HTC EVO 4G LTE First Impressions

Aaron Baker
Writer from  Dallas, TX
| May 14, 2012

HTC's EVO 4G LTE goes on sale at Sprint retail stores on May 18th for $199.99.  I've had hands-on time with my unit since HTC's media event on Wednesday evening in New Orleans, and I'm pretty stoked about this Android powerhouse.  It's an exceptional Android device that's paired with some great improvements over the One line.

EVO 4G LTE is my favorite iteration out of the series because it takes a great feature set and makes it even better, with a 2,000 mAh battery, kickstand, and a physical camera button.  The kickstand is a nice feature, but the added battery capacity and physical camera button compliment two of the best features on this handset: the HD display and the exceptional camera.

Here's what I've discovered so far:

  • Along with the blazing dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and beautiful 4.7-inch HD display, EVO 4G LTE takes it a step further and offers a higher-capacity 2,000 mAh battery and a kickstand.  Weighing in at a relatively light 4.7 ounces, it's a beautiful device.  I love the industrial, flat display and metal accents (my least favorite feature about the One X is the curved display), though I'm not a huge fan of the two-toned look on the back.
  • The left side of the unit houses the microUSB charging port, while the right spine has the volume rocker.  Power button and 3.5mm headphone jack can be found on top, and the red kickstand is on the back.
  • EVO 4G LTE comes with Ice Cream Sandwich (that's Android 4.0) and HTC Sense 4, the newest iteration of the manufacturer's UI.  Throw out the preconceived notions of Sense based on past versions, because Sense 4 is a whole new animal.  The UI has been pared back and seems to compliment Ice Cream Sandwich far better.  The wild animations have been replaced with more toned down alternatives.  You're reading that right: no more crazy carousel animation when you flick between homescreens too hard.

  • The smartphone packs the same 8-megapixel shooter as the One X and One S, and it's equally impressive.  In fact, it's downright amazing.  Image quality is absolutely fantastic, rivaling the iPhone 4S and offering awesome features like burst mode.  You can also take still images while shooting video.  Other devices offer similar features, but the implementation and overall quality on the EVO 4G LTE are second-to-none.
  • Because of Sprint's odd 3G to WiMAX to LTE path, the EVO 4G LTE (and any of the LTE handsets, for that matter) could be an odd transition for many that live in WiMAX markets.  In my case, I essentially went from 3G to 4G (WiMAX) back to 3G before I get to return to 4G (LTE).  LTE is a better technology, but the idea of going taking a step back in technology to take a step forward is odd in 2012.  And I think it'll confuse consumers.

EVO 4G LTE has taken a formula that was already popular and added a few needed features to make it even better.  But at this point, I can't recommend the whole package due to Sprint's horrendous 3G network speeds in many metropolitan markets across the country.  Unfortunately, Sprint's 3G network is at the point of being unusable in many metro areas.  During traditional office hours, it has taken me as long as seven minutes to download an app and six minutes to send a tweet; unacceptable in any circumstance.

Since there's no real indication of where Network Vision will improve coverage (outside of a vague site that doesn't provide a great deal of information), it's challenging to predict when the issue will be resolved.  And there are markets that seem to be relatively unaffected.  When I was in San Diego for CTIA Enterprise & Applications last year, Sprint performed admirably.  But the fact is that Sprint is having serious issues in many metropolitan markets.  I can personally vouch for the sluggish speeds in Charlotte, Dallas, New Orleans, and Seattle, and there are multiple threads on the topic scattered about the Internet.  Expect Sprint's 4G LTE rollout to alleviate some of this, but until the nation is 100 percent covered, this will likely continue to be an issue.

Sprint offers an excellent value proposition, and I admire them as a company.  Their scrappiness is an admirable trait in today's almost-duopoly market, but they have to work quickly on their network issues.  At this point, I'm surprised more customers haven't voiced their frustration.

Outside of the network woes, the HTC EVO 4G LTE is an awesome Android handset, and given the $199.99 price, it's a smartphone I'd recommend to anyone looking for a high-end handset.  I'm struck with the sense that this is a near-perfect Android phone for right now; a great combination of features in a great package.  And it's $200, which is better than the $300 tier that the top two carriers have started to adopt with their high-end devices.  Just watch out for sluggish data.

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