Logo   Banner   TopRight
TopUnder
Transparent
HTC EVO 4G - 4G vs 3G, A Tale of The Tape
Transparent
Date: Dec 21, 2010
Section:Gadgets
Author: Jennifer Johnson
Transparent
Introduction & Specifications

Sprint's marketing campaigns over the past few months have focused on the fact that the carrier was the first to launch a 4G network in the U.S. Building on that, the company has focused on the various things you can do with a 4G connection that weren't possible (or at least weren't very usable) without a fourth generation high-speed mobile broadband connection.

In keeping along with the "first" concept, Sprint announced the HTC EVO 4G—the world's first 3G/4G Android smartphone, would be available on their network.  Although the EVO 4G may no longer be the only 3G/4G handset around (it has since been joined in Sprint's lineup by the Samsung Epic), the EVO 4G is still only one of two phones that offers users the ability to surf the web at 4G speeds (where available).

According to Sprint, its 4G WiMAX network offers peak download speeds of more than 10Mbps and peak upload speeds of 1Mbps. Since you probably won't get "peak" performance all of the time, Sprint says average download speeds range from 3 to 6 Mbps. When a 4G network is not available, the EVO will connect to Sprint's 3G network which offers average download speeds of 600kbps – 1.4Mbps.

Sprint was also one of the first carriers to roll out the Android 2.2 upgrade to users. Android 2.2, also known as Froyo, brought a number of feature enhancements such as voice dialing over Bluetooth, the ability to store applications on external memory cards, 4-way camera rotation, better web browsing with a faster JavaScript engine and Flash 10x support, and more.

The EVO 4G comes with a price tag that's in line with other high-end smartphones: $199.99 after applicable discounts and with a two-year contract. There is one important caveat, however.  Because this phone supports 4G speeds, Sprint will add a $10 per month “Premium Data” service fee to your bill. This is also true for the Samsung Epic, and we'd expect it to be the trend for all future 3G/4G smartphones from Sprint.  Sprint also offers an optional Mobile Hotspot feature that lets you share your high-speed Internet connection with up to eight Wi-Fi devices. This feature costs an additional $30 per month.

There are various plan options available for the EVO 4G. The least expensive option costs $69.99 per month. When all is said and done and you factor in taxes and fees, you'll likely spend about $90 per month for the EVO 4G. Really, this isn't all that unusual for a smartphone, but it's still worth considering regardless of your budget.

Early adopters certainly took notice of the EVO 4G, but now that some of the dust has settled, should you still consider the phone? Read on as we answer this question and many more about the HTC EVO 4G from Sprint in our hands-on review.

 HTC EVO 4G Specifications

CPU
1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8650 processor
Platform
Android 2.2 and HTC Sense experience
Memory
1GB ROM/ 512MB RAM
8GB microSD card included
Dimensions
4.8 x 2.6 x 0.5 inches
Weight
6 oz with battery
Display
4.3-inch WVGA resolution Capacitive Multi-touch Screen
Network
CDMA 800/1900 MHz EVDO Rev. A, WiMAX 2. 5 to 2.7GHz; 802.16e
GPS
GPS/aGPS
Connectivity
Bluetooth 2.1
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g
microUSB
HDMI output
FM radio
3.5mm headset jack
Cameras
8 megapixel with Auto Focus and 2x LED Flash
1.3 megapixel fixed focus front facing camera
Battery
Removable 1500 mAh Li-on
Up To 6.0 hours continuous talk time
Additional Features
Mobile Hotspot capable, Friend Stream, HTC Sync, HTC Sense, Amazon MP3, built-in kickstand, Visual Voicemail
In-Box Content
HTC EVO 4G
Standard Lithium Ion Battery
AC Charger
Micro USB Cable
MicroSD Card - 8GB included

 

Transparent
Design

The EVO 4G's large, 4.3-inch capacitive multi-touch screen covers the vast majority of the front of the device. Just below the screen, you'll notice four backlit buttons (Home, Menu, Back, and Search) that are flush with the screen and provide haptic feedback when pressed. Overall, the phone is relatively thin, measuring 0.5 inches thick. At 6 ounces with the battery installed, the EVO 4G one of the heaviest smartphones we've reviewed recently. Here's how the EVO 4G compares:

Samsung Captivate
4.5 ounces
HTC Droid Incredible
4.6 ounces
Apple iPhone 4
4.8 ounces
Motorola Droid X
5.47 ounces
Samsung Epic 4G
5.47 ounces
HTC EVO 4G
6 ounces

Despite the fact that the EVO 4G is heavier than some of today's other popular smartphones, many users will feel the extra weight is worth the added features that you wouldn't get with these other phones.

