The HTC Inspire, Does It or Doesn't It?

If you're an American Baby Boomer, you might remember that old hair color ad for Clairol, which asked the suggestive question, "Does she or doesn't she?"

Well, we've got the same question about the HTC Inspire 4G.  Does it or doesn't it... sideload applications?  Sideloading is the ability to load .APK files (packaged apps) without going to the Android Market.  This is one of the features of Android, unless you bought a phone designed to run on AT&T's network.  AT&T doesn't want anyone loading anything they haven't approved of, and as you can see from the screenshot above, they've removed the "Unknown Sources -- Allow installation of non-Market applications" checkbox.

I mention all this because a couple of our fellow Android sites are in disagreement over whether the new HTC Inspire 4G allows sideloading.  AndroidCentral (where we got this image, thank you very much) says no you can't, AT&T is still being the No Fun Carrier.  They go on to give a link to their Sideload Wonder Machine, saying they've given you a way around AT&T's limitations.  (Well, you could root the phone, that removes all these problems.)

Lots of other Android and mobile sites pick up their item and dutifully report that the Inspire 4G is hobbled by AT&T, just like all their other Android phones.

Not so fast, said Phandroid.  They claim that the Inspire 4G certainly does allow sideloading, they just don't admit that they allow it.  And to prove it, they show this video from HTC Source:

But wait... there's more!  The very people who brought us that video have now recanted their own statement!  Here's the lowdown from HTCSource:

Update: as much as we enjoyed showing off the HTC Inspire 4G's ability to sideload applications, we regret to inform you that the handset will not support this feature when it launches. With the help of Phil from Android Central, we discovered that the demo unit we received is not functioning properly. HTC informed Phil that the Inspire 4G will no be able to sideload application when it's available at retail and that AT&T has not changed their policy of the subject. Android users who purchase phones from AT&T will still only be able to install applications from the Android market.

We certainly hate it when our friends disagree, and we'll be sure to let you know if we hear anything more on what this phone can or can't do.

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