Review: Sprint will begin selling the Google Android 2.1-based HTC Evo 4G smartphone for $199 with a two-year contract June 4 ($100 mail-in rebate), just a few days before Apple is expected to launch its ballyhooed iPhone 4.0.
This black device is a big smartphone, measuring 4.8 inches long, 2.5 inches wide and a half-inch thick, and weighing a Motorola Droid-like 6 ounces. This size, displayed here, will put off some discerning buyers.
Both the Nexus One and Incredible are thinner and lighter and have smaller screens (3.7 inches), so the Evo felt a little big in my average-sized hand. That took a full day to get used to, but it was worth it thanks to the 4.3-inch WVGA (800-by-480) touch screen.
A few minutes watching YouTube clips or ESPN Mobile sporting events on the Sprint TV application, as I did, will make one forget they are watching TV on a phone instead of a TV set.
This was especially true when I used the little kickstand to prop up the device to watch hands free. After hopping around the HTC Sense “leap view” that provides seven customizable homescreens, I easily watched 15 minutes of the men’s match of the French Open June 2.
Let me curb the enthusiasm with a note of caution. I burned through a quarter of the juice from the Evo’s lithium battery watching Rafael Nadal and Nicolas Alamagro whack balls across the clay court at Roland Garros.
The Evo could be the best Android smartphone to date if it weren’t for the device’s poor battery life. Thanks to that glaring problem, the Evo faces Catch-22s at every turn.
For example, there isn’t a better Android smartphone to take pictures with (thanks to the 8-megapixel LED flash camera), shoot video (at 720p), watch an extended series of video clips or maybe even a movie, and browse the Web.
Social apps such as Facebook for Android and Peep for Twitter, and media apps such as Amazon’s MP3 Store and video-sharing app Qik are preloaded onto the device.
These things all work great, but you could never do all of them for an extended period of time without recharging the battery. This detail alone reminds you that you ARE using a smartphone, not a tablet or a netbook with a touch screen.
Another utility on the device is a front-facing, 1.3-megapixel camera for video chat, but the software is not yet ready for this task.