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HTC EVO Shift 4G ready for the limelight

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(Read caption) The Sprint EVO Shift 4G from HTC continues the strong EVO line.

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The much-rumored EVO Shift 4G, the second EVO phone from Sprint, is now official. The carrier confirmed today that the new, speedy 4G phone will be available January 9.

So, what does the new EVO hold? The biggest bullet point is the new slide-out keyboard, a feature missing from the original EVO 4G.

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The other specs are strong, but pretty much what you expect from modern smartphones. The Shift will rock Android 2.2 with the user-friendly HTC Sense software on top. Its 3.6-inch LCD screen sits atop a powerful 800MHz Qualcomm MSM7630 processor – the same chip that powers the myTouch 4G. As the name implies, the EVO Shift 4G enjoys Sprint's zippy 4G data service as well as EVDO Rev A 3G service.

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All these acronym-heavy features, plus its back-facing five-megapixel camera, will cost $150 after mail-in rebate and service contract.

But, of course, the price tag is just a fraction of the phone's actual cost. Sprint offers the "Simple Everything Data 450" plan for $70 a month, plus an additional $10 a month to use the 4G service, which is not yet available in every city.