HTC EVO 4G Review
This is how it was supposed to go. Back in November of 2007 Google announced their Android operating system and the game was supposed to change. A year later T-Mobile and HTC released the platform’s first handset, the G1. We had high hopes, to say the least, but the impact was not immediate. The revolution grew slowly, but now it is coming to a head. HTC brought their Sense UI to Android with the Hero, but the first major blow across Apple’s bow was the Motorola DROID, followed by the Nexus One and most recently the HTC DROID Incredible. All this was a prelude to what’s next: say hello to the HTC EVO 4G.
The EVO 4G has specs that are unmatched by any phone before it: 4G connectivity, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, HDMI out, HD video capture, dual cameras including an 8 megapixel main sensor, 4.3” display, mobile hotspot, YouTube HD, kickstand…the list goes on. All of this is backed by Sprint’s growing 4G network which gives users up to 10x the speed of 3G. This, finally, is a phone that can go toe-to-toe with the iPhone and beat it. Handily. It's fast, it's personal, it's glorious. Included with the EVO 4G you’ll get an AC adapter and data cable, as well as an 8GB microSD card.
The HTC EVO 4G is very similar in design to the HD2, but when you have a 4.3” screen there isn’t much else you can do with the phone. Instead of physical buttons as on the HD2, the HTC EVO 4G has four flush capacitive buttons: Home, Menu, Back and Search. These buttons work flawlessly, unlike the Nexus One which gave us problems and had to be touched just so. At the top is the silver earpiece grill, and to the right of that is the small front-facing 1.3MP camera. The rest of the phone is equally simplistic: a volume rocker resides on the right side, the top houses the 3.5mm headphone jack and power button and the bottom features the microUSB and HDMI ports. The side buttons all offer good travel, and while the volume rocker raises more prominently from the housing both it and the power button are easy to operate on feel alone.
You can compare the HTC EVO 4G with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
The back of the HTC EVO 4G houses its 8 megapixel camera near the top, with the dual LED flash to the camera’s left and the phone’s single speaker to the right. Near the bottom is the aluminum kickstand. The spring-assisted hinge is very smooth and solid, and we don’t foresee any issues with it loosening up as time goes by. The microSD slot is placed under the battery and has a unique latch mechanism that makes it pretty difficult to remove, but with an 8GB card most users won't be taking it out and the ones who do probably will do so only once. Unlike the HD2, the battery door covers the entire back housing and is coated in soft touch paint. Underneath is Ferrari-red, but this only slips out around the camera and when the kickstand is deployed. Earlier prototypes had a red earpiece grill, but unfortunately this has been replaced with silver- likely because the DROID Incredible features a red grill. In any case the EVO 4G is a good looking device; it blends the sheer masculinity of the DROID with the graceful lines of the iPhone to create a look all its own.
Then there is the 4.3” capacitive display, which absolutely takes over the HTC EVO 4G. It is bright and crisp and reading text on the EVO 4G is a dream. While it has received some flack for not being AMOLED we didn’t notice a real difference from the Nexus One, and the EVO’s TFT display was more usable in direct sunlight. Our complaint is that HTC continues to only use 65K color displays. With devices like the iPhone, Pre and DROID sporting 16M colors we don’t think that at least 262K is too much to ask for. You won’t look at the HTC EVO 4G and lament the display, but we’d bet if shoppers put it side-by-side with the Pre the difference would be noticeable to a discerning eye.
At 6 ounces the EVO 4G is undoubtedly on the heavy side, but feels surprisingly good in the hand. The weight is well distributed and it feels more solid than the Nexus One did when holding it one-handed, though the EVO feels most comfortable when held two-handed. The size will obviously be a drawback for those with petite hands, but the phone didn’t overwhelm our medium-sized mitts. It is thinner than Sprint’s Hero and feels surprisingly similar in the pocket. The build quality is top notch, and with no moving parts the EVO 4G is definitely one of the most well put-together phones we’ve ever reviewed. There is no brushed aluminum or unibody, but the EVO is without a doubt a premium device.
To sum it up in a word the HTC EVO 4G is stunning. It will be noticed, and it will be lusted after. Until now we’ve always given the title of best hardware to the iPhone 3GS, but there is a new undisputed heavyweight champion in town. And that’s before you even turn it on.