Hello and welcome! Allow me to introduce you to Sprint's next big boy phone: (deep breath) the HTC Evo 4G LTE.

This is Sprint's version of the HTC One X. HTC's much publicized "One" branding strategy survived a grand total of two carriers in the US - Sprint kicked it to the curb in favor of the aforementioned alphabet-soup-style naming convention. Keep in mind the original Evo was actually called the "HTC Evo 4G," so you're going to need to be detail oriented when talking about the Evo line. But hey, considering this is the same marketing department that birthed the novella known as the "Samsung Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch," we actually got off pretty light. Along with the bigger name comes a bigger battery. You get a bonus 200 mAh over the One X.

The LTE branding means that, yes, WiMax is dead. Sprint is finally going with the flow and switching to the same 4G tech everyone else adopted a year ago. There isn't much of a Sprint LTE network to speak of yet, so, for now, the modem functionality is purely future-proofing.

First up, before I get all opinionated, some specs:

Specifications

  • 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 MSM8960
  • Adreno 225 GPU
  • 1GB RAM
  • 16GB ROM (Partitioned: 2.09GB for Apps/9.93GB for Data) with microSDHC slot
  • 4.7-inch 1280x720 IPS LCD Display
  • 2000 mAh Battery (Non-Removable)
  • 8MP Rear Camera, 1.3MP Front Camera; Back Side-Illuminated Sensor
  • WiFi A/B/G/N
  • Bluetooth 3.0+
  • FM Radio
  • All the other Acronyms: LTE, GPS, NFC (with Google Wallet!), and MHL (allows for a Micro USB to HDMI cable)
  • Dimensions: 5.31" (L) x 2.72" (W) x 0.35" (T)
  • Weight: 4.73 ounces
  • Android 4.0 with HTC Sense

The Good

  • Wonderful build quality, solid feeling and thin.
  • A beautiful screen that puts AMOLED to shame in every conceivable category.
  • The performance. You've got more power then you'll know what to do with.
  • Great audio from the headphone jack.
  • The camera's burst mode is very useful and even fun!
  • The best battery life this side of the RAZR Maxx.
  • Lovingly packed with extras: A kickstand, a camera button, SD slot, and FM Radio.
  • A kickstand. I know I listed it twice. I'm tempted to list it three times.

The Bad

  • Schizophrenic (and therefore horrible) design language. This phone looks like it was frankensteined together with leftover parts from several other phones. Several other cheap phones. Definitely the ugly duckling in the One X family.
  • The most awful glossy plastic backing you have ever seen or felt.
  • Hardware buttons. There's no hardware menu button, so for most 3rd party apps the software button strip pops up anyway. You get the worst of both worlds - more bezel and less screen.
  • Sense 4.0 isn't as terrible as older versions of Sense, but it still lacks polish and attention to detail. It removes functionality, it has some ridiculous UI concepts, and it looks dated and tacky compared to stock ICS.

Hardware

The design of this phone is just all-around weird. I wouldn't call the phone hideous, but it's definitely not beautiful. It's just odd. There are so many design decisions that just make no sense.

Design & Materials

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The front of the phone is all glass, except for the top. The glass abruptly stops just below the earpiece and front camera, and the surface switches to aluminum with a soft touch coating. I raved about the obeliskian beauty of the Galaxy Nexus, and this was so close. An all-glass front would have looked so much better. The top strip makes the glass look like it was designed for some other phone, and then shoehorned on to this one.

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The bottom of the glass has swooping, rounded corners that nicely follow the shape of the phone; the top of the glass has much sharper corners that don't follow anything. It's unsymmetrical, it's ugly, it's stupid, and I hate it.

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The side has a brushed aluminum band running around it, which I actually like. It's matte enough to not look cheap.

The buttons though, are a mess. None of them match. The hardware camera button is aluminum with a concentric circle texture, the volume rocker is glossy plastic, and the power button brushed aluminum. This mild schizophrenia turns into a full blown psychotic episode once you flip the phone over: They couldn't decide between a soft touch back and glossy plastic, so they.... used both.

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Meet Frankenphone! The top half of the phone is cheap, glossy plastic with a mirror finish, and the bottom half is a soft touch coating on aluminum with a matte finish. The difference isn't as pronounced in press photos, but in-person the two blacks couldn't be more different. It's like they didn't know what material to use for the back, so they commissioned a special "half and half" prototype for comparison purposes (and threw some aluminum on there too, for good measure), then they accidentally mass produced the prototype. The result is a tacky, gaudy nightmare. The one time I took it out in public I made damn sure to put it face up on the table.

