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The Sprint HTC EVO 4G Event - Observations and mini review


twospirits
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Picture it, NYC...

 

As a Sprint customer and advocate, I was excited to have received my invite to the Sprint HTC EVO event being held in NYC on Wed April 4th, 2012 and was looking forward to attend the event. As a previous EVO 4G owner, I was excited to hear that HTC is finally getting a true EVO 4G replacement out to the market. The previous EVO line was getting stale in my opinion and really did not capture the essence that the first EVO 4G brought not only to Sprint, and HTC branding but to the mobile phone world at that time. Between its classic looks, huge 4.3 screen, Sense, 4G Wimax and kickstand, it was a force to be reckoned with. So much that it was a constant winner in sales and awards. One of which is the "longest lasting smartphone" in the Sprint lineup, (before the introduction of the Apple iPhone). This alone is impressive considering that some mobile devices of late are EOL’ed in just a few months in their lifespan. The partnership these two have, was formed before the EVO 4G, and it was sealed with its unveiling. They now want to recapture that magic with this new EVO replacement and I'm glad Sprint invited me.

 

Is it Wednesday, yet???

 

As the day drawn closer to the event, I started to read up more on the rumored EVO replacement. From the name, to the specs, to the design, it was obvious that this replacement was something that both Sprint and HTC wanted many to talk, and blog about. Not only in HTC’s case where they are rebranding their entire line into the One series and getting back to their basic roots, but to Sprint as well. It has taken a beating of late in the media and I'm certain it wants the world to know that they cannot be counted out. Between their ongoing commitment to the network, with upgrades and deployment of Network Vision as shown on S4GRU.com to their recent announcement of securing unlimited for the foreseeable future, one sees that the future is bright and I for one look forward to continue my loyalty towards them.

 

01-EVOLTE_Locale.png

On to the event. The Event was held on the west side of Manhattan, media capitol of the world next to the Jacob Javitts Convention Center. What’s odd is that the maps on our phones pointed the location of the event at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel to New Jersey.

 

We got there early since that’s what the invite stated. For about an hour before opening the doors, it seemed that we were the only two. (Maybe the rest of the invited folks were at the front of the Lincoln tunnel.) Finally people started showing up. By the time the doors had opened, the line to get in was around the block. I felt like saying “anyone ready for the new iPad” but didn’t for fear of getting killed or blacklisted at the event. lol.

 

The event I was attending is actually the second one held for the unveiling of the phone. The first one was held at 5:30 PM for the media. I saw quite a few media celebrities leaving the event. Even saw my other online boss from Phandroid, Rob Jackson. He thought I was in the media circle since I had my work hospital work ID on. We discussed the device a bit and he gave me the impression that he liked what he saw, especially HD Voice. This is the first I heard the term and was curious, but he had to run get the train back home. I guess I’ll see what that is all about once inside.

 

02-EVOLTE_Front.png

 

Being the first two in line, two high level HTC guys come out and ask how we like the media show. One of them was Jason Mckenzie President of HTC. (I still have my work ID on mind you, so they probably thought it was a media badge.) We tell them that no we were invited by Sprint and are not part of the media showcase. They both whip out the new device and say," well in that case let me be the first to show you the new phone".

 

First impression: Wow. The phone is slick and light and the screen was really good in the sunlight. (Dusk was fast approaching though). The so called upper back that some folks are complaining about now actually looks nice and it has a function, I’ll get into later. We talked about the phones HD Voice capability and were told that words can’t describe it; you have to listen to understand. Again my curiosity peaked. After showing the phone off to the first few in line, they scooted off into the night. By 8:38 and they finally let us in (good thing since after the sun went down the temperature dropped like a hot potato), Some of us had no coats or jackets and were shivering with that river wind hitting us. We joke saying that once inside and holding the phone they would think we are jumping for excitement, when in reality we are shivering. :lol:

 

Anyway, we show ID, get tagged and up to the 4th floor we go. Elevator doors open, DJ is blasting really cool music, two guys waiting to give out champagne as we get out of the elevator. Huge widescreen to the left showcasing tweets from Foursquare, twitter, etc and highlights of the media event as well as the pictures they took of the folks waiting outside.

