msnbc.com news services
updated 7/12/2010 4:38:41 PM ET 2010-07-12T20:38:41

One of the most talked-about and desired new phones — no, not the iPhone 4 — is in short supply. It's HTC's Evo, carried exclusively by Sprint, and the first cell phone in the United States to take advantage of fourth-generation, or 4G, faster speeds for data and video.

Sprint was the first of the major wireless carriers to roll out its 4G service, so far available in 43 markets, including Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta, Seattle, Dallas and Philadelphia. Being first has been a key advantage for the carrier, which has struggled to keep customers despite its competitive service pricing.

Verizon Wireless is looking to launch its 4G network before the end of the year, and AT&T by early next year. T-Mobile, in the meantime, is beefing up its 3G network.

Without enough of the popular Evo devices available, Sprint may lose the time advantage it has had. The phone went on sale June 4 for $200, with a two-year contract, and after rebates.

"We thought we would have more of a head start than we'll end up having," Sprint CEO Dan Hesse told The Wall Street Journal recently.

While shipments continue on a regular basis, not every outlet is getting the phone, and it cannot be ordered right now from Sprint's website, which says "Check back later. More are on their way."

HTC, which has become a phone hardware powerhouse, makes several popular models of Android phones, including the original "Google phone," the G1; Google's own "Nexus One" phone; and the HTC Droid Incredible, carried by Verizon Wireless. (The Droid Incredible is in short supply as well.)

One of the problems for the Taiwanese company is that it is relying on another manufacturer, Samsung, for its Evo touch screens. And Samsung has been kept busy supplying numerous cell phone makers with touch screens and other parts.

The Journal reported that Samsung is building a new factory to make touch screens, but that it will not be in operation before 2012. HTC, too, is adding more suppliers, the Journal said.

"The company is also checking flights to the U.S. to see if it can secure extra, last-minute carrying space to get more phones to Sprint and Verizon shelves as soon as phones are ready," an HTC spokesman told the newspaper.

© 2013 msnbc.com

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