HTC EVO 4G LTE Review

41
Introduction and Design
Introduction:

Rewind to early 2010: RIM had an iron grip on the enterprise market, Window Phones still required a stylus, Google was still trying to make an impact with Android and the iPhone was the undisputed king of the smartphone kingdom. The Motorola Droid no doubt sparked interest in Android, but the unapologetic angles and massive heft of the phone made it hard to love. The Nexus One had everything you could want except a place to try it and buy it. There were whispers of a superphone coming to Sprint from HTC, but other than a few blurry pictures of a white slab and some rumored (hoped for) specs no one really knew what to expect.

Then it came: the HTC EVO 4G. The original EVO was the nation’s first 4G phone, the first phone to have a 4.3” display, the first phone with a kickstand, the first domestic phone utilizing a front-facing camera allowing for video chat, and the first phone to make Apple really take notice. It won universal acclaim, Phone of the Year honors and opened the flood gates for Android. Though the EVO has spawned a family of phones and the flagship EVO 3D was launched a year later, many saw the 3D capabilities as a gimmick and have patiently waited for a true successor to the original EVO 4G.

The wait is over, the EVO 4G LTE is here. The name says it all; instead of going by the EVO One (in reference to its HTC One X bloodlines) or the EVO HD (a nod to the 4.7” 720p display), Sprint has chosen to stick with the EVO 4G nameplate and bill it as “a true successor to the original.” For a phone with such pedigree, this is a bold claim. Read on to see if HTC and Sprint can back it up!

Design:

In a day and age where spec sheets look increasingly similar, HTC has put an emphasis on using premium design to set itself apart. We took notice when the One series of devices were announced, and the EVO 4G LTE is crafted with that same philosophy in mind. Fashioned from an anodized aluminum unibody, the EVO 4G LTE is a pleasure to pick up. The finish gives the phone sufficient grip, and at just 8.9mm thin the EVO 4G LTE is comfortable in both your hand and pocket.



You can compare the HTC EVO 4G LTE with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The 4.7” Super LCD 2 HD display is as beautiful as any display we’ve seen. The vivid colors pop off the screen, images are crisp and sharp and with a 312ppi density it is nearly impossible to spot individual pixels. S-LCD2 suffers from the same oversaturation that AMOLED does, but to a lesser degree so that it is not nearly as noticeable. Utilizing IPS technology, the viewing angles are amazing and we could approach 90o and still read the display. The display is very bright and we didn’t have any wash-out issues using it outdoors in direct sunlight, though there is some glare from the Gorilla Glass 2.


Like the One X, HTC is sticking with three capacitive buttons on the EVO 4G LTE, leaving the user with more screen real estate. Along the right side of the phone is the volume rocker and camera shutter button, with the power button up top. They all have a small but sufficient travel, with good feedback to let you know the button has been activated. The sides of the phone are part of the aluminum unibody, but have been milled down to a natural aluminum finish creating a visually pleasing contrast to the matte black. The uncovered microUSB port and 3.5mm headset jack almost perfectly blend into the black body of the HTC EVO 4G LTE.


Around back is perhaps the most controversial element of the EVO 4G LTE: the two-tone black. At the top is a plastic door with a glossy, piano black finish, under which lies the microSD slot. It is in sharp contrast to the matte black of the anodized aluminum that sits below. The two are broken up by a quarter inch EVO red band housing the kickstand. The two finishes of black are a matter of personal opinion, and we’d probably prefer an all matte finish, but in our opinion the two-tone finish doesn’t look bad and is growing on us.


The kickstand was a trademark feature of the EVO 4G, so it is nice to see its return. While it may be thin it is unbelievably sturdy, so much so that it can work easily in both directions and when the phone is resting along the length of it you can adjust your viewing angle. When you open the kickstand on the EVO 4G it resists to a certain point, then springs open. The opposite is true on the EVO 4G LTE, which is what allows you to sit the phone at different angles.


Like the One X, it is apparent that HTC has put a premium on design with the EVO 4G LTE. If you haven’t seen their “making of” video you should check it out on YouTube to get an appreciation of what went into the design of this device. The EVO 4G LTE truly feels wonderful in the hand while packing a powerful punch with the display. It will be large for some, but felt more natural to us then smaller phones like the Epic 4G Touch. The materials used are absolutely premium and even without a case this phone is built to withstand the wear and tear of everyday life. We’ve said this before, but in a market dominated by black slabs HTC continues to stay recognizable.

