How’s the Evo 4G look close to a year later?

by Andrew Greenfield on
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With how fast Android has been advancing, anti-Android pundits like to point out that your device will be outdated merely a week or two after you buy it. What does that say about your device in 10 months? Does that make it archaic? The HTC Evo 4g was released to the public on June 4th, 2010. This was in the middle of possibly the most heated stage of the “Android vs iPhone” war. The iPhone 4 was just around the corner, Android was starting to really pick up steam, and the Evo 4G was marked with the typical “iPhone killer” (stupid phrase) even with the expected iPhone 4 coming out just later that month. The device received rave reviews, numerous awards (including a rather prestigious award from Popular Mechanics), and few criticisms. It set the standard for devices with large screens and brought about a new wave in how people view smart phones. Suddenly the standard 3.5 inch screen that the iPhone taught the world was the norm wasn’t as appealing. 4+ inch screens became the new black with the Evo leading the way (Yes, Verizon supporters, the Droid X was released in response to the Evo). Of course, all new technology is amazing when it’s initially released. The shelf life and its use months later, however, are what set the device apart from the pack. I’ve been asked a lot lately whether or not I’m considering selling my Evo for a newer phone (Evo 3D anyone?). Well, let me ‘splain it to ya:

Software

The Evo is currently running Android 2.2, or Froyo. The device originally launched with 2.1 with the promise of Froyo coming soon from HTC. The Evo was the first device (excluding the obvious Nexus) to receive the Froyo update, yet the phone still runs beautifully and majestically. Froyo really was quite a step up from Eclair (2.1) and that still shows with the Evo. Combined with it’s 1 GHz processor, Froyo allows the device to load apps and menus almost instantly. How many of you remember the days where hitting “all applications” in your settings meant waiting a good 10 seconds before the list showed up? Probably very few of you. Now you click the same option and your list appears before you instantly. In terms of technology performance, 10 seconds is huge. The Evo still feels plenty fast and can stand toe to toe with even recent phones when it comes to its speed. Pretty nice for an old phone, eh?

Upgrades

Another big problem people have with buying expensive devices is the fear that the company will stop supporting the device. It has to happen eventually (unless your Sony and you can’t let go of your PS2 love child), you just don’t want it to be while you’re still using/depending on the device. When will that time come for the Evo? The bad news: with the release of the Evo 3D, probably sooner than your two year contract expiration date if you bought it recently. The good news: probably not in the immediate future. HTC has the best track record for upgrading their phones (according to a study done in January) and Sprint is behind only Verizon in upgrading times. You have the most reliable phone maker and the second quickest carrier; you’re in good hands. All of this is besides the point for two reasons:

1) [The Average Consumer] : HTC has already announced that the Evo will be getting Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). While most of us were already guessing they would, HTC wasn’t going to let their original flagship phone die off so easily. So to the 95% of you that don’t root your phone, GB and more than lidely Sense 2.0 are just around the corner. HTC has claimed it for Q2 of this year which is in the April-June range.

2) [The Root User]: Do you care that HTC may eventually forget about your phone? Does it matter to you that HTC takes longer than Google to release updates? Probably not. Many of you are already running the newest version of Android through ROMs (such as Cyanogen’s CM7) and could soon be even running Honeycomb. You’re like myself, as long as the developing community doesn’t forget about the Evo I’ve got nothing to worry about (and seeing how popular the Development section is over at XDA, I’m no where near worried).

Hardware

The final nail in the coffin for most electronic devices is hardware. Software can be upgraded but that can only take it so far. That’s not even accounting for software upgrades that require more up to date hardware. The Evo’s 4.3 inch multi-touch capacitive screen is still one of the best of its kind. It is still just as smooth and responsive as the day I got it and the capacitive buttons are much the same. It does not feel like a brick and still has a slim profile by modern standards. When someone inevitably comments with “the [insert your favorite phone here] is slimmer by x mm!!!” I won’t even reply. Here’s what I say to you: Do you REALLY notice it while holding it when the difference is almost indistinguishable to the human eye? Probably not.

The 8 megapixel camera is still top of the line. I’ve actually developed a small fondness for photography now that I have a camera with me that doesn’t take pictures that looks like they’ve been assembled by Lego blocks. The Wimax radio also still holds its own. You can make any claim for LTE you want (because honestly, it is that fast), but Wimax isn’t exactly the poor child. For those of us with 4G access you know how fast it is and probably don’t care that you can finish loading your Youtube video while 4 seconds into the video instead of 6; it’s still better than the constant stuttering and stopping or waiting for it load that we’ve been accustomed to on 3G. Sprint might switch to LTE, only they really know. But for the time being, Wimax will more than suffice. And besides, some people claim LTE is a bigger battery eater than Wimax (which I’d be amazed if that’s true).

