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Android Coming to Sprint Next Month; iPhone Coverage Gripes Continue

The wait for a choice of carriers selling smartphones running Google's Android software will end next month, when Sprint plans to start selling its first such device. Sprint announced the news this morning, saying it will sell HTC's Hero, pictured below, starting Oct. 11.

HTC_Hero.jpg

This slim, touchscreen model (PDF) resembles the myTouch G1 T-Mobile began selling earlier this year, which remains only the second Android phone to appear in the U.S. market on any carrier's inventory. But the Hero -- $279.99 before a $100 mail-in rebate to new and renewing customers who opt for Sprint's $69.99-and-up voice-plus-unlimited-data bundles -- will run on a considerably wider 3G network than T-Mobile's underdeveloped service.

I wrote last month that this sort of move was overdue, but I was thinking then that we wouldn't see any movement on Android phones until later in the fall. I'm glad to be wrong about that.

The Hero should, with the equally brainy Palm Pre, give Sprint two decent answers to Apple's iPhone.

Verizon Wireless, however, still hasn't livened up its own inventory in any significant way. Memo to Verizon: Waiting for Research in Motion to match the ease of use and elegance of the iPhone, the Pre or Android doesn't look like a sound strategy.

Meanwhile, the iPhone continues to suffer its own carrier-induced problems. The New York Times has a good summary this morning of AT&T's attempts to keep up with the bandwidth demands of iPhone users -- "10 times the network capacity used by the average smartphone user," the piece says.

AT&T's troubles have drawn a fair amount of snarky complaints (the first comment in Slashdot's discussion of this story was "I would have had the first post, but I'm browsing from my iPhone."). The company says it's working to fix these problems by adding new towers and, in some cities, a new layer of wireless spectrum.

But in 19 days, things could get a lot worse for AT&T. It's supposed to support multimedia messaging on the iPhone by "late summer," and summer ends on Sept. 22.

Failing to meet that deadline to deliver a feature that AT&T provides on just about every other phone it sells, and which iPhone carriers in other countries already offer, will make a non-trivial number of iPhone users here even crankier.

Update: iPhone users, prepare yourselves for crankiness! AT&T announced this afternoon that it will enable MMS with a software update on Sept. 25. The word "summer" is absent from its statement.

If you're in the market for a new smartphone, what's your take on Sprint's news and AT&T's issues? And how long do you think it will take for Verizon to start selling a smartphone more interesting than the latest warmed-over BlackBerry?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  September 3, 2009; 1:03 PM ET
Categories:  Gadgets , Telecom  
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Comments

Why should I care about MMS on iPhone when it's so easy to email a photo (or receive same)? And no costly added "text" package in addition to the already costly data package.

Posted by: ah___ | September 3, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

"iPhone Coverage Grips Continue" should be "Gripes" methinks.

I think Verizon's strategy is "We have a better network than both of you put together! Neener neener neener!"

Posted by: wiredog | September 3, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

It will be interesting to compare actual performance when iPhone is available for Verizon. If iPhone users actually consume 10X the bandwidth of others, then will Verizon's network be able to handle the load any better than AT&T's?

Posted by: TXAndy | September 3, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I've had an Android phone for the six months now and love the phone. For me, the biggest frustration is that I'm stuck with T-Mobile.

Problem is, if I unlock the phone and jump to AT&T, then I'm stuck with their overload problems, and if I switch to any other carrier, I have to dump my phone altogether because of the incompatible technologies.

Landline looks so much more attractive right now.

Posted by: dactyl | September 3, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Verizon will be getting the much improved BlackBerry Storm 2 in October. There have been several videos posted on YouTube showing pre-production versions of the Storm 2 and it looks like it could be a formidable challenger to iPhone. RIM is trying to keep it under wraps and keeps pulling down the videos as they pop up but it has a lot going for it from what is shown.