If you buy this, your only hope is that the top half of the phone is removable, so hopefully someone with some design sense will make a matte top, or if you're the DIY type, maybe you could sand the ugly off.

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Also, for no discernible reason, the soft touch back is split into two parts. The seam is between the Sprint logo and the speaker. Neither one of these pieces is removable (believe me, I tried) so I really don't get why they didn't go for one solid piece. It's just adding to what is already a very busy design. The bottom part isn't very durable either. When I took this picture, I had used the phone for about 6 hours and there were already shiny spots where it touches the table.

On the kickstand (yay! a kickstand!) we're also introduced to a second type of aluminum. This piece isn't brushed, and it's colored red, and it really looks like it should be emblazoned with a Verizon logo.

So all in all, we've got 5 different materials on this phone: Glass, soft touch coated aluminum, glossy mirror plastic, brushed aluminum, and smooth, anodized aluminum. Awesome. Have you ever seen those unpainted project cars, where every panel is a different color? That's the vibe I get from this "design."

The real shame is that this is so close to being really, really beautiful. Pick one surface for the front [glass], one surface for the back [soft touch], one type (and color) of aluminum accent, and one button style and you'd be on the something. All the blemishes and inconsistencies combine to make the phone moderately ugly. It's not a deal breaker or anything, and I feel like owners will be able to forget about it in a few weeks, but it's still way uglier than it needs to be.

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Most of my distaste comes from the fact that the starting point for this design was the beautiful One X. Look at what they threw away. Just stop, release that, and you'd be golden. Sprint worked hard to make this phone uglier. That's the real crime here.

Build Quality

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While the designers had no aesthetic sense, they certainly know how to build a solid phone. The build quality is fantastic. The whole phone (except the glossy plastic) feels great and has a nice heft to it. It's about as thin as a Galaxy Nexus is at its thinnest point, and, materials aside, feels like a higher quality device.

How it feels in the hand depends on where your fingers fall. The soft touch coating feels great. It's nice and grippy. The glossy plastic, however, feels like slippery crap that was made from recycled Happy Meal toys. The glossy plastic really hurts the quality level, but the rest of the phone does a good job making up for it. The kickstand, in particular, feels like it could hold up a house.

Under the soft touch coating is an aluminum unibody design, just not much of it is exposed. The soft touch coating feels nice, but I would have liked brushed aluminum better.

Hardware Buttons

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The One X series (Evo included), is one of the first phones with hardware buttons and Ice Cream Sandwich. ICS deprecated the system-wide menu button, and it's up to developers to, where necessary, implement the menu button in their UI. Since the menu button is on the way out, HTC opted to go with 3 hardware buttons: Back, Home, and Recent. Logical, right? "On the way out," though, is the key phrase here. See if you can spot the problem:

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We are not ready for this. ICS adoption is at about 5% right now. Nobody cares about the ICS APIs. That means most 3rd party apps still need the now-depreciated menu button. When you have all software buttons, this isn't a big deal - menu pops-up right alongside the other buttons. On a hardware button phone like the Evo though, this presents a problem. The terrible solution is a 720 pixel-wide menu button pinned to the bottom of the screen. Now you've got software AND hardware buttons. Ugh. More messy design decisions.

In the future, this won't be a big deal, eventually, most apps will get rid of the menu button. Now though, the menu button is very much still in use. So if you go the hardware button route, you have to chose between a layout that isn't ready for prime time, and a layout that will be obsolete in a year. The transition period is right now. Now is the time when a flexible button layout is the most useful, not in your next phone design. This thing needed software buttons.

With this design you get the worst of both worlds: more bezel than there needs to be - to accommodate the hardware buttons, and the screen-sucking software button bar. It makes the phone feel not-well-thought-out.

Screen

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The screen is beautiful. It's got a full-matrix, 720p IPS LCD Display, and it puts my Galaxy Nexus' display to shame. It beats up AMOLED in just about every category - colors are brighter, everything is crisper, it works better in sunlight. It's the best mobile screen you can buy.

