Apple iPhone 3GS and HTC EVO 4G: side by side

Introduction and Design

June is becoming one month to remember when it comes to the mobile industry as we've just witnessed the HTC EVO 4G kick start the summer as being one of the most highly prized Android handsets to become available to date. Closely following its launch, Apple officially unveiled the iPhone 4 during WWDC 2010, where we experienced the biggest overhaul to the handset since it first came to fruition back in 2007. Even though we're just weeks away before the inevitable launch, we shouldn't forget that the iPhone 3GS still clings to life and will remain relevant for quite some time, as it will receive support from Apple in the form of a full-featured iOS 4 update. So, while we are waiting to get our hands on the iPhone 4, we'd like to pit these two existing handsets, the HTC EVO 4G and Apple iPhone 3GS, and see how do they stack up against one another.


Seeing that touchscreen only handsets have become quite prevalent over the course of the last couple of years, it's no wonder why the HTC EVO 4G's display easily sticks out among the current crop. Not only does it sport a massive 4.3” WVGA TFT display that offers plenty of real estate for the fingers, but it's detailed enough to view the finest of text on-screen. However, its support for 65k colors still manages to mystify us as most high-end smartphones receive a decent treatment in this area. When set on the highest brightness, we were still able to see what's on-screen in direct sunlight. Conversely, the iPhone 3GS's 3.5” HVGA LCD display may be under-sized versus newer handsets out on the market, but it continues to amaze us that it's one of the few phones that implement an oleophobic coating which makes it look pristine every time we take it out of our pockets – something that's much appreciated when smudges and finger prints can take dirty up the EVO's large screen. In addition, the glass material used to cover the display feels more durable and we believe it to stand up better over time versus the HTC EVO 4G. And finally, just like the HTC EVO 4G, the iPhone 3GS handles well in outdoor conditions when the sun is beating down directly on the handset – the display was more than visible even in various angles.

The larger display on the HTC EVO 4G is naturally accompanied with an equally gargantuan shell that manages to pack all of its impressive hardware without compromising much in terms of thickness. From afar, the stream lined approach does make it quite appealing, but individuals with smaller fingers may find the HTC EVO 4G rather bulky and unwieldy. Needless to say the iPhone 3GS's dimensions are a bit more compact and fit perfectly in the pocket without taking up much room. On the flip side, people with larger hands will naturally gravitate to the EVO 4G as the iPhone may feel a bit too cramped for their tastes.

Both handsets utilize interesting designs that substantially catapult them ahead of others, but they are unique enough to the point the fine lines that separate them. On one hand, HTC's usual industrial design continues to set forth its presence on the HTC EVO 4G as it perfectly balances some hard lines and touch sensitive buttons with its completely black exterior. As usual, the soft touch feeling material used for the rear of the phone perfectly accents its overall charm as it retains a clean look and repels additional dirt to muddy its spot-on appearance. Additionally, the hinge assisted kickstand remains to be one feature that makes it more compelling than the iPhone 3GS, solely due to the fact users can sit back and place themselves in a comfortable position to watch something. Aside from that, the only other thing to jut out from the rear is the 8-megapixel camera that's slightly elevated higher than the rest of the handset – although it may not pose too much of an issue, the thought of the lens resting squarely on unforgiving surfaces is always in the back of our minds.  Although the iPhone 3GS has the ability to output video with a proprietary cable, the HTC EVO 4G's inclusion of a micro HDMI port will easily be seen as a strong backing for individuals intent on sharing content on the big screen.

Seeing that the Apple iPhone 3GS remains relatively unchanged from the previous 3G model, it still manages to enchant consumers with its quality design and construction that pierces the hearts of many. We still adore the fact that the chrome bezel elegantly accents the device – giving it that jewel like luster that radiates ever so gracefully in the sun's rays. The Apple iPhone 3GS feels a bit more natural in the hand with its curved rear that allows us to hold it perfectly still. Material-wise, some may lament knowing that glossy plastic is used entirely for the rear, but confidence is restored once you feel its tough nature. The only downside to its plastic rear is that it's a bit more prone to scratches and smudges, however, uniformity is preserved as there are no indentations or bumps sticking out. One would be led to believe that the handset is light weight, which it is when compared to the HTC EVO 4G, but the premium materials in use make it feel a bit heavier than other comparably sized handsets.

