When HTC released the HD2, the hardware geeks drooled. To them, it was the best phone on the market, period: no other phone had a huge and crystal-clear 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen, a crazy-thin body, 1GHz Snapdragon processor, and a whopping 448MB of RAM. That’s hardware that’d embarrass a top-of-the-line desktop computer a decade ago. But it was flawed, held back by the oppressively awful Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5, which very shortly after was mercilessly killed by its creator. The people cried out for an HD2 with a decent OS–and HTC answered them, and then some, with the Evo 4G.
To start with, the Evo 4G is the country’s first WiMax/4G phone, which is reason enough to be excited. 4G can achieve speeds nearing that of a landline broadband connection–3G seems downright antiquated compared to the crazy speed of 4G. Of course, Sprint, who will carry the Evo 4G, hasn’t managed to get their 4G network quite nationwide yet (New York City and San Francisco are both lacking, for example) but they’re moving fast, announcing expansion into seven more cities today.
The Evo 4G meshes that 4G speed with the best-in-class hardware of the HD2–only better. In place of the HD2’s 5MP camera, the Evo 4G upgrades to an 8MP shooter, plus a forward-facing 1.3MP camera (the same as in laptops) for video chatting over that superfast network. It upgrades the RAM to 512MB, and adds a focus on video with both a kickstand and an HDMI-out port for playing HD, 720p video on an HDTV.
Even better, it’s capable of outputting that 4G signal as a Wi-Fi signal, like Sprint’s Overdrive or Verizon’s Mi-FI. Basically, it creates its own little mobile hotspot, and you can connect up to eight Wi-Fi-using devices to it, including (as Sprint was quick to point out) competitors like the iPhone and Droid. That feature will surely require a separate monthly fee, though Sprint hasn’t named a specific price yet.
But the most important part, the part that separates the Evo 4G from the HD2, and what makes it an legitimately enviable handset: the Evo 4G runs HTC’s lauded Sense UI overhaul over Google Android 2.1, just like the HTC Legend, but supercharged. Sense provides just about the best Android experience possible, polishing Android’s dull edges, spicing up the interface, and providing alternative software like a superior music player.
This is the best Android phone yet, and a big step for Sprint, who needed exactly this kind of flashy, eye-catching, and damned impressive phone to show off their mostly-unused 4G network. It’s not a revolution like Windows Phone Series 7, but simply one big step forward for Android–and Sprint as well.
The HTC Evo 4G will be available at an undetermined date this summer, and pricing has not yet been announced.