HTC EVO 4G LTE 360-degrees View:





Interface:

Beauty is only skin deep, but thankfully the HTC EVO 4G LTE does not stop with a beautiful design. Sense 4 is familiar, yet a new experience atop Android 4.0. We’ve given props to Sense in the past for actually improving on Android shortcomings, but truth be told Sense was getting bloated while Android was getting better. HTC seems to have realized this and has stripped down their skin, while still improving on the Android experience.

The changes in Sense 4 are subtle but significant. The spinning homescreen carousel is gone, the 3D effects to widgets are less pronounced and (regrettably) the recent apps and Quick Settings tab are gone from the notification pull-down. Full screen widgets are still there but can now be resized, the app drawer now scrolls horizontally and the contacts app has been redesigned, all of which bring Sense more in line with Ice Cream Sandwich. The keyboard has also been slightly reworked and as usual HTC has delivered an excellent typing experience, though we could do without the arrow keys. All of this adds up to the best performing, most cohesive version of Sense yet.



Processor and Memory:

Like the AT&T One X, the EVO 4G LTE uses a dual-core Qualcomm S4 processor clocked at 1.5GHz rather than the quad-core Tegra 3 found in the international version of the One X. This is done for LTE support, but it is debatable if the quad-core Tegra processors really offer better performance than the dual-core S4s. What we can say is that in our testing the S4 on the EVO 4G LTE bests the Tegra 3 of the international One X in two out of our three benchmark tests.


Quadrant StandardAnTuTuNenaMark 2
HTC EVO 4G LTE5099699558,6
Samsung Galaxy Nexus Sprint2023619124,8
HTC One X AT&T4958686357,7
LG Viper 4G LTE3002552855,9


These numbers are also better across the board than what we were able to achieve with the AT&T One X, despite the same processor. What it really boils down to is that the EVO 4G LTE is one seriously fast phone, a factor that translates into everyday use. Benchmarks are simply numbers, but the EVO 4G LTE really puts its power to good use. The interface is responsive and buttery smooth, we didn’t experience any hang-ups and watching HD video was fluid.

HTC offers a total of 16GB of internal storage on the EVO 4G LTE, of which about 4GB are used for the OS and 2GB are reserved for apps, leaving around 10GB available to the user. There is 1GB of DDR2 RAM making everything run smoothly. Unlike it’s One X counterparts, the EVO 4G LTE offers a microSD slot for up to 64 more gigs of expansion. To top it off, HTC’s partnership with Dropbox gives users 25GB of free cloud storage for 2 years. Suffice it to say that there is plenty of memory available on the EVO 4G LTE.

Connectivity and Internet:

The HTC EVO 4G LTE is one of the LTE launch devices for Sprint, though as of now they do not offer LTE service. This is a positive for the future, but right now all but a handful of users are left with a 3G device for the foreseeable future. In 3G mode it runs off Sprint’s Rev. A network and it of course supports all the Wi-Fi standards for local connectivity. Other connectivity options include GPS, NFC and Bluetooth 4.0.

We had some delay issues with the stock browser on the HTC One X, but those issues are all but gone on the EVO 4G LTE. At times the rendering takes half of a second, during which you’re left with a half blank page, but we appreciate the refocusing the browser does to make text readable. For instance, if you were to double-click in between two news stories on our homepage, the browser instantly zooms there, but then snaps to the story headline and reformats the text so you can read it. If you’re not too fond of the rendering then there are many capable browsers in the Play Store, including Google Chrome Beta.





Camera:

One of the main features of the HTC EVO 4G LTE is the 8 megapixel camera. There is a lot of technology packed into the tiny sensor, including back side illumination, an f2.0 aperture with 28mm wide angle lens, a smart LED flash that adjusts to lighting conditions and a dedicated image processing chip HTC dubs ImageChip. The entire software/hardware combo is referred to as ImageSense, and is supposed to revolutionize cell phone photography. It is a good camera, and at times it is a very good camera, but it is certainly not a great camera. Colors are oversaturated and some of our images turned out dark. In decent outdoor light the EVO 4G LTE is capable of producing high quality pictures, but once the lights go down ImageSense begins to struggle, especially indoors. Grain appears, details get blurry and the overall picture quality suffers greatly. This is nothing new for cell phones, and even many digital cameras, but the EVO 4G LTE (nor the One X) is not the total point and shoot replacement HTC bills it as.




