Technology

Sprint HTC Evo Review – 4G is here…Sort of

HTC EvoI am a geek for new gadgets so needless to say I was pumped for the release of the HTC EVO. As a Sprint customer who was in the market for a new phone, the timing was right. Who wouldn’t want a 4G smartphone that does everything and fast?

First off let me just say that by purchasing the HTC EVO from Sprint I broke my first rule. A great rule to live by is that one should never buy the first version of any new technology. Gadgets with as much hype as the EVO are usually rushed and buggy until the second or even third generation model corrects the flaws. As I said earlier, being in the market for a new phone it just seemed like an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.

In case you didn’t read one of the 900 Sprint press releases for the HTC EVO, the baby is jacked! The HTC EVO is 4.3-inch, 800 x 480-pixel screen. The big selling point about the EVO is the 4G WiMax with wireless hotspot powers. In addition to the phone, you get a 8-megapixel, 720p video camera which is better than your mom’s digital camera she got two years ago for the holidays. The EVO also has a cool kick stand which allows you to prop her up for video chatting or watching television. The EVO also has a front-facing camera for video chat and boasts a 1 GHz processor. Not too shabby for a mobile phone.

My first reaction when I welcomed my new EVO was how small it is. The EVO looked really clunky to me in pictures so I was pleasantly surprised. It is a little heavier than I expected but not too bad. The default home screen features a big clock and your local weather. The running GPS in the phone gives you a current weather status and location. The weather default setting is to update every 4 hours which could make your weather report drastically inaccurate at times. Go in and change the setting to one hour for a more accurate forecast. The color and brightness of the home screen really give the phone a catchy look upon first glance.

The EVO allows you to customize app shortcuts to the desktop. If I was going to be picky (and I will since this is a review), the clock and weather area is too big. You only have the option to place eight shortcuts on the home screen, whereas I can place 16 on my iPod’s home screen. Considering that most EVO users will probably download dozes of apps, that is kind of weak. It also wasn’t easy to figure out how to move your apps around. As a matter of a fact, it isn’t easy to figure out how to do anything on this phone. Unlike my previous phone a Moto Q9C, I really needed to go digging whenever I wanted to do something on the EVO.

Setting up things was really quite a pain in the rear, email in particular. On my previous phone, I typed in my email address and it already had presets for every major email carrier and did the grunt work. Not the EVO. I had a really hard time setting up my Comcast email. I actually had to do a bit of research and find a forum which broke down all of the settings. Additionally, it wasn’t until later in the day until I figured out how to customize the email settings (frequency, sounds, etc.). In all fairness, once everything was setup the email has worked much better than on any other cell phone I ever owned.

Most people got the EVO because of the speed. I am in a 4G area, so I used 4G most of the time. I am really not that impressed. It doesn’t seem any faster at all than the last cell phone I ran on the Sprint 3G network. As a matter of a fact, it moves slower at times. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but that is just a fact. My brother also got an EVO and he was having a really difficult time connecting to the 4G network even though he is in a 4G area. All in all I am not that impressed with the 4G speed.

If you like apps than this is your phone. Once you tap the marketplace icon you are brought to a huge Android app market. It is almost identical to when you look for apps in the iTunes store. There are a lot of free apps to go along with the multitude of paid apps. The marketplace can get a little too robust at times. I typed in keyboard and saw tons of results. I didn’t even know where to start. It is very easy to use though once you find what you are looking for. If you find something you like it, you click install, and it installs quickly on your phone. Sprint even offers a 24-hour money back guarantee if you buy an app and you don’t like it. You can’t beat that.

I downloaded a ton of apps, but I only find that I use a handful of them. Here are a few free apps that I would recommend.

– Coupons
– Dolphin Browsers
– Facebook
– Pandora Radio
– Advanced Task Killer
– ASTRO
– Battery Status Pro
– Google Sky Map
– Google Maps
– Navigation
– Twitter
– The Weather Channel
– WordPress (for bloggers like me)
– Thick Buttons

As far as essentials, I would put Thick Buttons right at the top. Thick Buttons gives you bigger buttons for texting and emailing. On a touch screen, the keys can’t get big enough for me. You do need to go into your settings and make this a default, but Thick Buttons outlines great instructions. Typing on such a big screen with Thick Buttons is a lot easier than I thought it would be. The other essential is Advanced Task Killer. Advanced Task Killer is a task manager which allows you to kill off a bunch of apps that are running and wasting battery life. Apps seem to have a life of their own sometimes and turn on for whatever reason. You will be surprised at how much battery time you save with this app.

