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

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MSRP: $549.99

The Good Powerful parts, a lovely screen, stunning design, and an excellent camera help the Evo 4G LTE restoke the fires of the Evo faithful.

The Bad Given the 4G LTE in its name, the newest Evo's lack of Sprint LTE at launch is a huge letdown.

The Bottom Line The HTC Evo 4G LTE is a worthy successor to Sprint's Evo family, as long as you remember one important caveat: until Sprint gets its LTE network off the ground, the Evo 4G LTE won't actually run 4G -- it will be 3G-only at first.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 7
  • Performance 7

With its new HTC Evo 4G LTE, Sprint is the latest U.S. carrier to jump on the HTC One X bandwagon. Like its HTC One X cousin on AT&T, the Evo 4G LTE offers a sleek design, a quality camera, and Android Ice Cream Sandwich.

To say the HTC Evo 4G LTE is a looker is, well, a serious understatement. Clad in black anodized aluminum, glossy premium plastic, flashy red accents, and sophisticated silver trim, this phone is drop-dead gorgeous. You can tell HTC put a lot of thought into the Evo's design, right down to its retro transistor-radio-style buttons. Frankly, the phone screams luxury on par with -- dare I say -- the BlackBerry Bold or even the iPhone 4.

Measuring 5.31 inches tall by 2.72 inches wide, there's no denying that this new Evo is a handful. At just 0.35 inch thick, though, the phone is a hair thinner than the One X. That's trim enough to make you forget its sizable footprint. Additionally, somehow the Evo 4G LTE manages to weigh a light 4.73 ounces despite its laundry list of powerful internal hardware.

The Evo 4G LTE sports a high-end design that seems inspired by iPhone 4 and BlackBerry Bold handsets. Sarah Tew/CNET

Sporting a gigantic 4.7-inch Super LCD 2 (1,280x720-pixel) display, the front of the HTC Evo 4G is almost all screen. As I noted with the HTC One X, the Evo's screen gets very bright and creates vivid colors. Viewing angles are wide, too, both horizontally and vertically, which is traditionally a weakness of LCD technology. Of course, I personally prefer AMOLED displays for their higher contrast, deep blacks, and truly eye-popping colors. For instance, the qHD AMOLED screen on the HTC One S, though not as sharp, did paint richer hues.

Watching video like this trailer for "The Avengers" is loads of fun on the HTC Evo 4G LTE's big 4.7-inch display. Sarah Tew/CNET

Above the Evo's large display is a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for snapping vanity shots or video chatting. Also, just as on the HTC One X, there are three capacitive buttons for back, home, and recent applications below the screen. A stylish silver, oval power button and standard 3.5mm headphone jack are on the handset's top edge. The right side houses a thin black volume bar that I found difficult to press or even locate, as it blends in with the phone's black background. Here, too, are the phone's dedicated camera button crafted in silver and an etched ring-pattern surface. Unfortunately I couldn't get the button to wake up the phone and launch the camera from standby.

On the phone's back is its main 8-megapixel camera with LED flash. It sits on the top portion, which is crafted from high-gloss plastic and covers the Evo's microSD card slot. The lower half uses handsome and fingerprint-repellant anodized aluminum. Dividing the two regions is a striking red stripe that conceals a spring-loaded kickstand. It's an awesome feature, one that I feel more big-screen phones should have. I also appreciate how the kickstand functions properly regardless of whether the phone is placed on its left or right side.

The HTC Evo 4G LTE comes with a nifty kickstand. Sarah Tew/CNET

The HTC Evo 4G LTE's cutting-edge software is just as compelling as the phone's high-octane hardware. Besides the latest iteration of Google's Android OS, version 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, you also get HTC's freshly revamped Sense user interface. According to HTC, Sense 4 fits the new functions of ICS like a glove and is designed to run stealthily behind the scenes. Indeed, a lot of what made Sense 3 flashy, but a little too in-your-face, is gone. I'm talking specifically about the perpetually looping 3D carousel of home screens and fanciful weather graphics that seemed to eat up every morsel of processing power.

In line with HTC's other One-class phones, the HTC Evo 4G LTE is unlocked by either pulling a virtual ring from the bottom of the screen to the center, or moving icons into the ring to quick-launch the related functions. I especially like how dragging the camera symbol into the ring activates the Evo's imaging system to squeeze off pictures and video rapidly. Other default lock-screen shortcuts launch the Web browser, text messaging, and phone functions.

Just like T-Mobile's HTC One S and AT&T's One X, the Evo 4G has seven screens available for personalizing with application shortcuts and animated widgets. HTC's classic weather clock plays center stage on the main home screen. Tapping the widget's digital readout launches a world clock with a fancy 3D globe visual; selecting the weather portion of the clock activates a detailed forecast. If you're a weather geek like me, you'll also dig the engaging graphics displayed on the lock screen that correspond to current atmospheric conditions. You can even choose them as your live wallpaper.

The bottom edge of each home screen is a tab containing the same four quick-launch icons shown on the lock screen. I really appreciate being able to swap out these icons for others I prefer or even creating and adding folders that hold multiple app icons. You can make a social networking folder for Facebook, Foursquare, and Twitter, for example, to save screen real estate. Any changes here are reflected on the lock screen; placing application shortcuts on top of one another creates a folder.

Sense adds some neat tricks to the browser, such as a Pure Content Reader view that removes all ads and displays just the basic text of a selected Web page. You can also choose pages and video to bookmark for later perusal offline.

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.