HTC Evo 4G Review| By Allen Tsai
The highly-anticipated HTC Evo is the first phone to run on Sprint's high-speed fourth-generation, or 4G, network -- designed to offer data rates of 3- to 6-megabits per second, more than double the speed of current 3G services.
The handset is a powerhouse. A super-fast 1-gigahertz Snapdragon chip drives the latest Google Android software. And it comes with a large 4.3-inch touch screen display -- that's more than 30 percent bigger than the one on the iPhone -- and a number of strong features such as an 8-megapixel camera for photos and a second 1.3-megapixel front-facing lens for video-chatting.
In addition, the handset can act as a Wi-Fi hot spot and create up to eight connections other devices, such as laptops, for an extra $30 a month fee. But there are significant drawbacks to the Evo, most noticeably, it's short battery life. As imagined, the extra speed comes at a cost of extra power. When 4G is turned on, the handset goes powerless within a day.
Regardless, the Evo is probably worth a look for consumers who need the highest data speeds around. Although Sprint's 4G coverage is only limited to about 32 markets at the moment, it's in a race with Verizon to roll out nationwide service and should cover much of the country by the end of the year.
The Evo is covered head-to-toe in a mix of gloss and soft-touch black, with bits of red accents for flare. It's remarkably similar in shape and size to its cousin the HTC HD2 from T-Mobile. The Evo is just a hair thicker and noticeably heavier -- about 10 percent more heft -- than the HD2 and has slight differences in the physical buttons, but otherwise the two are nearly identical.
Both phones are a bit big and chunky compared to other devices on the market. But despite the size, the Evo is sleek, with few buttons along the edges and touch-sensitive navigation icons instead of physical buttons on the face. Like the HD2, the Evo has a huge 4.3-inch touch screen display, significantly larger than the iPhone's 3.5-inches or the Google Nexus One's 3.7-inch display.
It has dual cameras -- a high-resolution 8-megapixel one with dual LED flash on the back for photos, and a second 1.3-megapixel front-facing one for video-calling. A speaker port and kickstand, to prop the phone up when watching videos, are also on the back. The bottom of the phone has ports for an HDMI-connection, cable not included, to large screen televisions and a micro-USB port.
Overall, the Evo is a big phone. It's big, it's thick and it's heavy. But with the added size, it's able to fit an enormous touch screen display, two cameras, a speedy processor, and not to mention the plethora of 4G features. All of which helps ease the pain of lugging around such a bulky phone.
Out of the box, the HTC Evo 4G comes with a standard 1500 mAh battery, USB wall charger, micro-USB cable, an 8-gigabyte microSD card, the customary user guides and manuals and an envelope to recycle your old phone -- all encased in an eco-friendly package.
The Evo comes with two cameras, a high-resolution 8-megapixel one on the back of the device, and a smaller 1.3-megapixel one on the front for video-calling.
The main lens, as expected, takes colorful, vibrant, detailed photos. There's a dual LED flash next to the lens to illuminate the darkest of rooms and additional settings for auto-focus, brightness controls, face-detections, spot metering and geo-tagging.
But perhaps one of the biggest draws of the Evo is its ability to record 720p video. While it's a far cry from a high-definition 1080p camcorder, the camera does a decent job -- aside from the occasional splotch here and there. Users can choose between MPEG-4 and H.264 encoding formats and throw them up on YouTube.
The lesser front-facing lens is meant for video calling. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to test Sprint's Qik two-way video service because they hadn't set it up yet. But the company promises to launch it within a week or two before the Evo's official release date.
With most devices launching phones with 3- to 5-megapixel camera phones, the Evo's lens is definitely one of the best on the market. Don't expect it to replace a digital camera or camcorder, but coupled with high-speed 4G service, users will be able to snap and record decent quality photos for Facebook and upload less-than-high-definition videos to YouTube.
