Ever since it was first introduced at CTIA 2010, the anticipation and hype surrounding the HTC Evo 4G has taken on a life of its own.  Of course, this type of device comes with a whole set of expectations, which can either be met with joy or disappointment. Fortunately, for Sprint and HTC, it’s more of the former than the latter, but we certainly have our gripes about the handset, too. Overall, the HTC Evo 4G is, hands-down, the best smartphone that Sprint has to offer and certainly ranks as one of the best Android phones on the market today. It’s feature packed and powerful, and shows the promise of 4G. Admittedly, we had higher hopes for 4G speeds, but it made good on Sprint’s claims and is definitely a step up from 3G.

That said, it’s a shame that only a limited group will be able to really enjoy the full potential of the Evo 4G at launch, given the limited reach of Sprint’s 4G network, but what’s worse is the mandatory $10 premium data add-on. It’s not the $10 charge for WiMax that upsets us; that is a completely fair price in our opinion. However, making it mandatory for everyone, regardless of whether you live in a 4G market or not, seems unfair. Yes, in the grand scheme of things, Sprint’s data plans are much less than its competitors’ plans, and there is no data cap with the premium add-on, but still, it’s a bit maddening to have to pay for something you’re not getting. Why not just make it a requirement for those in a 4G coverage area and offer it as an a-la-carte option for those who live in 3G markets and might travel to a 4G market?

Again, the Evo 4G is Sprint’s premier smartphone and you’ll get a great device regardless of our quibbles. We just hope Sprint starts to light up those 4G markets faster, so everyone can take advantage of the 4G capabilities and get their money’s worth. The HTC Evo 4G will be available June 4 for $199.99 with a two-year contract and the aforementioned data plans. Though Sprint requires a $100 mail-in rebate, Best Buy and Radio Shack do not, so you get the $200 price tag instantly.

Design
Cut from the same cloth as the HTC HD2, the HTC Evo 4G isn’t what you’d call a dainty phone. It measures 4.8 inches tall by 2.6 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and weighs 6 ounces, so you’re dealing with a good chunk of hardware. It’s right on the cusp of being too big, but HTC was able to keep the Evo relatively thin, making it more manageable.

The good: The HTC Evo 4G delivered respectable 4G speeds, and the mobile hot-spot feature lets you connect up to eight devices. The smartphone has a front-facing camera for video chats and also comes with an 8-megapixel camera with HD-video-recording capabilities. The Evo ships with YouTube’s HQ video player, Android 2.1 with HTC Sense, and an HDMI port. Other highlights include an extra-large 4.3-inch touch screen and a 1GHz Snapdragon processor.

The bad: Sprint’s 4G network is limited at this time, making the mandatory $10 premium data add-on tough to swallow for anyone outside of the coverage area. The Evo lacks support for Bluetooth voice-activated dialing. Battery drains quickly with 4G.

The bottom line: The HTC Evo 4G is easily Sprint’s best smartphone and one of today’s top Android devices. It also shows the promise of 4G, which will grow as Sprint’s WiMax network expands, but until there’s broader 4G coverage, it’s hard to agree with the mandatory premium data add-on fee.

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