4G

HTC EVO 4G review: Everything you need to know

You've probably heard the hype swirling around Sprint's HTC EVO 4G smartphone. Here's the full scoop, from a business and IT perspective.

By now you've probably heard the hype swirling around Sprint's HTC EVO 4G smartphone. It's the first 4G smartphone on the market, it's the most fully-loaded device in this category, and it breaks the mold by creating a phone that is larger-rather than smaller and thinner-than the standard devices that currently dominate the market.

Here is TechRepublic's review of the EVO, from a business and IT perspective.

Rather than overwhelming you with a long narrative, TechRepublic product reviews give you exactly the information you need to evaluate a product, along with plenty of photos, a list of competing products, and links to more information. You can find more reviews like this one on our Product Spotlight page.

Specifications

  • Carrier: Sprint
  • OS: Android 2.1, with HTC Sense UI
  • Processor: 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon (QSD8650)
  • RAM: 512 MB
  • Storage: 1GB ROM; 8GB microSD slot (replaceable, up to 32GB card)
  • Display: 4.3-inch WVGA with 800x480 resolution, 65K colors
  • Battery: Lithium-ion with 1500 mAh capacity
  • Charger: Micro-USB
  • Weight: 6 ounces
  • Dimensions: 4.8 x 2.6 x 0.5 inches
  • Camera: 8MP with auto-focus, dual LED flash, and video capture; also 1.3MP front-facing camera
  • Sensors: Accelerometer, GPS, digital compass, proximity sensor, light sensor
  • Keyboard: Virtual QWERTY keyboard only
  • Networks: CDMA 800/1900MHz, EVDO Rev. A, WiMAX 2.5-2.7GHz; 802.16e, Wi-Fi 802.11bg
  • Tethering: USB + mobile Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Price: $199 (with 2-year contract)

Photo gallery

HTC EVO 4G: The Hummer of smartphones

Who is it for?

The HTC EVO 4G is a high-end smartphone aimed at knowledge workers that need the latest mobile capabilities, from a 1GHz CPU to an 8 megapixel camera to a 4G WiMAX connection to the largest display you'll find on a smartphone. The mobile hotspot option is another valuable feature that can offer a lot of value to road warriors by allowing them to use their smartphone in place of a MiFi or a mobile broadband card to connect a laptop and other devices to the Web.

What problems does it solve?

The biggest factor holding back high-powered smartphones is the speed limitations of the mobile data networks. Even 3G connections offer barely broadband-level speeds. 2010 is the watershed year for 4G (WiMAX and LTE) hitting critical mass, and the HTC EVO is the first 4G-capable smartphone in the U.S., so it offers a peek at the future. When you combine a 4G connection with the mobile hotspot feature then the EVO can save you money (versus a smartphone + mobile broadband device), save you from having to carry an extra device, and offer the ability to connect multiple devices over Wi-Fi and still get a usable Internet connection. Even on 3G, Sprint typically offers respectable data speeds but connecting more than two devices will bog it down. The EVO's 4G WiMAX connection is the answer to that but it's limited to a couple dozen metro areas right now. However, Clearwire plans to launch WiMAX in about 20 additional markets by the end of 2010, including tech strongholds Boston, New York, and San Francisco.

