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HTC EVO 4G LTE Android Smartphone Review
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Date: Jul 10, 2012
Section:Mobile
Author: Jennifer Johnson
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Introduction & Specifications

It's no secret that HTC has had a rough time competing with other big name smartphone manufacturers in the last couple of years. It looked like the company might be turning things around with its One series and the EVO 4G LTE for Sprint, but then the company got hit with another delay thanks to a U.S. Customs review. The EVO 4G LTE is finally here though, and Sprint customers can finally pick up this new, highly anticipated smartphone.

The HTC EVO 4G LTE sports many of the high-end features you'd want in a smartphone today including Android 4.0, a 4.7-inch HD display, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, an 8-megapixel camera, and 4G LTE connectivity. The phone also comes with the well-liked kickstand built-in to its back. Like many of HTC's newest high-end devices, the EVO 4G LTE also features Beats Audio to provide an improved audio experience versus generic offerings.

HTC EVO 4G LTE Smartphone

Although Sprint hasn't launched its 4G network yet, the EVO 4G LTE will be ready to connect as soon as the wireless company flips the switch. Initially, Sprint plans to offer LTE service in Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, and San Antonio. Sprint intends to turn on LTE service on July 15, so it won't be much longer before customers in the launch areas will get to try out Sprint's latest network.

HTC EVO 4G LTE
Specifications & Features

Processor and memory
1.5GHz Dual-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Processor MSM8960
16GB ROM
1 GB RAM
Supports up to 32GB micro SD

Operating System
Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, integrated with HTC Sense 4
Connectivity
LTE (Band 25) and CDMA 1xRTT EVDO Rel. 0, EVDO Rev. A
Wi-Fi – 802.11 a/b/g/n
GPS/AGPS
Bluetooth 4.0
3.5mm Stereo audio jack
Micro USB connector

Display
4.7-inch HD 720p super LCD (1280 x 720), 16.7 million colors
Size and weight
5.3 x 2.7 x 0.35 inches
4.73 ounces

Cameras and multimedia
Rear-facing 8-megapixel camera with f/2.0 lens, super-fast auto-focus, digital zoom and smart LED flash
Front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera with 1080p video recording

Additional Features
NFC, Google Wallet, Android Beam, HTC ImageSense, Beats Audio
Battery
2000 mAh
Up to 7.5 hours talk time

Carrier
Sprint
Price
$199.99 after discounts and with a contract
 
 
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Despite a few initial hiccups in getting the phone to customers, Sprint and HTC now are ready to roll with this new device. Does the EVO 4G LTE have what it takes to compete with other high-end devices? Read on as we take a hands-on look at this new smartphone.
 

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Design and Exterior

In many ways, you can tell the EVO 4G LTE is part of the EVO family. This phone has a look and style that resembles its older brothers, including red accents. One of the most-liked features from previous HTC EVO smartphones is the kickstand which props up the phone on your desk for viewing images, videos, and web pages. After removing the kickstand from the HTC EVO 3D, the manufacturer has brought back the kickstand with the EVO 4G LTE.

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The kickstand is nice and solid and props the phone in landscape mode on your desk. You can also use the kickstand to prop the phone in portrait mode, but it won't be nearly as steady. When not in use, the kickstand is flush with the back of the device so you'll need to use your fingernail to pull it open.

The EVO 4G LTE is competitive in terms of both weight and footprint. As you can see from the chart below, the EVO 4G LTE is just slightly heavier than the Samsung Galaxy S III and lighter than the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

Samsung Galaxy S 4G
4.2 ounces
Motorola Droid Razr
4.48 ounces
Nexus S
4.55 ounces
HTC One X
4.58 ounces
HTC Droid Incredible
4.6 ounces
Samsung Galaxy S III
4.7 ounces
HTC EVO 4G LTE
4.73 ounces
Apple iPhone 4
4.8 ounces
Apple iPhone 4S
4.9 ounces
LG Spectrum
4.99 ounces
Samsung Droid Charge
5.04 ounces
Motorola Droid Razr Maxx
5.1 ounces
Motorola Droid Bionic
5.57 ounces
Motorola Photon 4G
5.6 ounces
HTC EVO 3D
6 ounces
HTC Thunderbolt
6.23 ounces

 
The 4.7-inch HD 720p super LCD (1280 x 720) display covers the bulk of the front of the smartphone. Below the display, you'll find three touch-sensitive buttons (Back, Home, and Recent Apps) that are flush with the phone's face. The front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera is located above the display to the right of the narrow speaker grill.

