Hands-On With The HTC Evo 4G LTE

HTC and Sprint have just pulled back the curtains on the new Evo 4G LTE here in New York, and putting the peculiar name aside, the device seems like a real contender. The question then is how does the Evo’s strong spec sheet translate into a real-world experience? I got the chance to play with the $199-on-contract device for a few moments, and while it’s not quite as handsome as the One X, it’s still probably Sprint’s best phone in quite a while.

Thumbing though menus and opening apps was just snappy as expected, thanks in large part to the Evo’s Snapdragon S4 processor and 1GB of RAM. I didn’t notice a tick of slowdown as I manhandled the device, though a kindly HTC rep did — while showing off the camera’s ability to take snapshots while recording video, we quickly found that the feature he wanted to show me wasn’t working. Hiccups like this aside (the units I played with were still running non-final software), the Evo was buttery smooth, though that could change a bit once these start trickling out in to the real world.

Much like with the One X, I found the Evo to be a little on the unwieldy side. That the Evo manages to only feel a little unwieldy is impressive by itself — it’s easy to expect that a device with a 4.7-inch display could hurt some people more than it would help, but it wasn’t too difficult to put the phone through its paces with one hand. Your mileage may vary on that front, of course, but the device’s thin waistline definitely helps make it feel more manageable.

Though the Evo comes in at 8.9mm thick, it has a remarkably solid feel to it. The Evo has its mostly metallic build to thank for that — while the glossy black top half of the Evo’s rear end is made of polycarbonate, the dark matte material below is actually anodized aluminum. The end result is a device that’s very light, but also manages to inspire some confidence in the user. HTC has had a great track record when it comes to the build quality of their devices, and that trend continues with the Evo in spite of their design tweaks.

And now we come to the part where I have to eat a little crow. I’ll admit, I may have judged the Evo a bit too harshly when it came to style. Don’t get me wrong, the Evo still pales in comparison with its AT&T-bound (or international) cousin, but I found the peculiar two-tone finish (well, three-tone, technically) growing on me after playing with the Evo for a while. Would I call the whole package sexy? Not really — it perhaps stays too faithful to the original Evo 4G’s design language, but that shouldn’t stop Sprint customers from giving it some serious thought.