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HTC Evo 4G

>> Tuesday, June 22, 2010

HTC Evo 4G is Sprint's premier smartphone and you'll get a great device regardless of our quibbles. We just hope Sprint starts to light up those 4G markets faster, so everyone can take advantage of the 4G capabilities and get their money's worth. HTC Evo 4G will be available June 4 for $199.99 with a two year contract and the aforementioned data plans. Though Sprint requires a $100 mail-in rebate, Best Buy and Radio Shack do not, so you get the $200 price tag instantly. Cut from the same cloth as the HTC HD2, HTC Evo 4G isn't what you'd call a dainty phone.

It measures 4.8 inches tall by 2.6 inches wide by 0.5 inch thick and weighs 6 ounces, so you're dealing with a good chunk of hardware. It's right on the cusp of being too big, but HTC was able to keep HTC Evo 4G relatively thin, making it more manageable. Plus, you might be willing to overlook the large size once you get a glimpse of the smartphone's massive display. Like the HD2, HTC Evo 4G rocks a 4.3 inch capacitive touch screen that's downright mesmerizing. The extra screen real estate makes a huge difference when viewing Web pages and reading text, and HTC Evo 4G supports the pinch to zoom gesture in a number of apps.

The display shows vibrant colors and the sharp WVGA 800x480 pixel resolution makes everything look crisp. There is a built-in light sensor that will automatically adjust the backlight based on the ambient light we were able to read the screen in most environments, but it did wash out a bit in bright sunlight. Another benefit of the large display is a spacious keyboard that rivals the iPhone's in ease of use. Even in portrait mode, we were able to quickly punch out a message with both thumbs (none of that pecking at the keys with one finger) with minimal mistakes.

As you can imagine, the landscape keyboard is even roomier, but most times we found we could get away with just typing in portrait mode. Below the screen, you get four touch sensitive navigation controls : home, menu, back, and search. A long press of the home key will bring up a list of your most recently used apps. There's a volume rocker on the right side, and the top of the device features a power button and 3.5 mm headphone jack. On the bottom, you'll find a Micro-USB port and an HDMI port. Be aware that the latter is a Type D connector, so you'll have to get a compatible cable to hook the phone up to your TV.

Of course, you can watch video and view photos right from the phone, and there's a handy kickstand on back so you can prop the phone up on a desk. Though there will be purists who prefer the standard Android skin, in most cases, we'd choose a device running HTC Sense. Out of all our custom skins for Android (Motoblur, TouchWiz, etc.), Sense is our absolute favorite, as it gives Android a more user friendly interface. In many cases, it improves on the core functions by better integrating the features, which is why we're glad to see that Sprint had the sense (sorry) to go with Sense on HTC Evo 4G.

Just like the Droid Incredible and the HTC Legend, HTC Evo 4G runs the newer version of HTC Sense, which was announced at Mobile World Congress 2010. This includes a revamped mail widget that can take you to a list view of all your e-mail instead of just one message at a time. (This view, however, is only one of several choices.) Once in the mail app, there's a handy tabbed interface at the bottom that lets you view unread messages, attachments, meeting invites, and more with a simple touch.

The Agenda widget also now displays your whole agenda on the screen, and, like the latest HTC devices, you get an animated weather widget right on the home screen that automatically displays the current conditions based on your location. You also get a new Group Contacts widget, which lets you organize your contacts by groups. For example, you can set up one for work colleagues, another for friends, and another for just family whatever you please. The UI looks good, and it's simple to add contacts to a group, though removing them requires a few extra steps.

Sense also makes it easy to access as much information as possible within the contact management system. If any of your contacts have Facebook updates, it will display them right next to their pictures in the contact database. You can also see all your exchanges (text messages, call logs, etc.) with a single person from his or her contact card, and all your contacts are accessible within the phone app.

However, we still had multiple instances of duplicate contacts and had to go back and manually link them together. Another feature, called Friend Stream, provides a single place for all your social networking needs, piping in updates from Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. Unlike Motoblur, it's not server based the phone connects to the sites and pulls information directly from there.

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