HTC Evo Design 4G on Sprint: Solid but Unexciting Android Smartphone

HTC Evo Design 4G on Sprint is a middle-of-the-road Android smartphone spiced up by a 4G network and world phone capability, but otherwise unexciting.

The HTC Evo Design 4G is a middle-of-the-road Android smartphone.

It doesn't feature the extra-large screens, ultrasharp resolutions, super-powerful camera apertures or other natty tweaks that define high-end smartphones such as the Motorola Droid or Samsung Galaxy S II. But it also lacks some of the issues that occasionally plague those top-tier devices.

The HTC Evo Design 4G offers Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) paired with a single-core 1.2GHz processor and 4-inch quarter-high-definition (qHD) touch-screen display. It operates as a world phone, and supports Sprint's 4G network. It offers 8GB of on-board memory, expandable to 32GB. Sprint claims the smartphone provides six hours of talk time, something that testing by eWEEK did nothing to disprove. In other words: It's perfectly adequate for most users who don't download tons of power-hungry applications and memory-thirsty content, albeit with the added benefit of 4G (and the 4G is nice and speedy).

The 5.22-ounce weight, combined with that screen size, translates into a device that feels lightweight but nonetheless solid in the hand. The black case is handsome, and doesn't heat too much after extended use. The 5-megapixel camera takes solid photos and video, paired with a 1.3-megapixel front aperture. Sprint and HTC have included a range of proprietary applications on the device, including ones intended for entertainment content and navigation.

Those familiar with HTC smartphones will be totally unsurprised by anything in the HTC Evo Design 4G's interface. Google's steady tweaks to Android over the past few years have resulted in a much smoother experience than the early days of the HTC Droid Eris. It remains an open question, however, how well HTC's take on Android will dovetail with Google's upcoming "Ice Cream Sandwich," a fairly radical update on the operating system.

In any case, solid middle-of-the-road devices such as the HTC Evo Design 4G could allow Google to fend off an increasing challenge in the midmarket from Windows Phone-whose creator, Microsoft, fully intends to enter that segment in coming quarters-and Apple's iPhone, including the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS at lower price points. As for the carriers, their risk is spread across multiple devices: Sprint not only offers HTC smartphones running Android, for example, but also the iPhone.

That 4G is a significant reason to consider purchasing a midrange Android device that lacks the hardware specs of its higher-end siblings. At the same time, though, high-speed networks are becoming so ubiquitous that any one device can't depend on them as a market-crushing differentiator.

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