Posted by: WoodleyParker | September 3, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

THANK GOD! SPRINT FINALLY HAS AN ANSWER TO ALL THESE LAME SMART PHONES AND IPHONE. I MEAN AT&T REALLY SUCKS. THE PHONE PLANS ARE RIDICULOUS AND CAN'T STAND THEIR LAME ASS FEES. THANKS SPRINT CAN'T WAIT FOR THE HTC HERO. BRING IT ON SPRINT. LUV SPRINT FOR OVER 10 YEARS NOW.. YAYYYYY!!

Posted by: crzywatch | September 3, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

"Why should I care about MMS on iPhone when it's so easy to email a photo (or receive same)?"

Because Mom keeps sending you pictures from her (non-smart) camera phone, and you're sick of those "Go to Website X to retrieve your message" messages, and you can't just ignore them because Mom (bless her heart) will call you up and say, "Did you see my picture?" Because all that just gets old.

Posted by: Ronnie76 | September 3, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

What areas can you use Android ... It doesn't work in my state ? BTW, T-Mobile doesn't pay the rebates it promises so forget of ever getting that $100.

Posted by: wasaUFO | September 3, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately the Hero comes with the same conditions as the Pre. Just getting either of these phones for myself would raise my family's monthly expenses from $90 to $150, because of the manner in which Sprint forces these full "everything" plans on all members of a family, even if only one member has a high-end phone like this.

I currently have a $69.99 700-minute family plan with three lines, plus $15/month for my Centro data, and $5/month for my son's 300 SMSs. So $89.99/month total. This meets my family's needs very well.

I'm eligible for an upgrade, but to get a Pre or Hero I would either need to disassemble my family plan, or pay an extra $129.99+$20(for the 3rd line)=$149.99. Either way, it's an extra $60/month. Needless to say, I'm not going to do that.

To be fair, it seems that I would run into the same issue if I had an AT&T iPhone. Note sure about the other networks, e.g. T-Mobile with a Hero.

Posted by: jaepstein63 | September 4, 2009 4:41 AM | Report abuse

Finally, sprint is moving forward. Unfortunately I got impatient And dumped them after almost 10 years, and got an iPhone six weeks ago.

If Sprint had given a hint of an android phone, I definitly would have waited. The Pre is nice, but no onscreen keyboard or video recording.

Posted by: Jaykpatel | September 4, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Verizon Wireless customer since 1996. Tired of its laggard approach to giving customers the best that can be had and also charging premium price for hassle ridden products and software. Sprint gets android and I am there immediately (will be cheaper too - and works better in Metro tunnels!)

Posted by: link390 | September 4, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

It's great to see another carrier coming out with andriod phones but let's not rule out tmobile still holds the My Touch. Some people think that it's an underdeveloped network but I believe on Tmobile's 3G network runs much better than Att or sprint, atleast here in ca we have great coverage. Also the price at which andriod phones are available is also nice and they don't have any Mail In Rebates.
Sounds like a great deal to me. I would love to c a RIM touch screen device on Tmobile network since verizon plans are way overboard.

Posted by: Cj91181 | September 4, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Here's a cool (free) app on iTunes that may help iPhone users feel better about the network challenges….TroubleSpots (http://mytroublespots.com). Let's you report a dropped/failed cell phone call, and also no cell coverage or data failure. It has google maps integrated so you can go back and pinpoint the troublespot. Sounds like the the data collected actually makes it back to AT&T – http://is.gd/2TdcT.

Posted by: BradWills | September 4, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only person who gets from one to no bars on my iPhone when I come out of the Pentagon?

Like, ATT doesn't know there are a few thousand users there?

And over by the State Department, it's usually just as bad -- at the Diplomatic Entrance at 21st and C Street, you had better be prepared to send a diplomatic note -- old fashioned paper will get through before you will get a signal from ATT.

Bummed out in both Foggy Bottom and Gravelly Point!

Posted by: Vestniek | September 10, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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