After I've finished unboxing the HTC EVO 4G that Google gave out at the Google I/O conference, I started playing with the phone and noting down things that are different from other phones, things that are interesting, and things that bug me.

Note that this is not meant to be a full review - the bullet points are just my first impressions after 2 hours of use. Think of this post as a mini hands-on review:

The Screen

  • The first thing you notice is the screen THE SCREEN. It is HUGE.
  • The screen is quite glossy, I think quite a bit glossier than my Hero's but that could be because it's so much bigger. This is not a good thing - I had a lot of trouble taking pictures without having some sort of reflections.
  • The screen looks kind of washed out if you look at it at an angle. I am not a big fan. It is relatively crisp though and looks good when looked at straight.
  • It is also a fingerprint magnet - ughhh.
  • By the way, the screen on the Samsung Galaxy S was absolutely insane. The Super AMOLED technology dropped my jaw to the ground - it was like comparing a super crisp matte photo to a bit washed out, average, glossy one. I literally thought I could touch the objects inside the screen when I was playing with the Galaxy S. Still can't get over that.
  • There was a really weird bug where if the phone is charging, the screen becomes almost unresponsive (at least when the battery is low). I couldn't even enter the unlock pattern until I unplugged it. I'm not sure if this will happen again but if you've seen it too, please comment.

The Body

  • EVO 4G has a beautiful body, both in the back and in the front
  • There are 2 ports on the bottom - HDMI and MicroUSB
  • The volume buttons are on the right side of the screen instead of the left, which actually makes a lot of sense with a screen this size, as pressing them with my thumb is more comfortable.
  • The power button at the top and the inability to turn the screen on by holding Menu like I could on the Hero is quite annoying right now. It makes one-handed operation a lot harder and I always thought those power buttons on top were never easy to press. Maybe I'll get used to this.
  • Having said that, the new power button allows turning the screen on and off while on a call, which was impossible with the HTC Hero (you couldn't turn the screen off as it would hang up the call)
  • The haptic feedback is kind of odd and annoying. Sometimes it switches to a nice soft vibration and is really nice but a lot of other times, it's kind of annoying and has that plasticy/metallic vibrate feeling and sound. I wonder if there is a way to force it to use that soft vibration all the time somehow.
  • I just realized there was no rocker/trackball and instead the left/right/down/up buttons were part of the on-screen keyboard. That has me kind of bummed and I am definitely going to miss it.
  • The notification LED is there, in case you were wondering - it's hidden behind the speaker at the top.

Speed

  • The EVO is very-very fast. I went on an installation spree in the Market and I couldn't click Install fast enough for it to even show any signs of lag - by the time I moved on to the next program, the previous one was already installed. Everything is very snappy.
  • There is sometimes some minor lag with scrolling and complex web pages are not as smooth as, say, the iPad (I know, I know but iPads are pretty amazing devices) but everything is still totally usable.
  • I'm sure Froyo will speed this bad boy up, as Google engineers told me at the conference that they've optimized pretty much every aspect of the OS in Froyo.

Other

  • Not a big surprise: It comes preloaded with the same crappy Sprint apps as every other Sprint Android phone, and I am looking forward to rooting it as soon as someone figures out how, so I can remove them.
  • There is a 4G widget that allows you to turn 4G on and off separately from 3G.
  • There is a Spring Mobile Hotspot app which has security going up from None all the way up to WPA2, which is great. Remember though, using the hotspot feature costs $30/mo. I wonder how Froyo, which comes with native WiFi hotspot capabilities, will work with the EVO and whether Sprint will cut it right out.
    I have reviewed the mobile hotspot app separately here.
  • Live wallpapers are included and look very nice. I shot a quick rundown of some of them which you can find below.
  • FriendStream, which is a widget combining multiple social networks is present as well.
  • The FM Radio app is present and requires earbuds or a headset to be plugged in to be used as an antenna.
  • The phone came with a class 2 8GB Sandisk microUSB card, which should be plenty for now. Too bad it's not class 6 - if you need that, you can pick a really nice 16GB one that I reviewed here instead.

Here are a few photos of the Live wallpapers in action, followed by a video:

IMG_5733 IMG_5734 IMG_5737

I was trying to figure if the wallpapers react to touch while you're setting them up, and they didn't. Some of them do, however, after you set them and go to the home screen (for example, the Nexus wallpaper).

For more photos of the EVO, check out the EVO 4G unboxing post.

I am off to play with the EVO some more now and do a brain dump of everything I learned at the conference in the last 2 days.