Sprint unveiled the HTC EVO 4G this week, which will be the first first smartphone available in the U.S. with WiMAX. I was at the debut event for this very high-end model with Google’s Android OS, and so I have spent some time testing out its capabilities.
The EVO’s very large screen and outstanding performance make me really eager to get my hands on this smartphone. The larger display and 4G support is definitely going to help it eclipse the Google Nexus One.
The 4.3-inch touchscreen is going to make the EVO ideal for watching video when on the go, and it’s also going to be great for viewing websites, GPS navigation, ebook reading, as well as all the other standard functions of a smartphone.
Android and More
The HTC EVO 4G is going to run Android OS 2.1, the most recent version of Google’s mobile operating system. Like all smartphones running this OS, it will come with a suite of communication and entertainment software with ties to services like Gmail and YouTube. You will also be able to choose from 30,000+ third-party apps.
On top of Android OS 2.1, the EVO 4G will run HTC Sense, this company’s alternate user interface that expands on Google’s standard one. HTC likes to call this a “user experience” rather than a UI, because it also includes some additional apps and widgets.
This HTC device is going to sport a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, giving it really outstanding performance. Judging from my experience with Android, a 1 GHz processor might even be overkill, but it will “future proof” this device, so it shouldn’t have any problems running future versions of this operating system.
As I mentioned earlier, the EVO is going to come with WiMAX, which should give it peak downlink speeds of up to 12 Mbps, and average downlink speeds of 2-4 Mbps.
And there’s going to be an additional benefit: current Verizon phones can’t have a voice and data connection at the same time, but when this smartphone is connected to WiMAX its voice connection won’t be interrupted.
Sprint is making a big deal out of the fact that the EVO will come with software that will allow it to share its Net connection with up to 8 other devices. But keep in mind, there will almost certainly be a monthly service fee for using this.
An Emphasis on Video
The HTC EVO 4G’s 4.3-inch screen is just part of what is going to make it a good option for watching video on a plane or in a hotel room. It will also have a “kickstand” that will hold it up at the right angle to let you watch a movie.
But that’s just half the story. This device is also going to have an HD video port that will let you connect it to any TV or monitor that supports 720p. This will let you store HD movies on your phone, and then play them on a wide range of external devices.
Sprint was clearly thrilled to be able to say that the EVO is going to offer support for Adobe Flash, as this is something few of its competitors can offer.
In my preliminary testing, I went to sites that used Flash for navigation, and I have no complaints about the performance. All too many sites require Flash just to get around, and the EVO isn’t going to have a problem with these.
But don’t think this smartphone is going to let you use Hulu or similar services. Hulu deliberately blocks mobile devices, and I spent 20 minutes or more trying to watch something on Fancast without success.
Naturally, this model will come with a GPS receiver, and you’ll have a choice between the free Google Navigation app and the Sprint Navigation app that will come with a monthly charge but offer more features.
Sprint says that EVO won’t be on the market until this summer, and the prototypes that were on display this week bear this out: the hardware is ready, but the software still needs work. I didn’t see any crashes, but the people showing the devices off seemed ready for them to happen at any moment.
Despite this week’s announcement, the HTC EVO 4G is not going to be available for several more months. Sprint says it is scheduled for release at some point this summer.
Nothing has been said about pricing, either.