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Editor's rating (1-5): rating starrating starrating starrating star
Carrier: Sprint
Manufacturer: HTC
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What's hot: Great design and build, fast, excellent camera, Android 4.0 ICS.

What's not: A 4G LTE phone without an LTE network.


Reviewed May 21, 2012 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

The first HTC EVO Android smartphone was huge for Sprint. No, we don't mean it was a really big phone (though it was), but it had the right mix of high end features to ride as Sprint's flagship phone for quite some time. Follow up EVO models haven't been as hot, but with the HTC EVO 4G LTE, we've once again got an iconic device for Sprint from HTC.


The EVO 4G LTE shares a lot of DNA with the HTC One X, but Sprint EVO-ized it with a two-way kickstand and an industrial modern design look that's less curvy than the One X. Inside you'll get the same excellent 1.5GHz dual core Snapdragon S4 CPU that smokes the competition for performance and battery life. There's a gig of RAM, 16 gigs of internal storage and a 2,000 mAh battery. The phone runs Android OS 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich with HTC Sense 4. The software experience is once again very close to the HTC One X, and you even get the same default wallpaper. Like other recent Sprint smartphones, it has NFC with Google Wallet.

Design and Ergonomics

Though the gloss black section on the back will no doubt be a point of contention, we think the EVO 4G LTE is one stupendous looking smartphone. Plastic phones abound, even at higher price points, and the LTE EVO is a breath of fresh metal. It looks like a quality piece and the cool feel of the metal sides and back are reassuring. Though large, this is a skinny phone that measures 0.35". HTC does a great job of making their 4.7" phones about the same height and width as some 4.3" and 4.5" phones, so we're not complaining about the size. But those of you who detest today's popular big phones might disagree.


The phone has 3 capacitive buttons that are masked in white for good contrast, and the controls are where you'd expect on an HTC smartphone. The power button is up top and the volume controls are on the right. The buttons don't rattle like some 2011 HTC phones. The micro USB port is on the left side as it is on the HTC One X, and it's located there to work with HTC's desktop cradle that holds the phone in landscape mode. Thanks to the two-way metal kickstand design, you can charge the phone when the kickstand is deployed (just flip it so the USB port is on top).

The back is metal except for the slide-off gloss black plastic panel that covers the microSD card slot. Why plastic? It allows for better reception. Why gloss? We assume Sprint liked the texture contrast and it does look good until it gets grimy (which happens quickly). The kickstand and its surrounding band are metallic red and look cool.


Phone and Data

This is Sprint's third LTE phone, and yes it will be released before Sprint actually has an LTE network. We know this is confusing for some buyers who think they're actually getting 4G LTE right now, but we understand Sprint's awfully difficult position: they're moving away from WiMAX and thus won't introduce new phones with that service anymore. We wouldn't want them to sell a dead end service, but offering hot new phones with 3G just won't cut it. So they're jumping the gun and offering future-ready LTE phones, even though their network won't start lighting up until summer 2012. Six cities will get LTE this summer, with the rest of the country to follow at an undisclosed rate.

What does that mean to you? The HTC EVO 4G LTE is functionally an EV-DO Rev. A 3G phone now, and at some time in the future, you should be able to use it on Sprint's LTE network. I know: that's a little weak. Sprint's 3G service in our area of the Dallas metroplex is the slowest of the big 4 carriers, and that's a double ouch. The EVO LTE managed faster 3G download speeds than the Galaxy Nexus, and was on par with the LG Viper. In our area we averaged 650kbps down and 550kbps up, which is terribly slow, but if you're a Sprint customer who usually gets better speeds in your area, you should see your "normal" 3G speeds which may be better than ours.

Voice quality on the EVO 4G LTE is quite good and it will get better when Sprint enables Qualcomm's new HD Voice codec on their network. We tested HD Voice at the CTIA trade show a few weeks back, and it was noticeably better than standard cell voice. HD Voice only works if the feature is enabled on the carrier's network and if both phones have the HD Voice feature. Until Sprint releases more phones with this feature, this means EVO LTE to EVO LTE only.

