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Living with the HTC EVO 4G

Looking Forward:

Even as recently as last year a phone like the HTC EVO 4G would have had a good six months in the sun, maybe more, but with Android spreading like athletes foot in a locker room the ante is seemingly upped every month.  Motorola has countered with the DROID X, and Samsung has unleashed the Galaxy S series across all four carriers, including the Epic 4G which will join the EVO 4G at the pinnacle of Sprint’s lineup.  But there is something about being first.  Something about being ground breaking and setting the bar.  I haven’t checked out a Galaxy S yet, but the DROID X doesn’t do it for me.  The EVO is big; the X is a monster.  HTC enhances the Android experience with Sense; Motorola muddles it up with whatever they’re calling Blur these days.  It’ll be interesting to see what TouchWiz 3.0 does in the long run; thus far Samsung comes close, but hasn’t quite figured it out with other devices.

Then there’s the issue of unofficial customization.  The EVO was rooted before it came out, then again shortly after it was updated.  HTC may not be actively allowing this, but they’re sure not doing much to stop it.  Motorola, on the other hand, is.  What you get with your DROID X is what you’re going to get unless some super talented people put in a lot or work, and by many accounts some of them won’t even bother.  I’m excited for Froyo, and I’m excited because the Godfather of Android development, Cyanogen, has started to release nightly builds for the EVO.  I’ve tried it and the future is bright, though not quite stable enough for everyday use just yet.

As much as I like Sense and as great of a job as HTC has done with their widgets, I think that 2.1 will be my swan song for the software layer.  It was very much needed in the early days of Android, but between all the improvements of 2.2 and the Market apps that let me use the phone the way I want it I’ll be going vanilla once Cyanogen gets to an official release.  Android has come into its own and can now stand on its own two feet.  To say Android is taking off is an understatement, but it’s time for manufacturers to start embracing the stock software, which will allow for faster updates as the platform continues to move along at breakneck speed.

That Other Phone:

I’ve got something else to confess: I don’t like Apple.  It isn’t that I’m particularly loyal to Microsoft or Google, rather it’s the way Apple treats their customers.  They lock things down, they rule with an iron fist, scoff at transparency and refuse to admit problems in the face of facts (see: antennagate.)  That said, they make gorgeous hardware and simple to use software, and the iPhone has become an undeniable phenomenon.  There have always been shortcomings in iOS, but that’s from the prospective of a hardcore phone nerd who likes things my way.  To the average users it’s simple, intuitive and worry-free.  Since the iPhone was launched everyone has been playing catch-up, but while there may have been some worthy competitors nothing has been able to give it a true run for its money, something we could confidently say is better.  Until now.

The HTC EVO 4G did not get to this point by itself; the DROID and Verizon’s marketing blitz started the shift, bringing Android into the public consciousness and proudly proclaiming what DROID does.   The DROID’s success, along with the DROID Eris, Hero and DROID Incredible helped pave the way for the first Android superphone in the HTC EVO 4G.  Along with the DROID X and Galaxy S, and its quick software development cycle, Android is poised to assault the iPhone from all angles, but there is something to be said about being first.  The EVO 4G is the first phone that can go toe-to-toe with the iPhone 4 and come out equal or even on top in some categories.

(Because I don’t personally use them there are many great features of the phone I haven’t mentioned, such as the video conferencing, Sprint Hotspot, live TV and a slew of others.)

Final Thoughts:

One thing that Sprint needs to do is ramp up their 4G rollout.  They’re sitting at around 50 markets now, but lots of them are smaller markets.  Verizon is fast-tracking their LTE rollout, and while it looks like Sprint will have a significant lead on handset hardware they need to strike while the iron is hot.  I think the Epic will be a perfect compliment in Sprint’s lineup, giving users two top tier phones running over 4G.  I personally prefer a slimmer profile and onscreen keyboard, but I recognize there are some who need physical keys.  Adding a third or fourth phone by the end of the year surely wouldn’t hurt.

I wouldn’t trade my EVO for anything right now, and I’m not really sure what super feature would lure me away from it.  I’m spoiled by the big screen and can’t imagine going back to something smaller, but when I look at something like the Dell Streak that might be too big.  Rumors of a 2GHz beast from HTC and Motorola have already started to circulate, but honestly I can’t see things getting significantly faster.  If my netbook can hum along with a 1.6GHz Atom processor I think my phone is just fine with its Snapdragon.

I love my EVO.  It’s a versatile communication device, going well beyond a phone.  I feel comfortable pulling it out for heavy internet use on the couch or in bed, eliminating the need for a tablet.  The keyboard is so large that typing out long emails is not a problem, and as such my netbook usage has declined rapidly of late.  I upgraded to a 16GB memory card, which has put the final nail in the coffin of my iPod Touch.  The dual LED flash is generally powerful enough for a night out on the town, and in daylight pictures turn out very well.  Goodbye Elf.  This device has made my life easier; there is no doubt about it.  I’m sure there will be something better, maybe even this year, but it’s going to have to really push the envelope for me to give up my HTC EVO 4G.

This article is written by one of PhoneArena's editors who has used the HTC EVO 4G as his personal phone for quite some time now. In contrast to our reviews, where we try to present a phone from the broadest range of viewpoints possible, this article solely presents the author's personal opinion, based on his needs and taste.

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