I had the pleasure tonight of attending Sprint’s EVO 4G launch, their newest flagship phone. It runs Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) with a huge 4.7in screen and all the usual bells and whistles we have come to expect from a high-end Android phone (1.5ghz Qualcomm processor, 1GB of RAM, NFC, a 2000mAh battery!)
But this phone is special. Not only does it have a 720p screen, it has Beats Audio and something called HD Voice, which I think has the potential to truly be a killer feature. What is it? And why did it blow me away beyond anything else with this new phone? You will have to read on to find out!
Before I get to the HD Audio stuff, let’s talk for a minute about the phone itself. It is made from anodized aluminum, and in the few minutes I was able to play with one, it felt ridiculously solid. I was just saying that I miss the aluminum body of the original iPhone, and that same solid feeling permeates the EVO 4G. It is a huge phone, not surprising given the size of the screen, but it is extremely thin.
The best comparison I can think of is how it feels to hold Sarah’s Kindle Fire versus my iPad…that’s how much thinner the EVO felt over my iPhone.
HTC and Sprint talked a lot about how they designed the hardware around the experience, and it shows in several ways. One, the kickstand on the back is designed to let you watch a movie while the phone is propped. An HTC rep explained that the feedback they have received in the past was that people loved the kickstand on the old EVO, but they hated that you couldn’t charge while it was being used because the phone position covered the charge port. The solution? The kickstand locks so securely into place that you can use it tipped on either side. So now you can watch a movie and have the charging cable secured from the side facing up!
They also put a lot of effort into the camera. Taking a page from the iPhone’s quick phone access on the home screen, the EVO has a dedicated camera button that pulls up the camera app while the phone is locked. HTC also took to heart the idea that the best camera is the one you have with you and really beefed up the photo options. You can take continuous shots (up to 99!), so there’s no excuse for missing your child’s perfect slide into home plate. Even cooler, you can take video and use the camera button to snap a still shot while actively filming! The app also includes several camera modes, and a smart image sensor and flash to adjust for low light and close up objects. Effectively HTC is looking to get as close as possible to the power of a DSLR in phone form.
Now, let’s talk audio. Sprint is rolling out something called HD Voice, a way to make voice calls significantly clearer. They project that 500 billion voice minutes will be used on their network in 2012, so voice still matters. A long time ago, Sprint used to advertise as having such great phone lines you could hear a pin drop, and those roots are evident in HD Voice. I was able to experience a demo, and the difference is huge. I have terrible hearing in my right ear, to the point where I avoid using my right ear when I am on the phone, and I could hear the Sprint rep clearly using the EVO 4G on my right side. Even when they turned on music he still came through loud and clear. That is truly a killer feature, though there are two catches: you have to be in an area that supports HD Voice, and you need to be on the phone to someone who also has HD Voice. Without those two parameters the phone is still very good, but you won’t get that “pin drop” clarity.
The best part about this phone is going to be the price: $199! That puts it in direct competition with the iPhone, and below many of the previous Android superphones. It’s a smart move and one that will hopefully pay off for Sprint.
I only had a few minutes with the EVO 4G, but I will be dreaming about it tonight!