Speaking of the battery, I am mixed on it. Users who run 4G will soak the life out of their battery pretty quickly. On a full charge I was down to 50% after four hours and I barely used the phone. Since I don’t see much of a difference between 4G and 3G, I wound up switching to 3G as a default and it made a huge difference. I don’t see the need for 4G unless you are streaming videos or plugged in to an outlet. 3G will save you a ton of battery life, which is disappointing since the appeal of this phone is the 4G network and we all want to use it. I’d bet the next generation EVO fixes this like the iPhone did.

Here is another little tip I can give you which made life a lot easier for me when it came to typing. Turn off all of the text suggestions. The EVO just goes nuts when you start to type with all kinds of word suggestions. It can get a little out of hand to the point where you are spending way too much time trying to type a simple email or text. Once I turned off the suggestions in the settings it made typing much more efficient whether I was texting or emailing.

I had one weird experience with the EVO that almost made me take it back and go crawling back to my Q. I plugged my EVO into my PC and things got a little crazy. My computer didn’t recognize the hardware so I went to HTC’s page to find their drivers and they have no drivers out for the EVO. I unplugged my EVO and it froze. Fantastic! I then removed the battery and put the battery back and a weird white screen with reboot options popped up. I had a friend who works for Sprint walk me through it but this is something I didn’t expect on the first day of a phone I paid $300 for. To be fair, this hasn’t happened since but once is enough.

My Bluetooth headset has been a bit glitchy with the EVO. For one thing, it took forever to set up as the EVO just wasn’t picking up my headset. Every now and then the headset disconnects without warning. Today I had a call come through and while I thought my headset was connected, it wasn’t. Quite frankly this is getting to be a little frustrating. My Q was no angel, but I never had any issues whatsoever with my Bluetooth headset.

The EVO offers a ton of customizable settings. The problem is figuring out how to use them. Once again, nothing is easy. Even trying to do the simplest of tasks is hard to figure out. Since the EVO is so new, there isn’t a whole lot of information on it. I consider myself pretty tech savvy so it is almost a sin to have to refer to a manual for instructions on how to do something. Unfortunately I have had to refer to the manual constantly for simple tweaks and half of the time the manual is even too vague. They really need to make future generations of the EVO more user-friendly in my opinion.

The EVO is a phone so I have to talk about the phone quality. I think it is great. I have no qualms at all about the quality of the calls. The design makes it really easy to hold up and use if you aren’t on a headset. The EVO plan allows free calls to any mobile phone no matter who the carrier is, so that is a really nice perk. The EVO also allows you to sync your contacts to their Facebook and Twitter accounts like the iPhone does.

I can sit here and break down every feature for you but honestly, I haven’t used them all. All in all I’d say it is a pretty killer piece of technology. It is a bit pricey at $300 but you do get a $100 rebate out of that. The phone plan is also a bit steep, but you get unlimited 4G data usage, free GPS, unlimited text/email, and free mobile to mobile call so all in all it is a pretty decent bundle.

Overall, I’d recommend it with caution. It is a great phone, but your bill will go up and if you don’t think you are going to use all of that data than stick with something a little less intense. I wish the phone was a little more user friendly, and hopefully future versions will rectify that. If you love surfing the web and taking pictures on your phone, run to your local Sprint store and snatch an EVO. Once you pick it up, you’ll never want to use another smartphone again.

Order the HTC EVO 4G Android Phone (Sprint) off of Amazon.com today to take advantage of the $100 rebate.


Eric G.

Eric is the owner and editor-in-chief of the Camel Clutch Blog. Eric has worked in the pro wrestling industry since 1995 as a ring announcer in ECW and a commentator/host on television, PPV, and home video. Eric also hosted Pro Wrestling Radio on terrestrial radio from 1998-2009. Check out some of Eric's work on his IMDB bio and Wikipedia. Eric has an MBA from Temple University's Fox School of Business.

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