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Attack of the Monster Phones
Posted on Sep 12, 2010
The people of Visalia struck me as pleasant and it is perhaps for their uncomplaining nature that Sprint chose to set up a 4G network there. If Sprint brings this level of performance to San Francisco and Los Angeles, as planned, it had better give the customer service department a pep talk. And God help the carrier when it rolls out to New York.
Having gotten that off my chest, it’s only fair to confess that out of pure stubbornness I ended up surfing on Sprint’s 4G all night, using the Evo as a WiFi hotspot, and the browsing experience was without frustration, even when streaming videos on Netflix and YouTube. I briefly switched to the Droid X, which also worked well and, again, rivaled the Evo’s 4G network for speed, but it cut out inexplicably and I had to restart the hotspot—twice in an hour of use—something that never happened with the Evo. Apparently “Droid Does” 20 minutes of hotspot before it gets bored and quits on you.
While we’re on the subject of annoyances that make the Droid X less of a doer than advertised, one really got me. The Droid X would accept only one Gmail account from me. Native Gmail, including support for multiple accounts, is possibly the top-selling point of any Android phone (it certainly isn’t the media experience, which has been so bad for so long it leads me to wonder whether Google has enough employees).
Square, Site wide
I left Visalia disheartened. I had expected 4G to be a revelation and instead I was revolted. I hit the freeway, heading north, determined to put the whole thing behind me. And then something remarkable happened. Passing Modesto, I remembered that it, too, has 4G. I glanced at the Evo and saw that it was indeed connected. Irresponsibly running a speed test or two while driving up the 99, I was pleasantly surprised. A much stronger 4G connection (as indicated by the phone’s display) meant download speeds of well over 3 Mbps. And then Modesto was gone. But in little bursts for the rest of my journey to Berkeley, passing Fresno and even in the middle of nowhere on the 580, I pulled down the same incredible speeds. Including a few dud readings, I averaged 2.73-Mbps downloads on 4G (I also got much faster Sprint 3G speeds and slower Verizon 3G speeds).
To put this in perspective, the Evo was getting faster Internet data on a freeway than your average DSL connection plugged into a wall.
I intended this to be a fight. I got ahold of these two phones not just to discover which was the bigger monster, but which, regardless of size, was the better Android phone.
The Droid X is an awesome phone, and in many ways both obvious and surprising it is superior to the Evo. Sure, the Evo has 4G, but does that make up for the Droid’s looks and more reliable network? If you asked me that question in Visalia, I’d say no. But my experience on the freeways tells a different story. If and when 4G hits your hometown, it will be worth every grievance to own an Evo.
Speaking of which, the worst grievance, by far, is the Evo’s battery life. This is the Hummer of phones. It’s big, impractical and more power-hungry than Vladimir Putin. But I love it. Not just for its speed, either.
The Evo is more practical than the Droid X. It may not be as attractive, but it gets shit done. Don’t get me wrong—the Droid X is perfectly capable and the Evo is not some office phone for the humdrum accountant. But it is, for reasons that can be elusive, useful. It also tickles the nerd G spot in a way that the Droid X doesn’t, and anyone who is attracted to Android over the iPhone is either crazy or a nerd.
I’m madly in love with both these phones, and I would happily have either over just about anything else out there. In the end, the Droid X is the phone you have a torrid affair with, but the Evo is the phone you marry.
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