We’ve been talking up the Sprint HTC EVO 4G ever since we first got to play with the hardware at CTIA Las Vegas earlier this year. And, rightly so – the EVO 4G is one bad mamma-jamma. In fact, it’s quite possibly the hands-down best Android phone of 2010. That’s saying a lot. But, there is one thing that could hold the Sprint EVO 4G back from becoming the outright blockbuster smartphone of the year, and it’s potentially Sprint’s fault. Sprint has just confirmed to us that the upcoming Android smartphone will require that all customers pay a $10 add-on fee for “4G data.” Sounds about right, right? Well, what if we told you that the fee is mandatory, even if you’re not in a 4G market.
In light of the mandatory 4G data fee, we have to wonder if it will keep consumers from snatching up the EVO in droves. The mandatory $10 essentially takes the first year’s cost of ownership (excluding monthly rate plan costs) for the EVO 4G from about $200 to about $320. You could argue that the price is part of the rate plan, and so doesn’t count as part of the phone’s purchase price. But, since the fee is mandatory, even if you’re in a 3G-only market, we’d argue that the price can be considered part of the phone’s purchase price.
It almost seems like Sprint is charging potential customers a tax to help subsidize the rollout of their still developing 4G network. We’re used to that kind of a tax on the gas that goes into our cars, but for a handset?
Sprint spokesperson John Taylor defends his company’s decision for the extra cost by saying that customers are likely to consume more data with this smartphone because the handset is so powerful, it’s the world’s first 3G/4G phone, and it’s 4.3-inch display is so irresistible. This is what he says on his blog:
If you buy the Sprint 4G EVO, you have to pay this $10 charge each month. This is specific to the device. It’s not related to whether you are using 3G or 4G. It is required if you have the phone.
Because the phone has a faster processor, a huge 4.3 inch screen and an 8 megapixel camcorder/camera, we expect you will be using a lot more data than you would with our other devices. These features will give you capabilities that have previously never been available on a wireless device and we think they provide a premium experience. (Remember, this is the world’s first 3G/4G Android phone.)
What say you, dear reader? Does the mandatory $10 4G data fee give you reason to pause from buying a Sprint HTC EVO 4G? Will you buy one anyway? Are you miffed at Sprint’s decision to essentially “tax” you to use the hottest Android phone in 2010? Let us know in the comments below. We won’t blame you if you’re willing to buy the handset under any circumstances – we certainly will.
Sprint reached out to us to clarify their position on the data fee attached to the Sprint HTC EVO 4G. In their email, Sprint wanted to make it clear that the data fee:
…allows HTC EVO 4G users to take advantage of a richer data experience than ever before, including dual cameras (8MP auto-focus camera with HD-capable video camcorder and a front-facing 1.3M camera) that can be used for video chat, a superfast Snapdragon processor for a better experience at both 3G and 4G speeds, a 4.3” touchscreen and 3G/4G capability. The combination of features and services on the HTC EVO 4G provide capabilities that were never previously available on a wireless device so customers will have a better experience and likely higher data usage.
We have to admit, that does make sense. You’ll be consuming more data with the EVO 4G than with many other smartphones. The phone is a media-monster, and that means it’ll suck down wireless data like nothing else. We should also note that the Sprint Everything plan costs $69.99. Even with the additional $10 monthly fee, the $80 per month plan will still be cheaper than the closest competitor.