03-EVOLTE_Screen.png

 

Hors d'oeuvres everywhere. To the right were the HD Media Link demonstration area and sitting tables as well as the open bar with real drinks.

04-EVOLTE_Media.png

 

Straight ahead were the display tables and HD Voice booths. After a snack we get to the tables that have the new device on display to check it out. There are plenty of Sprint reps on the floor with their own EVO LTE giving individual demonstrations.

 

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is holding it in your hand worth?

 

05-EVOLTE_Displays.png
Even though I saw the phone already outside, seeing it again left me even more impressed. OMG, the SLCD2 screen was awesome outside, but inside, wow. It really is spectacular. The clarity of the screen cannot be overstated. You can easily see that EVO design history by looking at it. There are the typical red highlights like on the older EVO. The raised rear lens is more protected and the kickstand is back in red trim. Higher up the back and more in the middle. This is one feature that I truly missed from the previous EVO line. It’s one of the reasons why I bought a Motorola Photon. Some consider the kickstand an underused joke but to me, it’s one of the things that set the EVO apart from all others at the time and it really does come in handy when one needs to use their hands for something else other than holding the phone. The spring loaded kickstand itself is quite strong and feels better than the previous one and can position the phone on either landscaped side in case one wants to charge the device while viewing the screen.

 

The device felt a bit heavier but that was due to the heavy security lockdown thingy on the back of the phone, this also restricts playing around with it. But play I did. When holding it outside it felt light but the aluminum body makes if feel strong. To avoid issues with the antennas HTC decided to use a plastic rear top. And to be honest, while some on the floor questioned this, I did not mind it as much. I usually look at the front of a device and not its rear and if it helps in capturing better radio signals then that’s fine by me. The device is fluid between screens and opening apps. Sense looks a bit like the old Sense but I a way it isn’t. ICS is nice with the snapdragon processor. I also checked to see if LTE was on (since the tower is one mile away and I believe operational as per s4gru.com) but nope, it was on 3G and wifi only on all the models I played with.

 

Rumors abound thinking that the device won’t have a good enough screen, but rest assured that the super lcd screen is flawless. Although the specs state 720p, to me it looked much more. This is evident when taking photos and video and even more evident when playing that media wirelessly via the HD media link. That demonstration was quite nice. The transfer of media was instantaneous and this will be extremely helpful for those that watch Netflix or any stream media from your sd card without having to deal with wires and messing up the connection port on the device itself. Although its not a tegra 3 processor that is optimized for games, I am sure the device can do quite well with games and HD Media link.

 

Speaking of sd-card, it has one as oppose to the international version and although the built in 16GB memory is adequate for some, having the sd card is even nicer. But can it hold more than 32GB? It’s one of the question I was told to as ask to the folks demonstrating the device. (3 of the questions were asked both outside with the high level Sprint reps and inside).

 

The questions asked both outside and in the event…

  1. Is there a button combo to perform a power off full shutdown of the device if it gets stuck in a particular state.(NOT a restart but actual shut down), especially since the usual course of action is to remove the battery, but this device you can’t do that.
    Answer outside with Rep: Yes, it is stated in the manual (but they didn’t have one available to show me how.)
    Answer inside: I was told yes, but let me find someone to confirm (never came back)
  2. In terms of battery life, how long in normal or heavy use.
    Answer outside: We have not provided the specs today for the battery because we are still in testing.
    Answer inside: 7.5 hours
  3. Obviously the LTE bands supported...and if only 1900MHz see if one will comment on whether 800MHZ or 2.5GHz will be supported in handsets first and when to look for those devices since 2.5GHz will be up next June 5k locations.
    Answer outside with Sprint rep: 1900 only, no 800
    Answer inside: Like a dear looking at headlights, blank stares
     
    Following questions only asked inside the event...
  4. If restart is the only option available while in that state then is there a way to get into the devices recovery during this state(ie. the hold Vol Down during powering on device currently used on HTC devices)
    Answer: no one can respond to this.
  5. MicroSD card SDXC supported?
    Answer: No one could answer that either, although one guy shook his head.

