America’s third-place carrier doesn’t get that many high-five opportunities, but somewhere Sprint executives are bruising their palms after announcing the EVO 4G, the first phone in America to run on a next-generation wireless network.
The phone, produced by HTC, has an impressive list of features beyond its 4G radio. It has a giant 480x800 4.3-inch screen, a 1GHz processor, two cameras (8 megapixels on the back and 1.3 up front for video conferencing) and the ability to record and play back 720p HD video. The device runs the latest version of Android, complete with HTC’s Sense UI, which plugs some holes and adds functionality to Google’s mobile operating system. And here’s a killer feature: It can turn into a mobile hotspot, allowing up to eight other lesser devices to sip its 4G data over WiFi.
There are two flavors of 4G coming to these shores: WiMAX, which Sprint has already started to roll out, and LTE, on which both AT&T and Verizon are hard at work. Sprint’s WiMAX network is awfully small at the moment, but it has the advantage of being real, on and available to a few million Americans. LTE is promising and will probably emerge as the dominant technology, but we’ll have to wait a few years to find out. Hopefully our new Sprint contract is up by then.
The EVO 4G comes out in the summer for an undisclosed price. —PZS
Hands on from Engadget:
We got to play with the phone for an all-too-brief matter of minutes, but everything we saw was frankly breathtaking. The camera does seem to be indeed of a high quality (though we’ll still be holding on to our compact shooter, thank you very much), the screen is naturally gorgeous, and the Sense UI was as responsive as we’ve seen it, and frankly delicious at this jumbo size. The capacitive face buttons are flat and almost a little difficult to see due the thin chrome icons, but the physical buttons (a volume rocker and a power button up top) are very large, tactile and friendly. Around back there’s strong, chrome kick stand, and when you pop off the cover the battery is surrounded by beautiful “Ferrari red” plastic. The touchscreen keyboard is positively ginormous, though we’re not sure we’re feeling some of the recent things that have been crammed in there like huge cursor buttons and the voice recognition button—just because you can fit stuff in there doesn’t mean you should, and they look a little comical at this size. In our testing we weren’t really able to get a feel for the browsing speed on WiMAX, but at this point we’re primarily enthused that it’s even an option, and obviously the theoretical speeds are far beyond 3G, with a bunch of new markets due to go online this year. Battery life is stated as “comparable.”
Let’s just say it: HTC’s Evo 4G is the best Android phone out there. It may even be the best phone, period. Its combination of speed, size, and power mean that everyone else is officially playing catch-up.