I wanted to love the Evo 4G LTE. I really did.
At first glance, HTC's new Evo seems to have everything going for it: The phone blends the basic hardware of the One X with design elements of the original Evo. Those are two powerful parents to combine.
Given that heritage, I had high hopes for the Evo 4G LTE -- and after a short time with the device, I was optimistic. Unfortunately, after using the phone for several days, my impressions have changed.
Don't get me wrong: The Evo 4G LTE has a lot of good qualities. It's almost a great phone. But it has some serious drawbacks that make it difficult for me to recommend.
I go into full detail about my experiences with the device in my in-depth review, but the long and short of it is that despite all the phone's positives, the Evo is currently stuck using an absurdly slow 3G network -- almost 20 times slower than LTE, in my comparisons -- and for most folks, there's no guarantee when that'll change. To be honest, I find it a bit troubling that Sprint is so prominently branding and promoting the new Evo as a "4G LTE" device; with the carrier's LTE network still under construction and no specific timeline as to when it'll light up for most of the country, that strikes me as a rather disingenuous thing to do.
Remember: Smartphones are data-centric devices, and you're paying a hefty premium for the right to all those bytes. No matter how much you like a phone's hardware, if surfing the Web and transferring data is painfully slow, you aren't going to have a very good experience. And with most people buying into two-year commitments with new phones these days, accepting the fact that half or more of your device's lifespan may be limited to subpar service doesn't seem like a good move -- especially when you consider that 4G is increasingly becoming the standard for high-end Android phones (a noteworthy change from two years ago, when the first Evo was released).
As you'll see in the review, I had a few other qualms with the new Evo, both hardware- and software-related. When you look at the high-end Android phone market as a whole, it all adds up to land the Evo significantly behind other comparable devices in terms of overall user experience. Unless you're just dead-set on getting a new Sprint Android phone right now, I'd suggest either holding off a bit or looking at other options.
• If you want a pure Android 4.0 experience -- Android the way that Google envisioned it -- the Galaxy Nexus is the way to go. Vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich achieves a sleek simplicity that's lost in many manufacturer modifications of the software.
The Galaxy Nexus is available on Sprint, but buying it there puts you in the same 3G-restricted boat described above. As such, I'd recommend looking at either Verizon's LTE model or Google's unlocked edition, which lets you use the device on any HSPA+ network (e.g. T-Mobile, AT&T, or even an inexpensive prepaid setup), no contract required.
• If you like HTC's approach to Android, I'd suggest looking at the HTC One X. It shares a lot of the Evo's positive qualities, and it offers true and immediate 4G connectivity (LTE or HSPA+). I also found that the One X feels better in the hand than the Evo, thanks to its less sharply angled design, and looks a bit nicer, too, due to its uniformly constructed casing.
• The One S is another standout alternative from the same HTC family, though it has a less eye-catching display and is smaller in size (which could be a plus or a minus for you, depending on your tastes). The One S has a striking aluminum unibody shell that gives it the most premium look and feel of the HTC devices; that material also delivers the extra benefit of making the One S less susceptible to visible fingerprint smudges.
Those are just a few targeted recommendations; there are obviously plenty of other compelling options on the market and on the horizon (including the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S III -- though at this point, it's anyone's guess as to when exactly it'll arrive on various U.S. carriers and what each carrier will do with the phone's design).
As I've said countless times before, it all comes down to what you want in a phone. There is no universal "right" answer, but there are certain shortcomings in devices that we can't ignore.
For the full scoop on the HTC Evo 4G LTE -- the good and the bad -- click over to my in-depth review:
Article copyright 2012 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.