US operator Sprint Nextel is strengthening its device portfolio in a big way, announcing that it is to offer Google’s Nexus One smartphone (pictured) amid speculation it will also next week unveil its first WiMAX handset. No availability date or pricing details were released for Sprint’s launch of the Nexus One – Google’s own-brand Android device – but the operator claimed that its CDMA EV-DO 3G network offers “twice the network coverage of AT&T and ten times the network coverage of T-Mobile (both by square miles),” the existing US operator suppliers of the device. Sprint already offers two Android devices; the Samsung Moment and HTC Hero. As per other Nexus One deals, the device will only be available to Sprint customers directly from Google online (and not via any Sprint retail channels). The Sprint deal means that Verizon Wireless is the only major US operator not yet supporting the Nexus One, although reports suggest a Verizon version could be unveiled at the CTIA event next week.

On the subject of CTIA, speculation is rising that Sprint will next week unveil the world’s first WiMAX handset. The device is believed to be manufactured by HTC and dubbed ‘Supersonic.’ Sprint now offers mobile WiMAX networks in 27 markets but the service, which costs US$60 a month for unlimited data, is largely used by laptop wireless cards. Key to wider adoption  – Sprint has fewer than 50,000 WiMAX customers out of a total 48.1 million mobile subscribers – is the availability of WiMAX handsets. Sprint has bet on WiMAX as its next-generation technology of choice (unlike most other mobile operators who are opting for LTE), although early versions of its WiMAX handsets are likely to have to fall back onto the operator’s 3G EV-DO network when out of the reach of WiMAX, as its WiMAX network is not yet fully nationwide.