PRODUCT REVIEW

HTC Evo's 4G service takes smart phones to new dimensions

Outstanding performance from a host of jaw-dropping features

Performance: A
Features: A+
Ease of Use: B-
Price: A
Pros: Can act as a wireless router; has super fast 4G speeds; HDMI port.
Cons: Difficult to learn all functions; devices might cause some security concerns.
Reviewer’s ChoiceReviewers Choice

Although the Sprint HTC Evo did not receive four straight A’s, the Evo is hands-down a Reviewer’s Choice winner in this roundup because of two crucial things: the device's bountiful jaw-dropping features and the outstanding performance of those features on the device.

More smart phone reviews

Read reviews of the iPhone 4, the Palm Pre Plus and the Samsung Captivate.

For starters, the Evo can act like a wireless router. For an extra $29 per month, Sprint will activate that feature, which provides instant Internet access for as many as five computers. Did I mention that access is at 4G speeds? The Evo is the only 4G mobile device in the roundup, and the difference between its speed and other devices' 3G speed is significant — we’re talking seconds versus minutes on large data transfers from the Web.

According to Sprint, download speeds for 4G are as much as 10 times faster, which equates to 600 kilobits/sec for 3G and 6 megabits/sec for 4G. Sprint claims that average 3G speeds range from 600 kilobits/sec to 1.7 megabits/sec, while 4G can average 3 megabits/sec to 6 megabits/sec.

Because Sprint is in the process of upgrading its network with 4G capabilities, not every U.S. city is 4G-ready. However, I had no problem finding a 4G city on the East Coast in recent weeks, and I live in Charlotte, N.C., which isn’t a major metropolitan market. If you’re outside a city, good luck finding 4G, but the Evo is retro-compatible to 3G, so you’ll still have fast Web capabilities, just not blazing fast.

Upgrading to 4G has serious perks, such as the ability to do unfettered multitasking on your mobile device just like you would on your home computer. I was able to stream a movie while making a phone call, or surf the Internet while downloading large media files. The 4G network is so fast and the Evo is so powerful that you can launch a streaming video app and broadcast it live to anyone on the Internet in high quality.

Like the iPhone, the Evo has two cameras so that you can videoconference with the appropriate app. HTC also includes a high-definition camcorder on the back of the device in addition to an HDMI port so that you can connect it to a flat-screen display.

One real-life work application that would be handy to my company is using this device to collect customers' opinions about a new product or innovation that my company is releasing, then replaying the highlights from the impromptu field analysis in front of my managers on one of our conference room flat-screen TVs.

Speaking of flat screens, the Evo has the largest and most impressive 4.3-inch WVGA resolution capacitive multi-touch screen. It’s nicer than many 40-inch home LCD TVs I’ve reviewed.

At a price of $450 without a contract or $200 with a two-year Sprint contract, the Evo is a steal, considering that the sum of its parts are worth more than the whole. And measuring 4.8 inches by 2.6 inches by 0.5 inches and weighing 6 ounces with a battery, it feels bulky. That is until you realize there is 1G of ROM, 512M of RAM and an 8G microSD card included in the device, all powered by a beast of a 1 GHz Qualcomm processor running Android 2.2. Not to mention there is an 8-megapixel camera with Auto Focus, a 2x LED flash and a 1.3-megapixel fixed-focus front-facing camera.

In short, this mobile device is like having Best Buy in your pocket

Despite my noticeable excitement over the mobile device, there are some drawbacks, and I am not talking about the limited 4G network because that’s just a natural growing pain. First, the device’s battery life is good, unless you use the 4G. I had to charge daily when using the 4G. Every other day, I had to charge when connected via private Wi-Fi or 3G.

Second, the Evo would be a logistical nightmare for many agencies, particularly those with stringent security policies, because of how hard it is to track the data going in and out of the machine.

Finally, the Android operating system is not for the faint of heart or the short on time or patience. It’s a mini-computer with its own operating system. And it does so much that it makes a BlackBerry look like an Etch A Sketch. Because the device provides the ability to multitask, you as the user must learn how to turn off redundant or unused applications to avoid bogging down the processor. And there are multiple ways to turn an application off, which is what makes Android so hard to pick up at first.

But despite those hitches, HTC’s Evo is as close to the perfect mobile device as it gets for now.

HTC Corp., www.HTC.com

Reader comments

Wed, Sep 8, 2010 Brian Virginia

I mostly agree with your review. I do take issue with the 'not for the faint of heart' comment. My wife and I got rid of our iPhones and got EVO 4G's. We are doing just fine and haven't opened a manual even once.

Sat, Sep 4, 2010 giorgio di angeli california

Great review for a amazing phone the Evo made me return my iphone4 to at&t and now I am Sprint happy evo customer.

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