When HTC and Sprint announced the EVO 4G LTE, it came shortly after the announcement of another HTC device, the stunning, One X (for AT&T). With the EVO 4G LTE sporting the same 4.7-inch HD display, Android 4.0 with HTC’s Sense 4 and ultra-thin body, one would naturally assume, the device would be almost the same. While that is mostly accurate, the aesthetics of the EVO 4G LTE (E4G from here on out) make Sprint’s One variant stand out, in a good or bad way depends on your personal taste. Read on to for my thoughts.
Not to half-ass this review, but seeing how we just wrapped up an in-depth look at the One X not that long ago, I’m going to gloss over the software, hardware (internally) and camera aspects of the E4G, as they are virtually the same. You can read our One X review to see how all of that stuff fares. This review will focus more on the exterior of HTC’s latest powerhouse for the Sprint.
Let me start off by saying that I was a proud owner of the original EVO 4G (with WiMax) two years ago; it was the first device that really exposed me to Android. The EVO 4G was “the” device that made me return my iPhone 4, after only 29 days of ownership, and jump ship to Sprint to pick up this 4.3-inch monster with a kickstand. In many ways, the EVO 4G was the catalyst for Android OEM’s to gauge people’s interest in whether or not they wanted bigger displays in their smartphones. It was also the first phone to feature 4G, if you can really call WiMax speeds 4G. It was a phone of firsts, first to feature 4G, a 4.3-inch display, a kickstand and a few other things. While the EVO 3D was sort of a half-assed gimmick, the EVO 4G LTE is a true return to form, not only did it use the same name as the original, it brought back the kickstand, it was also suppose to be one of the first devices to use Sprint’s new 4G LTE network (that has yet to launch).
Like the original EVO, the E4G LTE is big; it features a massive 4.7-inch Super LCD2 720HD display. The display, at least for me (like the One X), was the first since Apple’s Retina display to make me say, wow. Literally, no joke, I actually said that. The display is so crisp and so bright that you can’t help but stare at it, it’s like trying to peel your eyes away from a gorgeous woman at the beach who just laid down and untied the back of her bikini, you can’t help but just stare at this thing. Thankfully, staring at the E4G for more than 30 seconds won’t end with you getting punched in the face by its boyfriend. The display is also 16:9 in ratio, so it’s thinner, yet taller than the original EVO, which makes it easier to hold in your hand. One more thing about the display and I’ll stop yammering on about it, being a Galaxy S III owner, I’m used to a big screen, but even the GS III’s 4.8-inch Super AMOLED (Pentile) display can’t hold a candle to HTC’s latest and greatest. While the Super AMOLED has rich, dark blacks, it doesn’t have the same level of crispness to text and images as the Super LCD2 found in the E4G and One X. Okay, I lied, there is another great aspect to the display, its draw on the battery, or lack thereof. The E4G surprised me with how long the battery lasted. I’m one of those folks that despise auto-brightness and refuse to put my phone anywhere near half brightness or lower. If I’m sold a phone that has a 720p display and is suppose to be gorgeous and bright, then damnit, I’m going to use it as such. I keep all my devices at, at least 75% brightness or above, so I was shocked when the E4G made it through a day of heavy use with relative ease. Granted, I had to charge it at night for the next day, but even then it was only down to about 34% and as I said, that was under heavy usage (email, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, a few games and phone calls and even text messages). With the display being the primary draw on the battery, it was very encouraging to see how far we’ve come since the original EVO, which required me to carry a spare battery.