Last but not least, the “Achilles Heel” for the Evo: The Battery. The only problem people could find with the Evo was that its battery life was often horrendous. How can age affect that? Other than the argument that there are newer, bigger, more efficient batteries out there (which you can buy for the Evo as well, by the way), there’s not much HTC could do about the battery life, right? Wrong. HTC sent out an update that somehow has DRASTICALLY improved the battery life for stock users. It was found that Sense was the biggest killer for the battery (excluding the gorgeous 4.3 inch power sucker you’re accustomed to looking at) and HTC corrected that. Will the Evo ever win best battery out of the box? No. But it no longer has the tag of “worst battery life ever.” In fact, if users are smart, they can adjust the Evo so that it runs for DAYS without needing to be recharged (not you frequent gamer/GPSer). I personally don’t charge my phone but every other day and I’m on it constantly. A little knowledge about your phone can go a long way (and if you want tips on battery saving, boy you’re in luck! Check out this article and I can guarantee your battery life will improve).

The Verdict

In case you haven’t been able to draw a conclusion until now, I have no problems with my Evo. In fact, it doesn’t feel a day older than when I first got it. Whenever it starts to get that old, crusty feeling I just flash a new ROM and it feels like I have a new phone. I love that about Android, and I love that about my phone. The Evo is still selling well so I’m not the only one who finds this phone still attractive. So how about it Evo users? How’s your relationship with your device?

» See more articles by Andrew Greenfield


Categorized as Android Phones, Review

  • Jeff Gettle

    Still no 4G in Indianapolis.

  • me

    Can’t believe it is still around. Im suprised WiMax is still around at that…

  • curse

    I agree, I got the Samsung Galaxy S(I9000, international). I bought it when it was new with 2.1, at that time, GPS sucked, it had quite the lag and battery time was max 12h. Samsung have been quite good with the updates(not the same as for the American carrier locked Galaxy S devices). Now GPS is great, no lag at all, battery time of upto 2 days.

    I’ve been looking at the new Android phones and really haven’t felt the urge to upgrade yet.

    OK, the Evo is little older then the Galaxy S, but it got similar specs, 4.0″ instead of 4.3″ screen, 1GHz CPU loads of mem etc.

    I think we can say the same for most of the 1GHz Android phones out there. The hardware is great, and if your carrier/manufacturer don’t upgrade the software, you can go to XDA and do it yourself.
    No need for a new phone yet.

    I also got an old HTC Tattoo, HTC haven’t bothered to upgrade it from 1.6 yet, they say they don’t think it would be good for the user experience, I run 2.3.3 on it.

  • David Anderson

    I’ve been eying the newest phones from Sprint and even with the coming Evo 3D I can find no reason to get rid of my Evo. Being a root user there are an (almost) limitless number of ROMs and mods to keep these phones out of the trash pile and in our hands. And with the dev community at XDA, which by the way is the best and most involved I have seen through any of my 5 android phones, I think that the Evo will be going strong long past its shelf life.

  • Jim

    The only thing I do not like about my EVO is it will not leave me alone and I got it a week after they came out.

  • http://www.appsbybirbeck.com/ birbeck

    I still love my Evo 4G and think its one of the best phones made to date. It’s HTC, its gotta be good :) I still prefer the Evo 4G over any of the current Droids or Galaxy S (Yes, Nexus S included). The Evo stood the test of time and was the best smartphone of 2010 and can easily last any owner through 2011 and to the end of their contracts.

    Step into 2011 though, and the Evo doesn’t stack up to the new crop of high resolution, dual-core, battery savings monsters. The Thunderbolt is basically a Verizon branded Evo with a few minor adjustments but would be my top pick at the moment. Bionic, Atrix, Xperia Play, Optimus X are all nice current gen devices as well. It will be the Evo 3D though that will be the shaker again this summer and the reference for all other phones to follow in the next year.

    My Evo 4G is just as good as launch day when I got it, in-fact, better now with Gingerbread and new apps/games on the market this year. Zero battery issues. It could easily last me another year, but frankly, i’m just getting kind of bored with it. Flashing a ROM just doesn’t cut it anymore. An HTC Evo 3G is definitely going to be in my hands this summer.

  • Vicky

    People always ask me if I like my Evo, and I always exclaim “I LOVE IT!” And I really do. I could not express in words how much I freaking LOVE this phone. When I look at my bf’s Incredible, I’m think to myself “how did I ever manage to live with such a SMALL screen?” I have child-sized hands (no joke), but #1 thing I love about my Evo is the size.

    I’ve gone from rooted, to unrooted, back to rooted (just because I could). I love sense, but I love the freedom & customization of CM. And basically everything else I love about my Evo is true for most Android devices.

    The phone itself has taken a beating. My camera flash broke on my original, so now I have a refurbished one that has some light spots on the screen. Also, I’m missing a big chunk of plastic underneath the volume down rocker from dropping it one to many times. But hey, it can take a beating & still hold strong!

    It’s going to take a huge contender to strip me from my Evo. I could easily go another year with this baby :)

  • ari-free

    The EVO proved that a 4.3″ screen is the perfect size for a lot of people. Now we have many other 4.3″ phones available. Thanks HTC/Sprint for having the guts to prove the naysayers and critics wrong.

  • Jlrivers

    I agree with this review almost 100%. My only exception is the battery life.
    Even after the htc upgrade, my phone won’t last a full day.
    I have applied all the tweaks necessary to extend the battery, only to get a small increase. I ended up buying an extended battery which lasts me for two days on average.

  • Robert Gottesman

    I got the Seidio Innocell 3500mAh Extended Battery for HTC Evo 4G .. and it really solved my power issue. Mind you .. it makes the unit even a tad heavier and bulkier.