There's no arguing that both handsets are quite appealing – especially for the HTC EVO 4G with its fresher looks. At the same time, the quality and experience of its display is unmatched as every nook and cranny is filled with plenty of detail. It's not to say that the iPhone 3GS doesn't stand tall in the same category, but as it continues to sport the same HVGA display found on the original, there is little doubt that it gives some leeway to the competition. As with anything newer, the HTC EVO 4G virtually improves on many aspects that were seen impressive by the iPhone 3GS, but it happily takes it to the next level with features rarely seen in the US market like the kickstand, front facing camera, micro HDMI port, and a larger than life display.

Apple iPhone 3GS 360 Degrees View:

HTC EVO 4G 360 Degrees View:


We've pitted the iPhone 3GS with the Nexus One in the past already and we still commend on how iOS manages to intuitively present users a simple and straightforward interface that emphasizes on performance. One can visibly see the polish that Apple has applied in the most recent official build of iOS as the platform runs relatively quick with next to zero indications of lag or sluggishness. Between the HTC EVO 4G and iPhone 3GS, the latter takes the cake in terms of simplicity as there is less of a learning curve for first time users. Apple goes further to simplify the experience by only having one physical button on the phone which brings you back to the home screen – which doesn't over-complicate the entire process for users. In addition, the iPhone 3GS is home to some of the best looking mobile games out there – going further to give some traditional hand-held consoles a run for their money. However, there are still some things that tarnish its aura that prevents it from truly being acclaimed by a broad range of consumers. Specifically, the platform still lacks a decent notifications system, social networking integration, and the eye-candy which Android has brought on. Looking closely at it from the surface, the platform remains unchanged in terms of presentation from what we first witnessed from the original iPhone. Thankfully, some of these things are going to be addressed with iOS 4 and naturally be taken up a notch with the impending iPhone 4.

There is a lot of love with HTC's Sense UI running on top of Android 2.1 which makes it one of the most appealing customizations of Android thus far. HTC has perfectly integrated social networking onto the Android platform and naturally the HTC EVO 4G is probably the best  handset to showcase the manufacturer's work. Android, as a whole, easily beats out iOS when it comes to visual appeal, but it doesn't still embody the fluidity seen on the iPhone 3GS – even though the EVO 4G packs an all too seen 1GHz Snapdragon processor. The plethora of widgets and the option to use live wallpapers can excite even the most nonchalant individuals out there; as evident on some of the interactive ones created. Even though it may not do it as pretty as webOS, Android is still able to multi-task to an extent – which can be regarded highly for individuals relying on their handsets for productivity apps. In addition, the HTC EVO 4G makes the perfect medium for viewing a ton of content that ranges from videos, pictures, and even music. Even though the smartphone is the current Android handset on the market to get close to being considered as the epitome of a perfect handset, you can clearly tell that it lacks the iPhone 3GS's smooth and fluid movements when moving, running, and showing off apps. With all its might in tow, gamers will obviously be disappointed with the handset's lack of premier games, but hopefully developers will quickly act to make use of the HTC EVO 4G's mammoth display.

Data and Connectivity:

Web browsing on a mobile handset is all becoming too prevalent now as it increasingly gets closer in replicating the experience found traditionally on a desktop. However, there is a stark difference to the naked eye, which can be seen in the performance between the HTC EVO 4G and iPhone 3GS. In its current Android 2.1 Eclair form, the HTC EVO 4G was able to load up pages from start to finish faster than the iPhone 3GS when using 3G connectivity. In addition, there are some flash elements that load up on the handset to give it that desktop-like experience. Naturally, its high resolution display and real estate make viewing pages even from a zoomed out level very distinguishable, but we find that the iPhone 3GS has more accurate double tap zooming capabilities, which allow you to jump straight at the exact page element that you want to examine closely. On the other hand, the HTC EVO 4G continuously re-sizes text to accommodate the specific zoom level you choose, but sometimes it makes for awkward layouts for the site. Finally, the iPhone 3GS retains one basic element seen throughout its platform – which is the smooth and fluid scrolling witnessed when navigating. Although the HTC EVO 4G does well on its own in that regard, it still doesn't quite meet the levels that Safari has been able to achieve over and over again.


Looking down into its  music playback capabilities, even after all these years, the iPhone's visually stunning music interface is still regarded as the premier offering. Cover flow continues to be the standard that's always going to be compared to the competition as it makes moving your albums such a breeze to not only your finger, but your eyes as well.

