Sprint announces its first Android device

The highly desirable HTC Hero which was unveiled earlier this summer for will become Sprint's first Android phone on October 11. Not only has the device been re-tooled with an EV-DO rev. A radio for Sprint's 3G network (the world version is WCDMA,) but it has also received a total chassis overhaul.

But looking at the two versions side-by-side, the physical design has been almost completely rethought. Where the HTC Hero was slim and angular, with the now-trademark "chin" cropping up from the device's tail end, the Sprint Hero has been rounded out and flattened. It actually ends up looking more like T-Mobile's myTouch 3G more than the original Hero.

Fortunately, most of what made the world version of the Hero so appealing has been retained: the new HTC "Sense" user interface, the multi-touch capability, the fingerprint-resistant coating, and the 3.5mm headphone jack are all present and accounted for.

This will be Sprint's first Android phone, its first phone with HTC Footprints, and the first U.S. phone loaded with HTC's Sense UI, but there is another factor at play here. With Android in its roster of operating systems, Sprint now offers the most diverse selection of smartphones (by OS) with BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, WebOS, the last Palm OS devices, and now Android.

The Hero will be available in Sprint stores, online, and in Best Buy for $179.99 after rebates, before taxes, and with a two-year contract. Pre-orders are being taken today on Sprint's Web site.

Since we already know most of what made the world version of the Hero tick, we asked HTC for some insight into the redesign, and what brought about the change.

"We realize that the design of any product, especially something as personal as a phone, will always create debate. With the Sprint version of the HTC Hero, HTC worked closely with Sprint to create a total product offering --which includes both hardware and software-- customized for Sprint and its customers. The resulting product has a different, but we believe equally striking, design compared to its global counterpart," An HTC spokesman told us today.

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