Sprint EVO 4G LTE Review

evo

The HTC EVO 4G LTE is coming to Sprint and it brings the much-vaunted One Series to the Now Network. In this review, we’ll see how good this LTE-enabled phone really is.

The Good
  • This phone feels like a premium device.
  • The camera takes great pictures.
  • The design feels one-of-a-kind.
The Bad
  • The Sprint 4G LTE network is virtually nonexistent.
  • The unique design isn't for everyone.
  • Sense 4.0 may not appeal to all.

Hardware

The EVO 4G LTE is essentially the same innards as the One X but you couldn't tell that from the design. This phone packs in a ton of horsepower in a very exciting package. Love it or hate it, the EVO 4G LTE has a unique design which is quite eye-catching.

Design

You can definitely see the DNA of the EVO series in this phone, whether it's the large speaker above the screen or the probably-useless kickstand.  I think it could eventually be a polarizing design but I have to give HTC credit for trying something new.

The 4.7-inch 720p HD display sports IPS technology and takes up most of the face of the device along with the aforementioned large speaker and the back, home and multitasking button underneath it. There's a silver trim along the device and the right spine sports a single volume rocker and the large, grey camera button. The top has the power/unlock button and a standard headphone jack, while the left spine has a standard microUSB port.

The back of the EVO 4G LTE is where things get interesting, as it's a collage of different colors and textures. The red kickstand separates two different-looking parts of the back: the bottom portion is a matte greyish black and the top is a glossy pure black. I thought it looked really weird the first time I saw it.

As I lived with it though, I began to appreciate the EVO 4G LTE more. I'm sure that some of you out there may prefer a more traditional design, though. I do prefer the look and feel of the One X more but the EVO 4G LTE is still a premium device.

Then there's that bloody kickstand. The EVO 4G brought the kickstand to our collective conscious with modern smartphones and I'm still not sold. The EVO 4G LTE's kickstand works well and looks good but I don't see much use for it. If I'm watching movies on my phone, it's generally in a public transportation situation where I can't lay it down and if I'm on a plane I'll use a tablet or a computer.

The one good use case I've heard of is to have the kickstand turn this phone into one of the coolest nightstand alarm clocks. Your mileage may vary on the kickstand but I'd rather see it disappear and make the device thinner.

Build Quality

One of the reasons I can handle the "interesting" design is because the EVO 4G LTE is an incredibly well-built phone. The EVO 4G LTE is a premium device that feels spectacular in your hand.

Because it's a 4.7-inch screen, the device is somewhat long compared to something like an iPhone but it's slim, light and easy to operate with one hand. I'm not terribly concerned about

Guts And Glory

The HTC EVO 4G LTE is powered by a dual-core Qualcomm SnapDragon S4 and this powerhouse chip hasn't let me down so far. For the most part, the EVO 4G LTE performed like a champ and I'm confident that this will continue to be the case for the life of the contract.

There's not much lacking when it comes to the guts, as you get the GPS, Bluetooth, 8-megapixel camera with ImageSense technology and nearly everything else you'd want in a device like this. The LTE radio is supposed to be a great thing but the nearly-nonexistent Sprint LTE network can lead to some problems (more on that below).

Otherwise, the HTC EVO 4G LTE is packed with all you power you could want for surfing the web, watching videos, playing games and making calls and texts. It's all crammed in to a sleek design, too.

Software

The HTC EVO 4G LTE runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich with Sense 4 and the overall experience isn't that much different than that of the One X, so I encourage you to read that review. For those unfamiliar, Android is an extremely powerful and flexible platform that is every bit the equal of iOS in most ways and it's drop-dead simple to make calls, browse the web, download new apps and use media. I still say iOS has a bit more overall polish than Android but Google's platform has a lot going for it.

The Google Play store is filled with a variety of apps and while some may not be as pretty as its iOS sibling, we're seeing a lot of app makers pump out beautiful Android products. You also have the added advantage of being able to use widgets and third-party apps can easily integrate to many of the phone's core operations. If you want to share a photo to Facebook on the iPhone, you have to launch the app first and then either take the picture or pick one from your gallery. With Android, it's as simple as launching your camera, taking the picture and then choosing to share with Facebook (if you have it installed).

The EVO 4G LTE has Sense built on top of Android and it does a lot of things right to make the Android experience a bit prettier. Those of you who love stock Android aren't going to be swayed by this but it's still pretty solid. You get the quick-launching apps from the home screen, a Dropbox hookup, Beats Audio and other HTC services.

I think I was just so in love with the One X to really drill down on some things that bother me on Sense 4 and one is kind of major: the multitasking button. When you hit this on a stock Android, little tiles are overlaid on your screen and you can click on them to switch to an app or slide it to kill it. HTC's multitasking button brings you to a separate screen and you flick up to dismiss apps. I just think the stock way is a bit more efficient.

