The Evoke has a 1,000-contact phone book with room in each entry for six phone numbers, an e-mail address, a URL, and a postal address. You can save callers to groups and pair them with a photo and one of 10 polyphonic ringtones. Other essentials include a vibrate mode, text and multimedia messaging, a notepad, an alarm clock, a world clock, a calendar, a calculator, and a speakerphone. You also can use Cricket's MyBackup service to store your contacts on Cricket's servers.
The remaining features are respectable, though not exactly plentiful. You'll find stereo Bluetooth, speaker-independent voice dialing, a voice memo recorder, USB mass storage PC syncing, and phone-as-modem support. And, of course, you have access to the integrated apps described above. You can select only the apps you want to use or you can turn them off completely. The Evoke supports POP3 and IMAP4 e-mail, though we couldn't get the latter to work correctly. If you use e-mail, remember to get a data plan.
The Evoke's 2-megapixel camera is just average. It offers no editing or customization options beyond a 5x digital zoom and an adjustable brightness control. Apple started this trend of "dumbing down" cameras with its iPhone, and we're not happy to see that other manufacturers have adopted it. Though options like white balance, a self-timer, and a night mode may not make a huge difference when snapping camera phone photos, we'd still prefer to have them. The same goes for a flash and a choice of camera resolutions--not absolutely necessary, but still nice to have. On the upside, we like the one-touch access to your photo gallery and the handy meter that tells you much storage space you have left. The camcorder shoots clips with sound, but it also lacks editing options.
When finished using the camer, you can save your work to the phone for use as wallpapers or caller ID photos. The Evoke has 256MB of internal memory so we suggest getting a microSD card for more room. The Evoke's slot can accommodate cards up to 8GB. Alternatively, you can transfer your work to a computer using e-mail or Bluetooth. The Evoke even lets you upload photos directly to Picasa through an integrated app. Photo quality was decent; there was little image noise, but colors were a tad dull.
The music player is nothing fancy, but it's perfectly fine for short periods. You can load music on the Evoke using a USB cable or the microSD card. Features are limited to shuffle and repeat modes and playlists. The external speaker is not suitable for tunes so we recommend using a wired or stereo headset for a better experience. Just remember that you'll need an adapter to use the wired headset.
When we tested the full HTML browser earlier this year, it didn't perform well. Not only is the display small, but also the clunky touch-screen interface is difficult to use. It took a deft hand to scroll around Web pages, to select links, and to zoom in on text. And even when we did get it right, the screen's jerky movements were distracting. The Evoke's keyboard shortcuts allowed us to manipulate some browser functions without touching the display, but it still was a frustrating experience.
You can personalize the Evoke with a variety of alert tones. You can get more customization options from Cricket. The handset comes with demo versions of two games--Asphalt 4 and Brain Challenge--and a RealTone JukeBox app for creating your own ringtones.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) Motorola Evoke QA4 in San Francisco. Since the Bay Area isn't part of Cricket's home coverage area, we made calls using the carrier's roaming network. Even so, call quality was admirable. Voices sounded natural, the volume was loud and the signal was free of static and interference. We also detected a positive effect from the Evoke's integrated noise-reduction technology. When speaking in a crowded place, we didn't have to strain to hear our callers.
On their end, callers said we sounded fine. They could tell we were using a cell phone, but they had no trouble hearing us in most environments. A couple of our friends reported a minimal amount of voice distortion, but they were in the minority. Speakerphone calls are fine, though the volume could be louder. The Evoke is compatible with M4 and T3 hearing aids.
Like many other Cricket phones, the Evoke is equipped for 3G (EV-DO) networks, which Cricket operates throughout its home network. We weren't able to test it since we were roaming.
Unfortunately, the Evoke's internal performance is very sluggish. It takes a full minute to start up, which is longer than even the most advanced smartphones available today. That's certainly not convenient when you need to make a call in a hurry. The menus are also a tad pokey and some applications take a couple of seconds to open.
The Evoke has a rated battery life of 5.5 hours talk time and 18.75 days standby time. Our tests showed a talk time of 6 hours and 26 minutes. According to FCC radiation tests, the Evoke has a digital SAR of 1.13 watts per kilogram.