The HTC EVO Shift 4G is a smartphone from Sprint that can connect to this carrier's high-speed WiMAX network. It debuted earlier this year, but it recently received an upgrade to Android OS 2.3 (Gingerbread), a newer version of Google's operating system that brings some enhancments to this device.
It has a sliding QWERTY keyboard, Wi-Fi, 2GB of storage and a 5-megapixel camera. It's more focused on business users than consumers, though it's a good option for either.
The EVO Shift is available now from Sprint for $150 with a two year voice and data plan. Without the contract it's price is $400.
BUILD & DESIGN
The EVO Shift 4G has a 3.6-inch, WVGA, capacitive multi-touch display, as well as a landscape-oriented keyboard. It's the very definition of the class of devices called "sliders".
This is not really a light or a small handset. It's not huge either, but at 4.6 x 2.3 x 0.6 inches and 5.8 ounces, it makes a noticeable bulge in any pocket it goes in and feels heavy in my hand. Aside from the 1500 mAh battery, I'm not quite sure where that weight is coming from.
The look is professional -- it's available only in black and leans more toward sharp edges than sleek curves. Overall, it puts more emphasis on its large keyboard than screen. So if you want a smartphone for writing lots of email, this is a good option. If you really want to watch movies on the go, you should look elsewhere.
A year ago, the 3.6-inch, WVGA (800 x 480) display on the EVO Shift would have been reserved for high-end models. But times have changed, and now you can get this great screen at a lower price. That said, Sprint will soon be releasing the HTC Evo 3D, which is going to have a 4.3-inch qHD (960 x 540) display.
Still, the colors are good on the screen in the EVO Shift, lines are crisp, the backlight is bright enough -- this is basically what you're looking for in a mid-range smartphone display.
The sliding keyboard is definitely a strong point of this HTC model. The keys are large and well spaced, making thumb typing easy. It's one of the better physical keyboards available.
That said, there's no dedicated row of number keys, which I know bugs some people. To me, however, this is mostly a non-issue because I rarely make calls by entering phone numbers -- just about everyone I call is in my address book. Or if you want to dial a number, you can close the device and use the phone app which offers large on-screen buttons.
Other Buttons & Controls
Aside from its keyboard, the EVO Shift has a fairly average collection of buttons. Below the screen (and actually built into it) are the Home, Menu, Back, and Search buttons that are standard on the Android OS. On the left side is a volume up/down rocker, and the Power button is on the top.
Swapping the microSD memory card requires taking off the back plate and removing the battery. This is kind of a hassle if you intend to swap cards very often, so I'd recommend getting a high-capacity card and sticking with it if you want to carry around a lot of music.
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