If you have been holding your breath in the anticipation of the Sprint EVO 4G release, you can exhale now. EVO 4G will not become the best Android phone when it is released tomorrow, but it will provide a strong competition to other top of the line Android phones such as HTC Incredible (Verizon) and Nexus One (T-Mobile or AT&T).
EVO 4G has few unique features that set it apart from the competition: 1.3 MP front facing camera, 8MP main camera, 4G connectivity, HDMI port and beautiful 4.3 inch screen. However, due to its large screen size it can feel a bit bulky, so you definitely want to spend some time playing with the phone in the store before buying it. More importantly, since EVO’s 4.3 inch screen runs at the same resolution as smaller 3.7 inch screens of HTC Incredible and Nexus One, I question whether the extra size and weight of the phone bring enough benefits. Let’s look a little deeper at the EVO 4G.
- I don’t know why we had to wait till 2010 for the front facing cameras, but finally they are here and they are here to stay. No complaints whatsoever about 1.3 MP front facing camera or 8MP main camera. Front facing cameras on every phone, please! I once ran into the sd card permissions issue that has been heavily discussed at many forums, including xda developers, but hopefully it will be resolved ASAP.
- 4G is obviously a unique feature, since this is the first 4G phone to launched on any US carrier. 4G is not available in California, so I couldn’t test it (see other reviews for 4G speed tests).
- Hardware buttons under the screen work quite well (as opposed to the Nexus One, where buttons are a bit flaky).
- The kick stand is extremely convenient. Everything: typing, browsing, watching videos, video calling is much easier with the stand. People claiming otherwise haven’t used the phone long enough.
- HDMI port is a nice addition, although I haven’t tested it.
- Main camera has dual LED flash which is really bright and pictures taken in the dark look decent.
- And finally, the screen. When you first look at the phone, the 4.3 inch screen jumps at you, because it is beautiful. It is bright, it is big and it works really well in the sunlight (again, a win over both Nexus One and HTC Incredible).
- Paradoxically, the screen size can also be seen as one of the biggest weaknesses of the phone. I’m not convinced that is it worth carrying around extra weight of the 4.3 inch screen while running at the same resolution (480×800) as HTC Incredible and Nexus One. If Android starts supporting higher resolutions, it may make 4.3 inch screen worth it, but for now, 480×800 looks good enough on 3.7 inch screen.
- Battery. Some reviewers are claiming very short battery life (even without 4G), but that hasn’t been the case with the model I was testing. It looked like the battery drained a bit faster than on the Nexus One, but the difference was not significant and EVO always lasted through the day.
- Sprint EVO 4G runs Sense UI based on Android 2.1. I, personally, prefer stock Android UI both for the cleaner (although, admittedly simpler) look and for the speed of the Android OS updates. For example, Nexus One (running stock UI) will get exciting Android 2.2 FroYo update in the coming weeks, while EVO will have to wait months until HTC provides Android 2.2 based Sense UI later this year.
If you are ok with the Sense UI and larger phone size and weight, you will love this phone. Otherwise, you can look at either HTC Incredible or Nexus One, since both of these phones are still very solid choices.