Sprint's LTE network hasn't launched yet, but that didn't stop the operator from coming out with the first three devices for the service at 2012 International CES in Las Vegas yesterday.
The initial device trifecta is comprised of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, LG Viper and a mobile hotspot from Sierra Wireless that's compatible with both Sprint's CDMA and LTE networks and Clearwire's WiMAX service. In total, Sprint plans to launch 15 LTE devices this year including tablets and USB dongles.
Sprint isn't saying when the gadgets will hit shelves and hasn't provided details about pricing.
Some of the devices' basic specifications were released, however.
The Galaxy Nexus comes loaded with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which offers a revamped user interface that "has been rethought and redesigned to make Android simple, beautiful and useful." The Nexus also comes equipped with an NFC chip linked to Google Wallet and the preloaded Android Beam app, which allows users to share content by tapping their phones together.
The LG Viper comes with an energy-efficient charger and a casing made of 35 percent recycled plastic. The Android 2.3 device has a 4-inch WVGA display and is equipped with a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor, front- and rear-facing cameras and is compatible with DLNA devices. Like the Nexus, the Viper comes outfitted with an NFC chip and works with Google Wallet.
The Tri-Network Hotspot supports up to eight Wi-Fi devices at a time.
Sprint CEO Dan Hesse said last week that the company would light up its LTE network in 10 markets before the middle of this year, including Atlanta, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. The service will run on equipment installed as part of Sprint's $5 billion network modernization project.
Sprint is phasing out its use of Clearwire's WiMAX network but will continue to sell devices compatible with service through this year, including the HTC Evo, Samsung Epic and Nexus S. Clearwire plans to overlay its WiMAX network with LTE, which Sprint plans to use to add capacity to its own LTE network.
There were a bevy of LTE device announcements at CES yesterday in addition to Sprint's news. AT&T came out with a suite of LTE gadgets that included six Android smartphones and a waterproof tablet, and Verizon Wireless announced several new devices for its LTE network.
Prepaid provider MetroPCS also showed up with a couple of new LTE smartphones, the Samsung Galaxy Attain and the LG Connect.
The Galaxy Attain comes with a 1 GHz processor, 3.5-inch touchscreen and front- and rear-facing cameras. The smartphone will be available in the "coming weeks" and will cost about $200 after a $50 mail-in rebate.
Pricing wasn't announced for the LG Connect, which is set to launch some time within the next month. The device boasts a 4-inch NOVA display, Corning Gorilla Glass, a 1.2 GHz camera and front- and rear-facing cameras. The phone also comes preloaded with Rhapsody's unlimited music service.
CES has long been a major launch pad for new products, including a number of notable flops. As shown by the number of new LTE devices announced already this week, it's a trend that seems destined to stick around.