It's a Sprint phone so you can expect some Sprint software on this bad boy, as it comes preloaded with the Sprint Zone but there's not too much "bloatware," thankfully.

The software on the EVO 4G LTE is worthy of the sexy hardware.

Web Browser, Multimedia And Camera

Web Browser

The EVO 4G LTE uses the Android browser with a few tweaks and it's pretty solid. I don't like the way it handles tabs because you have to go to a separate screen to manage these but I've downloaded Chrome for Android and haven't looked back. Either way, text and images look good on that large screen and it can handle most modern web technologies. It also has some good auto-zooming and wrapping on text, which is something that's still lacking in some devices.

The weird thing about the EVO 4G LTE is that I can't use LTE at all because it's not yet live in San Francisco or New Orleans (the two cities I've been since I've used this device). There's also no WiMax fallback in this so you're stuck on Sprint's CDMA 3G network and I've found this to be quite slow. Maybe I'm just used to 4G now but using data can be a pain - I've gotten some abysmal speeds in both cities.

The upside is that Sprint plans to roll out its LTE network shortly and it should be available in most major markets mid-way through your contract with the EVO 4G LTE. But without that, it's just an EVO on a slow, slow network and that's kind of a shame.

Multimedia

The HTC EVO 4G LTE is a high-quality media device and Android gets better on this front every day. The screen is bright, big and pretty nice (a slight bit of over saturation on colors for my taste) for watching videos and you're given a variety of content options. You can use the HTC Watch service to buy movies and the Google Play store also offers many things to watch.

You can also look forward to Beats Audio built in for some improvements to the audio quality. I use a ton of third-party apps like Spotify, Pandora and Stitcher to get the most out of the audio side of things and these all run well on HTC's latest phone.

Camera

The HTC EVO 4G LTE has an amazing camera. The ImageSense technology that debuted in the One X comes to this Sprint superphone and it's a really good thing. Pictures snap almost instantaneously and you can even snap photos while you're recording 1080p HD videos. I'm not in love with the low-light performance or the ability to zoom and maintain a high quality but you're going to love the camera on the EVO 4G LTE.

 

EVO 4G LTE samples

EVO 4G LTE samples

 

EVO 4G LTE samples

Call Quality And Battery Life

The HTC EVO 4G LTE comes with the highly-touted HD Voice and it really does make a big difference in the call quality but it requires both parties to have HD Voice, which is still a ways away. When it's working, this greatly reduces background noise and it sounds good enough to make me actually want to use voice calls again.

Even without the HD Voice, the call quality with the EVO 4G LTE is pretty solid. I could hear those on the other end clearly and was told my voice was coming through with the proper amount of volume. You could tell I was using a smartphone but it wasn't anything bad.

The battery life has been kind of tricky for me, as I first got the device during a 2 1/2 hour photo-shooting tour and the battery drained like crazy. Now that I've been using it outside of that situation, it seems to have "grown into" its normal battery life, which is pretty much your standard full work day. I don't know how this will be impacted when I'm actually using 4G LTE, though.

The Final Take

It's still kind of weird that the HTC EVO 4G LTE launched before there's any Sprint 4G LTE network. We know it's coming to Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio but the rest of the footprint is unclear. I guess you can take solace in the fact that the network should be built out mid-way through your contract but Sprint's CDMA 3G network just seems painfully slow.

It's a shame too, as the HTC EVO 4G LTE is a beautifully-designed piece of technology. Love or hate the back cover and kickstand, it's an eye-catching device that can be put up against any of the top phones out there. It's definitely the best Android phone on Sprint and if there was a real 4G LTE network, it would probably be better than the iPhone.

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  • DJ

    The only people that hate on the kickstand are people who do not have a kickstand.  I use it all the time.

  • Tino Q.

    I have a kickstand on my Motorola Photon 4G and I use it all the time! So I have no idea why you don’t like it, oh well, your loss since you now belong to the isheep croud!

    • Marin

      I don’t like it and don’t find a use for it. Doesn’t mean you can’t. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Dawson/611490577 Chris Dawson

    How would it probably be better than the iphone if it had LTE. Some Iphones (maybe all of them)doesn’t have LTE either. All LTE is faster internet but a bigger battery drain. If it better its better. Why are people so iphone bias? I do have both devices too. You know which is one truly is more powerful and has more features.

    • Marin

      Not talking about the iPhone, just comparing it to other Android phones like the One X. Having LTE is amazing and the latest crop of devices do a better job at battery life. I miss 4G LTE when I go back on the iPhone, too. 

  • http://briefmobile.com/ Korey Nicholson

    You know, even with the kickstand, the device is thinner than the One X :-P

  • Lyndalyn13

    how do u take the battery out help!!!!!!!

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