An HTC handset that received approval from the FCC last week has the making of Sprint's next 4G smartphone. Though we don't know anything official, the HTC Evo Shift 4G should be a lot like the existing Evo 4G, save for a smaller size and a sliding keyboard.
Also known as the HTC Knight or PG06100 (that's HTC's model number for the phone), the Evo Shift 4G appears to share some of the design features found on HTC's earlier Desire Z. Its keyboard is similar, for example, and it features the same general shape and a 3.7-inch touch screen. The Desire Z also influenced the design of T-Mobile's G2.
We don't know whether Sprint would opt to go with the Sense UI found on the original Evo 4G, but I imagine that it'd like to keep the same experience. Assuming the hardware is the same, we should be looking for an 800MHz processor, 512MB RAM, and a 5-megapixel camera. The Evo Shift 4G also should resemble Verizon's upcoming HTC Merge.
I'm a fan of handset manufacturers offering similar, if not identical, devices across the various carriers. Samsung has done a wonderful job with its Galaxy S line of phones, and LG is already showing promise in the Optimus line. If anything, it forces the carriers to differentiate themselves with better plans and focus on more important matters, such as customer service. And who doesn't like the idea of being able to pick out a phone and choose a carrier much like buying a PC and Internet service provider?