As for HTC's Sense UI, it certainly beautifies the EVO 4G and offers a decent  presentation with the HTC music player.

When it comes to watching video, hands down, the HTC EVO 4G clearly is the handset of choice thanks to its detailed display, large real estate, and the kickstand to offer you the luxury of sitting back while watching. Both devices had no problems in playing any of our test videos as they all ran smooth with no noticeable hiccups to muddy the experience.

There is a distinguishable bridge between the iPhone 3GS's 3-megapixel shooter and the HTC EVO 4G's 8-megapixel one, but when it all comes down to it, higher numbers don't always mean better results – generally it's the optics that separate the good from the bad. However, in this case we found that the HTC EVO 4G did a commendable job overall in taking photos. With auto-focus on board both handsets, the HTC EVO 4G adds in a good dual LED flash to obviously take better shots in low light conditions. To our dismay, photos may not have looked too ideal while previewing them on the HTC EVO 4G directly, but we were nicely surprised to find some pretty good-looking stunning images after saving them onto a computer. The HTC EVO 4G was more equipped in almost every regard as it was able to capture fine detail to a tooth and presented more natural looking colors. The iPhone 3GS does a good job to say the least for something that's considered average megapixel count nowadays, but older technology substantially gives way to the newer one found on the EVO 4G.

With 720p video recording on board with the HTC EVO 4G, there is no arguing that it eclipses the iPhone 3GS's performance in capturing videos. However, the frame rate on the iPhone 3GS was a bit better as videos looked more fluid and less choppy – yet another area where we see Apple's stance on having a uniformly fluid experience. Another thing that's going for the HTC EVO 4G is its 1.3-megapixel front facing camera which adds more depth to its video capturing capability. Although it may not present the best quality, the inclusion of it provides users another fun way of taking videos. 

Apple iPhone 3GS sample video at 640x480 pixels resolution.
HTC EVO 4G sample video at 1280x720 pixels resolution.


Voices may have sounded a bit distant, but the HTC EVO 4G still managed to eclipse the iPhone 3GS in calling quality. With great connectivity to the network on both smartphones, we noticed that voices on the iPhone 3GS sounded a bit more distorted and low – even in the most quiet of conditions. Although it may not reign supreme in this area, the HTC EVO 4G's performance was passable as we were presented with slightly more natural voices which were made evident by the loud speaker.

Battery life is always a hot topic when it comes to any smartphone, but it remains to say that lasting a good day is more than ample for  most users. With that in mind, the iPhone 3GS provided for better battery life as it was able to survive a full day, from the time we woke up to the time we hit the sheets, when we manually set the brightness to the middle setting. Naturally, for something that's packing a 4.3” display, we were more than satisfied as the HTC EVO 4G was able to last a full working day before getting a notification to connect to a charger (10% battery). Now this means it was able to run from 9:00AM to 5:00PM while placing the brightness to the middle setting. However, we could've gotten additional juice by managing our running apps, 4G connectivity, and manually turning off non-essentials like Bluetooth and GPS. Either handsets are hungry for some juice, so it's recommended you always have a spare charger on hand.


Being on the market for almost a year shows how the competition has been able to take the flag away from the iPhone 3GS and set the bar for new standards. However, iOS continuously proves to be one of the most stable mobile platforms out there as a level of perfection is seen throughout every aspect of it. Users will find mobile Safari to still be one of the best web browsing experiences to be found on any cell phone out there. The iPhone 3GS is able to appeal to a vast range of consumers thanks to its top notch peppy performance, simple & straightforward interface, and an ecosystem that's always growing. In addition, gamers will gravitate towards the myriad of games available and ones being developed down the road. The HTC EVO 4G has become the face of Android right now with its larger than life presence, which packs plenty of goodies to keep owners occupied. Power and business users will look at the HTC EVO 4G's productivity potential which is made even better with its roomy on-screen keyboard. Although there is a steep learning curve associated with the platform for first time users, Sense is able to integrate the best aspects of social networking directly on the handset while Android as a whole has a higher level of personalization. With features such as a front facing camera, 4G connectivity, and a large display, there is no denying the kind of impact that accompanies the HTC EVO 4G. Ultimately, these two devices are able to compete on the same scale, but users will have to see which handset offers the values that relate closely and match up perfectly to their lives.

HTC EVO 4G and Apple iPhone 3GS Video Comparison:

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