On the left side of the EVO 4G LTE, you'll see the microUSB port near the red stripe that houses the kickstand on the back of the phone. The right edge of the phone houses a dedicated camera button as well as the volume rocker. A power button and headset jack is located on the top edge of the phone.

 

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When you turn the EVO 4G LTE over, you'll immediately notice the red metallic kickstand which divides the back of the phone. Above this kickstand, you'll see the rear-facing 8-megapixel camera as well as an LED flash. You can remove the shiny cover above the kickstand to reveal the phone's microSD card slot. One thing to note about the shiny cover above the kickstand is that it will attract fingerprints.

The battery and SIM card are located below the kickstand which does not have a removable cover. This lower portion of the back of the phone has a matte finish that doesn't attract fingerprints. While the EVO 4G LTE's 2000 mAh battery should be enough to get many users through a day depending on how much they demand from the phone, we wish HTC would have made it possible for users to swap batteries and SIM cards.

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User Interface and Experience

Out of the box, the EVO 4G LTE runs on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and also features HTC's Sense 4 overlay. Thankfully, Sense 4 seems to be much more minimal than previous versions of the interface.  Still, you'll notice some changes to Android 4.0 here and there courtesy of Sense, such as the ability to pinch and zoom to see seven thumbnails of your home screens as well as the ability to launch an application directly from the lock screen by dragging it into the unlock ring.

Sense also replaces the standard Android Recent Apps list with pages you can flick through. As you can see by looking at the default home screens, HTC also includes a number of Sense widgets. Of course, you can remove these widgets and customize the home screens to your liking.

     

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Thanks to the1.5GHz Dual-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor and 1GB of onboard RAM, the EVO 4G LTE feels responsive during use. We also appreciate that HTC incorporated a microSD card slot in the phone, even though 16GB of onboard storage will be plenty for many users.

The EVO 4G LTE's screen is colorful and vibrant and viewing angles are excellent. Looking at any phone's screen under direct sunlight is always difficult, but the display on the EVO 4G LTE was still readable even under these difficult conditions.

The EVO 4G LTE is Sprint's first device that has HTC’s Authentic Sound experience which features Beats Audio. As a result, you can expect the EVO 4G LTE to offer crisp, clear sound when playing all of your favorite tunes. HTC's Sync Manager software also makes it easy to transfer your music from your PC, including music from iTunes.

     

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Although the EVO 4G LTE offers 4G LTE connectivity, Sprint isn't offering LTE yet. On July 15, Sprint intends to flip the switch and turn on its 4G LTE network in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio. Other cities are expected to get 4G LTE service from Sprint this year as well. Sprint expects to have completed the majority of its 4G LTE rollout by the end of 2013. By then, the carrier plans to offer LTE service to more than 250 million people across the country.  

HTC ships the EVO 4G LTE with the HTC Sense Input keyboard as well as the Swype keyboard. The HTC Sense Input keyboard has a feature that operates similarly to Swype called Trace Keyboard that lets you swipe fingers over letters for faster input. 

The EVO 4G LTE comes with your standard set of Android applications as well as a few others. Some of the preinstalled applications include Dropbox, Facebook, Google+, HTC Hub, Sprint Hotspot, Sprint Zone, Google Wallet, and others. Unfortunately, many of these apps cannot be removed without hacking the phone. However, you can create custom tabs to organize apps in the Apps menu. By default, you'll see tabs for All apps, Frequent apps, and Downloads.

     

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Camera Performance and Battery Life

The EVO 4G LTE has an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with a f/2.0 lens, fast auto-focus, and LED flash. During our testing, the EVO 4G LTE's camera performed well, but it still captured its fair share of blurry and soft images. Many outdoor images and well-lit indoor images turned out good, but a few were slightly soft or out of focus. Indoor shots with a flash were occasionally washed out, but no worse than with other smartphone cameras.

The EVO 4G LTE's camera was quick to focus and we appreciated the burst shot mode along with the Best Shot feature which will save the image the camera determines to be the best of the bunch.

