Sprint First With Android 2.2 Upgrade

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- In a race with Verizon's ( VZ) Droid and Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone 4, Sprint ( S) rushed to be first with upgrades to Google's ( GOOG) Android 2.2 operating system on the HTC EVO.

The company said in an announcement late Thursday that notifications will start going out to EVO owners Tuesday, prompting them to download the new system on their phones. The announcement also indicates that users can manually install Android 2.2 as early as Friday.
Sprint EVO
Sprint HTC EVO

Android 2.2, code-named Froyo, is the newest version of Google's mobile software and is expected to include an upgrade to Adobe ( ADBE) Flash 10 capability and voice-activated dialing through Bluetooth, among other things.

The earlier-than-expected move to Android 2.2 helps give Sprint an edge over its Droid rivals at Verizon. The HTC EVO has been a popular phone for Sprint, repeatedly selling out at stores since its debut last month. The large-screen HTC EVO boasts 4G WiMax capability, although the faster wireless service is only available in a handful of cities.

EVO's closest competitor, besides the Apple iPhone at AT&T ( T), is the Motorola ( MOT) Droid X, which launched earlier this month. When Motorola introduced the phone, the company promised to have Android 2.2 available by late summer.

Measuring the perks of Android 2.2 on the Sprint HTC EVO is somewhat difficult since the phone is sold out and its main competitors, the iPhone 4 and Droid X, are also sold out. But from a technology standpoint, Sprint, boasting 4G and now the latest Android flavor, has certain bragging rights.

Sprint shares are up 30% this year on hopes that the No. 3 wireless shop is mending the damage from the failed Nextel merger. The company made progress on that front in the second quarter by ending a brutal five-year trend of subscriber defections. Sprint said Wednesday that it added 111,000 net new customers in the most recent quarter.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.

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