Top features

  • Spec explosion - The EVO packs nearly all of the latest smartphone technology into a single device, and then adds future-leaning advances like a front-facing camera, Micro HDMI, and WiMAX. At the time of its release, the EVO is most advanced smartphone available on the market. And since Verizon has said that it does not plan to offer LTE-enabled phones in 2010, The EVO is likely to remain one of (if not the most) powerful 4G smartphone in the U.S. for the next six months. Even beyond that, when the next big Android phone hits the market, the EVO 4G is a device that should hold its own and remain a powerful and useful smartphone for the full length of a two-year mobile contract. Also, considering all of the features packed into the HTC EVO 4G, it still costs only $199, which is the same as the HTC Incredible and $100 cheaper than the top-of-the-line iPhone.
  • Android + HTC Sense - Android brings a burgeoning application ecosystem and the more polished Android 2.1 OS to the HTC Evo 4G. Meanwhile, HTC brings the Sense UI, which it originally developed to put lipstick on the pig of its Windows Mobile devices. HTC has taken the same look and feel and used it to design a bunch of Android widgets and a few apps. Admittedly, several aspects of HTC Sense have a more polished feel than the native Android widgets and UI features (see my HTC EVO 4G photo gallery for a look at several of the widgets). Of course, HTC Sense also adds a layer of complexity, and potentially fragmentation, on top of Android. When Google releases new updates to the Android OS, those updates will typically be delayed for HTC EVO 4G owners until HTC tests them and makes sure everything is compatible with the Sense UI.
  • Superior data network - Sprint already has one of the most reliable 3G data networks in the U.S., so if you want a pure data experience it is one of the top choices. If you add the rapidly-expanding Clearwire WiMAX network to it (Sprint is a Clearwire partner), then you've got access to the nation's fastest mobile broadband (in select cities) coupled with a reliable and widespread 3G data network. The one drawback to that is that 4G access is a mandatory $10 add-on to your Sprint wireless bill for the HTC EVO, even if you don't live in an area currently served by 4G and rarely (or never) travel to a 4G city.

What's wrong?

  • Big and bulky - While most smartphones are packing more power into slimmer, smaller, and lighter form factors, the HTC EVO bucks the trend and goes large. For example, it is larger than its cousin the HTC Incredible in virtually every way-height, width, depth, and weight. That can make the EVO a little heavy and awkward (see the size comparison photos with other devices in my HTC EVO 4G gallery.) There are a few good things about it being oversized, though. Reading on its 4.3-inch screen is easier because the type is so large, and its on-screen keyboard is about the best that I've typed on because of the additional size available on the large display.
  • Mediocre battery life - Android devices are known for battery life issues, often tied to its multitasking. But, part of the problem is due to the fact that, like the iPhone, Android is easy enough to use that its owners end up doing more with their Android smartphones and consequently burn through battery life faster than other mobile users. The EVO can be particularly hard on batteries, though. That's due to a lot of powerful extra features, a bunch of preloaded Sprint, HTC, and Android software that runs in the background, and the 4G connection (which can be particularly draining). As a result, there are already multiple articles to help you improve HTC EVO battery performance.

Bottom line for business

For executives, highly-mobile professionals, and IT administrators that need as much computing power as they can get on the go, the HTC EVO 4G delivers more than any device available at the time of its launch, and its 4G capabilities will keep it in the lead for a while, especially if WiMAX rolls out to all of the cities promised by the end of 2010.

If you can get past the added bulk of the HTC EVO 4G, you'll find that it's a very likeable and useable phone. And, for some, the additional screen size will be a benefit for reading and typing.

Of course, with this device you get the benefits of the Android ecosystem, as well as its drawbacks. By this time next month there will be a hot new Android smartphone grabbing all of the headlines and the EVO 4G will slide into the background. Meanwhile, when Google releases updates to Android (such as version 2.2 of the OS), the HTC devices like the EVO 4G will get stuck in a holding pattern until HTC thoroughly tests the updates with its software. That is very frustrating.

In the enterprise, we're still not seeing hardly any companies deploying Android devices--and certainly not in the kinds of volumes we see with BlackBerry or Nokia smartphones. Android is even lagging the iPhone in enterprise deployments, as Apple has made moves to cozy up to IT and many executives continue to push the iPhone from the top down.

However, with more and more workers selecting their own smartphones and a few enterprises starting to bite on Google Apps, Android is well positioned to make gains from those trends, and the HTC EVO 4G is now the king of the hill in Android land.

