Sprint preps enigmatic 4G handset for 2010 launch

Sprint Nextel is reportedly preparing to launch its first 4G handset during the first half of 2010.

According to Forbes, the phone will run on a 4G WiMax network the company is currently building with wireless Internet service provider Clearwire Corp.

Indeed, the next-gen Wimax network is already available in 27 US markets (covering more than 30 million people) and will be extended to Houston, Texas over the next few weeks.

By 2010, the network will expand to include Boston, New York, San Francisco and Washington – or up to 120 million people.

Although Sprint has refused to divulge any information about the future 4G handset, media reports indicate that the device is likely to be an HTC designed touch-screen (4.3-inch LCD) phone running Google’s Android operating system.

In addition, the phone is expected to have “dual-mode,” capabilities, which would allow it to automatically switch to Sprint’s 3G network in areas where 4G isn’t yet available.