Click to enlarge

The EVO 4G is a relatively boxy device with rounded corners and edges. Overall the handset feels solid.The EVO 4G's kickstand is a nice touch, especially since the phone has a large display and high-speed mobile broadband for streaming video.

You'll find many of today's must-have features in the EVO 4G, including Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, an accelerometer, and two cameras. The first camera, a 1.3 megapixel fixed focus front facing camera enables Mobile Video Chat from Qik. On the back of the smartphone, you'll find an 8 megapixel camera with auto focus and dual LED flash.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Compared to other phones today, the EVO 4G doesn't have a lot of onboard storage (it has 1GB of ROM and 512MB of RAM). However, it also comes with an 8GB microSD card, giving you plenty of space to store music, videos, and documents. Should you require additional storage space, you can easily swap memory cards via the microSD expansion slot located under the battery cover.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

You'll find the EVO 4G's volume rocker on the right side of the device. The top edge contains the power button and a 3.5mm headset jack. On the bottom edge of the EVO 4G, there's a microUSB port and HDMI output. The phone's 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash and a kickstand are located on the back of the device.

Transparent
User Interface

The EVO 4G was one of the first phones to get an update to Android 2.2, otherwise known as Froyo. This update is significant as it brings additional performance and Adobe Flash media capabilities to the phone. Android 2.2 is said to run two to five times faster than previous versions. Thanks to a new JavaScript engine, the Android browser is suppose to be to two three times faster than the browser found in Android 2.1.

With the Froyo update, HTC EVO 4G users also gain the ability to share a favorite game or application with friends via Twitter, Facebook, Bluetooth, email, or text message. The update also brings targeted search capabilities that let you limit the locations the phone searches for information as well a handful of other tweaks and improvements.

        

Click to enlarge

In addition to Android 2.2, HTC has included the HTC Sense experience with the phone, providing a consolidated view of social networking updates via the Friend Stream, HTC's seven-screen 'Leap' thumbnail view, and more.  If you've ever used a HTC phone with the Sense UI, you'll definitely notice some familiar features on the EVO 4G.

HTC and Sprint put a number of helpful apps and shortcuts on the various home screens by default. Of course, all of these screens are fully customizable. You can add, remove, or rearrange all links to your liking. HTC also includes various Scenes with the EVO 4G which will customize the EVO 4G with a range of themes. For example, the work Scene presents two clocks, easy access to your calendar and messages, and more.

HTC's 'Leap' thumbnail view is especially helpful for navigating among the various home screens. To access the Leap view, you can pinch the home screen or press the Home button. By pressing and holding the Home button, you'll see a list of eight most recently used applications.

        

Click to enlarge

The EVO 4G's keyboard is pretty standard fare. Overall, we though the keyboard was usable, though we did find ourselves missing the SWYPE keyboard found on some other Android smartphones. Using the phone in landscape mode, you'll notice that the keyboard takes up quite a bit of screen real estate.

With the phone's 4G capabilities, one of the strengths of the EVO 4G is certainly its web browsing capabilities. The phone's large, 4.3-inch multi-touch screen also adds to the browsing experience. We tested the phone in both 3G and 4G coverage areas and found the overall experience to be a joy. In the coming pages, we'll touch more on the speeds you can expect from the EVO 4G while browsing the web.

       

Click to enlarge

We've seen quite a bit of bloatware pre-installed on phones recently. Although the HTC EVO 4G isn't an exception to this trend, we are thankful that HTC and Sprint kept the added apps to a minimum. Some of the apps you'll find on the EVO 4G include Sprint Navigation, Sprint TV, Sprint Zone, Amazon MP3, NASCAR, Qik, and a few others.

Transparent
General Use and Experience

The 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor combined with the speed improvements from the Froyo update make the HTC EVO 4G feel very responsive. The EVO 4G is definitely a quick phone that had no problem with all of the apps we used during our review period.

The EVO 4G has two built-in cameras. The rear camera has an 8 megapixel sensor with auto focus capabilities and a dual LED flash. Within the camera settings, you'll find a variety of options to adjust your pictures – including the ability to adjust the exposure, contrast, saturation, and sharpness of your images. There are also various effects that you can apply to the images.