The camera options are plentiful, with many different filters and shooting modes. The panorama sweep shot works very well and is simple to use. HDR shooting is available for all the hipster amateur photographers out there. Continuous shooting takes 20 pictures in rapid succession while you hold the shutter button and then allows you to choose the best of the lot, which is great for fast action shots. The shutter speed is as close to instant as we’ve seen, even better than the Amaze 4G’s zero shutter lag camera.

One of our gripes about the HTC One X was that while it was capable of recording 1080p it only does so at 23fps. Thankfully the video we captured with the EVO 4G LTE was at a higher 29fps, but the video was not without problems of its own. As you can hear in the beginning, the sound pickup had issues (our video actually started a few seconds before we began talking). Despite the higher fps, the video still wasn’t exceptionally smooth and it also had trouble focusing when switching between fields. ImageSense allows you to take pictures while recording video (use the shutter button above the red recording light) but that also extends to media playback, so you can grab a screen capture after the fact as well.

HTC EVO 4G LTE Sample Video:



Multimedia:

With a 4.7” 720p display and Beats Audio integrated throughout the phone the HTC EVO 4G LTE delivers a top-notch media experience. The new HTC Music app lets you add shortcuts to other apps (presumably you’d add other music options like Google Play Music or Pandora, but you can add any app you’d like) and integrates with Soundhound to get more detailed info on your music. The phone unfortunately does not come bundled with Beats headphones like the Rezound did, but they are not required for the Beats experience. Music sounded wonderful with our Bose over the hear headphones with both rich bass and clear highs.


Videos looked wonderful on the large, high resolution display. The EVO 4G LTE was able to handle all the different file types we threw at it (DivX, XviD, H.264 and MPEG-4) in all manner of resolutions. The stock video player has some tricks up its sleeve, like the aforementioned image capture, and the HTC Movie Editor app lets you edit your video clips on the go.





Performance:

The HTC EVO 4G LTE is the first phone with HD voice technology, but much like LTE it is a dormant feature until the network supports it. Still, callers said we sounded “pretty amazing,” rating the EVO 4G LTE a 9/10 and calling it the best phone we’ve ever tested. It wasn’t “quite landline quality, but it’s pretty darn good.” Callers sounded fantastic on our end as well, with natural voice reproduction and plenty volume. Speakerphone performance was also relatively good, and though the caller could tell we had switched to speaker they still could hear us loud and clear.

HTC does not provide a battery rating for the EVO 4G LTE, and many concerns have been about the fixed battery. It is a beefy 2000mAh, but with such a large and bright display to power those concerns are warranted. After our first full charge we were able to achieve around 7.5 hours of good, solid use on the phone and still had 25% of the battery remaining. That isn’t great, but it’s also not bad and would get the average user through the day. What worries us is that was on 3G, and when LTE comes around things are likely to get worse.  Unfortunately we have a bit to wait before we can find that out.

Conclusion:

The HTC EVO 4G LTE is undoubtedly one of the best Android devices available right now. A lot of time went into the design, features and software of Sprint’s new flagship and it shows. It is wonderfully crafted with elegant software to match. The processor flies, the display is downright beautiful, and both multimedia and phone sound quality are amazing. There are shortcomings, such as questions about the battery, lack of an LTE network to run on and at times the camera is not up to par, but all around we don’t have much to complain about. The HTC EVO 4G LTE is a worthy flagship in Sprint’s lineup, and when LTE finally does launch it will make an already fast phone even faster.

Software: 1.13.651.1 710RD
Android 4.0.3
Sense 4.0

HTC EVO 4G LTE Review:





Pros

  • Beautiful 4.7” 720p S-LCD2 display
  • Elegant design and use of premium materials
  • Fantastic voice quality
  • Blazing fast UI performance
  • Return of the kickstand!

Cons

  • No LTE network to run on
  • Camera is generally good, but not always up to par
  • Non-removable battery

PhoneArena Rating:

8.5

User Rating:

9.0
18 Reviews

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless