This story first appeared on the Affluence Luxury Blog
I think I’m becoming an Android fanboy. For the second time this year, I’m enamored with a new Android phone. In April, I wrote this admittedly glowing review of the HTC Incredible, available at Verizon for $200
This time, it’s the HTC Evo 4G, a big-screened beauty that goes on sale Friday (June 4th) at Sprint for $200. It runs on the Android 2.1 operating system, has an 8-megapixel camera, and includes Sprint’s mobile “hotspot” application so you can use the Evo to connect a laptop to Sprint’s network. That last bit is called tethering, a feature the new iPhone will also have.
Among the Evo’s many delights — and one potential frustration — is a feature I have yet to see on a mobile phone: a kickstand. Now, you may think that’s a ridiculous feature but it’s actually awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I think every media-playing smartphone should have a kickstand.
Have you ever tried to watch a baseball game with the MLB At Bat app on your iPhone? Or even a YouTube video? It sucks to hold the phone, and it invariably falls down shortly after you lean it up against something. A kickstand solves this problem quite nicely.
Now, lets talk about why the HTC Evo needs a kickstand: it comes with a 4.3-inch screen, a bright and shining feature that makes the Evo look more like a tiny tablet PC than a mobile phone. My first reaction upon seeing the screen (the iPhone 3Gs’ display is 3.5 inches) is that it was just too big. It really jumps out at you.
But after using the Evo for the past few days, I’ve determined that I really like the bigger screen for one simple reason, and that’s not watching movies. The big screen is much easier for touch typing. Your thumbs have breathing room on this screen; I’ve made far fewer typing mistakes on the Evo than I did on the Incredible, for example. (I’m an iPhone owner, so I’m used to that keyboard.)
The HTC Evo 4g is the first phone to run over Sprint’s 4G network, which is also known as a WiMax network. Now, in my tests between the Incredible and the Evo, I can’t tell much difference. The Incredible, I think, is slightly faster at opening applications (both phones have a Snapdragon chip) and generally managing your mobile actions. But it’s very close.
I’ve been using the HTC Evo in Chicago, and I’m usually in 4G areas according to the phone. Not always, though, and in those cases the phone is still pretty zippy. It also includes Wi-Fi, and the Evo — like most Android phones and the iPhone — does a good job of alerting you about an available Wi-Fi network.
If there’s an issue with this phone, it may be a weak battery. I suppose that’s to be expected: it runs on an advanced network, the screen is huge and you want to use this phone because it’s a lot of fun. In my tests, it appears that you have to start seriously thinking of recharging the phone after about a half-day of steady use. That’s a bit worse than the iPhone and Incredible.
A nice feature is the battery indicator, found under the “about” menu in settings. It tells you what features are sucking on the battery, as well as how much time has passed since it was last charged. Still, if you buy the Evo, leave some room in your budget for a charging accessory.
Another useful feature is a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera. (The iPhone 4G — that doesn’t mean it will run on a 4G network, by the way — is widely expected to have a front-facing camera as well.) This is handy for video chats with your phone, or for snapping self-portraits. Hey, we live in social-networked obsessed times.
The 8-megapixel camera — with flash — is really nice, particularly for videos. I captured nice videos in a lower light situation, and then uploaded them from the phone to YouTube. I haven’t snapped enough pictures yet to get a great feel for the camera, but I like the results so far.
The phone includes Google Maps Navigation, the category killing application that puts free turn-by-turn driving directions on your phone. With the Evo’s big screen, this will be a big reason why road warriors may want this phone.
There’s a lot of phone with the HTC Evo. Sprint will wisely promote the heck out of this phone, and it should only add to the momentum that helped Android phones outsell the iPhone in this year’s first quarter.
Finally, I must admit that the kickstand, while awesome, is not perfect. It works much better when the phone is in landscape mode. In portrait mode, it can be shaky. Can you work on that, HTC?