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Sprint 4G phone packs 'snappy' silicon

Sprint-HTC's new 4G phone joins a growing list of smartphones using Qualcomm's speedy Snapdragon chip.

The newest 4G marvel from Sprint and HTC joins a growing list of high-end smartphones that tap into the speed of Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor.

Sprint HTC Evo 4G
Sprint HTC Evo 4G CNET Reviews

The dual-branded Sprint HTC phone announced Tuesday at CTIA 2010 in Las Vegas joins other Snapdragon-based phones, including the Google Nexus One (also made by HTC), the HTC HD2, Acer Liquid, and Sony Ericsson Xperia X10. All, except the HD2, are upscale phones that run the Android operating system.

The Sprint Evo 4G is representative of a category of high-end Android-based phones that pack extra processing punch to power large screens (in the case of the Sprint Evo 4G, the display measures 4.3 inches diagonally) and PC-like multimedia features.

And what does the future hold for Android phones running on Snapdragon silicon? The current 1GHz Snapdragon QSD8650 chip--used in the phones cited above--will be followed by a 1.3GHz processor, the QSD8650a, according to Mark Frankel, vice president of product management at Qualcomm CDMA Technologies.

The 1.3GHz chip, in turn, will be followed by a dual-core chip, the 8672, that will run at 1.5GHz, Frankel said. Typically, adding another processing core increases performance. (Though widely used in PCs, dual-core designs are nonexistent in smartphones today.)

"Clearly the market is demanding performance and that's one of the reasons that Snapdragon has gotten the traction it has," Frankel said. "And that's why dual-core is inevitable for both smartphone and smartbook devices."

Both chips will support the Google Chrome operating system, which is expected to be used in small, Netbook-like laptops called smartbooks.

Devices based on the 1.3GHz Snapdragon are expected later this year, while the dual-core chip should appear in devices by early next year, or even possibly this Christmas, according to Frankel.

Updated at 11:45 p.m. PDT.