Review: HTC Evo 4G LTE

Is an HTC One X by any other name just as sweet? In the case of the Evo 4G LTE, a slightly reconfigured sibling of the One X, no, not quite. But almost.

The One X is our current pick as the best overall Android phone on the market right now. And HTC’s Evo 4G LTE is essentially the same phone as the One X, as far as the guts and the display. But the two phones are not equals.

The styling and materials differ, but the biggest disparity is invisible: the Evo’s 4G LTE status. Sprint’s 4G LTE network isn’t up and running anywhere other than a handful of test markets, namely Atlanta, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City and San Antonio. For now, that means the new 4G Evo is essentially a 3G phone outside of six cities. While Sprint’s 3G network offers great service and the phone never felt slow, the Evo 4G LTE doesn’t yet live up to the 4G LTE part of its name. This issue will change over time, but today, it’s a strike against Sprint’s new Evo.

The differences on the outside are more obvious. The Evo 4G LTE is a handsome handset, but it has a more pedestrian feel than the sleek One X. It measures 0.35 inches thick and weighs 4.7 ounces. The bottom two-thirds of the new Evo are covered in an attractive matte-black aluminum that houses an etched-in HTC logo, a mono speaker and a dark grey Sprint logo. Above that is a shiny black piece of plastic, which is removable and hides a microSD card slot for expanded storage. As is the style with just about all of HTC’s marquee phones, the camera sits at the center-top beside a single-LED flash.

The camera is ringed in anodized red aluminum, a choice matched by the red band of aluminum that breaks up the two blacked-out portions of the handset’s rear. Inside of this red horizontal stripe is a kickstand — a design trademark of the Evo series. The red stripe across the black back looks menacing, something that both Batman and Bane would appreciate.

The kickstand is a thoughtful touch, and is easy to pop out when wanted. The addition makes watching video or perusing through photos snapped on the Evo nice and easy whenever you set the phone on a desk or a table. There’s also a dedicated camera button on the new Evo (finally, something not shared with the One X).

And while we’re on the subject of photos and videos, let’s get into the Evo’s camera and display. Both are fantastic, and both offer some of the best equipment seen on just about any smartphone out there. The camera is the same 8-megapixel shooter with an f/2.0 lens and LED flash found on both the HTC’s One S and the One X. This camera setup is the best on Android. It’s not quite as nice as the camera on the iPhone 4S, but this is one of the best cameras on an Android device.

Photos are detailed and beautiful, and a bit on the cool side. The phone snaps photos really quickly (the shutter is almost too fast), thanks to Ice Cream Sandwich’s ability to capture images nearly instantaneously. HTC’s ImageSense camera includes an HDR mode for amped up color, a burst-shot mode for taking multiple photos in speedy succession, a handy panorama feature, a low-light mode and a macro setting for taking close-up shots. The photos of video (the Evo can shoot up to 1080p moving pictures) taken with the Evo look splendid on the phone’s 4.7-inch displa — a 1280×720 IPS LCD touchscreen covered in Corning’s scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass.

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