The Evo is powered by Google's latest Android 2.1 software, with HTC's own user interface called "Sense" layered on top. Like most smartphones these days, the handset offers an iPhone-like experience -- tap, drag and pinch navigation -- for a remarkably polished and refined feel.
It has seven home screens filled with shortcuts to various applications, but every icon or small "widget" -- fast shortcuts to programs such as Facebook, Android Market or email -- can be moved or removed from the display entirely. A simple swipe to the left or right switches between the home screens, keeping users organized with work or play.
HTC Sense ties Google's features together remarkably well for a complete OS feel. Small touches, such as improved cut and paste, word prediction, finger tracking, typing speed, give the Evo a system that's comparable to what Apple offers with the iPhone, if not better.
The flow of Android and Sense is really impressive. It's incredibly responsive and able to multi-task smoothly, with no hiccups or stalling, even when it's fully-loaded with apps or running several programs in the background -- thanks to a fast 1-gigahertz Snapdragon processor. But the biggest problem is with the battery life, and it's serious. HTC claims users can get up to six hours of talk time, and doesn't specify standby time, but I wasn't able to get more than four or five hours with mediocre use, much less a day with 4G service turned on.
Sprint acknowledges that the high-speed service consumes a lot of power, and it plans to do a "educate" customers and remind them to turn off 4G when they don't need it. I find that rather ridiculous, since the Evo is advertised as the first 4G phone on the market. But regardless, consumers should take note of the battery issue.
A 3.0-inch screen is considered big, around 4.0-inches is huge, and then there's the Evo's 4.3-inch gargantuan capacitive touch screen display. It shows 65,000 colors at an impressive 480-by-800 pixel resolution, but I would have preferred 16.7 million or 262,000 colors, which is what top-of-the-line phones typically have.
But I can't complain. The display is exceptional -- except in direct sunlight where you might have to tilt or shield the screen -- and ideal for watching videos streamed over 4G. It comes with a built-in "kickstand" to keep it upright while watching movies and there's an HDMI-port to connect it to big-screen televisions. Additional features include an accelerometer to switch between portrait and landscape views, proximity sensor that deactivates the display when on a call and an ambient light sensor to adjust the screen brightness and save battery life, ironically enough.
Bigger isn't always better, especially when it comes to mobile devices. But with the added size, it only pays to have larger screen. And the Evo's 4.3-inch display is just about as good as it gets.
The Evo comes with a typical MP3 player and FM radio. The speaker on the back of the device blasts out clear and loud audio, even when the phone is place face-up on a tabletop. That's because the camera lens protrudes out and actually lifts the speaker off of the table -- bad for the lens, but good for audio clarity. Call quality and volume are both good as well.
With a larger display comes a larger virtual keyboard, and texting on the Evo is a breeze. Users won't have to worry about cramped keys or typing mistakes. Each press on the screen gives a slight vibrating response for physical feedback.
Aside from the standard bundle of features, the Evo also integrates personal and work email accounts such as Outlook, Gmail, AOL Mail, Windows Live Mail and Yahoo Mail, access to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and instant messaging on AOL, Windows Live, Yahoo, and Google Talk. There's also a built-in dictate feature so users won't have to type. But it's far from perfect. Some humorous suggestions and results appear, so double check what it writes before you send out a text.
Customers can access Sprint's Music and TV services to browse from a library of hundreds of thousands of songs and watch videos from mobile channels such as ESPN, Disney, Fox, NBC, ABC, CBS, USA, Bravo, The Weather Channel Mobile and even music from Sirius satellite radio.
Users who want to save on bandwidth charges can load their own films onto the phone with third-party software. The Evo also comes with entertainment features found on all Android devices. By heading to the Android Marketplace, users can find thousands of games and tools, some for free and others for a fee.
While the selection is significantly less than Apple's app store, Google does manage to offer some really neat Android-only applications, including Google Goggles and Sky Map. Goggles is perfect for travelers in foreign countries. It's a visual search tool with a nifty function: it can translate text from photos. So if you wander past a sign, sit in front of a menu in a foreign language you don't understand, just snap a photo of it and the app translates it automatically.
