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It may have been just announced, but the Shift 4G is already one of our top devices for Sprint, and it's easy to see why. The 4G connectivity, Mobile Hotspot feature, and excellent physical keyboard make the Shift 4G a promising device. Just imagine the EVO 4G with all of its HTC Sense and 4G goodness, but in a slightly smaller package and with a keyboard. Not only that, but it ships with Android 2.2, a version that still hasn't made its way onto a lot of high-end smartphones. *cough*Galaxy S*cough*.
The Shift 4G isn't perfect and it doesn't have the larger 4.3-inch display and front-facing camera that the EVO 4G has or the beautiful Super AMOLED display and more roomy keyboard that makes the Epic 4G so popular, but it has definitely earned its spot on our Top Smartphones List.
1. Samsung Epic 4G
- 4-inch Super AMOLED display is beautiful, and offers a balance between "way tiny" and "super huge"
- Physical QWERTY keyboard is roomy, easy to use, and could appeal to the BlackBerry crowd
- Front-facing camera for video calling
- 4G (WiMAX) connectivity
- For a flagship device, Epic's 5-megapixel camera pales in comparison to the EVO 4G, DROID Incredible, and DROID X
- Samsung's TouchWiz user interface, with its colorful icons and large print, isn't for everyone
- Epic 4G also requires Sprint's $10 "premium data" charge
- Galaxy S line (including Epic 4G) is still waiting for Android 2.2
As the second 4G (WiMAX) device available, the Epic 4G is part of Samsung's Galaxy S line. With a 1 GHz processor, 4.0-inch display, and Android 2.1, it's an awesome addition to Sprint's smartphone lineup. That said, it falls a bit short in the battery life department, and lacks the 8-megapixel shooter and the Android 2.2 update found on the HTC EVO 4G.
2. HTC EVO 4G
- 1 GHz Snapdragon processor
- Large 4.3-inch touchscreen
- Mobile Hotspot with connectivity for up to eight (8) users
- One of the first carrier-branded devices to get Android 2.2
- 8MP camera with 720p video recording capabilities, and an additional front-facing camera for video calling
- Battery life isn't the greatest
- 4.3-inch display, while nice, isn't an AMOLED display.
- Sprint's 4G coverage is still limited to select markets in the US
- Requires a $10 "premium data" add-on, even if you're not in a 4G market
With a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, 4.3-inch display, 8-megapixel camera with 720p video recording capabilities, Android 2.2 with HTC's Sense UI, and 4G connectivity, the HTC EVO 4G is about as jam-packed as an Android device can get, and Sprint's current flagship unit. Unfortunately, 4G coverage is still sporadic and limited to select markets in the United States, and EVO users are stuck with a $10 "premium data" fee regardless of the data coverage in their market.
3. HTC EVO Shift 4G
- It comes with most of the features that the EVO 4G has, including Mobile Hotspot and other Sprint services
- Comes pre-installed with Android 2.2 and HTC's Sense UI
- Offers 4G connectivity in a compact package
- Due to the smaller screen, battery life is much better than the EVO 4G and Epic 4G
- Cheaper price means no front-facing camera
- Still requires Sprint's $10 "Premium Data" surcharge
- $149.99 price point makes you think "why not go with the EVO 4G?"
The HTC EVO Shift 4G is the third 4G-capable device to land on Sprint, and is part of the carrier's push to expand the EVO brand. Despite the different form factor, the EVO Shift offers quite a few features that throw it onto the "Best Smartphones" list: Sprint's Mobile Hotspot, Android 2.2 with HTC's awesome Sense UI, and a nice physical QWERTY keyboard. Don't let the 800 MHz processor fool you - it's a next-generation Snapdragon processor that performs better than the one in the HTC EVO 4G. That said, it still requires Sprint's $10 "Premium Data" surcharge, and at $149.99, the price gap between EVO and EVO Shift may push prospective buyers up to the EVO 4G.