The HTC EVO Shift 4G is a mid-range Android OS smartphone, and it has an 800 MHz processor from Qualcomm, and 512 MB of RAM. This gives it decent performance, but not as snappy as what you’ll find on more expensive models with a faster chip and more RAM. There’s generally a half-second delay when opening an app, for instance. I ran the Quadrant benchmark test on this device after upgrading it to Android OS 2.3 (Gingerbread) and I’m getting scores around 1100 – 1200. That’s a much better score than I would have expected given this device’s processor, and I’m not sure the actual performance lives up to it. It’s a decent smartphone, but it’s not super blazing fast.
The EVO Shift comes with just 325 MB of internal storage, so you’re going to store most of your files on the 2 GB microSD memory card. You can swap this out for much higher-capacity cards if you want to carry around loads of music or video, up to 32 GB.
On top of the usual Android OS user interface is HTC Sense, an alternate UI that includes a number of very useful widgets, like very nice ones for weather and displaying your email. In addition, Sense includes HTC’s system for more easily selecting text on-screen. Android OS 2.3 has a slightly different version of this, but either one is handy.
The 4G in this smartphone’s name means that it supports Sprint’s high-speed WiMAX data network. WiMAX is nice, providing you live in an area where Sprint provides it. I generally find that it gives me data transfer speeds close to those provided by my office Wi-Fi network. It’s a significant drain on the battery, though. I benchmarked the 4G capabilities with Speed Test, and found that in good conditions I get around 3 Mbps downloads and 0.9 Mbps uploads. However, in areas with weak signal, that can drop down to 1 Mbps downloads or less.
Sprint’s network has a limitation that prevents you from making voice calls and using a 3G data connection at the same time. This isn’t true, however, of a 4G connection. A 3G connection is fast enough for most of what I do, like surfing the web or sending and receiving email. If I want to do something that requires a lot of bandwidth, like download updates to my software, I generally switch to Wi-Fi.
This isn’t a necessity, as Sprint’s unlimited plan is just that: unlimited. There are no hidden caps (or none that any reasonable person is going to run into anyway). This is one of the biggest advantages of being a Sprint customer.
The EVO Shift also includes Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a GPS receiver. If you want to switch to a device that has a larger screen, you can turn on this smartphone’s mobile hotspot app, which allows you to share the 3G or 4G connection with any other device that has Wi-Fi.
HTC had improved on the standard email app so that it’s easier to work with, adding features like threaded messages. Plus, the Android OS includes built-in support for synchronizing email and other data with a Microsoft Exchange Server. I have mine set up so that my Gmail messages and my work email come in to the standard email app, so I can display them together or separately if I prefer.
Considering it’s made by Google, it’s no surprise that the Android OS comes with a good web browser. There’s also an Adobe Flash Player for it, so you can do things like watch TV episodes on your smartphone. That said, streaming video through Flash on this handset is hit-or-miss. I can watch some video, but certainly not all.
The EVO Shift comes with a number of apps to make you more productive, many of which are standard to the Android OS. One of the best things a smartphone can do for you is give you an electronic calendar, and this one syncs with Google’s online calendar service. Naturally, there’s an address book, too. This is useful for the email app, but also for navigation.
This HTC device doesn’t come with a full Office suite, but it does have viewers that will let to see files that come in as email attachments. You can get apps that will bring editing Word and Excel capabilities in the Android Market, like Quickoffice for example.
Google includes a good bit of software for fun in the Android OS, too. Smartphones are rapidly replacing simple MP3 players, and the HTC Evo Shift 4G includes a music player that can handle a variety of formats. Or you could sign up for one of the streaming music services that are available.
While a 3.6-inch screen isn’t the best venue for watching movies, it’s fairly good. To take advantage of this, there’s a video player for watching files you’ve stored on the device, or you can play YouTube videos. I’ve already mentioned the (somewhat limited) access to streamed TV shows.
This HTC device comes with a 2GB microSD card for storing music, video, and other files, but you can switch this out with higher-capacity cards if you want — up to 32 GB.
Not a single game comes pre-installed on the EVO Shift, not even a version of Solitaire. Still, that’s probably a good thing — there’s no easy way to delete pre-installed apps you don’t want. If you’d like to play games, there are loads of them in the Android Market.
When you look on the back of this smartphone, you’ll see the 5 megapixel camera capable of 720p video recording. Like a lot of smartphone cameras, this one will give you good pictures under good or ideal conditions, but it can’t handle anything too challenging.
There’s an LED flash, which is surprisingly bright. It won’t light up a huge room, but it’s capable of letting you take someone’s picture who’s standing in front of the camera in a dimly-lit room. That’s about all you can expect from a phone camera.
Unlike many high-end devices, there’s no front-facing camera, so you won’t be doing any video conferencing with the EVO Shift. This is too bad, as business users probably would have liked this feature.
With its relatively slow processor and not overly large screen, this device’s 1500 mAh battery is capable of keeping it going for some time. It will easily last a day with moderate usage, or even two with ocassional use and push email.
A typical charge cycle for me involves running the battery into the orange warning after around 28 hours, with the device’s screen being on about 2 hours during that time. That’s with two push email accounts running at all times. That’s fairly good.
Just keep in mind though, turning on 4G WiMAX is a serious drain. And if you use the EVO Shift as a 4G hotspot so that WiMAX and Wi-Fi are on at the same time, you’d better have this smartphone plugged in.