HTC Evo 4G LTE(Sprint) review: HTC Evo 4G LTE(Sprint)

Being a state-of-the-art Android device, the Evo 4G LTE comes with the standard Google services installed, such as Gmail, Google+, and Navigation, along with the Play Store, from which you can download apps from a catalog of more than 500,000 titles. Play also provides digital books, movies, games, and music to purchase. For entertainment options, HTC's Watch app offers a decent selection of TV shows and movies for rental or purchase. For example, I could rent, say, "The Vow" for $3.99 or buy it permanently for $14.99. Actually, I think "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol" is more my speed. The Evo 4G LTE has 1GB of RAM memory, 16GB of internal storage, and a microSD slot that can support an additional 32GB.

Another notable piece of software is the Google Wallet app that uses the Evo 4G LTE's NFC chip to enable mobile payments. Once you sign up for a Google Wallet account you can either use the bundled Google prepaid card or add a Citibank MasterCard if you have one. The app also lists nearby special offers that you can redeem with or without using the app to make the purchase. The Dropbox app for storing files in the cloud comes standard too, as does TuneIn Radio for streaming Internet radio stations.

In keeping with HTC's One series handsets, the Evo 4G LTE boasts Beats Audio processing. It may be popular but I find Beats an acquired taste since it tends to crush midrange audio frequencies in favor of the high and low ends of the spectrum. Beats will, however, automatically detect when the Evo connects to a Beats-branded headset and load its tailor-made equalizer setting.

Camera
Among the highlights of the Evo 4G LTE's 8-megapixel camera and its features are the dedicated image processor and a Continuous Shooting mode for snapping images in bursts of up to 4 frames per second. Available on all One series phones, these capabilities are all part of what HTC calls its ImageSense technology, which relies on a specially dedicated processor to improve performance. As part of the deal, you'll also find an HDR mode, wide-screen, geotagging, face detection and smile capture, a self-timer, and adjustments for ISO and white balance. The HD camcorder offers a similar set of options plus image stabilization and stereo audio recording. It's also able to record video in full 1080p HD resolution.

Photo quality on the Evo 4G LTE was up to the One X's impressive standards. Closeup shots showed good detail and color, and outdoor shots were bright without being oversaturated. Shots in bright sunlight were somewhat washed out, but the camera does a decent job with contrast between light and dark areas. This is especially true if the HDR function is used to compensate for strong lighting. Image noise was barely noticeable as well, and I was treated to clear pictures provided there was enough light present. Indoor shots were a bit dark without the flash. This was especially noticeable in the Evo's photo of a still life, shown below.

HTC Evo 4G LTE
Indoor still-life shots were clear but a bit dark. Brian Bennett/CNET
Closeup shots showed good detail and little image noise. Brian Bennett/CNET
Color in outdoor shots was natural. Brian Bennett/CNET

Performance
At its heart, the HTC Evo 4G LTE is really a modified -- Evofied, if you will -- HTC One X. As such, HTC fans in the know understand that like the American version of the One X on AT&T, the Evo runs a dual-core processor, not a quad-core CPU like its European cousin. All things being equal, though, the Evo 4G LTE's 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 chip and 1GB of RAM propel the phone along at a very speedy clip. Just for kicks I had the Evo run the Linpack Android test app. The handset spit out a high 102.4 MFLOP (Single Thread) in 0.83 second. The Evo completed the Multi-Thread part of the test in just 0.84 second and notched 201.8 MFLOP.

I tested the HTC Evo 4G LTE in New Orleans and New York using Sprint service. On the whole, call quality was admirable. The volume was loud, and I found no problems with the audio clarity. Voice pitch on my end was the slightest bit mechanical, but it wasn't distracting.

HTC Evo 4G LTE call quality sample Listen now:

Despite the "4G LTE" in its name, the handset has a serious mark against it for the time being. Since Sprint's LTE network is not yet operational, and the phone can't surf on WiMax, in the meantime, you'll be stuck using the carrier's 3G EV-DO network. A few years ago that would have been fine, but with Verizon and AT&T operating fast and widespread LTE networks, Sprint is falling behind. Sure, its LTE network may eventually be as powerful as its rivals', but that won't help you right now. Honestly, I don't get the logic of selling a phone with "LTE" in its name when there's no LTE network for it to use.

The 3G connection was strong, even in a hotel room, and speeds were what you'd expect from Sprint's 3G network. Compared with the 4G LTE-equipped One X, though, the difference was clear. Out of eight tests using Ookla's Speedtest.net app, I found an average download speed of 477Kbps and an average upload speed of 422Kbps. AT&T's One X, on the other hand, delivered an average download speed of 16.63Mbps and and average upload speed of 7.53Mbps.

Downloading the Speedtest.net app took a painful 2 minutes over 3G. When Web browsing, the mobile version of The New York Times site took 9 seconds to load, while the full New York Times took 40 seconds, the full CNET site 1 minute and 24 seconds, and Airlines.net 1 minute and 50 seconds.

Sprint rates the HTC Evo 4G LTE's 2,000mAh battery as providing 7.5 hours of talk time. My anecdotal battery tests, which consist of playing a 720p HD video continuously, reflected the Evo's claimed longevity. The phone persevered for almost 8 hours -- 7 hours and 55 minutes to be exact -- before finally shutting down.

Conclusion
With the $199.99 HTC Evo 4G LTE, both HTC and Sprint have gone well out of their way to rekindle that old Evo magic. It's a phone that's light-years better than its predecessors and flaunts enough features plus a delectable design to strike real fear in the hearts of competitors Samsung and Motorola. That said, this Evo has one rather large Achilles' heel at the moment: no 4G LTE. With access to high-speed data, the Evo will no doubt soar as its brother the HTC One X does on AT&T. Until Sprint's promised LTE network arrives, hopefully by summer, the Evo 4G LTE offers but a fraction of its potential glory.

Senior Managing Editor Kent German contributed to this review.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Where to Buy See all prices

HTC Evo 4G LTE - black (Sprint)

Part Number: APX325CKT
MSRP: $549.99 Low Price: $280.00 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Service Provider Sprint Nextel
  • Weight 4.7 oz
  • Diagonal Size 4.7 in
  • Technology LTE