bluescreenoftom (bluescreenoftom) wrote,
bluescreenoftom
bluescreenoftom

HTC EVO 4G Review - one week in

Given the huge pool of reviews that have been flooding the internet (as many with misinformation as with fanboy-ish adulation) I thought I'd throw mine into the pool. I'm not going to talk about the standard Android 2.0/2.1 stuff that has been around since the Droid first came around on VZW, so lets just skip right to the things that make the phone unique.

4G

This phone is the first phone with a 4G radio in it to hit the US market. Unlike the "standard 4G" (LTE) that we can expect to see hitting other carriers around this time next year, Sprint is utilizing the WiMAX standard, and will likely be the only carrier with WiMAX connectivity. Theoretically WiMAX can provide enormous speed gains (in the 10s and even 100s of Mbps) but my findings have been much more down to earth. WiMAX is deployed all around Baltimore and throughout most of DC, so you can pick up a signal in most public places at this point. Unfortunately I haven't found the speed to be groundbreaking - thus far, WiMAX is always at least as fast as 3G. The fastest I've got yet is about 4.5 Mbps download speed, and I average at about 3 Mbps. This is 2-2.5x better than the 3G speeds you can expect from any wireless carrier in the area, which is good. Hopefully Sprint will up the bandwidth and speeds in the future to make it even more compelling.

The major down side I've seen so far to 4G is that it doesn't seem to work well when you're moving, particularly through an area with less-than-perfect 4G coverage. Additionally, it takes the EVO about 3-5 seconds to completely drop the 4G signal and switch over to 3G for data, so if you're streaming something, get ready for a pause if you completely lose your 4G signal. This could perhaps be improved with some software updates for the phone.

Overall, if you're not in a moving vehicle and you have a 4G signal, you will really see the difference - it is almost as drastic as switching from 3G to Wifi. However, I'd recommend switching it off when you get in the car.

4.3" Screen

The 4.3" touch screen is beautiful and very responsive. It also doesn't make the phone unwieldy or difficult to use... the phone is not heavy and will still fit in your pocket with no problem. My only complaint would be the extra battery penalty you might pay to light up the extra real estate, but that is to be expected.

Battery

This seems to be the biggest area of debate on the internet. Lets face it, any smart phone you get is going to have crappy battery life if you use it constantly. This is particularly evident in Android phones. The EVO is no exception - use it to browse the web for 5 hours straight and the battery is going to die. Period. That said, claims that the battery life makes the phone "unusable" are completely exaggerated. When making phone calls, the battery isn't much worse than my previous phone, the LG Dare. The battery life on standby isn't bad either (seems to be around 2 days for me) particularly if you turn off 4G, Wifi, and GPS when you're not using it. The biggest battery drain seems to be the screen.

So, practically, what does all this mean? For me, it means pretty much nothing. Most days I can make it through the day on a single charge. If I use my phone a lot on a particular day, I might have to plug it in mid-day if I'm at my desk. Or plug it in when I'm in the car. This is not a problem 99% of the time, particularly because the phone uses a standard Micro-USB charger and I already have a bunch of cables because my previous phone used the same standard. If I'm in a situation where I need my phone to last all day without a charge, I will need to make an effort not to use it constantly. I recognize, however, that this situation is not for everyone. If you need to have a phone that lasts for a week without a charge and you can't carry extra batteries, this phone is not for you. For the rest of us, it is survivable.

HDMI-out

I haven't tried this one (sorry) but I did read you can only use it with pictures and with videos you have shot. I'm sure this will be hacked at some point.

Cameras

The cameras on this phone are great. The rear-facing 8MP camera takes stunning pictures, particularly with a decent amount of light. The front-facing 1.3MP camera is more than sufficient for video conferencing and works great as well. I look forward to seeing more apps that utilize it.

Overall Impression

I am very happy with this phone. Battery life could be better and 4G still has some kinks to be worked out, but I have really enjoyed using this thing. Couple it with Sprint's very competitive pricing, good coverage (with free Verizon roaming to fill in the gaps), and expanding network and you have a great deal for a top-of-the-line device. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a smartphone and doesn't need a battery that will last for days without a charge.
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