Speaking of the battery, it seems that the trend is to go to non-removable batter and on one hand that bites because I am a heavy user and am always having an additional battery around or plugged in. it also helps when stuck on a app or when the device freezes up for any reason. But for others, they rather not have to do any of this and welcome the extended 2000+mAh battery. So this may a breaker for some.

 

A High Definition Telephone Call...

 

After playing with the phone for a while, we headed to the HD Voice booth. This was the highlight of my evening. This is where they put you in a soundproof box and hand you two EVOs. The older EVO4G, and the newer LTE one. In the adjacent sound proof room is another Sprint rep also with two EVOs.

First you connect with the older EVOs and talk as usual. Even though we are in a soundproof room, the adjacent booth has a loudspeaker on with music. His voice was as expected, not as clear but good enough to understand him. Next we switch to the new EVO 4G LTE phones and talk to each other. One word folks: Holy cow, great Mother of Pearl, Are you freaking kidding me. (okay, more than one word lol) The voice was so crystal clear and so defined that I swear the guy was next to me. And even if he was, that wouldn’t block out the background noise. HD Voice does. WOW. Now Sprint can truly bring back and say “so clear you can hear a pin drop” from the older commercials with Candace Bergen. Wow. Just wow.

 

We kept switching from the Old to the new EVO and once he even raised the music in his booth to the same level as out on the floor and at that point I did hear the background music but his voice on the other hand was still as clear as day. Truly impressive! Almost to the point of remarkable. The one thing going against it is that you need to have another HD Voice capable phone to truly realize the difference. But eventually with Network Vision and more phones coming this way using the technology it would be more widely used. I can see the Now Network bringing back the use of phones as phones.

 

We then had one of the guys do a camera/video demo for us and much like what one see in the YouYube videos, the camera is fast, takes awesome images and even panaroma. The slow motion feature and 4 images per second feature ware really neat. It’s nice that for this version they included a dedicate camera button. I got used to that and it just feels more natural when taking an image. The onscreen controls were also quite impressive and plentiful.

 

As the night wore down, one thing that I noticed at the event was the lack of accessories. The only one was the HD media link gadget that was connected to the HDMI TV, but there were no car docks, desktop docks, chargers, covers, etc. Odd and I was looking forward to seeing some.

 

I left the event at the end of the first round of raffle giveaways (still don’t know what they raffled off) but I assume it’s for one of the devices when it comes out in May. As I left I felt that both Sprint and HTC really did accomplish their objective in reviving the EVO line with a true replacement. For some it may not have the same “ohs” and “ahs” as the first EVO did? But those were different times with Wimax being the only 4G in the USA. I for one say that both Sprint and HTC are back on track.

 

By this point you are probably wondering why there are no images of the phone itself. Well simple answer is its awesomeness was too much for my Photon to take. Besides, there are plenty of way better photos in numerous reviews elsewhere which in no way would i be able to do better.

 

Final thoughts (aka Celebrity Mobile phone deathmatch).

 

The only problem with all of this is that it will leave the Sprint customer the difficult choice of what to get in the upcoming months. The bar has been raised by Sprint and HTC, but the decision as to what to get now is more difficult. Most of you know that I am in love with the Samsung Galaxy Note and hope for it to show up on the Now Network. It is the only device that had me even considering jumping to AT&T to get. But insanity was trumped and reason prevailed and I will wait it out and keep it as one of my lines once Sprint gets it. But for the other line and for those folks that feel the Note is too big or are waiting to upgrade soon to another device. Trust me when I say that the EVO LTE right now, is the one to get. Sorry Nexus, you came, we saw and were conquered.

 

 

TS out

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Nicely written.....some good questions there you were able to ask ;) hehe thanks for that btw...never know who you may run into there and get to bite on them.

