HTC Evo Design 4G (Boost Mobile) review:

HTC Evo Design 4G (Boost Mobile)

Boost Mobile, owned by Sprint, has injected its carrier-branded apps too. There's Voicemail to sign up and access Boost's paid visual voicemail service with, and BoostZone, which is designed to provide account information and the location of the closest retail store. In keeping with Boost Mobile's younger target demographic, the Evo Design 4G also has shortcuts to mobile sites for, E!, and BET.

One weakness of the HTC Evo Design 4G is its 5-megapixel camera. In still-life shots taken indoors, details were clear but not as sharp as in photos from other phones with more advanced imaging systems. These pictures looked dark too, with a yellowish cast, and colors were oversaturated.

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Still-life shots were not very sharp. Brian Bennett/CNET

Trying to capture images in low light was also difficult with the Evo Design 4G. Its autofocus takes a full second to obtain a lock and needs about 2 seconds to save pictures. That all translates to a slow shot-to-shot time of approximately 3 seconds.

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Slow performance made low-light shots tricky. Brian Bennett/CNET

Outside and in ample sunlight the HTC Evo Design 4G's camera performance improved slightly but not much. Colors were more vibrant though similar lighting produced wildly different results. Some pictures were way too dark while others snapped seconds later were completely overexposed.

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With lots of light, colors were bright. Brian Bennett/CNET

The camera boasts a wide range of scene modes like Panorama, Action Burst, and Backlight HDR. I was pleased with the video I captured. 720p HD quality movies were smooth and clear, though not as detailed as content shot by phones with full 1080p-resolution camcorders.

I tested the HTC Evo Design 4G on Boost Mobile's CDMA network in New York and I'm sorry to say that its voice quality performance was poor. Callers reported that my voice sounded harsh, hollow, and laden with hiss. On my end I also heard static and hiss in voices as they spoke. Thankfully the Evo Design 4G's earpiece gets very loud, so much so that I had to dial down the volume a few notches to a more comfortable level.

HTC Evo Design 4G call quality sample Listen now:

Though the Evo Design 4G stands at the pinnacle of Boost Mobile's smartphone lineup, the device uses a weak 1.2GHz single-core Qualcomm processor. I could definitely feel the phone's sluggishness when opening apps and cycling through home screens. That's not to say the device isn't responsive, just that it lacks the virtually instantaneous response of truly fire-breathing hardware. For example, the HTC Evo 4G LTE went where I commanded it, be it the app tray or photo gallery, with oomph the Evo Design 4G lacked.

Mobile benchmark results confirmed my experience: the Evo Design 4G spat up low Linpack scores of 35.7 MFLOPs (multithread) and 40 MFLOPs (single thread). This starkly contrasts with the greatly higher scores notched by the Evo 4G LTE of 196.4 MFLOPs (multithread), 106.1 MFLOPs (single thread).

Operating on Sprint's old WiMax 4G wireless infrastructure, the HTC Evo Design 4G turned in data throughput that was all over the map. In New York I logged an average download speed of 5.73Mbps but there were peaks approaching 9Mbps. Uploads were a lot more even, the Evo Design pushing out at an average rate of 0.33Mbps. Still, that can't hold a candle to speeds possible on 4G LTE or even fast HSPA+ connections offered by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.

Equipped with a 1,520mAh battery, longevity isn't the Evo Design 4G's forte either. In anecdotal battery drain tests, the phone was able to play an HD video continuously for just 4 hours and 58 minutes. By comparison the Evo 4G LTE ran for 6 hours and 35 minutes performing the same task.

At a steep $299, the HTC Evo Design 4G is certainly the most expensive smartphone currently in Boost Mobile's lineup. I consider it expensive even given that its price doesn't tie you to a lengthy service contract. Also, just because the phone costs a pretty penny doesn't automatically mean it's the best Boost device money can buy. While I like its premium metal feel, this phone is thick and heavy. Its slow performance is underwhelming, too, and puts a tired face on its fancy Android Ice Cream Sandwich software. That calls into question the usefulness of ICS since I'd rather have pep than a modest software bump. Perhaps the smoothness of Android Jelly Bean would have made the Evo Design more compelling. Additionally the Evo Design's camera is sluggish especially when stacked up against more recent handsets such as HTC's own Evo 4G LTE. A more prudent move would be to scoop up the $129.99 Samsung Galaxy Prevail, which, while not ultrathin and lacking Android 4.0, is much cheaper.

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