Meanwhile, Sky Map is ideal for those clear summer nights for star-gazing. Just point the camera lens in the night sky and the application will use GPS information, compass data and the date and time measurements to show you which celestial objects you're looking at.
Apple is undoubtedly the leader in third-party apps, but Google is growing by leaps and bounds. And as more devices adopt Android, more developers will begin to offer useful programs and fun games. And Google's labs are always developing new and innovative features as well.
Internet is the Evo's main feature. Unfortunately, Sprint's next-generation 4G network is only in around 32 markets right now, and even in the areas where it's released, coverage is spotty. The Evo automatically switches to 3G if it can't find a WiMax signal.
But when the signal is strong, the Evo offers the fastest data rates over cellular networks averaging of 3 to 3.5-megabits per second, on the low end of Sprint's 3- to 6-megabits per second estimate, but more than twice the speed of 3G. The carrier said speeds will improve as it tweaks its settings and rolls out coverage through the months.
In addition to surfing the Web at blazing speeds, for an extra $30 a month, customers can turn the phone into a portable Wi-Fi hot spot that can connect up to eight other devices, such as laptops, to the Internet. Just set a SSID and password and it acts as wireless router in your pocket. The Evo is much faster than the iPhone using AT&T's network -- which transfers data at speeds of 1- to 1.5-megabit per second. Verizon's Droid Incredible clocks in at just under 2.
It should be noted that, unlike "real" 4G, voice calls are still routed through Sprint's legacy network -- only data travels through WiMax. But for what it claims, the Evo is miles ahead of any other phone for Internet connectivity. Just be aware turning on 4G service will drain the battery at just as amazing speeds.
The Evo has around 360-megabytes of internal memory and an extra 8-gigabyte memory card, likely enough for most consumers. While it's less than the 16- or 32-gigabyte iPhones, the Apple smartphones don't have a memory card slot.
As a backup, the Evo still has the tried-and-true Wi-Fi b/g standard. Bluetooth 2.1 is also in there for headsets and handsfree devices. For wired connections, the included micro-USB cable does the job.
The Evo is as speedy as phones come. For times when 3G just won't do, the Evo is the best and only option. It has a few major setbacks through. The first, as probably the most limiting factor, is coverage. While Sprint is aggressively building out its 4G network -- maintaining a slight lead over rival Verizon -- coverage is only within a handful of major cities right now. And even if you're in one of the markets, that's no guarantee that coverage will be consistent. There are large gaps.
Second, is the short battery life. With 4G turned off, the Evo lasts considerably longer, but that defeats the purpose of getting this phone. Other small gripes include its bulky size. It's almost too big to fit in a back jean pocket comfortably.
But the phone has plenty of highlights. It at the cost of heft, it has a gigantic 4.3-inch touch screen, ideal for watching movies, a fantastic Android and Sense combo interface, a powerful processor for smooth and efficient multi-tasking, one of the best 8-megapixel cameras on the market and, not to mention, the ability to turn it into a hot spot for eight other wireless devices.
For users who plan to use the Evo in a 3G network, it's actually a pretty decent phone. But you might be over-paying for features you won't be able to use. As a 4G device, there's literally no comparison on the market. Definitely consider the Evo if you're hungry for more speed, live in one of Sprint's 4G markets and can handle the short battery life. If you can't, it might be better to wait for other 4G phones to hit the market. The Evo 4G will cost $200 with a two-year contract. ♦
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TFT (Accelerometer / Proximity Sensor / Ambient Light Sensor)
July 26, 2010
On Par With IPhone
A software update and a power management app makes the battery life on par with iPhone. This phone is unmatched in user experience in my opinion. I just works good. The interface is on par with something between an iPad and an iPhone.
The screen is so big and clear you don't have to get a headache after searching for 15 minutes on the web. I have AT&T, Verizon and Sprint service and I must admit Sprint service has improved dramatically.
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4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.
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