Two of the best Android smartphones, Sprint's Evo 4G and Verizon Wireless's Droid Incredible, are in supply shortage limbo. The dearth of existing HTC-built smartphones (Evo and Incredible) will likely be Motorola's gain as it rolls out the Droid X later this week, but the Droid X could face problems of its own.
Verizon's website, which previously listed a ship date of July 14 for the Droid Incredible, now says the phone won't ship until August 9. Sprint doesn't even bother listing a ship date for the HTC Evo 4G.
The supply shortages for HTC's Android phones pave the way for Motorola's Droid X, which launches on Verizon this Thursday. That's not to say getting a Droid X will be effortless. Best Buy won't guarantee day one availability, even for pre-orders, and Verizon also expects shortages.
But HTC's supply problem is more troubling because both the Evo 4G and Droid Incredible have AMOLED displays. As iSuppli explained in recent report, Samsung and LG are the only manufacturers of AMOLED screens, and both are unable to keep up with demand. Samsung is working to ramp up production, but won't be in full swing until 2012. Two Taiwanese companies, AU Optronics and TPO Display, are working on AMOLED products, but won't be ready until 2010 or early next year.
HTC confirmed its supply problems to the Wall Street Journal, and is now scrambling for solutions. The company is working with Sony for displays on its next phone, but that's of little consolation to people who are patiently waiting for a Droid Incredible or Evo 4G. For those people, HTC is trying to find last-minute cargo space on flights to the U.S. so it can ship phones as soon as they're ready, an HTC spokesman told the Journal.
The Evo 4G shortages are also a problem for Sprint, which bet on the phone as an early way to sell and promote its 4G WiMax network. A second phone, Samsung's Epic 4G, will launch later this year, but threats loom: Verizon's 4G LTE network will hit 25 to 30 markets this year, and AT&T is launching LTE sometime in 2011.
For now, my conclusion is the same as it was a few weeks ago: The time to buy a high-powered smartphone has never been better, if only you could find one.