Review: Sprint Sprint HTC EVO Shift

Anonymously texting your friends and colleagues with vulgar messages is quite amusing.

Such juvenile pranks are made all the more easy with the slide-out keyboard built into the new EVO Shift 4G mobile phone that was made available to Sprint customers this week.

It’s a bit smaller than its big brother, last year’s EVO 4G. But like that phone, the Shift is a speedy and functional Android workhorse. (Curiously, the brand-new phone runs Android version 2.2, even though Google released Android 2.3 weeks ago.)

When there’s no Wi-fi nearby, it lets you surf and stream at whopping 4G speeds wherever coverage is available. Best of all, it transforms into either a 3G or 4G Wi-fi encrypted hot spot with the press of a button.

We should probably mention that the phone makes and receives calls clearly, too. Not once did it drop a call during four days of testing. Also, I can count on one hand the number of times my first-generation EVO lost a call in the six months I’ve been using that device.

Of course, the big feature separating the Shift EVO from HTC’s other Android phones is the physical keyboard. It slides out from under the left edge and runs the entire length of the 4.6-inch-long phone. Thumbing dozens of unfriendly, work-inappropriate texts and e-mails was made simple by the spaciousness of the Shift’s keys.

Those tasks were not as easy or comfortable when using the stock, on-screen keyboard standard on the older EVO. I found myself typing more e-mail and texts on the Shift’s keyboard than on my first-generation EVO, a device I fell in love with months ago. In fact, it led to me divorcing my iPhone.

Still, during our testing, I often got annoyed when it came time to slide out the keyboard, regardless of the benefits of doing so. Frankly, I needed to use two hands — I couldn’t deploy the keyboard while standing in a crowded San Francisco subway, with one hand holding the phone and the other keeping myself upright. Maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

But here’s the bottom line for all the original EVO fanboys out there, including myself: Don’t consider the EVO Shift an upgrade unless you really miss a physical keyboard.

Frankly, there’s no comparison. The original EVO is a rock star, and the Shift is the drummer in its backing band. HTC has skimped on the goods and made too many compromises for a phone that’s only $50 cheaper.

The Shift’s screen is smaller by nearly half-an-inch. It’s a little bit crisper than the EVO, and the phone fits better in your jeans pocket, but you’ll miss the real estate.

The Shift comes with only a 2-GB microSD card — not even enough to carry my Eminem collection — and 2 GB of internal memory. The regular EVO comes with an 8-GB microSD card, although only 1 GB of internal memory. Both phones will house up to a 32-gig card.

The original EVO has an HDMI output and a rear kickstand. The Shift has neither.

Like its big brother, the Shift demands that you carry an extra, fully charged battery. The standard 1500-mAh battery on both devices will last about four hours when using the phone as a hot spot or pushing the limits of surfing and streaming content over 4G. Changing the battery takes only seconds, but while there are many cheap aftermarket batteries available for the EVO, you’re stuck using pricier name-brand batteries for the EVO Shift.

The Shift’s camera falls short, too. The big EVO sports an 8-MP camera with a dual LED flash, as well as a 1.3-MP front-facing camera for video-calling and conferencing. The Shift has a single-flash 5-MP rear-facing camera, and that’s it — no front-facing camera. Both phones do 720p video, however.

Both phones also run Android 2.2. They have the same highly functional HTC Sense user interface. But, unfortunately, they both sport the same nonremovable crapware like the NASCAR app, Sprint TV and a ridiculous app called Sprint Zone that hits you with spam messages from the Big S.

Photos: Jim Merithew/get-gadget

See Also:

  • get-gadget Video: HTC Evo 4G Dissected
  • Sprint, HTC Unveil First 4G Android Phone
  • Overclocked HTC Evo Runs Almost 30 Percent Faster
  • OLED Shortage Forces HTC to Switch Displays
  • Storage Bug Hits HTC Evo 4G Phone Just Before Launch
  • HTC Evo 4G is a Blockbuster for Sprint
  • HTC Clones Nexus One, Launches 3 New Phones
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