Do yourself a favor and don't look at this screen in the store if you don't intend to buy it. It's better that you don't know what you're missing. Trust me. My Nexus' screen makes me sad now.

Performance

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The Evo 4G LTE is packing a 1.5GHz dual-core S4 snapdragon and, um, it's fast. Everything scrolls smoothly, and apps open quickly. We're pretty much beyond the point where any of that is a challenge. As for the harder stuff, It's got more than enough juice to handle any emulation needs you may have - Final Fantasy VII hits the frame limiter and stays there. N64 games work great too. I really have no idea what I'm supposed to do with all this power. If anyone has anything really challenging I can throw at it, I'm all ears. Someone make a PS2 emulator.

Like all HTC devices, the Evo features Beats Audio, a 300 million dollar EQ present that provides a moderate bass boost. Any time you play audio of any kind, a permanent advertisement notification appears saying you're using Beats audio, and it gives you the option to turn it off. I'm not impressed. What I am impressed with however, is the rest of the audio system. The headset jack can really push a good pair of headphones - its sounds much better than a run of the mill smartphone. Phones have replaced MP3 players for most of us, and it's clear HTC is focusing on the providing the best audio experience out there.

WiFi performance is great too. That 700MB Final Fantasy ISO transferred in 2 minutes using AirDroid and an N router.

Camera

On paper, the Evo's camera should be pretty good. It has something called a "backside illuminated sensor" (BSI sensor), which, supposedly, can suck down more photons than a traditional, front-illuminated image sensor. More photons = better picture.

Lets get technical! The traditional design has a lens at the front, wiring in the middle, and photodetectors at the back. This is, obviously, a stupid design - having a bunch a of opaque, metal wires in the middle of your light detection system is less than ideal (It's hard to blame camera designers though, the human eye has a similar design flaw).

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A BSI sensor has everything in the much more sensible configuration of lens -> photodetectors -> wires. So you can suck in all the photons you want without them being blocked by strands of metal. Wikipedia says this design improves the photon capture rate from "about 60% to over 90%," which certainly sounds like a big deal. For the record, this design is the same type used in the iPhone 4 and the SE Xperia Arc.

So, does the fancy image tech lead to actual image improvement? Let's find out.

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Well, here they are, in all their unedited glory. You don't really need me for this part - what do you think? I'm not really a camera expert, but to me, at full size, there's just a general lack of detail. Take a look at the tips of fur on my pup, or the green surface of the cactus (a macro shot), it's just a fuzzy mess.

That's if you really want to nit pick though. For the casual picture taking and Facebook stuff, the camera is great. Way better than the garbage sensor in my Gnex.

On the usage and software side of things, there's a real-life, hardware camera button! It feels like it's a two stage button, but the camera is always in continual auto focus mode, so there's really no point for the first stage. And, as usual, from anywhere on the phone, you can long press the shutter button and open the camera app.

The camera app itself is packed with features. There's a self timer, macro and HDR modes, automatic upload to Facebook or Flicker, face detection, automatic smile capture, and even Instagram-style filters.

The camera's burst mode is probably my favorite feature of this phone. It takes about 3 pictures per second, for as long as you hold the button down - and it makes a satisfying, rapid fire click noise for each picture. It's really fun to surprise people with it and take about 20 pictures of them in a few seconds, then show them their full range of emotions. You're guaranteed to get one hilarious WTF face and one genuine smile per set. It's a lot of fun. The review option shows you the all the pictures in a set, and you can tap "best shot" which will delete all the other pictures.

Kickstand

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Kickstands rock. This has one. This has one and it is bomb proof.

It's solid, strong, and keeps the phone stable. It's made out of aluminum, and the hinge is so tough, it's even a little hard to open - you really have to dig it out of the phone. It opens with a satisfying click and just oozes quality. The hinge is stiff enough to work upside down, so you get the bonus option of two different angles. I love it. This should be a standard feature on all phones.

A couple things hurt the utility of the kickstand, though. As you can see from the second picture, above, the micro USB port is on the side, so if you can't charge while using the kickstand "the right way." It has to be upside-down, and I'd probably call upside-down the less optimal angle. Still though, it's a step up from the original Evo.

Next time though, guys? Bottom USB port. Thanks.

