HTC EVO Review

My very first impression of the EVO was that it was a big slab, with a huge screen and that it was not as sexy or as physically appealing as the device that it was replacing (my launch day pre).  But over the past week and a half that I’ve had the device,  I’ve come to love this phone. It has to be the most feature rich mobile phone that I have ever used.  It combines all of the things that I loved about my past smartphones and makes me feel like I’m using something that is so current that I don’t really feel like I’m missing anything, and that for me is rare. I will try to get into comparisons between other devices, especially my Pre in another article but now I intend to focus on the EVO alone.

Size – This phone is large.  If you are accustomed to using a device like the Pre or even the Iphone or a Blackberry Storm this will take some getting used to.  At times it feels awkward to hold because it is just so big.  I don’t have large hands and I’m sure most men won’t mind the size of the phone in their hand but as a woman this device is enormous compared to what I’ve had in the past.  But that isn’t to say that it won’t fit in your pocket.  On most days when I’m wearing jeans I can easily slip the EVO into my back pocket without too much effort.  So that is definitely a plus.  Though the size is a bit daunting at first it is something that you can get used to.

Screen– This phone is all screen.  Looking at it makes me all warm and fuzzy.  It’s large and bright and makes any other phone that sits next to it look tiny and unimportant.  Browsing web pages, reading email, and texting all feel great on a screen of this size.  But there are two problems that I’ve noticed with the screen.  One is that it is HORRIBLE in sunlight.  You can’t see a thing if you are outside on a gorgeous sunny day (which I’ve had a lot of lately) and you are trying to use your beloved EVO.  Not sure there is a fix for this (perhaps an anti-glare screen protector) but it is annoying and really bothers me.  The second issue that I have is that I feel like the colors are not as vivid as on my Pre.  Perhaps this experience is something that is unique to me but I just think that pictures in the browser are more blurry and certain elements are not as crisp.  Perhaps a higher resolution since the screen is so massive might have done the trick.

Sense UI– Sense lasted about a day on my phone.  Right now I’m rocking Launcher Pro as my launcher.   Although Sense has some pluses, I hated that gray bar on the bottom of the screen with the shortcuts for phone, menu and adding widgets.  Personally, I thought it was ugly.   Additionally, Sense would not rotate my home screen when in landscape.  Launcher Pro does all of these things and even has a “Leap” like feature which allows you to easily switch between home screens by pinching.   I can add up to 7 home screens with Launcher Pro and even enable the 3D app drawer which is standard with Android 2.1.  I do however miss some of the Sense UI features like the animated weather, Calendar widget, and the Mail and SMS widgets.  But they are not deal breakers for me so I will be sticking with Launcher Pro for now.  What I do appreciate about Sense UI is that it has taken on features of Synergy from WebOS that I loved from WebOS where the focus is around the individual and linking their information from different sources (Flickr, Facebook etc) is much easier.

Battery Life – This has not been my best experience with battery life on a phone but given that I’ve been using it constantly from day one I would have to say that the battery is pretty decent.  Recently I was able to go 24 hours unplugged with moderate usage (phone calls, GPS, SMS, push email, web surfing, and IM).   On an average day I would say that my battery lasts about 12 hours and I’m typically doing a lot of web surfing and instant messaging.  But I would note that I also use my phone as my music player.  So considering all of these things I think the battery is pretty good. I haven’t felt the need to get a spare battery yet and this is pretty fantastic since I had 3 batteries for my last device.

4G– I’m one lucky girl to live and work about 3 mins away from Sprint’s old headquarters in Reston.   There is like a mile worth of Sprint buildings near me and as you can assume there is 4G access.  I even get good 4G service in my apartment.  In Reston, Va I’m seeing anywhere between  2.5 -3.0 Mpbs down and only .04 Mbps up. On 3G using the same speed test in the same location at around the same time I got about .32 Mbps down and .32Mpbs up

4G Hotspot– I can’t see myself paying $30/month for a 4G hotspot anytime soon but the process of using this on the phone is seamless and easy and the speeds were noticeably better than tethering with 3G.  The fact that you can connect up to 8 devices is really nice.

