Sprint Jinx Extends to HTC EVO

Sprint's HTC EVO adds a user penalty and a debut date that guarantees it wonderphone will be overshadowed again by Apple's new iPhone.
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NEW YORK, (

TheStreet

) --

Sprint's

(S) - Get Report

off to another characteristically self-sabotaged start with its latest wonderphone: the

HTC EVO

.

For gadget fans, the Google Android-powered

HTC EVO

makes a big splash on the tech scene.

Sprint's HTC EVO

The phone is the first to claim 4G status, capable of running on Sprint and

Clearwire's

(CLWR)

WiMax network. It features a large 4.3-inch screen, a fast 1-gigahertz

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Report

Snapdragon processor and an 8-megapixel camera.

The tech specs outshine everything else on the market, including HTC's

Verizon

(VZ) - Get Report

Incredible

and Apple's iconic iPhone.

So how could Sprint blow this launch? For one, schedule the sales debut for June 4, three days before Apple takes the stage to introduce a redesigned version of the iPhone. Sound familiar? Sprint pulled off the same

improbable feat

a year ago with the launch of the

Palm

(PALM)

Pre superphone just hours before the Apple show.

If that's not sweet execution how about this: A EVO owner penalty charge. Adding to Sprint's Apple hex, the company says it will charge $199 for the EVO and add a $10 monthly fee on top of the $69 calling plan, for extra data privileges that come with the phone.

This little surprise comes after Sprint promised to be aggressive in pricing on the EVO when it first flashed the phone at the CTIA wireless event earlier this year.

A Sprint rep defended the surcharge since the EVO will "provide a premium experience." The extra fee is like an SUV tax that would charge gas guzzlers extra at the pump. "We expect you will be using a lot more data than you would with our other devices," the Sprint rep wrote on his blog.

Sprint needs a blockbuster smartphone like the HTC EVO to turn the tide of subscriber defections. But down two strikes in the count, before entering the batter's box, Sprint's not exactly enhancing its chances.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.