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The other problem is that the Sense launcher doesn't rotate. So the kickstand is nice once you're inside of an app, but launching an app while in horizontal mode is a pain. Multitasking in horizontal mode is terrible too. Bouncing to the home screen and back nets you 2 rotate animations. What fun. This is easily fixed with a 3rd party launcher, but still, it shows a lack of attention to detail. And speaking of a lack of attention to detail:

Sense 4.0

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My daily driver is a Galaxy Nexus. I'm used to stock Android, and I love stock Android. I generally feel that, if you're going to change something, it had better be for a good reason. Stock Android isn't perfect, there are lots of tweaks you could make that would make it better, but changing something for no reason is stupid. Changing something and making it worse is a cardinal sin. It's with that frame of mind that we take a look at Sense 4.0.

Traditionally, HTC software design has felt like this. Things would swoop and spin and fly around for no reason. It was like watching a cheesy 3D movie where they always throw things at the screen. Sense 4.0 however, has been toned down a lot. It's definitely a step down from stock Android, but overall, it's not that bad. I... I could live with it.

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Design wise, Sense is still Sense. Everything is still green, and HTC still thinks gradients are like, the coolest thing ever. That last picture is HTC's "Hey, you've scrolled too far" effect - the harder you pull, the further each list item pulls apart. It's... interesting. Though I'm not really sure what analogy they were going for with that effect.

The general toning down of the sparkly crap is nice, but more of refresh would have been welcome too. Things like the status bar still look exactly like they did a million years ago on the Hero's 2.1 build of Sense. Compared to stock Ice Cream Sandwich, all the HTC stuff is starting to look dated.

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Don't worry though, the cheese isn't all gone. They insist, for instance, of using a cube rotation for almost every transition. It's on the home screen, the weather app, the calendar, the clock app, HTC's app store, the dialer, it's on the app drawer, and the car app, and on all the crapware, and the people app - It's on everything. Cube rotate all the things.

Bonus fail points for random UI elements not being able to handle the cube rotation, like the cloudy sky animation you see above. They also don't load preload the next side of the cube, so most of the time you are rotating to a grey square. Does no one double-check this stuff? There's just no polish of any kind.

Lock Screen

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The lock screen has gotten an overhaul. Swiping up on the giant chrome ring will unlock the phone. Any apps you stick in your home screen dock will show up on the lock screen as well, and you can quickly jump to them by dragging them into the ring.

The large, blank area on the lock screen is used for a giant, context sensitive widget. When you play music it shows a music player, new texts show a preview, low power shows a giant battery. It's nice. The music player even works with Google music. The widget doesn't show anything for Gmail, Google Talk, or Google Voice, however. Bummer.

There's one big problem with their implementation though, in stock ICS, you have 6 options for lock screens: None, Slide, Face Unlock, Pattern, PIN, and Password. HTC removed "Slide" (the default ICS circle unlock) and built their lock screen on the "None" option. So now "None" (which is still just called "None") doesn't mean "none" anymore, it means "HTC Lock screen."

Now, I'm not really a fan of lock screens. My phone doesn't turn on in my pocket, so I don't understand the need to add an extra step to the beginning of every phone interaction. Normally "None" is my go-to option, but since "None" is now the HTC lock screen, you are stuck with it unless you install a 3rd party app.

This is also an added annoyance if you use one of the security lock screens, because now you have two lock screens. On stock ICS, if you use pattern unlock, when you turn on the phone, you just swipe your pattern, and get down to business. On the Evo, you first get the ring unlock, then the pattern unlock. Double lock screens.

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There are even more lock screen configurations available from the personalization app. There's a productivity preset, if you're the type that has notifications pile up, a wiz-bang weather lock screen, a people grid, about a million clocks, and absolutely hilarious Facebook, Photo, and Stock ticker lock screens. Why hilarious? The information is presented in a swirling vortex. I'm not kidding. Facebook updates, photos, or stocks will swirl and spin by in the background, as if your phone is in the center of a cash grab machine.

Did I say Sense 4 was toned down? I take it back.

Recent Apps

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Left: Stock Android's recent app list | Center and right: Sense's recent app list

I'm noticing an alarming decline in the usefulness of the recent apps screen. In Gingerbread, we got 8 icons. Stock Ice Cream Sandwich (first picture) only gives us 4, which is less useful, but at least they make up for it with thumbnails. Sense 4.0 (the other 2 pictures), gives us one. One thumbnail. Maybe you could argue that counts as one and a half, but tell me, in the center picture, what app is that on the left? If you can't tell, it doesn't count. Scrolling over (right picture) gives you a peak of the left and right apps, but you still only get one name and icon.

