Sprint guns for mid-range Android: $149 Samsung Transform, $99 Sanyo Zio, and $49 LG Optimus S include 'Sprint ID'

The rumors were dead-on -- the Samsung Transform and Sanyo Zio are headed to Sprint this week, and by the end of the month the carrier will play host to an LG Optimus smartphone as well. Priced at $150, $100 and $50 (after $100 mail-in rebates) respectively, they're definitely not high-end phones, but if you're looking for a capable QWERTY messenger (with video chat!) the Samsung Transform just might fill the bill. In many ways it's a scaled down Epic 4G, with the same look and feel, though a somewhat slower 800MHz processor, a 3.5-inch screen, and no 4G support, obviously. We weren't terribly impressed with the Sanyo Zio the last time we saw it, but we're happy to hear it's now sporting Android 2.1 and hopefully some bugfixes, and we're eager to try the LG Optimus S simply because it's got Froyo at the $50 price point.

Hardware's only half the story here, however, because these three phones will ship with something completely new -- a settings / apps / widgets / themes packaging solution the company's calling Sprint ID. Rather than fill the device with bloatware apps or overlay a custom UI, Sprint's installed a software button that takes you to a store exclusively designed for Sprint's new Android devices. You pick a package -- say, Business Pro -- and it downloads a specific set of apps, widgets and a custom wallpaper targeted at business owners, though if you'd rather decline you can use a package that's pretty much stock Android. The carrier's launching Sprint ID today with 17 partners and 13 free content packs, with more on the way. There's a Sprint exec waiting to walk you through Sprint ID in a video after the break!