For instant analysis of tech news, follow my Twitter feed: @jasonhiner

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About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

36 comments
webexec
webexec

I love mine. I finally can use my phone to talk to people (even in the elevator!) compared to ATT. Drop ATT ASAP!

syra
syra

HTC Evo 4G has an aesthetic design that makes them the thinnest in their class. They offer quick response that captures flying moments, for high sensitivities and a number of functions that reduce noise for blur compensation that results in fantastic and sharp images.. http://www.gizmos360.com/htc-evo-4g-review.html

markomd
markomd

Too bad it's Sprint, Not Verizon. That's the same problem I have with the iPhone: Too bad it's AT&T, not Verizon. No doubt, all these problems will disappear in time. Meanwhile, I am happy with my MacBook Pro, my iPod and my Verizon cellphone.

irivlin
irivlin

I use a Blackberry Bold at the moment. I like the fact that e-mails are sent directly to the phone, by Blackberry's server. (I'm not that bothered about tight security, it's just simple to have the e-mails sent to the phone, rather than have to connect to the 'Net each time). Are there any other phones where similar e-mail facilities are available?

c.schneider
c.schneider

Looks kinda like the 'Son of Newton' to me. Anybody else see the resemblance???

visionary1usa
visionary1usa

Honestly - Bigger is overdue. I do not have huge hands - probably just normal for a guy - and yet the phone I have must have had a child in mind. If this had a slide-out keyboard, that would be even better... and a heavier battery would not bother me. I am from Texas... but I have heard many agree... smaller is not always better! ;-)

gbohrn
gbohrn

This looks like a good phone. I develop on Android and iPhone and carry a WinMobile as well so I'm not particularly biased. I use a Samsung Blackjack, HTC ADP2 (Test Phone) and an HTC Desire (current target). I'm pretty happy with my HTC. I've been looking ofr a larger phone as screen size IMHO sucks on my smartphones as it is too small for my sausage fingers and being a larger guy with a large head (6'2") I get tired of looking for a phone that actually fits my face. This phone looks like what I've been looking for. The HTC UI is great and having an 800x480 with a screen large enough for my sausage fingers to use on the softkey will make me quite happy.

alking46
alking46

Will it integrate with my Google contacts and calendar?

MCope
MCope

I am an IT Admin for a healthcare company. So my need for a smart phone comes in to play with email and voice as the high priority of the phone. Second is all of the other stuff like searching and browsing on the web. My first smart phone was the BB9000. I could not wait to get it. Now having used it for nearly two years under ATT. It does ok but has issues. As in quick battery drain especially if you have too many apps running or a heavy duty theme. The speaker on the phone is the worst ever. ATT abandoned the OS updates for the BB9000 hoping everyone would purchase a newer BB. So as far as I am concerned if the battery is a little short on life and a bit more bulky is the only issues, it sounds like the Evo has a good start. Lets face it all other smart phones have their short comings especially with the carriers that support them. I for one will get the EVO. Nice article Jason.

QAonCall
QAonCall

If you had YOUR choice of all the items out there and were buying today, which would you choose? I like smaller, and I am hesitant of Google due to their privacy issues and data retention, but I have become a fan of HTC, currently on Verizon, but not committed to them for any particular reason.

mrelajr
mrelajr

I agree... Verizon has the BEST "call" coverage bar none! Roaming or none roaming does not matter. If you're stuck in the desert or on the side of a mountain skiing, there is a good chance you can make the call and connect to whomever you choose. Network is not known for its speed, but it is reliable. Very High Tower Concentration. Sprint, has the Clearest calls (generally in Major Cities). Due to their digital network, but just like digital TV broadcast, either its on or its off. Data transfer "should" be higher / faster, again in major cities only. Tower concentration - OK, but increasing so I hear. AT&T, covers more people. So most likely when communicating with family & friends (work)life will be good. High tower concentration. Here it comes... The Proverbial "BUT"... In most cases it depends on the Market you're in and the receivers market. Often talking to co-workers, family and friends you can find the best provider for you. Verizon Rocks!!! But Sprint has the phone(s) of Choice.

jonrosen
jonrosen

For some things, yes. While I don't currently have a smartphone, or any particular plans to get one, I can speak somewhat from experience with another item. In this case the Nintendo DSi XL. I have BIG hands... no, not quite basketball-player palm-the-ball huge, but enough so that using a touch-screen for typing, or just holding some of the smaller devices (and yes, I've fiddled a bit with smartphones) just is annoying. I need something I can grip dammit. If I wanted to waste money on a smartphone, I'd be more inclined to the EVO, than an iPhone, of for size-only, not counting that I simply am not a fan of i-anything for various reasons.