Oh and don't forget the tack! This screen is chock-full of superfluous garbage. Your apps are now sliding across a wet floor! Everything has a shiny reflection! Moving your finger the slightest bit upward while over a thumbnail sends it excitedly bouncing up and down like a child on a sugar high.

This is a disaster. I need this screen. I accomplish real work here. This is a place for stark, utilitarian UI - show me names and icons, and get out of my way. This is not a place to show off reflections and cute bounce effects. This is the old, crappy, HTC Sense that should be banished to version 3.6. Fire whoever designed this. Fire them now.

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Top left and right: Sense's recent app list | Bottom left: Stock Android's recent app list.

Oh the fun's not over. How's this for attention to detail? Sense doesn't rotate the thumbnails (top left and right pictures), so if you switch orientations, you have sideways thumbnails. You can even have upright and sideways thumbnails right next to each other! Great. Stock Android handled this beautifully. There, the thumbnails are square, so regular auto-rotate keeps everything organized.

You can still swipe up to remove items, but they removed the long-press-App-Info functionally present in ICS (ICS lets you long press on a thumbnail, hit "App info" and you can easily force close or uninstall an app).

They managed to damage the feel of Recent Apps too. In Android, apps you haven't used for a bit get unloaded from memory. When you open them again, one of the things that needs to happen is a redraw. If you pay attention, you'll notice apps load piece by piece, not in one big chunk. Normally, this isn't a big deal.

You've probably noticed Sense's Recent Apps implementation has full sized thumbnails. One of the things Sense does, that the stock thumbnails don't do, is expand the thumbnail to full screen when you click on it. But a redraw still needs to happen, so the thumbnail fills the screen, then it disappears, then the real app comes back piece by piece. Observe:

I always want to interact with the full screen thumbnail. Sometimes this doesn't happen on a recent enough app, and I sit there like an idiot for a few seconds waiting for a screen redraw that will never come.

The scrolling is terrible too. You expect it to be a free flowing scroll, with a smooth deceleration, like every other scrolling list, but the scrolling wants to "lock" to every app thumbnail. It's the only scrolling in the entire phone that works like this, and it really messes with the user's expectations.

So what has HTC accomplished here? They tarted-up the design with pointless reflections and gradients, made it less useful and harder to use by reducing the number of apps from 4 to 1, they screwed up the scrolling, removed the app info functionality, and made the phone look borderline broken with a flickery app loading. Great job. And all this on a function so important it has its own button next to Back and Home.

Keyboard

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Out of the box, the keyboard is crap. You can change some settings though and, while it won't ever be as good as the ICS keyboard (which has been removed and is not an option), the Sense keyboard can be whipped into shape. For starters, spell check is off by default (yes, really). So you can type a "Thos" instead of "This" and it will dutifully preserve your typo. Brilliant. You'll want to turn that on. Speaking of spell check, the ICS spell check has been left untouched, so, should you leave the settings at their defaults, the little red underline will be there to pick up the slack.

The other must-change setting is vibrate. This one needs to be shut off. Vibrate is supposed to go off with every key press, but the vibrating is so big and slow and chunky that it just can't keep up. If you're typing at a steady clip, it will alternate between heavy and light vibrates, and often misses a key press entirely. Vibrate is supposed to help with your typing, but the inconsistency just messed with my head and made me second guess myself while I was typing. Things are much better with it off.

After the tweaking, the keyboard is decent. It corrects words well, and generally just works. It won't correct missed spaces the way the stock Android one will, however.

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The stock text select cursors have been changed to little green teardrops. The inconsistent Select All/Cut/Copy labels from ICS have been replaced by much better and more parsable custom versions, and they even added a magnifying glass when you hold down on the teardrop. Overall an improvement. Except in the apps that, for some reason, aren't skinned. Get a load of Google Docs (right image), for instance. It still has the stock cursor. Lame.

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Swype is an option as a separate keyboard, and the stock keyboard even has Swype-like functionality built in if you turn it on somewhere in the options. It seems to work well, but that's something a Swype fanatic would be a better judge of.

