Sprint EVO 4G LTE review: Is this the EVO you’ve been waiting for?

The original EVO landed on Sprint two-years ago and was one of the most popular Android phones in the U.S. After that success, the second chapter arrived last year; the EVO 3D. That was a complete disappointment, but not a complete disaster since most original EVO owners had 2-year contracts, which meant they weren’t buying anyway. Those contracts are now coming due and those customers need something good. The EVO 4G LTE promises to be the best EVO ever. It’s a variant of the One X, which is the best phone available hands down. Unfortunately Sprint customers will have to wait a little longer as the¬†U.S. Customs is holding up shipments. Today was supposed to be the official release date, but unfortunately, thanks to Apple, we have no timeframe.

Will this be the EVO you’ve been waiting for? Hit the break to find out, but you can also check out my initial hands on review.

Design

This is by far the most important part of this review. Since the EVO 4G LTE is essentially the AT&T One X in terms of its guts, this is one of the main areas that is different. Sprint worked with HTC to change the design to be more EVO-like, and I think they succeeded. At first I didn’t care for the design at all, but after spending some time with it, I won’t say it’s growing on me, but I will say it’s not bothering me so much.

The biggest change is the addition of the kickstand that was found in the original EVO. It’s designed flawlessly within the red stripe in the back. In fact, it’s hard to tell that a kickstand actually resides in the red stripe unless you knew it was there. You will also find the same red pattern around the camera lens.

The other major change is the addition of a micro SD slot for storage expansion. The global One X and the AT&T One X don’t have a micro SD slot, but Sprint felt it’s customers would want the availability of increasing storage capacity. HTC decided to put it in the inside, and with it came a cover for the top back. This cover is where things get interesting because it doesn’t match the bottom half which is anodized aluminum, The top cover is a shiny black plastic.

Another change includes a silver metal ring around the sides, which I think compliment the overall look and gives it a nice feel in the hands.

The final change is a dedicated camera shutter button, which is a really nice touch since it’s hard to find a phone with one anymore.

Just like all versions of the One X, the battery isn’t removable. A lot of people like making a big deal about this, but I dare them to tell me how many times they switch out their battery. It’s a proven fact that the majority of people don’t carry multiple batteries, and I don’t think you should be worried about it.

The rest of the buttons and ports are identical to the global and AT&T One X. The top has the power button to the right with the microphone jack to the left. The right side has the volume rocker and below that is the added camera shutter button. The left side has the micro USB port.


Although I prefer the look and feel of the global and AT&T One X, this version is a close second. As I mentioned, at first I didn’t care for it, but after spending some time with it, I’ve realized it’s not so bad. The bottomline is this is a Sprint phone and if you’re on Sprint, this is your choice. If your negative on the design, don’t make your decision based on videos and pictures online. Go to the store and play with it. I think your negativity will calm down.

Hardware

Just like the AT&T version of the One X, the EVO 4G LTE gets the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor since it’s a LTE capable device. The S4′s performance is on par with the global version, but more importantly battery life should be better. Other than the micro SD slot (listed above) the only other hardware change is a 2000 mAh battery (instead of a 1800 mAh).

The full specs include a 4.7-inch (1280 x 720) Super LCD 2 display, a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, micro SD slot for up to an additional 32GB of storage, 8MP camera rear camera with ImageSense, 1.3MP front-facing camera, 2000 mAh battery, CDMA & LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, WiFi, HDMI through MHL port, and mirco USB.

The last item to mention is HD Voice, which is something that Sprint will roll out in the coming months. You won’t find it on any of the other One X variants and this is the very first smartphone to feature it. Obviously since the service hasn’t rolled out yet, I couldn’t test it. I did hear a demo at the announcement in New York City and it sounded amazing. How it will transfer to the real world is unknown.

Performance

Again, the guts are the same as the AT&T One X so performance should be identical, and that’s what I found. I ran the obligatory AnTuTu benchmark, which came in at 6772, which is the exact same number that came up on my AT&T One X test. For once a benchmark actually proved to be true.

