- Reception and call quality No comments
- Display No comments
- Battery life No comments
- Camera No comments
- Ease of use No comments
- Design and form factor No comments
- Portability (size / weight) No comments
- Media support No comments
- Durability No comments
- Ecosystem (apps, accessories, etc.) No comments
And you can probably guess what I thought. When you have a great piece of hardware that can't make a call when more than 15 people also on AT&T are within a quarter-mile radius of you, it is frustrating as can be.
So when I heard about the HTC Evo 4G, coming from Sprint, I was counting down the days. I had been a Sprint consumer for 8 years, from my first cell phone, and apart from a few known dead areas (like, say, the Coventry area in Cleveland), the service was great.
So I headed over to Best Buy on June 4, launch day, and picked one up, bidding adieu to AT&T. And now it's 17 days in, and with Sprint's great 30 day money-back guarantee, I am facing a tough decision on whether to possibly return it and pick up an iPhone 4...with the good and the bad (AT&T) that will come with it.
Why even think about it?
Here's my rundown of the Evo.
First: service. Where I live (Chicago), there is no contest. Sprint service is way better, more reliable, and faster than AT&T. Especially where it counts, sitting on my own couch in my own apartment.
Hardware. First of all, most people know the basic specs here. The huge 4.3" screen is gorgeous and certainly bright enough to be seen in direct sunlight. No complaints whatsoever. Some have said that the screen size makes the phone size unbearable, but to be honest I don't think it ever feels "too" big. Big, for sure, but not uncomfortably big. I had a Palm Treo 650--and THAT was big.
The back feels has a rubberized texture, and is very nice. Overall the phone feels very solid, and I haven't seen any of the "light leekage" that has been reported in some cases. (And I don't mean Poise pads.)
The kickstand is solid--and I can actually see it being pretty useful, because the screen is amazing. But here is the part that makes me nervous. In some early reviews, it was noted that the camera protrudes out the back a bit, and the glass surface of the camera is flush with the end--meaning that it will touch anything you lay the phone down on. Because of this, I'm paranoid about putting the Evo down on anything that could scratch it (think a granite countertop, or any metal or stone surface. This is a bit nerveracking, but in 2 weeks no problem. One article tested the scratching of the screen at great length and found that it just wouldn't scratch. Maybe that's the same as the camera. But it's not worth me finding out.
On/off button on top, four buttons (home, menu, back, search) on bottom, and volume rocker on side. A standard headphone/microphone jack (more on this later) and a micro-USB charging/connection port, and an HDMI out for hooking the phone up to an HDTV. (A feature I think may be pretty close to useless.)
I used the headphone/microphone combo on my iPhone a lot, and found it just didn't work very well on the Evo. Either the person on the other end of the line couldn't hear me, or I accidentally redialed the last caller unexplainably while listening to Pandora or something. A bit annoying.
Regarding software and the interface, lots to discuss. I'd never used the Android platform before and being the geek that I am, I was looking forward to the open system. And it is pretty cool. I'm not expert enough to tell you what is HTC's Sense software, and what the Android 2.1 (no 2.2 yet on this machine) is, so this will just talk about it overall.
First--LOVE the widgets. Tons of things you can do besides just have the little icons to open apps--tons of ways to use the apps from just within a widget. Amazing and why doesn't the iPhone have this?
Hate the music player. And the podcast player. One of my most hated things about my iPhone is that there was no way to make it automatically download podcasts every morning so I can listen to them on my commute. I had heard Android can do this--or has apps that can. And yet despite me googling and trying several different podcast apps, I just can't get this to work well. Or at all.
I also miss the ease of being able to use iTunes to manage my music and easily sync songs and playlists straight to the phone. You have to drag and drop music onto the HTC--and that doesn't sound like much fun.
Camera--takes good pictures, the video camera is good too. Easy uploads to Youtube or Facebook--but some functionality doesn't exist--namely tagging a photo on Facebook. Weird but I couldn't figure it out.
Apps: The Android store is certainly more democratic than the App Store. And that has its good and bad points. There are LOTS of apps for some things--and some are pretty lousy. There's not a clear way to see what are the most downloaded, etc., to give you some idea of what might be the best, say Twitter app. (I've been using Tweetcaster and it's pretty decent). I downloaded some apps that would never be allowed on the iPhone, or at least not for free (like an NES emulator and a police scanner).
Sprint Hotspot: Right now I've been using the functionality to use the phone as a mobile hotspot for free, but I understand that Sprint might be adding a $30 monthly fee if you want to use this. It worked great for me --literally in my office one day our network was down and I was able to work (including VPN) through my laptop and my Evo. Amazing.
4G: VERY fast, I have gotten speeds about 3000kpbs at some points (faster than most reviews I've seen). However, I've turned 4G off quite a bit due to the battery life.
Wi-Fi--also eats up battery life when searching for a signal, I think. Plus a weird phenomenon--I can't get it to hook up to my home network if the network isn't broadcasting the SSID. (If it's hidden.) Not sure at all why.
Sprint TV: Pretty amazing, I watched the US vs. Slovenia in the World Cup the other day while golfing 18 holes. And it was damn clear and fast and easy to watch outside.
FM Radio is a nice addition, cool music apps (Pandora, last.fm, iheartradio, shazam) pretty much the same as the iPhone. Facebook app--not great, but okay. Twitter apps, pretty decent.
Moving apps around, putting in folders, etc, all pretty great. My wallpaper is wider than long (it's Ohio Stadium and Script Ohio), and as you flick from screen to screen, the wallpaper moves with it, from end zone to end zone. Pretty cool. GPS works great and is very exact. The maps and navigation software is great.
Pinch the home screen, and all the screens appear small, and you can choose which one to jump to...or just swipe from screen to screen like on the iPhone.
Notification bar on top, can drag down like a windowshade to see details--brilliant.
So what's not to like?
First, what everyone is talking about, the battery life. I had one very scary exhibition. I unplugged my Evo one afternoon at work at about 3pm, fully charged. Didn't use much at all, and went to play tennis at 6pm inside a building (i.e. probably away from a good signal, certainly a good 4G signal). At 7:30 when I was done, my phone was red hot and the battery was at 6%, and it died shortly after. I couldn't believe it and was convinced I'd be taking it back right after that.
However, the next morning I noticed that Best Buy included a couple pages of information about how to maximize battery life. And you know what?, They actually work pretty well. First--disable 4G unless you really need it. This baby cooks on 3G alone--and unless you are streaming serious video or downloading files/podcasts/etc. you don't need 4G all the time, because if it can't find a strong signal, that eats up battery super fast. That, and apps in the background, I think were the culprit. I only use 4G when necessary, and I don't use Wi-Fi all that often either (since it would be searching quite often as well), and tweaked the background updates and syncing, and I've been getting mostly all-day usage with no problem.
But the truth remains, if you play on the phone a lot, it's not going to last you all day. I imagine if you listen to Pandora or MP3s, it might not as well.
And that is the main reason I'm considering swapping it for the iPhone 4G.
The other main reason is the iTunes integration, or lack of it on the Evo. Sure, it doesn't have to be iTunes, but I want to handle my music collection easily to the Evo, and I don't know if that's possible right now.
So I have a week and a half to decide still. We'll see.
3 people find this review helpful