US operator Sprint has begun a nationwide advertising campaign to publicise the launch of the EVO 4G smartphone. The entire campaign centres around historical “firsts”, based on the fact that Sprint is launching the first 4G phone in American on the first 4G network.
What’s the story?
Clearwire has been steadily rolling out WiMAX 4G networks across the USA – and with a 51% stake in Clearwire, Sprint has been following behind and launching its own 4G services on those networks. The EVO 4G is the first phone from Sprint that takes advantage of those new networks. It’s a dual 3G/4G phone, so it won’t be useless if you don’t happen to live in one of the few areas with WiMAX. You can read our earlier report on the phone – but it’s essentially an Android with a really big, high-res touchscreen.
The EVO goes on sale tomorrow, June 4th. Review models are already in the field – PC Worlds Mark Sullivan has done a great review, using the 4G phone in WiMAX networks in the States. His overall impression was that WiMAX was slightly faster than other networks, but not so much to be genuinely impressive. Especially in the face of modern 3G standards like HSPA+.
What’s the advertising campaign?
Sprint is comparing the release of the EVO 4G to other great firsts in human history – like the first wheel and first rotary phone. The campaign is being run across TV, web and direct mail.
There’s quite a smart tie-in for EVO owners, it must be said. Sprint is inviting 4G users to send them their “4G firsts”. It will offer achievement badges for people who register themselves as the first to do something with an EVO 4G – like the first tweet, first video call, etc.
What we think?
The power of being “first” is nothing to be sneezed at. Just look at the iPhone. It was the first device that could really be called a smartphone – it wrapped everything that consumers wanted up in a perfect little package. Every smartphone that has been launched since has essentially been a copy of that first.
That’s not really the case with the EVO. What we’ve got here is a big smartphone being released on a marginally faster-than-usual network.