Wirlesss carrier Sprint has unveiled a new 4G-enabled smartphone, HTC Evo Shift, priced at $149.99 with a two-year service agreement and after a $100 mail-in rebate. It will be available in all Sprint retail channels starting Jan. 9.

HTC EVO Shift boasts of a sliding QWERTY keyboard, Android 2.2 operating system, Qualcomm 800 MHz processor, a 5MP autofocus camera and a 3.6-inch touchscreen. The new smartphone weighs 5.9 ounces with a battery life of six hours of talk time.

Shift's predecessor - the HTC EVO 4G - was launched in June 2010 and its features included: Android 2.1 platform, a 4.3-inch screen, 1-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and an 8MP auto-focus camera. HTC EVO costs $199.

The new device allows up to eight Wi-Fi-enabled devices, including a laptop, camera, music player, video player and any other Wi-Fi-enabled device, to enjoy the benefits of 3G/4G speeds on the go, according to Sprint.

Sprint, the third largest wireless carrier in the United States, said its 4G services dramatically increases download speeds for photos, videos and large files. Favorite songs, pictures or large video can be downloaded in seconds, not minutes.

Sprint also announced the launch of Novatel Wireless' MiFi 3G/4G mobile hotspot device that provides wireless connectivity for up to five WiFi-enabled devices. The device will be available at all Sprint retail channels on Feb. 27 for $49.99 after a $50 mail-in rebate activation on a new two-year service agreement.

“Sprint will continue to set the bar for feature-rich and customer-friendly 4G devices into 2011,” said chief executive Dan Hesse.

Sprint's rival Verizon Wireless, the largest wireless carrier in the United States, is reportedly planning to showcase at the CES this week a set of Android-based devices using the 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network it launched late last year.

Sprint 4G covers over 70 markets and roughly 120 million population points (POPS) as of the end of 2010, while Verizon's 4G LTE network is currently available in 38 markets and covers around 110 million POPS.