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Sprint's Force brings LTE, but no Jelly Bean

The carrier's new ZTE smartphones strikes a midrange feature set that includes 4G LTE, but it doesn't bring more than an Android Ice Cream Sandwich OS.

Sprint Force
ZTE's Sprint Force

If you didn't get enough new phones from Mobile World Congress this week, then I have good news for you. Sprint today followed through on a previous leak by announcing the Sprint Force, an Android smartphone made by ZTE.

Running on Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 and powered by an 1.5GHz dual-core processor, the Force Sprint has a 4-inch WVGA (480x800 pixels) capacitive touch screen display and, for a smartphone at least, a relatively compact build (4.88 by 2.54 by 0.47 inches; 5.4 ounces).

Inside you'll find Wi-Fi, a 5-megapixel main camera with an LED flash, a 1-megapixel front shooter, a 3G/4G LTE mobile hotspot, NFC, GPS with turn-by-turn directions, Bluetooth 4.0, voice dialing and commands, corporate e-mail support with Microsoft Direct Push Technology and ActiveSync, 1GB RAM, and a microSD card slot. Sprint-specific services include support for the carrier's 4G LTE network, Sprint ID, and Sprint TV and Music.

Though the feature set doesn't quite hit the top end, it's more than what ZTE has delivered in the past. The LTE support is nice, even if Sprint's 4G network will continue to lag behind those of AT&T and T-Mobile, but it's disappointing that Sprint and ZTE couldn't deliver Jelly Bean as we inch closer to the operating system's first birthday. As for apps, we've never quite seen the point of Sprint ID.

The Force is available now for $49.99 with a two-year service agreement and after a $50 mail-in rebate. Check back soon for a full review.