hagbre
hagbre

If you get the EVO, you'll realize that the Pre was like a toy, or a kid phone. Although I initially liked the Pre and its Synergy, I think the EVO does it better. Its easier to link contacts to all the social networks and management of contacts is more intuitive. The size of EVO is a plus when it comes to contacts and the screen layout is much easier to use. The management of apps (adding and deleting) is easier as well. The larger screen is definately an advantage over the Pre. Finally, although both phones did multi-tasking, my experience with the Pre was that too many programs caused it to lag or erroneously tell me I had too many cards open (when I only had one open). EVO has a better processor and more memory so it handles multi-tasking much better.

bdskp
bdskp

it does a very good job of syncing with those Google services.

jasonhiner
jasonhiner

I really liked that first BlackBerry Bold, too. It was the first modern BlackBerry that could handle serious Web and multimedia tasks. In my experience, the EVO has a little bit better battery life than the Bold 9000, especially when you use the task killer to actively manage/monitor the running programs.

keiberb
keiberb

I own the HTC EVO, I got it the day it launched. It just worked out that I was in need of a new phone since I had broken my BB. The battery life is an issue, although in my experience, what smart phone has enough battery life to suit it's users? The size however is not in any way a drawback. At first look I wasn't fond of its size myself, but after using it I consider its size to be a plus. Which, might I add, has been the case with everyone that I have let hold it. Even though it's large it feels comfortable in your hands and the size is mostly to accommodate its large screen so I for one am not going to complain. All in all I was (and still am) very happy with it.