   

   

   

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Although the EVO 4G LTE doesn't have a user-replaceable battery, it's 2000 mAh battery is suppose to offer up to 7.5 hours talk time. In our everyday usage tests, the EVO 4G LTE's battery lasted for a full day (8-12 hours) under moderate usage while checking email, placing calls, and browsing the web.

In an attempt to put a quantitative measure on the EVO 4G LTE's battery life, we set up our own Web-surfing test. In this test, we set up a webpage with a mix of graphics and text. The page automatically refreshed itself every three minutes.

We set the EVO 4G LTEs display to 50% brightness and turned off Wi-Fi. When we ran this, the EVO 4G LTE did well, lasting for 5 hours and 25 minutes before it died.
 

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Performance Testing

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

CPU testing
Android CPU testing

 

In the Linpack test, the EVO 4G LTE outperformed all other smartphones in our reference bank in both the single and multi thread components of this test.

 

Graphics testing
Android graphics testing

 

The EVO 4G LTE didn't perform very well in the Emperor's New Clothes or Flower Power components of the An3DBench XL test, but it did perform very well in the Magic Island component. Keep in mind the EVO 4G LTE's high resolution screen makes it work harder during this test than some of the other phones which support lower resolutions.

In the GL Benchmark test, the EVO 4G LTE tied with the HTC One X for first place. The Egypt Offscreen test component of GL Benchmark levels the playing field among the phones by rendering off-screen at the same 1280x720 resolution on every device.

 

JavaScript testing
JavaScript Android and iPhone testing

The EVO 4G LTE earned the top score in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark as well, edging out the HTC One X and Samsung Galaxy S III.

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Performance Testing - Web Browsing

Since networks and browsing speeds are a key feature of any smartphone, we also conducted some formal speed tests to see how well the HTC EVO 4G LTE compared to some of today's hottest smartphones using the SpeedTest.net app and Rightware's BrowserMark benchmark.

SpeedTest.Net Performance
Network Speeds

Because Sprint's 4G LTE network is not yet available, we weren't able to test the 4G connectivity of the EVO 4G LTE. In 3G speed tests using the Speedtest.net benchmark, the EVO 4G LTE held its own and earned a respectable, though not chart-topping, score.

Rightware Browsermark
Web Browsing Performance

The Rightware BrowserMark benchmark evaluates the web browsing and browser performance of a device. In this test, the EVO 4G LTE performed well, coming in just behind the Samsung Galaxy S III and the HTC One X.

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Conclusion

After hitting a few speed-bumps the last couple of years, HTC seems to be back in the game. When we reviewed the HTC One X from AT&T recently, we felt it had a lot of strengths.  Similarly, the EVO 4G LTE has a lot of really great features and it performed very well in our benchmark tests.

In order to compete with some of the high-end phones of today, a device must have a fast processor, adequate RAM, high-resolution screen, acceptable camera, 4G capabilities, and excellent battery life. With its 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 4.7-inch HD display, 8-megapixel camera, upcoming 4G LTE connectivity, and long battery life, the EVO 4G LTE meets this criteria.

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One of the biggest drawbacks to the EVO 4G LTE is the fact that it doesn’t have a removable battery. Although the 2000 mAh battery should get most users through the day, after a year or two of heavy use, battery performance degrades, so it can be nice to be able to replace the battery. In addition, there have been times where we've had to removed the battery in a smartphone to reset it, should it have locked up during a benchmark, etc. With a non-removable battery, you simply don't have this option.

Another potential drawback to the EVO 4G LTE is the fact that Sprint is just starting to roll out its 4G LTE network. If you're fortunate enough to live in one of the initial launch markets, the EVO 4G LTE should offer the mobile browsing and download speeds you desire. For the majority of Americans however, you will probably be waiting a while to use all of this phone's capabilities until Sprint further expands its LTE network.

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Overall though, we enjoyed our time with the EVO 4G LTE. It's a good phone that's very responsive and performs well. The kickstand is a nice added touch and the phone's camera is fast when you want to capture a burst of images.

     
  • 1.5GHz Dual-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 4.7-inch HD 720p super LCD (1280 x 720)
  • Android 4.0
  • Non-removable battery
  • Limited 4G LTE connectivity until Sprint expands its network

 



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