UPDATE: This preliminary review was written after a limited time with this device. A more in-depth review is now available. It can be found here:
AT&T’s next smartphone is going to be the HTC Inspire 4G, which is going to have a high-end set of specifications: a 4.3-inch display, Android OS 2.2, an 8 megapixel camera, and mobile hotspot software.
Despite being well supplied with features, this model won’t have a high-end price. It’s going to be available for sale from AT&T on Feb. 13 for $100 with contract.
I’ve been using this device for less than day, but I’d like to go ahead and share my initial thoughts. A full review will be published before this smartphone is released.
BUILD & DESIGN
My first impression of the Inspire 4G is that it is intended to go head-to-head with the iPhone 4. If HTC’s plan is to take on Apple directly, it is certainly going about it in the right way — it’s new model has a number of advantages over its rival.
The designs are similar: a slim bar shape dominated by a large touchscreen. But the Inspire 4G has a much larger display: 4.3-inches at a WVGA (800 x 480) resolution. And this is a beautiful, with good colors.
Apple’s smartphones are known for their slimness, but the next model from HTC is fairly slim too: 0.5 inches. The large screen means it is a very wide device, but its curved edges make it comfortable to hold.
On the back you’ll see the 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash, a significantly higher resolution than the one in the iPhone.
This is one of HTC’s uni-body models, so much of its body is carved from a single block of metal alloy, making it very strong.
The HTC Inspire 4G is AT&T’s first model with Android OS 2.2. This isn’t the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system, but it’s very close — it’s the newest version that’s widely available right now.
And HTC has added a spacial modification that brings in one of the best features of Android OS 2.3: easy text selection.
In addition, this smartphone has HTC Sense, an enhancement to Google’ standard user interface that includes a number of very useful widgets. I just wish the home screen supported landscape as well as portrait mode.
The Inspire 4G also offers HTCSense.com, a new online service that lets you track the location of your phone in case it gets lost or stolen, remotely wipe the contents, and more. We’ll test this feature out and bring you the results in the full review of this device.
This is the first phone to support AT&T’s new HSPA+ network, which AT&T has decided is fast enough to call “4G”. It’s definitely quick, but more testing will be required to say just how fast it is.
The Inspire 4G also offers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, as well as a GPS receiver.
Google’s Android OS comes with a very complete suite of software. This includes one of the best mobile web browsers available, which looks great on this model’s large screen.
Other apps that get a tremendous benefit from the large screen are the built-in video player as well as the YouTube app. There’s also an AT&T U-verse Live TV app bundled with this smartphone.
If you want games, you can find thousands of them on the Android Market. This on-device software store is also the place to look for other types of apps, from high-end word processors to simple image editors.
In the brief time I’ve had with the Inspire 4G, there hasn’t yet been time to fully test its battery life. The very heavy use I’ve been putting it to isn’t a fair test: every smartphone has a short battery life when used constantly for hours.
The coming weeks will give us time to more fully test this model.
The HTC Inspire 4G headed for AT&T, where it’s going to have to compete with the iPhone — a competition in which I predict it’s going to hold its own.
It has a better screen than any other smartphone offered by this carrier, a fast connection to the Internet, and a good camera. And just as importantly, it is just $100 with contract, much less than the price of many of its rivals.
Check back for a more in-depth review of the Inspire 4G, but so far it’s looking very good.