was ahead in its 4G tech by a year, but it chose to roll it out in markets like Baltimore and Portland. By the time it got around to major tech/news hubs like New York and San Francisco, Verizon had already announced LTE rollouts and swallowed Sprint’s tech lead.)

If I am a Sprint user (and I am), there is no way I am going to trade a WiMAX smartphone for a non-working LTE one until more of the network is rolled out. WiMAX works great in New York and San Francisco. In fact, I still use my original EVO as a hotspot, because the network is often better than the other carriers’ 4G in the area. There are no current plans for Sprint LTE in my area (New York City).

If HTC/Sprint could have built a phone with dual WiMAX/LTE radios, I would be all over this phone in a heartbeat. However, as it stands, and until Sprint’s LTE gets more mature, it is hard to recommend.

How is the phone itself?

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Deal: Get Pixelbook at 25% off: $750!

WiMAX Stories May 8, 2012

Coming out of CTIA 2012 today, Virgin Mobile announced it plans to launch the HTC EVO V 4G on May 31 as its first 4G device. Of course, Sprint’s no-contract subsidiary will offer the device without a commitment, which means you will have to hand over $299 and a minimum of $35 per month to get your hands on it.

Virgin also announced today the arrival of the no-contract $35 4G data plans that will go hand-in-hand with the EVO V as outlined in the press release below. Sprint confirmed its EVO V 4G WiMAX variant would come to Boost Mobile also for $300 with data plans as low as $40.

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WiMAX Stories April 18, 2012

T-Mobile’s launch of the HTC One S should be seen as the first real phone benchmark for 2012. That is good because 2011 was a bad year for both T-Mobile and HTC.

We have a bold new generation of devices from a beaten up manufacturer on a carrier that is just now emerging from the AT&T merger/breakup.

Without even turning the One S on, you will immediately marvel at the hardware. It is an incredible 7.8mm thin, which is significantly thinner than the thinnest Galaxy S2 or iPhone 4S. It is also 118g light, yet it is a metallic solid, owing to its unibody aluminum construction. With angular/rounded corners, it feels great in the hand and the dark Gorilla Glass on metal look is as nice of a design as you will find on any device. It has three capacitive buttons on the bottom, which we owe to the new Ice Cream Sandwich user-interface.

It is hard for me to imagine someone going into a T-Mobile store and coming out with anything else but this phone.  Sure, the new Galaxies have slightly bigger screens, but this feels much more solid and has the same resolution. Moreover, last year’s HTC Sensation and Amaze feel like a grenades compared to the svelte HTC One S.

Let’s dig in:

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WiMAX Stories April 17, 2012

PC World tested 3G and 4G wireless data transfer speeds for the top four carriers —both indoors and outside with multiple devices across 13 major cities in 130 testing locations— and discovered some surprising results.

During average wireless speed tests for 3G networks with the smartphones pictured above, T-Mobile took home the fastest download and upload speed prize at 3.84 Mbps and 1.44 Mbps, respectively. AT&T landed the No. 2 spot with its 2.62 Mbps download speed and 0.85-Mbps upload speed.

The slower 3G network provider reclaimed its pride and rose to fame with its 4G wireless speeds, however. AT&T garnered 9.56 Mbps while downloading and 5.15 Mbps for uploads. Verizon debuted at second with its 7.35 Mbps download speed and 5.86 Mbps upload speed.

The overall winners are named below.

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WiMAX Stories September 27, 2011

A Localytics study issued today helps understand why Verizon Wireless recently sided with Samsung in the ongoing Apple vs. Samsung legal saga. Per Localytics’ data, 4G is one of Android’s key differentiators: More than one in three Android phones in the United States take advantage of fourth-generation cellular networks. In the third quarter of this year, some 36.6 percent of Android handsets in the United States were 4G-ready, a notable increase over the 22.6 percent in the first quarter of 2011.

This number is increasing rapidly – since the beginning of the year, the percentage of Android devices that are 4G-capable has grown by over 50 percent, culminating at a full third of the Android ecosystem. It will be interesting to see whether the iPhone 5 supports any type of 4G network. The drawbacks – bulkier antenna and a much shorter battery life – may outweigh the benefits in speed. Regardless, with the growth in 4G-capable handsets Android has seen, it appears that smartphone users are buying into the value of speed. We’ll see how this continues. 

The nation’s most popular 4G handsets in the third quarter were the HTC Thunderbolt (Verizon), the HTC Evo 4G (Sprint), the Samsung Epic 4G (Sprint), the Samsung Droid Charge (Verizon), the myTouch 4G (T-Mobile USA) and the Motorola Atrix (AT&T). A few caveats and the full list of most popular 4G devices in the country right below the fold…

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