As expected, the HTC EVO 4G is fast; it has the same 1 GHz Snapdragon processor as Verizon’s HTC Droid Incredible. I didn’t have to wait at all for simple tasks that don’t require network connectivity, such as checking my calendar or the weather — as soon as I tapped, the action was carried out. In fact, the only waiting I had to do was when I watched YouTube videos and Sprint TV.
Even the weather forecast becomes more interesting, when I wake the device and the clouds briefly waft across the screen.
I also appreciate ability to pinch my fingers together on the home screen to quickly zoom out for a quick look at all seven of my home screens at once — I can quickly go to my calendar, the most frequently used device settings, my FriendStream or bookmarks with just a couple of taps.
An upgrade to Android OS 2.2 is expected in the coming weeks and months.
Call quality test results are mixed; some of my callers praised the voice quality, one caller said that I sounded somewhat muffled, and a fellow smartphone reviewer gave the EVO 4G a “C” rating. Indoors results were more favorable, of course, with reports outside that there were some issues with background noise and hissing. I was not in a particularly noisy or windy environment, so I’m not exactly sure what caused the problem.
I was quite pleased with the call quality on my end; whether I was calling a landline phone or another mobile phone, everything came through loud and clear. I didn’t hear any background noise, and I also didn’t have any trouble hearing my callers.
The EVO 4G is the first smartphone released in the U.S. with WiMAX, which theoretically gives it peak downlink speeds of up to 12 Mbps, and an average downlink speed of 2-4 Mbps. In my tests, surfing the Web was at least as fast as a Wi-Fi connection. More on this later.
The Sprint Mobile Hotspot utility is one of the highlights of this smartphone, allowing you to share the WiMAX connection with up to eight other devices; I tested it this morning and had no trouble at all connecting my iPad. I was able to send and receive email and surf the Web with no issues at all, and I was also able to receive voice calls while I was using the EVO 4G as a portable hotspot. The connection also automatically switched from 4G to 3G when I went inside my office, where I am unable to get 4G coverage.
The HTC EVO 4G comes with everything you need to be productive on the go. Once you sign in to your Google account, all of your contacts and calendar entries are automatically synced to your device. In addition you will find a calculator, desk clock, news reader, voice recorder, and stock tracker.
If you need help figuring out where you’re going, both Google Maps and Sprint Navigation are included. For general navigation and finding local points of interest, such as restaurants (with reviews), I prefer Google Maps; the Sprint application is better suited to voice-guided turn by turn directions and traffic updates.
I am also quite pleased with the GPS performance of this device; it was able to pinpoint my location to within three meters, which is a much more accurate result than most devices typically achieve.
This is where the EVO 4G really shines — there’s so much to do, it can actually be hard to decide: there’s mobile video, games, a fully featured music player, and web browsing at blazing fast speeds.
If social networking is your game, Peep is a really nice Twitter client, and fun to use. Facebook is also included, but if you’re looking for a more streamlined experience you should try FriendStream, which unifies the status updates and photos from multiple social networking services to make connecting with friends even easier. And the included Qik application makes it easy to capture video and share it with friends privately or through Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
If mobile gaming is your thing, the included Teeter game is a good start. It offers marble madness or labyrinth style gameplay, and the tilt controls work very well. The graphics are smooth, and the game provides a nice introduction to the possibilities that are available in the Android Market.
The music player is very nice, and the external speaker is quite surprising–it puts out very loud, very clear sound. It should be all you need when you travel, though headphones will definitely provide a richer sound. Unprotected AAC and MP3 file playback are supported. The fact that a CD spine and clear “CD case” edges are added to the cover art is a nice retro touch. There is also an FM radio app included with the phone, though you must plug in a wired headset in order to use it, as there is no internal antenna on the EVO 4G.
The web browsing experience is absolutely incredible, especially with 4G. I’ve been using mobile devices for over a decade now, and that means I have fallen into the pattern of clicking on a link in an email or typing in a Web address and then looking away from the PDA or phone while it loaded — maybe to check the basketball score on the TV, take a bite of my sandwich at lunch, etc.
I have to break myself of that habit with the EVO, because there really isn’t any “loading” time — web pages appear almost instantly, even if they have lots of ads. Combine that with the larger display, and you can see that the Web experience on the EVO 4G is a great one.
The kickstand is there to make it easy to watch video on this smartphone, whether its something stored on the device or streamed over the Internet. The YouTube app is one option, and SprintTV is another.
The 8 megapixel camera is simply a joy to use, providing excellent photos and very quick image capture. When in camera mode, the camera is always reacting to the environment, focusing and adjusting exposure as necessary. That means that when you touch the screen to take a photo, the picture is taken almost immediately.
The dual LED flash is quite capable, and allows good photos to be taken in absolute darkness — see the sample shot of LittleBigPlanet’s Sackboy on my bookshelf. The quality of the photo is somewhat grainy compared to a shot taken under more normal lighting conditions, but it’s acceptable.
All of the usual settings are here, along with a few extras. You can control brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness, play with six different color effects such as grayscale and photo negatives, and control the white balance. Face detection is included, as is the option to geo tag your photos.
There’s one other thing you should know: I have relatively small hands, and found that it could be somewhat awkward to use the EVO 4G as a camera, especially if I only have one hand free. Since it doesn’t have a dedicated camera button, I have to carefully hold the EVO 4G between my fingers and use my thumb on the touchscreen to take a photo.
Video recording results are very good, which is great news for social networking fans who are eager to try out the Qik app included with the EVO 4G. You can record video with either the 8 megapixel camera on the back of the phone or the forward-facing 1.3 megapixel camera, which is a great to have if you’re trying to be the next YouTube sensation.
Next month, Qik is going to release video conferencing software for this device, but it’s not yet available for testing.
This is a potential area of concern, due mainly to the camera and the 4G wireless. I’ve only had the phone for two days so far, and each day I have been warned after four to five hours that I had reached only 15% charge and needed to plug the phone in. This may not be a problem with more normal usage patterns, as I took a great many photographs, made lots of calls, surfed the Web heavily, and watched both YouTube and Sprint TV.
More time with the device is needed to make a firm judgment, but I suspect that a more typical pattern of using the phone throughout the day and then plugging it in to recharge at night will be sufficient for most users.
It is also possible to turn off the 4G wireless if necessary, in order to conserve battery power during emergency situations.