mrelajr
mrelajr

HTC EVO - To Buy Or Not To Buy? Background: 20 years in IT, BB Engineer trained by RIM and at one time sold cell phones for all the carriers mentioned in this Blog. Being an EVO owner from launch date, and a Smartphone owner from the days of the Samsung SPH-i330 (Awesome), along with various BB devices and the great Treo 755p. "I" like to believe I can offer some insight that some may or may not have. First, the EVO is an Awesome phone. Is it the Holy Grail of cell phones? No, but close. I'm sure newer Droid phones will eclipse the EVO as far features and looks, but the EVO is here now and is the 1st! There is now a new kid on the block, the Epic. Rich in features and is a good choice for those who want 4G, EVO's power and some of its features, smaller footprint, better display and Yes, a Keyboard. The Epic should be compared (non-biased please) to the iPhone 4 (now that would be worth reading about), but the EVO is still the Big Boy on the block. Even with its features the Epic or iPhone has yet to be called a "Super Phone", not my words but I do agree. It's like comparing the "Bugatti Veyron" to Ferrari or Lamborghini, all are Excellent automobiles. But REALLY, which would you love to drive on the Autobahn or cross-country US? But I digress, the HTC EVO is not for the faint at heart, or for those who like the status quo. The KISS principle does not apply to the EVO nor do I believe it was intended too. My Experience? EVO: Size - Yes... It is a large phone but not bulky and once held (actually using it) for a minute or two you will appreciate the size without question. BTW - it does fit in pants pockets (not recommend unless kids are no longer a option) and shirt pockets as well. EVO: Display, Size and Clarity? Size & Clarity is Great for anyone who currently uses a cell phone for work and all the needs / demands that go with it. The display is more than adequate for playing games and watching TV and/or movies. And Yes, the iPhone and Epic have better displays. EVO: Durability? Good (I dare to say, most likely not has good as the old BB Brick that you could drop from your waist (about 3 ft)). Chair and table tops drops to carpeted floors with no visible external distress or internal issues have been experienced. Parking lot drop (just once) to concrete. Still no issues, visible or otherwise. EVO: Speed? Can you say "Bugatti Veyron"? Now, there are always certain things (i.e. Active Apps) that will slow the EVO. For instance too many Apps (I have 44 x 4 rows of Apps) and it is not uncommon to have 15- 20 Apps in the background at any given time (auto Task Killer under Froyo not needed but I kept mine for obvious reasons). Oh yes, Live wallpaper, EarthRot, and Beautiful Widgets running as well. So, my guess I'm down to Ferrari or Porsche speed most of the time. EVO: Call Quality? Great to Excellent (clear) depending on the market area. i.e Denver, C-Springs, Boulder, H-Town, Dallas, Austin, N'Orleans, and Hot-Lanta markets being the best for me. New York, Chi-Town, St Louis, San Fran, Santa Rosa, LA, San Diego and Sacramento being the worst. In ALL locations I have experienced dropped calls. EVO: Kickstand? Watch TV/movie on a none EVO phone and then on EVO. Nothing else need be said. EVO: Camera? for an 8-megapixel camera it is disappointing. Why? My Expectation(s) were too high. Do not get me wrong the camera takes Very Good pictures but without tweaking it (only way I know to take full advantage of the camera. Takes too much time to tweak) it only takes Good pictures (indoor / out). Obviously when viewing the images on a HD TV or on your computer you and the family / friends will really appreciate what this camera can do. Not with a side-by-side phone display comparison with iPhone or Epic, EVO loses the display battle. EVO: Mobile Hot Spot? D___! Freak'n Great! If you're not in IT or a Techie you "may" not really appreciate this feature. Additional Cost? True! But as stated earlier, if you're not in IT or a Techie you may or may not get it. An analogy that comes to mind, you ask? Imagine you have boys (or girls) over with their laptops or gaming system. Dang it, you forgot to pay your I-net bill (it could happen), now your boys are, well? Doing what they do when one of you screw up! Then it hits you? You pull out your EVO and activate the Hot Spot feature (up to 8 devices) and Life is Good!!! OR You have the kids (or teenagers) in the mini-van, they pull out their iTouch or any other WIFI depended device or phone and now they're Bored. What will you do? And then it hits you, you activate your EVO Hot-Spot, online games, social networks, videos all became available and now you're the Greatest. (Yes, this too could happen - Really!) EVO: Battery? Everywhere you read, the EVO battery is Bad to Terrible. Well the "Bugatti Veyron" gets terrible gas millage does that mean you would not wish to drive it? Heck No! This is the price one must expect as a trade-off for all this power, screen size and features, in the not so distant future things will be different. EVO - 3G and less than 8 Apps running, no WIFI, no GPS, no 4G, no mobile hot-spot, Bluetooth active, live wallpaper active and 2-3 hours conference calls a day, I get about 5 to 6 hours of use before my 15% notification appears. Now, let's be real! I did not purchase the EVO only for work. In the Real World? I have GPS and Sprint Nav on to check traffic, along with doubling as my MP3 player in the background. Oh, yes did I mentioned that I have at least 15 Apps running at any given time. In the office, TV / movie (Avatar movie = 52% battery life remaining), NinjaLive (I mean during my lunch break, really!), checking email (Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo & Hotmail) and etc? Battery life in the Real World? A Whopping 3-4 hours. I keep chargers at home, in the car and in the office (Highly Recommended if you're a Power User). EVO: 4G (Houston Market)? per "Speed Test" App, Download speeds ranges from 2.94 - 5.20 and Upload speeds 1.90 - 2.41 on a consistent basis. In closing. HTC EVO is other cell phones worst nightmare, the EVO is a cell phone with an Attitude on Steroids. If you're a Power User you'll love it! It's like having an old school laptop as a cell phone. But if you are like most of America, you may not need or use ALL of its features but when you are ready, they are there waiting for you to let them loose. And when you do, you will not look back. And at the time of this writing the EVO does what is does (all available features) better than any phone currently on US the market. Not only has the bar been raised, but the game has been changed and the competitors have just now seen the rules. Any of the new generation Droid Smartphone's (and I'll include the iPhone 4), you choose most likely you will not be disappointed in your choice. It comes down to your needs and wants (and pocket-book), if you're still not sure... Wait a few months and another Droid phone will be out. I Promise! As for myself? I am a Happy Camper with my EVO. I look forward to what the future brings to cell phones and other smart devices. Mmm... EVO 2? Imagine that...

Cerebral*Origami
Cerebral*Origami

I posted this thought on another forum so you may have seen it already: If I am going to buy an expensive, short battery-life phone, I want the option to have a second cheap long battery-life flip phone that rings on the same number. I don't care if I can have only one of them on at a time. The cheap phone would be for hiking (in case of rain), camping (long battery-life), or when I am on the water (in case of destruction).