There are about a million settings to explore for the keyboard. If you're a time traveler from the past you'll be glad to know T9 is an option. There's also support for every language known to man, some kind of Chinese drawing support that I couldn't figure out how to activate, and bilingual support, which checks against two dictionaries at once. I'm not even that good at English so, other languages aren't really my thing, but it all seems very (uncharacteristically) thorough.

Other Apps

HTC just couldn't stop themselves from skinning some of the default Android apps, and you can never get the stock ones back, so it's worth highlighting what they've messed with.

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In the rarely occupied "Good change" category, we have the Gallery app. I really like it. While it isn't as pretty as the stock gallery, it's much more useful. It gathers your pictures from all over the internet - Facebook, Picasa (G+), Dropbox, Flicker, and Skydive. The best part - and this is where it blows away the stock gallery - is that they are separated into groups. So now you don't have Google+ post pictures mashed up with your regular photos like you do on the stock gallery.

Facebook support is fantastic. You definitely want to use this over the official app for pictures, its better and faster than that... thing. The stock editor is gone though, the only edit options are crop, rotate, and Insta-filters. You also can't rotate a picture with multitouch. I think Apple owns that too.

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The calculator fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down. Ho-ly crap. It almost looks broken. When I first saw it, I thought I had messed up a DPI setting or something, but no, they want it to look like that. Yikes.

Some functionality is gone too. You can no longer use the advanced panel in portrait mode. At first I thought it was removed entirely, but it turns out you just have to switch to landscape mode to use it.

Why is there not a button for it? Your clear button really needs to be 3 blocks long? Common sense stuff like this just bugs me.

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The calendar got a heavy skinning and information display is down across the board. There's slightly less room for calendar now, thanks to the bigger header, new bottom bar (with cube rotate!), and permanent birthday information (the second row of purple blocks). The semi-useful appointment colors in month view are gone, and text is bigger, so you see less information than on the stock version. A day block in week view is a whopping 3 characters wide. Allowing for super informative appoint labels like "Wor."

You also can't see all day events in week view anymore, heck you can't even see the color of all day events. You just get a purple block with the number of events, you have to tap on it to see anything. There's a also a bug that displays contact birthdays on the wrong day (right picture). My dad's birthday is the 17th, and nowhere else but the HTC calendar does it say it's on the 11th. No idea how they messed that up.

They did make one big upgrade over the stock calendar though. Colors now match the desktop version! Take note, Google. We need this (back) for Jelly Bean.

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The stock Android dialer sucks. HTC's version is a big improvement. Tapping the keypad simultaneously searches for numbers and T9 contact names, and your recent calls are displayed at the top. There's also old school, long press speed dial for each number. Again, Google could learn a thing or two.

I don't know what all dialers have against horizontal mode, but this one doesn't support sideways dialing either. So expect an added level of difficulty when trying to call someone from a car dock.

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Finding a widget in your giant list of widgets is a pain in the butt. Everyone knows this. Google tried to solve this in ICS by putting the widgets in the app drawer and giving you thumbnail previews. HTC does one better and adds categorization and search to the widget interface. This makes it a whole lot easier to dig through the 100 or so widgets I have on this phone.

If you thought you couldn't get through your day with only 3 full-screen calculator widgets, fear not, because there are actually 4. You get 4 calculators, 4 calendars, EIGHTEEN different species of clock, 2 FM radios, 3 friend streams, and 3 each for Mail, Messages, Music, Photos, Stocks, and Weather. So, yeah, that search functionality? Kind of necessary.

The App Drawer adds a "Frequent" tab to the standard "All" and "Downloaded" tabs. It also has the same search feature as the Widget Drawer, but there's no metadata of any kind. So a search for "Google" doesn't bring up your list of Google Apps, because "Google" isn't actually in the icon name.

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And, of course, no phone would be complete without a healthy serving of crapware, and the new Evo is no exception. ICS put crapware on notice by allowing you to disable uninstallable apps, but it turns out carriers can just disable the disable button, which Sprint has done for some apps.