Click to enlarge

Although you'll still get better pictures with a standalone digital camera than with most of the cameras that are built-in to phones, we were very impressed with the quality of images produced by the EVO 4G's rear camera.

         

Click to enlarge

Perhaps our biggest complaint with the EVO 4G was its battery life. However, after adjusting a few of the wireless sync settings, we were able to make it through most days on a single charge with moderate use of the phone. HTC claims you should get up to 6.0 hours continuous talk time from the EVO's 1500 mAh Li-on battery.

We definitely appreciated the large screen found on the EVO 4G. Viewing angles were excellent and the screen was viewable even under direct sunlight, especially when the brightness was cranked. Like many of today's popular smartphones, the EVO 4G's screen attracts fingerprints, though fingerprints did not appear to affect the responsiveness of the display.

The kickstand found on the back of the EVO 4G is a nice touch, particularly if you plan to watch movies or other videos on the phone. During our tests, movies loaded quickly and played smoothly on the EVO 4G's large screen.

As far as call quality is concerned, we enjoyed clear conversations and did not have any dropped calls during our tests. Both the earpiece and the speakerphone were adequately loud, and the people we spoke with did not complain about the quality on their side of the conversation. Like many phones these days, the EVO 4G has a proximity sensor that will automatically turn the display on and off when you move the phone close to your ear and pull it away.

Click to enlarge

Transparent
Performance Testing

In addition to using the HTC EVO 4G in a variety of everyday usage scenarios, we also conducted some formal performance testing to see how well the EVO 4G compares to other smartphones.

CPU Testing
Android CPU Testing - Linpack

Graphics Testing
Android Graphics Testing - An3Dbench

JavaScript Testing
JavaScript Android and iPhone testing - SunSpider

In both the Linpack CPU test and the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark, the HTC EVO 4G performed exceptionally well, primarily due to its Android 2.2 update we suspect. The EVO 4G also performed acceptably in the An3DBench graphics test, coming in ahead of the HTC Incredible and Dell Streak.

Transparent
Performance Testing - Web Browsing

Browsing the Web is certainly a key feature of any smartphone, so we also conducted some formal speed tests to see how well the HTC EVO 4G compares to some of today's hottest smartphones.

 

 

The HTC EVO 4G surprisingly didn't top the charts during our speed tests, but it still posted some respectable scores. It's also important to keep in mind that Wi-Fi and network speeds are likely to vary depending on the type of connection, strength of signal, and other factors. During our real-world tests, we were generally pleased with the browsing speeds of the EVO 4G.

Transparent
Conclusion

Sprint may have touted "firsts" when it launched the EVO 4G and its WiMAX network, but the wireless carrier knows that its competition isn't far behind. As a result, Sprint must offer compelling handsets as well as killer speeds to attract users.

The HTC EVO 4G  offers all of the top features you'd expect in a high-end smartphone including a large, 4.3-inch display, thin form factor, a fast 1GHz processor, and more. This phone also has the added benefit of being able to utilize Sprint's 4G network. When a 4G connection isn't available, the EVO 4G offers 3G and Wi-Fi connection options. Because this phone has such a large, gorgeous display, we wouldn't be surprised if you find yourself watching YouTube clips and movies on the handset during some downtime. The phone's included 8GB microSD card will certainly come in handy for storing these clips.

The EVO 4G's integrated 8 megapixel camera produced impressive images during our tests. In addition, having a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera for video chat is handy as well, especially if you find yourself in a 4G coverage area.

In terms of smartphones, there are only two handsets on the market today that can boast of 4G speeds. One of these phones is the HTC EVO 4G. The other 4G-capable phone, the Samsung Epic 4G, recently won our Editor's Choice award. So is the Epic 4G better than the EVO 4G? We wouldn't say that. All in all, the two phones appear to be very comparable in terms of specs and capabilities. Really, the biggest differentiator between these two phones is your preference in form factor—the Epic 4G offers a hardware slide-out keyboard while the EVO 4G features a more thin form factor. Because the EVO 4G still offers some of the best hardware and software specifications available today, we feel that it, too, is worthy of our Editor's Choice award.

 

     
  • Fast 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor
  • Vibrant 4.3-inch touchscreen
  • 8 megapixel camera
  • 4G connectivity
  • Mobile Hotspot capable
  • 4G coverage is still somewhat limited
  • Additional $10 fee each month for "Premium Data" service
  • Slightly heavier than competing phones



Content Property of HotHardware.com