Tony DeRosa
Tony DeRosa

How is Sprint in MY metro area? And does anyone have a feel for how much 4G is available there?

brobbins
brobbins

Thanks for the fair review of the EVO. I've had mine since launch day. Coming from a BlackBerry Tour, it has been an adjustment but a good one. I cannot see going back to BlackBerry.

JonGauntt
JonGauntt

I've never owned an HTC phone, but have had several tech co-workers that have. They liked the screen size and being able to do mostly what they could on a computer and that it was unrestricted in it's usage. What I did notice though was that all of them went through several phones last year. Some was neglect, but some was just hardware failure. Has HTC improved upon the quality of the device? Or is this one just as prone to screen and battery failure as previous phones?

QnA
QnA

I have the HTC HD2 since October. The HD2 is comparable with the EVO. I really love the large screensize. It's great for watching movies, reading PDF's or any other doc. And very comfortable to surf the internet on without straining your eyes. And even RDP is quite OK on it. Better than any other phone. The fact that the phone is so slim often makes me forget that it's in my pocket. It almost ended up in the washing machine on several occasions.

RandalBarnes
RandalBarnes

I like everything about my HTC Evo except the battery life. I saw a 3500 MaH battery (the default is 1500 MaH) online that I am going to order. That should help.

artlife
artlife

Price, customer service, and network are by far the best with Sprint here in SC, and we've used our phones up and down the difficult corridor of the Appalachians from here to Ohio/WV.

skyheli
skyheli

I have excellent coverage with Sprint. Just depends on the area....

patrick
patrick

I can only tell you my experience. I have a HTC Diamond. I'm brutally hard on my phones. I've dropped my phone countless times. It's often shoved in the front pouch of my climbing pack, so it gets (although padded) beaten against granite frequently. My last HTC (can't remeber the model, but it had the slide up screen and keyboard under it) went through the wash twice, had the screen shattered once and replaced. After the first wash the camera light wouldn't turn off, but the light is a removable module so I just popped it off. It lasted 3 years. My current phone suffers from a pretty scratched up screen and can be hard to see in bright light, but it hasn't affected the touch at all. So after 2 HTC's that have been heavily abused, I'll get another. Hopefully I haven't just been super lucky.

hagbre
hagbre

I had the Palm Pre and switched before I could upgrade. I think I made the right decision. The EVO does so much more than the Pre and is more durable. My Pre cracked in numerous places including the back cover. To me, the battery life seems equivalent, but I also plug it in whenever I can. Best of all it doesn't get bogged down when multiple apps are running like my Pre did. It's a good decision to switch.

artlife
artlife

I'm currently on a Palm Pre and have an extra battery that I swap out usually need to in late afternoon after running since about 7am. I am so looking forward to getting the Evo when I can upgrade (October). My husband has a Hero and he loves it. I have to say the whining about battery life is ridiculous(not you, just in general), and talking about shutting stuff off etc. Why have it if you don't do all you can? I think just a couple extra batteries, or a extended battery in addition to a regular one would be fine. Also, just plug it up whenever you can (in car, at home, at work).

Darren B - KC
Darren B - KC

I switched to Sprint from ATT about 2 years ago and I'm very happy with the Sprint covereage around here. I will admit that it gets a little sparse in some areas of northern Indiana though, where I go a couple times a year to visit family.

skyheli
skyheli

Yes, Verizon and Sprint work off the same towers. Set the phone to roaming if Sprint is not in the area.....

RandalBarnes
RandalBarnes

Don't Verizon and Sprint phones work on each other's towers? I thought that they did since they both use CDMA technology.

walterwood44
walterwood44

My wife and I both have Evos and love them. I accidently knocked hers off a table (30-inches) onto a ceramic tile floor. It survived without damage. We do see a few minor issues with the OS but that could be because this is our first smart phone and the phone has so many features. I expect it will be a while before we learn everything. The wife does not listen to music or podcasts or surf like I do and her phone battery lasts into the next morning. Mine goes 8-12 hours then needs a charge but I listen to one or two hours of mp3 files, sync email with Exchange and surf. Of course at work I simply plug it into the USB on my computer to keep it charged up.