The Super LCD 2 display is identical to the AT&T One X so there isn’t anything different to offer here. It’s by far the best display on a phone to date. No PenTile, just pure beauty.

Beats Audio is also onboard just the like the AT&T version and there are no differences. The plus with both phones is that it works on all audio apps (not just the stock music app). Yes it’s a gimmick, but I would rather have it than not.

Battery

There is no way to test the battery with LTE connectivity since there isn’t a market in Sprint’s network that actually has LTE. We are expecting six markets to land this Summer and they include¬†Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio. For this reason, my battery test could only be conducted with 3G conductivity. If you’re not familiar with my test, I run continuous video with the display turned up to 2/3′s brightness. I was able to get 7 hours, which is the same as the AT&T One X. This is a little concerning since the EVO 4G LTE has a bigger battery (2000 mAh vs 1800 mAh). I did the same test with the AT&T version and I was connected to HSPA+ 4G. Hopefully there is a software tweak that will straighten it out.

Software

The software is identical to the AT&T One X. It’s Android 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich with a decent dose of Sense 4.0 on top of it. Most of the media seems to agree that Sense is toned down with 4.0. I would agree, but I’m still not in love with it. You can see my AT&T One X review for other thoughts, but the bottomline is that it doesn’t annoy me enough to not buy this phone.

Just like the AT&T One X, you get 25GB of Dropbox storage for free. This is a nice touch and I encourage you to sign up for it right away. The integration is really nice with automatic uploads for pictures.

One app you will find on the EVO 4G LTE that you won’t find on the AT&T One X is Google Wallet. I can’t say much about it because I don’t have a Google Wallet account, but I’m told my review unit doesn’t have the final build. You will also get a $10 credit when activating a Google Prepaid card.

As far as bloatware you get HTC Hub, HTC Mobile Guide, Setup (for HTC syncing), Sprint Hotspot, Sprint Zone, Stocks, Task Manager, Transfer (for transfering information from your old phone), Voice Recorder, Watch, and Weather (HTC).

Camera

I think from the benchmark, battery test, and software, you should’ve figured out that the EVO 4G LTE is the same phone as the HTC One X sans the design and battery. That means the camera is also the same. The only change is the availability of the dedicated shutter button, but other than that, everything is the same. You get the same high quality pictures and the same great software with all the effects, and of course my favorite, burst shooting. See my review of the AT&T One X and Joe Sirianni’s review of the T-Mobile One S for more information about the camera. Here are some photos for the heck of it, but for more examples of effects and stuff see those other reviews. This is truly the best camera on a smartphone to date.

Closing

It all comes down to styling, but if you want the best phone available on Sprint, this is the phone to buy. The only downer is the fact that LTE isn’t available now. Assuming if you buy this phone with a 2-year contract it’s likely Sprint will grow its LTE coverage over that time. It really doesn’t matter because WiMax really isn’t that great anyway and what else would you buy? It’s not like any of the other phones on Sprint would get LTE any sooner. I said it before that I prefer the global and AT&T version over the EVO 4G LTE in terms of design, but if I’m a Sprint customer, I’m fine with it. Not everyone has the luxury of changing carriers. It’s priced the same as the AT&T One X, which is $199, and that makes it an awesome buy. Now the only thing we need is the U.S. Customs to release the shipments so everyone can actually buy one.

» See more articles by Robert Nazarian


  • http://twitter.com/jonasyon Jona Sy

    Thanks for a great review!

  • Matijams

    I wouldn’t say the Evo 3d is a complete disappointment.
    Yea, the 3D part is a gimmick, so what?
    Maybe it’s just because I was coming from the Samsung Moment, a notorious lemon, but I find the 3D to be a capable phone.

    • Chris

      Sense 3.0 was great on it. I had it (along with the org. evo) and lvoed both phones. if I ever go back to sprint, this is the phone I’ll get