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How the Hero tops the MyTouch 3G

Sprint's first Android phone stack up well against the competition. We tell you how.

The Sprint Hero features a similar body to the MyTouch 3G. Sprint

Now that Sprint finally has announced its first Google Android phone, we thought we'd take a closer look at how it stacks up against the competition. Sprint has chosen the HTC Hero, which is the third Android phone HTC has made. The Hero was first released overseas shortly after the HTC Magic, which T-Mobile launched in the United States as the MyTouch 3G. The Hero and MyTouch 3G are similar, but the Hero offers a few key advantages.

The Hero and MyTouch have the same processing power, but the Hero should be faster thanks to its increased memory. The Hero features 288MB of RAM compared with the 192MB RAM on the MyTouch 3G. Many current Android users have complained about speed issues, which normally are caused by background processes that slow the phone down. Having more free memory will let the Hero be more responsive, even when multiple programs are open.

Media fans will be pleased to find a 3.5-millimeter headset jack on the Hero. This was a major complaint of the first two Android phones, but now HTC has committed to including a 3.5-millimeter jack on all future devices. The Hero also includes a 5-megapixel camera, which is an improvement over the 3.2-megapixel shooter on the MyTouch.

The first Android phone, T-Mobile G1, suffers from battery issues that HTC addressed in the MyTouch. The Hero takes it to the next level by offering a 1,500mAh capacity battery, which is the highest capacity available on an Android phone. In contrast, the MyTouch has a 1,340mAh battery.

The Hero's software is another of its advantages. The Hero will be the first U.S. phone to feature HTC Sense, an HTC enhanced version of Android. HTC Sense provides tighter integration with social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. What's more, Sprint will offer several of its exclusive sports services for Android, including NFL Mobile Live and NASCAR Sprint Mobile Cup. Sprint Navigation will also offer turn-by-turn driving directions.

With all the advantages the Hero offers over the MyTouch you might expect a higher price tag. Yet, Sprint will offer the Hero for $179.99 with a 2-year contract, which is $20 less than T-Mobile's price for the MyTouch 3G.

Sprint's service contracts are also priced lower than T-Mobile. The cheapest plan starts at $69.99 and offers 450 minutes with unlimited data and text. Sprint also offers a 900 minute plan with unlimited data for $89.99 or an unlimited everything plan for $99.99. T-Mobile customers can get a MyFaves 300 minute plan with unlimited data and text for $74.99.

If you're a Sprint customer waiting for an Android phone, the Hero should offer one of the best experiences when it goes on sale on October 11. Our complaint for the moment is that the Hero features the same 528MHz processor that we saw on the first couple of Android phones. As such, we're eagerly awaiting to see what Motorola announces next week.