Name: HTC Evo 4G LTE
Price: $200 (w/two-year contract)
The Back Story: Since the release of the first-ever 4G phone, the Evo 4G, HTC has become Sprint's most valued handset maker. The carrier's flagship smartphone series was riding the road to mobile prominence but hit a massive roadblock with the unsuccessful release of the gimmicky Evo 3D. HTC recently regained its swagger after launching the critically praised One series, and in the midst of its hype, the company’s decided to resurrect the Evo series and give Sprint its own One variant in the form of the Evo 4G LTE.
A near replica of its multi-platform counterpart, the new Evo carries all the incredible facets of the One including its incredible camera experience and its powerful performance. And with Sprint markting it as the next major phone to be compatible with its forthcoming LTE network, all hype leads us to believe the Evo could be the biggest Android release yet. So is it?
• Premium design and ergonomics: The new Evo flaunts an opulent build that takes cues from the company's previous models as well as the competition, while keeping intact some of the series most adorned trademarks. The rear sports a soft-touch anodized aluminum shell and a durable plastic cover that’s separated by the built-in kickstand. The signature red and black color scheme is still present in the new design. However, HTC’s added some extra flair by including a silver band that wraps around the entire phone, giving it the same luxury feel as the BlackBerry Bold 9930 and iPhone 4S. It's a bold design move that works and feels great in-hand.
• Best Sprint camera phone: HTC packaged the Evo with the same 8MP shooter and dynamic software bundled in the One series. Users can shoot over 4 frames per second in Continuous Mode, and snap photos and record video at the same time. Shutter speeds are still insane, but we found snaps to be slightly quicker on the Evo. Considering the warp speed-like response rate of the touchscreen shutter, it’s surprising to see HTC include a dedicated camera button, but it’s a novelty that mobile photogs will embrace.
• Beautiful display: The 4.7-inch Super LCD screen is super bright and produces rich colors. Websites and video clips looked vibrant, while emails and eBooks emitted sharp text. We noticed the viewing angles on the Evo are wider than the One X, a feature that could be attributed to the former’s flat-screen layout. It's an upgrade from the One S' low-res AMOLED screen and the Galaxy Nexus' PenTile panel.
• Stacked with power and storage: The 1.5GHz dual-core processor delivers snap results and multitasks with the best of them. Games run at faster frame rates, UI navigation is smooth, and apps launch instantly. The phone also has 1GB of RAM to assist with matters. Like the One series, you're blessed with 16GB of on-board storage and 25GB of free Dropbox share. The key difference: the Evo comes with an SD Card slot that takes up to 64GB.
• Additional wireless features: Since the Evo supports an NFC chip and Ice Cream Sandwich, users gain immediate access to Google Wallet and can start shopping with the mobile payment system. Pair the app with your Citibank Mastercard or the bundled $10 prepaid card to make instant purchases, plus receive special offers from nearby shops. HTC’s handset is also the first mobile in the US to come with HD Voice calling. Though the technology’s inactive until later this year, subscribers are in for a huge difference in call quality, as we experienced firsthand during Sprint’s NY launch event.
• No LTE and weak 3G coverage: Sprint's new high-speed network won't be available until late 2012/early 2013. So we were stuck running the carrier's 3G EV-DO network. Coverage was inconsistent throughout the entire Tri-State and some web pages took up to 20 seconds to load. Data speeds didn't fare any better pulling in a sluggish 2.6Mpbs for downloads.
• Underwhelming battery life: One would figure a 2,000mAh battery and no true 4G service would increase the Evo's endurance. Wrong. After engaging in some moderate activities like streaming music and playing Angry Birds Space, a 25 percent power warning hit our screen in less than five hours.
• Fingerprint magnet: Invest in a screen protector and carry case because the touchscreen and rear plastic cover accumulate a ton of smudges and hand prints.
Final Say: With the same awesome camera features, processing power, and dynamic software, the Evo 4G LTE not only hones the mobile dexterity of the One series—it makes additional strides in performance. The two biggest being faster shutter speeds and a stunning display. But with Sprint’s LTE network inactive until next year, HTC’s new giant may have a short shelf life, especially if Sprint keeps its holiday lineup limited. If power ranks higher than 4G on your priority list, like its predecessors, the new Evo serves as the next great upgrade on the Now Network.