Death to Physical Buttons

Along the top of the EVO 4G, just to the right of center is a power/lock button. It barely protrudes from the chassis which makes it difficult to hit both on accident and on purpose. On the right side of the phone is a volume rocker switch, which squeaked on my review sample. Those three are the only physical buttons on the device. The EVO 4G is all about its screen and HTC did nothing to detract from that.

The line of capacitive touch buttons along the bottom of the screen are responsive and by default have haptic feedback enabled (the phone vibrates slightly when you hit one of them). Unlike the Incredible I reviewed, the back of the phone didn’t rattle whenever the phone vibrated.

The touch buttons themselves are just as responsive as on the Incredible, which also means they are much better than those on the Nexus One.

The EVO 4G feels pretty solid. The front is nearly all screen (minus the row of touch buttons at the bottom), the border of the phone is glossy black plastic and the back is a very soft feeling plastic that’s wonderful to pet. The device doesn’t feel fragile.

Since there’s very little border around the screen and buttons I found myself accidentally triggering the quick search and sometimes the camera app with my palm while holding the phone.

Getting the back cover off is simple enough: just stick your finger nail in the opening at the top and pull it off. It snaps back on just as easily. I found that in general the EVO 4G seemed to be better built than the Incredible but not quite as solid as the Nexus One.

Beneath the rear cover you’ve got the now typical HTC arrangement. A beefy 5.5Whr battery and a microSD card slot for media (and eventually app) storage. The phone ships with a 8GB microSD card by default.

Along the bottom of the phone you’ve got a micro USB connector and a mini HDMI connector. The latter can only be used while playing back videos; it won’t mirror the EVO’s display to your TV unfortunately.

The phone comes with a USB cable and USB power adapter. The HDMI cable is sold separately.

Let’s Get Chippy

Inside the HTC EVO 4G is a Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8650 SoC. This, unlike the Snapdragon in the Nexus One, supports both GSM and CDMA networks, which is what lets this phone work on Sprint.

The Snapdragon SoC has an amazing amount of integration that brings the CPU, GPU, video encoder, decoder, camera processor and modem all onto a single piece of silicon. To enable WiMAX support HTC turned to Sequans and used its SQN1210 WiMAX radio; this is what gives the EVO its 4G network support.

The 4G radio has an easily accessible on/off widget on one of the home screens by default, but honestly the Sequans chip appears to do a good job of being power efficient. I didn’t see a substantial difference in battery life with 4G enabled or disabled as long as the workload remained the same. Obviously with a faster connection you’re more likely to surf and download more, which will in turn kill your battery quicker but from what I’ve seen 4G battery life is roughly the same as 3G battery life for an identical workload (more on this later).

A Broadcom BCM4329 controller enables 802.11n support as well as Bluetooth and FM Radio tuning. Yes, the HTC EVO 4G can function as a high priced alarm clock radio if you want it to.

It's Not That Big The Basics
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  • Strk - Monday, June 28, 2010 - link

    Last I knew, it was free roaming regardless. The minutes is just anytime, which for Sprint is 7am to 7pm (free nights and weekends). But like you said, you get unlimited mobile to mobile regardless of the other person's carrier.

    I wonder how this thing will stack up against the Samsung Galaxy S phones? I believe all the major carriers are getting one.
    Reply
  • ed1112ward - Monday, June 28, 2010 - link

    Yup, as a owner of the phone i can confirm then $10 evo tax, err I mean "Premium Data" charge. Reply
  • ChillyPenguin - Monday, June 28, 2010 - link

    The 69.99 plan only include 450 minutes to land lines, while it does include unlimited minutes to any cellphone on any network. This review is correct in listing the 900 minute plan as 99.99 including the $10/mo 4G fee. That being said, my wife and I are on a sprint "Simply Everything" 1500 minute shared plan. By the time we get free calling to all cell phones and free nights and weekends, we used less than 300 minutes combined last month. Reply
  • Alexstarfire - Monday, June 28, 2010 - link

    It's hard to really compare AT&T prices to Sprint prices since you can't get the exact same plans most of the time. Sprint truly has an "unlimited everything" option while AT&T has a 2GB max limit now. The fact that AT&T ended up being cheaper once tethering is included means little if you go over every month. With 4G and a true unlimited plan it's a pretty safe bet to say that Sprint has a much better plan in place. You can actually use it like it's supposed to be used.

    I'm very disappointed to hear about the screen in the EVO. A TFT, really? Why sully a great device with a craptastic screen? Not that the screen can't look good, but it'll never look as good as an AMOLED.

    And I agree with another person on here that this topic needs to be revisited with Froyo on the device. Would also be worth noting if there is a difference between stock and a "formatted" phone so-to-speak. It would suck to see a stock phone behaving like most stock laptops, but it's still something I'd like to know.
    Reply
  • solipsism - Monday, June 28, 2010 - link

    In some areas, sure. Like display size, aspect ratio and the built in kickstand. But I would argue the EVO 4G loses that title by having a worse panel type and dot pitch over the new iPhone 4; and, most importantly, such a short playback time whist in Airplane Mode.

    PS: To extend your entertainment needs one can continuously charge their smartphone from their laptop if on a long flight without access to power. You should be able to get at least 4 charges out of the average notebook.
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Monday, June 28, 2010 - link

    I'm waiting to see how the Droid X pans out. Unfortunately, Verizon is quite a bit more expensive than Sprint, and they don't have any "4G" options. Never been a fan of HTC either. Reply
  • Zebo - Tuesday, June 29, 2010 - link

    Great review Anand. Good things come to those who wait, right.:P

    Evo is a non starter for me since I spend at hours on the phone each day and in the field and battery life kills it in addition to poor screen outside.

    Looking forward to iPhone review on battery life and outdoor capability.:)
    Reply
  • fifoloveritas - Monday, June 28, 2010 - link

    The 30 charge is for wireless hotspot, which is not available on iPhone. Not sure if it's available on any other phone. There's no charge for regular tethering, phone has Share Connection option when it is plugged into USB. Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Monday, June 28, 2010 - link

    Anand,

    I've noticed that the majority of articles on the site lately have been for phones, consoles, laptops and other pre-assembled consumer electronics. Is this the new focus of AT? Has there simply been a dry spell of PC components?

    Thanks,
    MP
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Monday, June 28, 2010 - link

    I've got a stack of SSDs here that need work and we'll have new GPUs coming very soon. The smartphones are hot right now but we'll see things come and go in waves. If there's a demand for us to review it, we will :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply

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