Call Quality/Speaker Phone-This has been excellent.  I feel like the call quality and the speakerphone are really really good on this phone.  I noticed this right away especially compared to other devices that I’ve used in the past.  I find myself using the speakerphone on the EVO a lot because it actually works well.

Performance – This phone is fast.  I have experienced no slow downs.  I do however get the occasional app crashes, but I don’t know what causes that ( if it’s app specific or the launcher).  But they don’t slow me down at all. I usually just have to hit Force close and the app auto relaunches.  I need more time to expose the source of this issue but it hasn’t cause any major disruptions for me.

Cameras – I tend to be a bit of a Camera snob especially since I’ve moved away from point and shoot cameras and opted for a digital SLR.  So of course this is not a replacement for my standalone camera but it does a good job of taking pictures outdoors and in good lighting.  The camera is better than most smartphone cameras and I love the fact that it has autofocus.  I don’t know how much the dual LED flashes have helped with nightshots but I guess that’s a plus.  What’s most important to me however, are the settings that I can change in the camera app.  I love that I can adjust the white balance and change the video quality. The fact that there is a front facing camera on the phone is a win.  Not only is it great for video conferencing using Qik and Fring, but it’s also good for taking portrait shots w.  I do however get the occasional app crashes, but I don’t know what cause that; if it’s app specific or the launcher, I’m not sure.  But they don’t slow me down at all. I usually just have to hit Force close and the app auto relaunches.

Virtual Keyboards/Other Inputs – Typing on this keyboard is not as great as a physical keyboard but it comes really close.  The size of the screen really helps a lot and for the first time using an HTC Android device I don’t feel annoyed by the vibrating haptic feedback.  I remember turning it off on the Hero and also experiencing slight lags when typing but I don’t have any of those issues here with the EVO.  I also like the fact that I can change my keyboard to something else like Swype if I choose.  Another stellar feature of this phone is voice command/search.  Though I don’t find myself using it daily I think it is accurate and a really convenient way to quickly send a message to someone, dial a contact or search for something on the web.

Android/Features and more Features – This phone and OS does everything.  While I stilll feel that WebOS as a whole is the most compelling, beautiful, simplistic, and fun OS to use I see how powerful and seasoned Android has become and the Geek in me loves it.  I love that I can find tons of apps in the market place and that I can customize ringtones for just about everything.  I also love the fact that I can share photos and videos with lots of different services.  I also love how Google magic is all over this device.  If you live in GMAIL, GTALK, Google Voice, Google Maps like I do then you will be truly pleased with the Android 2.1 experience.  Android reminds me a lot of my Windows Mobile days and I didn’t realize how much I missed that.  It is just extremely powerful and customizable and I love tweaking with my device all the time.

The EVO for me is an all around winner.  I usually feel like there’s something missing when I get a new phone but this time around I have to say that my needs have been more than satisfied.  Do I wish that the phone did certain things better? Yes.  But I have yet to find a device that coudn’t stand some improvement.  However, the EVO comes really close to suiting my needs perfecty.  I enjoy using the phone, and my frustration level is really non-existent.  I do wish that Android would be as easy to navigate as WebOS (ie gestures) but I think it comes down to preference.  I don’t plan on returning my EVO and using any other phone for now and that says a lot for someone who changes their phone more than once a year.

But generally speaking for the average user the EVO might be overkill.  If you are not necessarily into customizing or tweaking your device, or having video conferencing, or even using social networking then the size of the EVO plus the battery life might cause you to stray to something that doesn’t have so much going on.  Though the device really has most everything you would need it might be a bit overwhelming.  However, if you love to tweak your phone, surf the web, download apps, use twitter, facebook, and love to snap photos and share them with your friends on a FAST device then the EVO is a great choice on an excellent network.

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