But as we noted, standard non-HD call quality on both ends is quite good on the EVO, though not quite as impressive as the HTC One X (the One X is one of the best voice phones to cross our ears in the past year). Call volume is average and the rear firing speakerphone is clear though not terribly loud. Typical of HTC, if you turn the phone over and rest it face down on a desk, it will automatically switch to speakerphone mode. It also has HTC's pocket feature where it will increase ring volume if the phone senses it's in a pocket or bag and it has their quiet ring on pickup that deceases volume if you move the phone.




HTC EVO 4G LTE Video Review


HTC EVO 4G LTE vs. Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Sprint


The dual core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Krait CPU is the chip maker's latest and greatest offering that's meant to take on the quad core Tegra 3 CPU. The Qualcomm MSM8960 is a 32nm process CPU, which means it's more power efficient than the 40nm architecture used in the Tegra 3, Tegra 2 and previous generation Snapdragon CPUs. That means a cooler running phone with longer battery life. The S4 has Adreno 225 graphics, which represent a significant improvement over the older Adreno 205 graphics processing power. The CPU scores a bit higher than the Tegra 3 in some benchmarks, and is significantly faster than older generation dual core CPUs, but so far don't quite beat the GeForce GPU in the Tegra 3 on graphics benchmarks (it's close though).

The phone has 1 gig of RAM and 16 gigs of internal storage with 2.3 gigs available for application storage and 10 gigs available for general storage (we're surprised to see this division of storage under ICS). There's a microSD card slot under the back cover, and that puts it ahead of the HTC One series and Galaxy Nexus that lack expansion.

Does the phone feel fast? Yes, it does. Is it powerful enough to carry you through your contract? Yes, it should be. Honestly, it has more processing power than any current application demands, so it certainly should age well as more apps take advantage of advanced CPUs like the Snapdragon S4 and Tegra 3 CPUs.


  Quadrant GLBenchmark 2.1Egypt Offscreen AnTuTu Sunspider JavaScript Test
HTC EVO 4G LTE 5086 56 fps 7001 1650
HTC One X 5001 56 fps 7074 1617
LG Viper 2839 N/A 5400 3317
Samsung Galaxy Nexus 2753 28 fps 5985 1869

720p Super LCD: a Good Thing

The HTC EVO 4G LTE has a 1280 x 720 display that competes head on with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, HTC Rezound and Samsung Galaxy S III. The Super LCD has natural and rich colors with neutral whites, which are pluses vs. Super AMOLED displays that have bluish whites and unnaturally vibrant colors (though many like those better than life colors). The EVO 4G LTE has better than 300 dpi pixel density and that means you won't be able to see individual pixels. It has pleasing colors and good contrast behind the Gorilla Glass protection. Though you don't get the HTC One series lovely wrap-around glass effect, the display still looks painted on because it's so sharp.

Battery Life

The HTC EVO 4G LTE has a 2,000 mAh Lithium Ion battery that's sealed inside. That's a healthy battery capacity, and we appreciate that in an LTE phone with a large display and fast CPU. Happily, the Snapdragon S4 sips power in a miserly fashion, and that means even better battery life. Granted, we obviously can't test with LTE's famously hungry drain vs. 3G, but we have a feeling given the phone's 3G and WiFi stamina, that this phone should last through the day with moderate use on LTE. With a mix of 3G and WiFi use, we managed 1.5 days of moderate use that included social network background updates, email, web browsing, an hour of music playback with the screen off and 20 minutes of YouTube streaming.

Beats Audio and Multimedia

The EVO 4G LTE has Beats Audio (HTC owns a controlling interest in Beats), and the audio enhancement works with any brand of headphones. Beats has quite a few settings to choose from, ranging from the classic bass-heavy Beats EQ to classical, vocal and warm. That should help for those who like their music less managed by EQ, but who do appreciate some audio enhancement. The rear firing speaker isn't all that loud, but music and video sound excellent through headphones.

