Review: Sprint’s HTC EVO 4G in daily use

Sprint’s EVO 4G is the company’s first flagship Android 4G device. This is not the phone for those of you that are looking for a smaller device; you may just want to move along now. But for those of you ready to fork over your hard earned money for an Android handset, the EVO4G comes packed with pretty much everything imaginable: 1Ghz Qualcomm 8650 SnapDragon processor, 4.3″ LCD 480×800, 512MB RAM, 8 MP main camera capturing 720p video with another 1.3 MP front facing camera, 4G and 4G bands, FM Radio, TV out HDMI and a 1500mAh battery.  Arguably, we feel that this is still one of best phones on the market today; hence why Sprint can’t seem to keep them in stock. We tested this phone on a daily basis and I personally used it as my main line for an extensive period of time. Hit the break to read the entire review.

Hardware

The EVO is big! A behemoth of a phone but a great phone you can easily use every day. The trade-off in sheer power made us become accustomed to the EVO’s size very quickly. The overall build quality of this phone is excellent. It feels rock solid in our hands. The phone has a classic style and is extremely well designed, clean lines; a sort of work of art in our hands. The phone is a looker with people having stopped me several times asking me what kind of phone I was holding. HTC continually makes improvements in every new phone that they build and the EVO is no exception.

At the top of the phone you will find the lock button with a set of toggle buttons. That is pretty much it for physical buttons and that is fine with us. This keeps to the minimalist nature of the phone and makes everything less complicated. The phone is controlled with a flush mounted touch sensitive area which allows you to navigate the phone with ease, and just “makes sense” when in use.

Around back you will find an 8 MP camera with a beveled lip in which the phone actually rests on. At first, I wasn’t thrilled with this design and surely thought it was going to break the camera lens or housing by setting it down the wrong way. It didn’t. The back also reveals an aluminum kick stand that is very sturdy and actually really useful in certain cases (eating lunch and catching some live video news on the go). The interior is stunning which looks like Andy Warhol dropped a bucket of bright red paint on it, and it by far takes the number one prize as best internal phone design award.

Specifications

You want specs? We’ve got your specs right here. The HTC EVO 4G is built on the Android 2.1 platform (which now has been updated to Froyo 2.2). The EVO 4G is packed with a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, wrapped up and cuddled  with HTC Sense UI, an 8.0 MP auto-focus camera with HD-capable video camcorder with dual LED flash and a forward-facing 1.3 megapixel camera. The large vibrant 4.3 inch display, built-in kickstand, 3.5 mm headset jack and HDMI output make HTC EVO 4G an unparalleled platform for wireless entertainment. The display alone a 4.3” WVGA (800×480) 65,000 color display was very readable in direct sunlight compared to a lot of other Super-AMOLED and AMOLED displays I’ve seen.

Full List of Specs:
* 3G/4G capability
* Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ QSD8650 (1GHz) processor
* 4.3” capacitive display with pinch-to-zoom and tactile feedback
* World-class HTML browser – bandwidth and quality that rival that of netbooks
* Android 2.1, with access to more than 30,000 apps on Android Market
* GoogleTM mobile services including Google SearchTM, Google MapsTM, Google TalkTM, GmailTM, YouTubeTM , and syncs with Google CalendarTM
* Access to Google Goggles™ to search with pictures instead of words
* Sprint Navigation, with turn-by-turn driving directions and 3D maps
* Updated HTC Sense, award-winning user experience, which includes Friend Stream to integrate Facebook, Twitter and more into a single flow of updates
* Visual voicemail
* Messaging – personal and business email, IM and text messaging
* 3G/4G Mobile Hotspot capability – connects up to eight Wi-Fi enabled devices
* 4G data speeds (WiMAX) – peak download speeds of more than 10 Mbps; peak upload speeds of 1 Mbps; average download speeds of 3-6 Mbps.
* 3G data speeds (EVDO Rev A.) – peak download speeds of up to 3.1 Mbps; peak upload speeds of 1.8 Mbps; average download speeds of 600 kbps-1.4 Mbps.
* 8MP autofocus camera with dual LED flash and 1.3MP front-facing camera
* High-quality video streaming and downloads at 3G and 4G data speeds
* Capture and share HD-quality video (720p) from your phone
* Output pictures, slides and videos in HD quality (720p) via HDMI cable (sold separately)
* Live video sharing with Qik
* Built-in kickstand for hands-free viewing
* Media player with 3.5mm stereo headset jack
* FM radio and Amazon MP3 store
* Sprint applications including Sprint TV® and NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile(SM)
* Bluetooth® 2.1 with A2DP Stereo and EDR
* Built-in WiFi®: 802.11 b/g
* Digital compass, G-Sensor, proximity sensor, light sensor, GPS
* Expandable memory: 8GB microSD card included; supports up to 32GB
* Dimensions: 4.8″ x 2.6″ x .5″ (LxWxT)
* Weight: 6 ounces
* Main display: 4.3” WVGA (800×480) 65K colors
* Standard removable 1500mAh Lithium (Li-on) battery
* Memory: 1GB ROM, 512MB RAM
* Sprint 4G is currently available in over 40 markets and counting

Cameras/Video

This is probably one of the best features of the phone next to the large display. The EVO 4G comes with two cameras. A rear 8 megapixel shooter with auto focus lens, including macro. It also comes packed with a dual LED flash, which is actually ‘saved’ from your previous mode in between shooting photos. Low light shots are pretty notable. HD video is pretty decent as well. The video shoots at 1280×720 @ 25 fps for some great video, but I would head on over to my trusted camera-phone-connoisseur and good friend Myriam Joire of tnkgrl mobile, to read up on her comprehensive EVO 4G camera review and flickr picture sampler.