 

and man I would of paid to see the "deer in headlights" persons face....lol

 

Lil disappointing they didn't have any docks up there to show off or least re-show the car dock feature from Sense 4.0....but I guess it was more about the hardware and less software here...just a guess

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Thanks for the write up Dave, its a good read. Can't wait to get one in my hands. Don't know if it will be my choice for a next device,

 

Denny

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Thanks for the writeup. So you didn't try to enable LTE on any of the phones which were set to 3G/WiFi only?

hmmm I thought i was clear in the write up. I played with two phones first, then later on, played again with three other phones and then before i left played with two others. On all of them I switched to LTE and nothing, nad, zip poof. So although the tower is one mile away, the phones was locked out from recieving the signals.

 

btw, I forgot to mentioned that the questions were provided by Sgt Slaughter. thanks Sarge.

 

TS

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Super amazing write up. I just saw the YouTube video of the making of the device, and man I was amazed of the style. This phone is amazing. I love the fact that sprint is trying to revive voice quality. Hesse and co are not playing around. They want sprint to compete and steal customers, and if they continue with devices like these, they will.

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Excellent write up, glad you really liked it. I am so gonna be all over this when it comes out.

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Nice review. Are you an HTC Elevate member? I joined that thing a while back hoping to get some benefit from it, but every other tech blog (except BGR ;) )has way more information than HTC's own tech blog. They claim they'll have special offers, discounts, and beta software, but I haven't seen any evidence of that. Anybody else?

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Nice review. Are you an HTC Elevate member? I joined that thing a while back hoping to get some benefit from it, but every other tech blog (except BGR )has way more information than HTC's own tech blog. They claim they'll have special offers, discounts, and beta software, but I haven't seen any evidence of that. Anybody else?

 

Sensation owners got early build OTA of the ICS update through there...

 

I was too late to sign up to elevate when I found out about it, and by then they only were doing the sensation stuff anyway...

 

Sent from my PG86100 using Tapatalk

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Good to know. I really liked the Sensation when it came out.

 

Is the horizontal slot in the back, near the bottom, the speaker grill?

 

(hopefully this post will get me out of the "smoke signals" class)

 

Edit: Yeah...I've made it to analog baby!

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Thanks, if I was at the media portion, maybe I would have ventured to ask. But at the consumer portion, I don't believe anyone got one (except those that won the raffle and given a slip for getting it in the future).

 

I do regret not taken pics of the phone though come to think of it. In playing around with it I failed to realize that it did not have the accessory dots on the back of the device like the international version has. Its my understanding that the dots are for that. With the Sprint version not having them, leads me to believe that any accessory like a dock, car port etc will use the traditional charging/mht port.

 

TS

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Thanks, if I was at the media portion, maybe I would have ventured to ask. But at the consumer portion, I don't believe anyone got one (except those that won the raffle and given a slip for getting it in the future).

 

I do regret not taken pics of the phone though come to think of it. In playing around with it I failed to realize that it did not have the accessory dots on the back of the device like the international version has. Its my understanding that the dots are for that. With the Sprint version not having them, leads me to believe that any accessory like a dock, car port etc will use the traditional charging/mht port.

 

TS

 

ehh the pogo pins are kinda a "cool" feature but in reality the more I think about them they are kinda pointless...whats the purpose of having 2 separate charging ports? you still have to run a cord to any dock you put it on and in reality you could easily still have it trigger desk mode like it does now when placed in a dock...

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ehh the pogo pins are kinda a "cool" feature but in reality the more I think about them they are kinda pointless...whats the purpose of having 2 separate charging ports? you still have to run a cord to any dock you put it on and in reality you could easily still have it trigger desk mode like it does now when placed in a dock...

 

The main advantage is that it makes it easier to pop the phone in at an angle; with my Seidio mount for the Evo 4G, you have to slide it in horizontally (I use mine in landscape) to line up with the built-in micro-USB plug. It also locks you into using one phone orientation (e.g hardkeys on the dock side - one advantage of going all soft-key like the GNex is that they can move with the phone orientation). With the Evo 4G LTE's charging port being on the side it'll be easier to dock in landscape mode at least, although it'll be more annoying for people that want to use the phone vertically.

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