Since I’m not really covering Sense 4, Android 4.0 or the camera and stuff, I had to go on and on about the display, because it’s really the only positive thing I can talk about when it comes to the exterior of the EVO 4G LTE. The build quality of the EVO 4G LTE is sturdy and feels great, it’s thin and easy to hold in your hand, but I digress, the actual look of the E4G is either one you’ll fall in love with or hate instantly. There is no gray or middle area here. Unfortunately for you poor folks reading this review, I’m on the side that detests the way this thing looks. The original EVO was nice; it was all black with a nice matte, rubberized finish on the back with a silver metal kickstand and some nice red trim around the camera lens. That was enough; HTC didn’t go over board with colors, textures or accents. With E4G, HTC must have had to many shots of Capt. Morgan and slipped off into the deep end. The face of the device is mostly glossy black (aside from the screen), but across the top there’s an odd matte (or dull) black section, that looks stuck on, that houses a silver speaker vent and the front-facing camera, it looks out of place and well… stupid. The back of the device is where the real vomit inducing accident happened. HTC decided, for some oddball reason, to use two difference looking and feeling textures/surfaces for the E4G’s back casing. The two of these are separated by a thin red bar, that is actually the new kickstand, more on that later. The top half of the back is made of a cheap feeling plastic that is extremely glossy and I can’t overstate that. This plastic cover picks up anything that it remotely comes in contact with, hell; I think a CSI team could lift prints off a door handle with this cover. Like I said, aside from being a back up mirror and compact for my wife, this cover feels very fragile, that when peeling it off the back of the device, you might suffer an anxiety attack thinking you might snap it in two. Underneath the cover is a translucent plastic covering some of the phone’s guts as well as the port for a microSD card. The bottom half of the back has a dull, matte black finish—like the top of the front— that seems to do an adequate job of ignoring finger prints, unless you’re as nervous as a virgin on prom night, then your sweaty fingers may show up. The HTC and Sprint brand names are branded on the back, in case you forget what carrier and phone you purchased. Then we have a third part or section at the bottom (see the pictures) that appears to hold a speaker grill for sound. The problem is that while it’s supposed to be the same color as the portion above, it’s not. It’s slightly off and thus become another eye sore.
To add to the mix of all the glossy black, matte black and red coloring, there’s also a shiny silver camera button on the bottom of the device’s right side. Again, out of place. HTC needs to either make it black or red to keep the consistency going. If that wasn’t enough, HTC added a metal trim or pinstripe around the device’s exterior, which you can’t see unless you look at the side of the device. If you hold the device in your hand and look at it face on, you won’t see this trim, which makes it feel like an after thought.
Back to the kickstand, while I love seeing the kickstand make a return, I can’t express enough in words without the fear of being fined by the FCC for the use extreme explicit language, how much I hate it. This kickstand requires owners to have the pinky nail of an experienced coke addict in order to flip it up. It’s so thin and the area left for you to get your finger under it, to flip it up, is so small it’s beyond frustrating. While the spring is much stronger than the original, for holding it up in various positions, I found that the frustration of flipping it up pissed me off to the point where I refused to use it.
I’d love to talk about Sprint’s 4G LTE network and how the EVO 4G LTE works on it, buy alas, there is no network coverage to cover. Despite the fact that I’m in Baltimore, a supposed launch area for Sprint’s LTE network and improved 3G network, I was unable to test it.
Okay, all negatives and complaints aside, the EVO 4G LTE is a fantastic phone. But as I said earlier, the exterior is either love it or hate it. On the plus side, it features a fast 1.5GHz dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor, a great 8-megapixel camera with zero shutter lag, a thin profile, great battery life, Android 4.0 with a toned back version of Sense 4 and of course that gorgeous 4.7-inch display. But if you are sitting off-contract, looking for your next phone for two years, I can’t, with a clear conscience, suggest the EVO 4G over the HTC One X. The One X has all the same bells and whistles, without the horrendous exterior. Not to mention a wider spread (and LIVE) 4G LTE network. But who knows, as peoples tastes vary, you may like the design and now that it comes in white, it may not be as terrible.
With the exterior of the device aside, the EVO 4G LTE gets a solid 8 out of 10, with the exterior taken into account, I’d give this device a 6 out of 10. Lets face it, our phone’s appearance is just as important as the calls it makes, otherwise, how would you explain the iPhone’s massive popularity with the general public? All I know is I wouldn’t want to walk around with the back of the EVO 4G LTE next to my head, I’ll take the HTC One X or my Galaxy S III.