So we've got 3 categories, Permanent, which means you can't uninstall or disable it, Disablable, which means you can't uninstall it, but you can turn it off, and full-on Uninstallable. Here's the bevy of garbage that awaits you:

Permanent:

  • HTC Hub - an app store with, maybe, 100 apps. It breaks the apps down into the same categories as the Market Play Store, and tapping on a category and seeing one app is truly a sorry sight. It will let you download ringtones too, there's about 30.
  • Setup - This lets you relive the first days excitement of the initial setup again. Oh, nostalgia. No uninstall or disable.
  • Sprint Zone - The top item in the promos section invites me to "Steal the thunder this holiday season." Guys. It's May. This also features more links to websites.
  • Task Manger - This is an advanced calculator with fraction support!.. Just kidding. It's a task manager.
  • Voicemail - Come on people! This is built in now. Get with the program!

Disablable:

  • Media Share -HTC's DLNA implementation.
  • Sprint Hotspot - Again guys, integrated. What's the point of using an OS like Android if you aren't going to take advantage of it?
  • Stocks - A stock ticker. Hey HTC, you know your aforementioned manufacturer specific app store? That's where apps like this belong.
  • Transfer - This wants to import data from my old phone over Bluetooth (really?). Even other Android phones. They do know all that stuff is already synced to the internet... don't they?

Uninstallable:

  • HTC Mobile Guide - just a link to a webpage. A link to a webpage that takes up space in your app drawer.
  • Watch - HTC's video app. You can buy Underworld, the first one, for $10. uninstall

So by my in-no-way-definitive count, 9 pieces of non-removable crapware. Judging by my previous journey into the crapware world, that's not that bad. Nice show of restraint.

Battery Life

battery-header

If you remember from way back in the opening (sorry), the Sprint version packs an extra 200mAh over the AT&T version. And, as usual, battery usage depends entirely on how much you have the screen on. The good news is this thing is a champ in standby, it went 16 hours with moderate usage on the first charge. The next day is was pretty heavy with a few hours of reading at max brightness and well, things didn't go so well.

wm_2012-05-14 00.17.18wm_2012-05-14 00.17.14wm_2012-05-13 06.25.08

For day two I was able to cause total battery meltdown in about 7 and a half hours. Still though, 7 hours with the kind of abuse I was putting it through is pretty good. Mostly I was just typing some of this review while on the move.

As you can see in the second screenshot, app logging is totally broken. I was jumping in and out of Chrome, Gmail, Docs Drive and whatever app I was writing about at the time, and none of that shows up in battery stats. The stats don't reset either, so, unless you do a total power down, you're going to have one continuous, multi-day graph. It is kind of impressive see it read "32 hours on battery," but it's not very accurate. And see that jump at the end of the third picture? Just before the jump, the phone said 0 battery and powered down. I powered it back on and suddenly it found 10% of juice it had misplaced, and proceeded to run for another half hour. So note to HTC: for OTA #1, the battery stats need a bit of a debugging.

While the battery is pretty extensive, it's also non-removable, so bring a charger. I understand the One X's unibody excuse for a lack of removable battery, but on the Evo, the back is already removable! Why couldn't they have made the battery accessible there?!

Finally, this is kind of a weird statement, but I feel like the kickstand makes this battery especially vulnerable. It's very tempting to leave the phone on with Gmail open or just have it play some type of media. It would be nice to have two batteries and not have to deal with battery conservation willpower. The kickstand is just so awesome, it makes me want to have the phone on all the time.

Conclusion

Overall, the HTC Evo 4G LTE is a solid phone with lots of little extras that add to the "Swiss army knife" vibe a good smartphone should have. The kickstand, NFC, FM radio, and camera button make me happy. It's very capable. Plus, you've got more horsepower than you'll know what to do with and a beautiful screen.

Sense is still not as good as stock Android, but it's not a huge problem. I was surprised by how well I could put up with it. You will die of a thousand paper cuts in the UX department, though.

I've noticed a general theme of "working hard to make things worse" with this phone. On the software side, Sense takes away functionality in exchange for tacky reflections and gradients, and the things they changed show a real lack of polish and attention to detail. And as for the hardware design, it could have looked like the One X! Instead we get a non-cohesive "revamped" design that looks like it was made from spare parts.

So good design made worse, and good software made worse. It seems like, in several areas, HTC and Sprint were given choices to make, consisting of a "good" and "great" option, most of the time, they picked the "good" option (except for the glossy plastic, where they picked the worst possible option imaginable). The result is a solid phone, that I'm sure many people would be happy to own, but could have been so much more.

I'll be fielding questions in the comments. I'm not allowed to root it, but I'll answer anything else I can. Fire away.