General Use and Conclusion
One area where we think the Sprint EVO Shift 4G beat out its bigger brother was when using it as a phone. Both phones have good call quality and didn't drop calls during our testing period. However, the narrower EVO Shift 4G is simply more comfortable to hold, especially for a smaller hand or during a longer period of talk time. The shift is wider than a classic slideout phone, such as an old Samsung Rant which is about the width of a BlackBerry Curve. Plus, as previously noted, unlike the Curve or EVO, the screen doesn't have to host a software keyboard, which we found a pleasure when we were multi-tasking, accessing applications while engaged in a phone call or anytime we wanted to view what was on the screen while simultaneously typing.
Like many smartphones, the HTC EVO Shift 4G has a proximity sensor which automatically switches the screen off when in phone mode and while it is being held to your face. This means that the capacitive touch won't think you are giving it a command if it brushes against your cheek. The sensor doesn't turn off its 3G/4G/Wi-Fi and the screen comes back on during a phone call when the slide-out keyboard is opened. Additionally, even when the device is locked, the user can answer the call with a single swipe on the screen.
Although it hosts only a 800MHz CPU, the exceptionally responsive touchscreen combined with the speed improvements from Froyo over previous versions of Android make the HTC EVO Shift 4G "feel" just as responsive as the 1GHz smartphones we've used. We had no glitches, stalls or any other problems with any of the applications we used during our review.
If the phone has one true shortfall, it is battery life. HTC says the device's 1500 mAh Li-on battery provides 6 hours of continuous talk time. We found that the battery ran low on us after eight hours of moderate use, with the device set to stay powered for 10 minutes at a time. HTC advises users to make tweaks to extend battery life, such reducing the backlight settings and avoiding vibrate mode. The device can also be set so that the 4G antenna is not running continuously, Bluetooth settings are off, and so on, to extend battery life. While it likely can't run more than a day on single charge, it can certainly make it through a workday of use.
Sprint's phone lineup of smartphones is not nearly as impressive as most of its competitors (it hasn't even announced an intention to carry a Windows Phone 7 phone, for instance, and there's obviously no iPhone either). And although Sprint has a selection of Android phones, if you want 4G you currently have three choices, and of these only two currently run Android 2.2, with the other requiring a software upgrade (and the risks of quirky side-effects that an upgrade entails).
On the other hand, users of Sprint's network don't have the same complaints about call quality, dropped calls, and coverage areas as users of AT&T.
While the HTC EVO Shift 4G doesn't have all the features of the highest end smartphones, what it does, it does well. And we found its compromises to be a fair trade. Instead of a front-facing camera, it offers a slimmer form more comfortable when using it as a phone. Instead of a higher-end camera and HDMI slot, it offers a slide-out keyboard, which provides more viewable area onscreen in many situations and choices of how to input text. Instead of an included 8GB microSD, it offers a lower price and a bit more ROM storage.
We found the phone so responsive and easy to use however, be it surfing, texting, playing games or talking, that the Evo Shift's compromises felt less significant.