Sprint on Friday launched the HTC Evo 4G smartphone to a chorus of mixed reviews.
Some hailed it as the best Android smartphone yet; others pointed out some flaws, both with the device and with Sprint’s 4G network.
HTC has said it will fix some of the problems with the Evo by issuing an over-the-air update; the claimed problems with Sprint’s 4G network, however, may be somewhat more difficult to resolve.
The Evo’s Ever So Many Features
The HTC Evo offers simultaneous voice and data capability on 4G or WiFi networks. It also comes preloaded with Google Goggles so users can run searches with pictures instead of words on the Web.
Based on a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, the Evo runs Android 2.1. It uses HTC’s Sense interface.
The device has two cameras. The main one is an 8 MP (megapixel) autofocus camera with HD-capable video camcorder capabilities in the rear that shoots video at 720p. This is on the back of the phone. The other camera, with 1.3 MP resolution, is on the front. It’s for video chat.
The Evo includes Google’s Navigation software and the Qik application. Qik lets owners share live video through the Qik website, Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.
The HTC Evo has a mini-HDMI port on the bottom that lets owners view videos and photos on their high-definition television sets.
Screen size is 4.3 inches, and the screen has a resolution of 480 x 800 MP. The screen allows pinch-to-zoom and automatic text reflowing. The Evo uses Adobe Flash technology.
The Evo also has built-in mobile hotspot functionality that lets up to eight WiFi-enabled devices use it simultaneously. Sprint charges an extra US$30 a month for this feature.
Raves and a Few Raspberries
Overall, early reviews of the device have positive. Some early users raved about the device, describing it as the best Android phone to date.
“I used the Evo on 4G briefly in Las Vegas at a wireless conference and experienced very quick download speeds,” Chris Hazelton, a research director at the 451 Group, told TechNewsWorld.
“The device itself is large, but that means it has a large, high-resolution screen, and this offers a fantastic mobile browsing experience,” Hazelton added. “The 1GHz processor provided a great experience with applications and helped the browser render Web pages more quickly independent of the network.”
Further, the Evo is an electricity hog, according to a review on Techland. The battery lasted about five hours running on Sprint’s 3G network with moderate use — Web browsing, push email and accessing Twitter, Gmail Chat and Google Maps.
Finally, Sprint’s 4G network failed to deliver the 10 Mbps speeds it is supposed to, at least in the Pacific Northwest, a PC World reviewer found.
Addressing Early Problems
“With multiple players involved in the hardware and software, and tight timelines to get products out before the competition, some issues will inevitably pop up,” the 451 Group’s Hazelton pointed out.
Software issues can be resolved by over-the-air updates, which are expected and accepted by users, Hazelton said. However, hardware issues would require users to exchange their devices or data cards, and that would be both expensive and a public relations problem for Sprint, he warned.
“HTC has investigated this complaint and has determined the root cause,” company spokesperson Keith Nowak told TechNewsWorld. “We will be able to roll out a solution to users shortly as an over-the-air update.”
Sprint did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
As for the slower-than-promised transmission speeds some early users claimed to have experienced, Allen Nogee, a principal analyst at In-Stat, pointed out that 10 Mbps is the theoretical maximum speed for 4G wireless networks.
“In the real world, there is overhead, and in many cases, this can take a large chunk out of the full data rate,” Nogee explained. The transmission speed will also be reduced if there are a lot of errors on the network. These errors could be due to noise, to a disturbance to the signal, or to the user moving away from the transmission tower.
In the short run, at least, Sprint’s touting its 4G network may cause it more harm than good.
“This 10 Mbps speed will only be approached in ideal situations,” the 451 Group’s Hazelton explained. “Given the smaller footprint that 4G has compared to 3G, users will be put off by having to search for and adjust their locations to connect to a 4G network.”