I had the opportunity to spend the last evening at Sprint’s special EVO event in Manhattan. The event formally introduced Sprint’s new powerhouse smartphone the EVO 4G. I also had a chance to get a good close look at the phone, play with it for a little while, and see some of their marketing people do a number of different demonstrations with it. The short version of this post — I’m pretty impressed by everything that this Android powered device can do. Sprint’s Dan Hesse kicked off the evening by introducing the EVO 4G and… in the process… took a few shots at the iPhone for lack of Flash among other things.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the key features that they focused on last evening. First of all, the device’s 4.3″ screen is nothing short of gorgeous. It’s big, beautiful and it looks fantastic. Fortunately the phone has a processor that’s powerful enough to render graphics on it smoothly. I was very impressed! Here is a quick look at the device (this was before the actual introduction when the devices were still “off-limits”. Ooops!
The device was equally impressive in the camera department. It has an 8 megapixel lens on the back-end and a 1.3 megapixel forward facing camera. It shoots video in 720p so you can, as they were quick to point out, leave your hand-held video camera at home. The eight megapixel camera shoots beautifully so that you can, as they were again quick to point out, leave your pocket camera at home. I saw both photographs and video taken by the device, and I was more than impressed.
The phone also has a nice feature that goes along with its video prowess… an HDMI-out port. That means you can connect the device to any TV or monitor and watch video on it. Who needs a DVR or an Apple TV when you can do that? They will also have an accessory for sale at launch time which serves as a permanent dock that can be connected to the television, so that all you’ll need to do is slip the device into the cradle and you’ll be good to go. This becomes especially important because of the next feature the phone will be offering.
It will be the first handheld device to offer YouTube’s high-definition video player. We saw a side-by-side demonstration of standard YouTube playing on the Motorola droid and the high-definition YouTube playing on this device and the difference was remarkable. So that means you can now fire up high-definition YouTube video and then watch it on your television. If you think they don’t render well on the big screen. Think again. We saw them displayed on what must have been a 60″ high-definition television, and the video looked fantastic.
We also saw a demonstration of graphics intensive games on the device, and it certainly holds its own with the iPhone. It looks like a great device for casual fun.
One of the most amazing features of the EVO 4G is that it’s the first device to feature built-in video chat. Thanks to the forward facing camera and a special application from Qik, this new device offers video chat which works beautifully. I watched the demonstration on two phones, and I looked at it on my own for about five minutes and there wasn’t even a hiccup.
Another killer feature is the ability for the device to serve as a mobile hotspot. You can have up to eight devices using its wireless connection for data at a time. That’s remarkable, especially when you consider the fact that AT&T still doesn’t even allow tethering with the iPhone. There is somewhat of a little problem posed by the 5 GB data cap, but the feature itself is more than a bit impressive.
UPDATE: According to PhoneScoop the $10 premium Sprint is charging for the EVO’s data plan removes the 5GB cap.
I had some hands-on time and tried typing on it, and I was pleased with how well it worked. Someone watching commented, “that’s impressive… especially with one hand”. (my other is still in a sling after surgery last week)
It’s amazingly impressive.
There are some questions that remain such as — what impact does streaming video chat pass on the battery? The answer… one rep admitted that a two-hour video chat pretty much killed the battery. It’s not surprising, considering the drain such an activity is on battery life. Other reps were quoting use times up to 16 hours. I’m skeptical.
Another question is whether or not there is the bandwidth available to support numerous individuals around the country doing video chat over 3G and 4G; that remains to be seen.
The fact that the EVO 4G will only cost $199 when it becomes available on June 4 simply sweetens the deal. I am inclined to get one to try it out.