The phone can handle HDMI out using an optional MHL adapter that plugs into the micro USB port. The EVO has no trouble playing 1080p MPEG4 video and streaming content from YouTube and Netflix. The HTC has an FM radio that uses earbuds/headphones as the antenna.

HTC includes their own music app that integrates TuneIn Radio, Sprint Music and SoundHound for track info, artist info and lyrics. You can add other music apps to the player if you like. The Music app automatically got album art for our tracks and we like the rich interface and background playback feature. You can control playback from the lock screen, top taskbar and widget. And for those of you who appreciate Google Play Music and its cloud storage feature, have no fear: it's here.


Like the HTC One X, the HTC EVO 4G LTE has an 8 megapixel rear main camera with LED flash that can shoot continuous autofocus 1080p video with stereo audio while simultaneously shooting still photos (just press the shutter button while recording video). The fast f 2.0 lens and backside illuminated sensor are particularly well suited to low light photography. The dedicated HTC ImageChip brings such goodies as 60fps video recording, and dedicated image processing chips are a rarity in camera phones.

We love the many shot options, effects and settings that made us feel like we were using a dedicated digicam, and 1080p video recording is impressive, even in low light. As with the HTC One series, we noted over-saturation of reds but other colors were very good, and red does tend to pose a problem for digital cameras. Exposure and color balance are very good with an impressive amount of detail. This is one of the best camera phones on the US market.


HTC Sense 4 is here, and it's toned down from older versions. If you're a fan of HTC Sense, you'll appreciate it here and the continuity it brings from older devices. The famous HTC clock-weather widget is pre-installed, as is the lock screen with its quick launch apps. If you enable security you can use PIN unlock or use face unlock via the front camera. HTC's customized app drawer with tabs for all apps, downloaded apps and frequently accessed apps helps keep things organized. You can edit tabs and access the Google Play Store using the menu at the top right of the app drawer. We like HTC Sense and the polish it brings to Android ICS without glossing it over into oblivion.


If I were a Sprint customer, this is the phone I'd buy. In terms of quality, materials, features and specs, the HTC EVO 4G LTE is the one to beat. Unless you prefer the pure Android experience that the Samsung Galaxy Nexus offers, the EVO 4G LTE is our choice, and we suspect it will hold up well against the Samsung Galaxy S III.

Price: $199 with 2 year contract












Above: the HTC EVO 4G LTE and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus on Sprint.


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Display: 4.7" capacitive multi-touch display. Resolution: 1280 x 720. Supports both portrait and landscape modes via accelerometer, has ambient light and proximity sensors.

Battery: 2,000 Lithium Ion rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.

Performance: 1.5GHz Qualcomm MSM8960 Snapdragon S4 Krait dual core CPU. 1 gig RAM, 16 gigs internal storage.

Size: 5.31 x 2.72 x 0.35 inches. Weight: 4.73 ounces.

Phone: CDMA dual band digital 800/1900MHz. 3G EV-DO Rev. A and LTE 4G.

Camera: 1.3MP front camera and 8MP rear camera with LED flash, Back Side-Illuminated sensor and HTC ImageChip.

Audio: Built in speaker, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated WiFi 802.11b/g/n, NFC with Google Wallet and Bluetooth 3.0+.

Software: Android OS 4.0.3 Ice Cream Sandwich with HTC Sense 4. Standard suite of Google Android applications are pre-installed. Sprint apps: Sprint TV, Sprint Music, Sprint Zone, Sprint HotSpot and TeleNav GPS Navigator. HTC apps; HTC Watch, HTC Music, Task Manager, HTC Mobile Guide Media Share, FM Radio and Car.

Expansion: 1 SDHC microSD card slot.


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