Photo courtesy of tnkgrl

Video samples:


Phone / Speakerphone

Having been disappointed with other phones in the past, the EVO 4G actually is a pretty decent phone call-maker. I know, in today’s day and age, do we really need to call anyone? Well if you are like me, you have to be on the phone and available for your client’s call at a moment’s notice. The EVO does fine with calls and they usually come through pretty clear, depending of course if you are mobile to mobile calling and other carrier’s networks. But in general, the overall experience was good and I tested this phone with another EVO 4G my friend owns. The verdict: even in less than stellar Sprint coverage areas, the phones performed very well.

The speakerphone on the EVO 4G is pretty darn clear. Not Blackberry 9700 clear but having in rested on a table a few times and placing calls out, the person on the other end could not tell I was using a speakerphone, which in itself was pretty impressive. But if it gets windy outside, I wouldn’t suggest using the speakerphone as an option. You may just want to stick with that Bluetooth headset.

Battery life

As with many of the handsets today, battery life is dependent on the user, usage, OS and type of use. I have read some horrible reviews of the EVO 4G’s battery life. Then read a few good ones as well. One thing I found myself, in my daily use, and I am a power user for sure; the EVO 4G battery life is pretty awesome compared to other handsets I have tested. This device can get some serious time out of a 1500 mAh battery, depending on your use of course. I’ve watched video, surfed the net, checked twitter updates and listened to music, sometimes for hours on end, all with having a decent 40% of the battery still left over.

Software

The EVO4G came standard with Android 2.1. Since the inception of this new 4G device, Android has been updated to 2.2, giving users Nexus One-like OS goodness on their Sprint HTC EVO 4G phones. The whole Android experience is cuddled up with HTC’s Sense UI. Specifically on this device is Sprint’s Hotspot app, YouTube HQ and Qik-powered two-way video chat using the front facing camera. It’s an Android + HTC sense, packed with Froyo 2.2 experience and it’s good. Smooth-like-butta is probably the best term to describe how the EVO just flows from one screen to the next. Easily digesting your requests and handling your tasks and entertainment as it were saying “is that all you got?”

4G Speeds

The EVO 4G has everything you could want in a mobile phone: 3G speeds, 4G option with WiFi and a mobile hotspot that allows you to connect up to eight devices simultaneously. Although I didn’t have 4G close to me to test on a grand scale (since the closest location was beautiful downtown Visalia, California at the time although Stockton and Modesto were recently added), Engadget performed a pretty thorough speed test. But for a mere $10 bucks a month, getting 4G for that price coupled with Sprint’s $69.99 plan is still a LOT less expensive than most other carriers – without 4G service. One thing the EVO can do is act as a wireless hotspot, thereby allowing you to connect up to eight of your devices to utilize the network just like they would Wi-Fi at home—if you pay another $30 a month, which is still a pretty decent deal. Turning on your 4G or Mobile HotSpot is simple. Just touch the corresponding buttons on the screen and you’re in business.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

So what’s the verdict? Mad speeds! What is the main  difference between Sprint’s 4G built on WiMax technology and those LTE 4G networks coming from Verizon and AT&T? Verizon and AT&T’s forthcoming 4G technology utilize the  700Mhz spectrum, which bounces lower  frequency waves that can go further and penetrate buildings with more ease. Sprint’s 4G WiMax, which is built by Clearwire, rides at a much higher frequency of 2.5GHz. So in exchange for less building penetration, Sprint offers higher bandwidth vs. the 700 MHz spectrum.

Pricing

This is where Sprint literally wipes the floor with the competition. Sprint has by far the best minute/data/text plans when compared to the other big three, and even at 3G speeds, Sprint is still pretty darn fast. A breakdown of price is below:
Individual
$69.99 per month/450 anytime minutes + Any Mobile, Anytime + unlimited text and data
$89.99 per month/900 anytime minutes + Any Mobile, Anytime + unlimited text and data
$99.99 per month/unlimited minutes + unlimited text and data
Family
$129.99 per month/1500 anytime minutes shared between two lines + Any Mobile, Anytime + unlimited text and data
$169.99 per month/3000 anytime minutes shared between two lines + Any Mobile Anytime + unlimited text and data
$189.98 per month/unlimited minutes
Data
$10.00 per month for 4G access
$30.00 per month for mobile hotspot

Summary


The EVO 4G exercises its muscle and flexes with the best of the big boys on the block in the world of smartphones. But the EVO 4G is more like the Lee Haney or Ronnie Coleman of smartphones when it comes to flexing muscle. This is a power house of a phone and this was built for Sprint to make a statement:  We are Sprint, we are HTC, we are bold, we’re powerful and we’ve got America’s first 4G network. If you are in need for a powerful, workhorse of a phone, combined with some extremely competitive Sprint pricing, and customer service which is improving on a daily bases, then Sprint’s HTC EVO 4G is your next phone. It was hard for us to send our review unit back. When my renewal is up here in a short amount of time, I too will be a devoted and happy EVO 4G owner.

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About Tony P
Connoisseur of all that is Mobile Tech.

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