ORLANDO, Fla.--Introduced back in late February, the HTC Merge is due to hit North American carriers this spring. Fortunately, HTC brought the Android smartphone to CTIA 2011, so we were able to get some hands-on time with the device, and we're liking what we see so far.
First off, it's nice to see another Android-based world phone coming to the CDMA carriers, since the selection has been lacking. Verizon currently has the Motorola Droid 2 Global and Droid Pro, and Sprint, well, it has nothing in the Android department, so the Merge would certainly be a welcome addition.
The phone's design is similar to another Sprint phone, the HTC Evo Shift 4G, and the quality is typical of HTC's other devices: solid, high-quality materials, and a premium feel. On front, you get a 3.8-inch, 800x480-pixel multitouch screen that's easy to read and bright, though you won't get the same sharpness or fine detail as some of high-resolution displays showing up on smartphones today.
The slider mechanism on the Merge isn't the smoothest we've seen, though that's not to say that it's difficult to push the screen aside, and the slider feels quite sturdy. The keyboard features good-size rectangular buttons and a decent amount of spacing between them, so most users shouldn't have a problem with it.
The Merge is running Android 2.2 with HTC Sense and is powered by a next-gen 800MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM7230 processor. It may pale in comparison to the dual-core phones coming out, but as we've experienced on the Evo Shift 4G and T-Mobile G2, which use the same processor, performance is just fine.
Overall, the HTC Merge looks to be a good device for those on CDMA carriers looking for a world phone. It's rumored that the Merge will be headed to Verizon Wireless, but hopefully we'll get some official news soon. For a closer look at the phone, check out our photo gallery below.