When I first got the first HTC Evo in June 2010, I was blown away by the massive screen size (4.3 inches) and I thought having a phone so big that it had to have it’s own kickstand was the coolest concept ever. The Evo in fact overshadowed any desire that I had to get an iPhone 4 at the time. The large screen size was great and was appreciated but there were some occasions where it was just too big to carry around. I also do a lot of international traveling and the CDMA-Only Evo 4G wasn’t that useful to take along with me when I go overseas. Now here comes the HTC Evo Design with a beautiful 4 inch qHD display, world phone capabilities, and running Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Why wasn’t this baby around LAST YEAR?!
HTC usually builds great quality phones and the Evo Design 4G is no exception. With an aluminum unibody casing, the Design 4G feels solid and you can already tell this is a high quality phone just by holding it. The black on black color body and curved boxy edges make the phone look sophisticated especially for its price range! The Design 4G is 4.8 inches tall by 2.4 inches wide by 0.47-inch thick and weighs 5.2 ounces vs the original EVO 4G at 4.80 x 2.60 x 0.50 weighing in at 6 ounces.It’s not too small like the iPhone 4(s) sometimes, and it’s not too big like the original EVO 4G or the Samsung Galaxy S2. One thing that I didn’t like about the design is the battery cover is somewhat of a pain to remove and I can foresee damaging the micro USB port by accident.
Personally I think having a 4 inch screen is perfect for a mobile device. The 960×540 res qHD screen is up to par with that on the iPhone 4(s) and holds its own against the AMOLED screens that are out there. Text is easy to read and images are vibrant. Movie performance on YouTube and downloaded movie files were above average in terms of display and there was slight noise and pixelation when viewing the Batman: Dark Knight Rises trailer and Transformers 3. Watching anime such as Fate Zero and Naruto however performed beautifully and colors were very sharp and clear. Again, 4 inch screen wasn’t too small where you had to squint, and wasn’t too large where it becomes an inconvenience.
Software and Sense 3.0
I’ve always been a fan of Sense and get excited when every new version comes out. Some people hate it, but I love the way it looks and which my iPhone had something similar to it. Sense in my opinion has always been lightyears ahead of MotoBlur and Touch Wiz (eww) and the interface is clean and very dynamic. You will be greeted with the familiar large clock/weather widget on the homescreen along with the Messages, People, Mail, Market, Voicemail, and Camera icons. There are a handful of other Sense exclusive widgets that are on the other screens such as Friend Stream where you can get your Facebook and Twitter updates on one screen, Tip Calculator, etc… Navigating through the interface is rather easy, but it can get cluttered if you have too many widgets on your screen! However it’s not that difficult to add and remove widgets and you are pretty much in control on how you can have your screens setup. The Design 4G is running the latest (at the moment) Android 2.3 Gingerbread and Icecream Sandwich is just around the corner.
Sprint preloads their software on this phone such as Sprint Music Plus, Sprint Zone, Sprint Radio, etc. It’s not as big of an annoyance as other carriers and these apps are easily removable. There’s also Sprint TV as well where you can watch full episodes of a handful of TV episodes without any lag.
There are about a half million apps in the Android Market and the number has been growing. HOWEVER, the quality control of apps is not at the level of Apple’s AppStore but it has definitely gotten better over the past few years. If you are coming from an iPhone over to an Android, there is a very good chance that you will find the same or similar app over in the Android Market like games such as Angry Birds and Cut the Rope or even productivity apps such as Documents to Go.
The HTC Evo Design 4G runs on a single core 1.2Ghz Qualcomm processor with 768MB of RAM plus 8GB of internal storage (upgradable via MicroSD card) and surprisingly performs very well for a budget class phone. Benchmark tests throughout the web show that the HTC Design outperforms the HTC Evo, the Nexus S, and is pretty close in performance with the dual core Motorola Atrix 2 (2540 vs 2860 on Benchmark app). There was no lag in launching applications and multitasking and the browser took about a second or two to load up. It plays Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, and Super NES emulation games just fine. CPU intensive games such as Minecraft run OK, but not as smooth as they would on phones like the Galaxy S2, but we’re talking about a totally different class of phones here.
Battery life is a bit of a disappointment on this phone as Sprint claims you can get up to 6 hours of talk time. I’m not too sure if that’s an accurate statement because I’ve used the phone on a regular work day (with WiFi and Bluetooth off) sending emails, updating twitter, making some calls, and sending text messages and the battery went from 100% to 60% in 2.5 hours!!! I’m not sure if I need to condition the battery but it’s quite clear that this phone can’t be too far away from the charger that long and I have yet to test it with using a full day of 4G!
Call and Internet Quality
While on the subject of 4G, using OOKLA’s Speed Test app, 4G performance was at a solid 6.5MB – 7MB download and 1.1MB – 1.3MB upload in the city of Pasadena, CA. Performance was similar around the Los Angeles Metro area where WiMax is readily available. The 3G speeds are nothing to write home about which benched at 400k-600k download (if lucky) and about 100k – 150k upload.
Sprint’s CDMA network here in the LA Area is much better than AT&T’s in terms of call quality. I’ve tested the phone for a week and have yet to get a drop call no matter where I go including taking an entire conference call on the drive to San Diego. Indoor cell reception was decent and was able to get signal in department stores and shopping malls, and even in my local 24hr Fitness where my AT&T iPhone 4S gets NO SIGNAL.
Camera and Video
The Evo Design 4G is equipped with a 5MP rear facing camera with LED flash and a 1.3MP front facing camera. The phone also records HD videos up to 720p resolution. Camera performance was very good as pictures came out clear and sharp and was able to capture some dust on my iPhone 4S in really good detail which I didn’t notice when looking at it with the naked eye. There was some slight fuzziness on some photos but pictures turned out great for the most part. Video recording at 720p was also pretty good as the colors and clarity of the video was above satisfactory and video playback was smooth. Capturing the audio portion was a bit weak and sounds were low and a little muffled.
For those that are on the budget and envy the features found on flagship phones, the HTC Evo Design 4G is an excellent value on what you can get dollar for dollar. The build quality, size, screen, and 4G capabilities are the big selling points of the phone without having to spend over $200. If you’re a fan of the sense layout and widgets then you’ll definitely love this phone. I personally don’t like the stock Android layout and I feel that Sense enhances the experience in using this OS. Having a dual core processor would be nice, but if you need a phone to make calls, send emails, text, take decent quality pictures and light to moderate gaming, you wouldn’t be disappointed with the Evo Design. However, the phone itself isn’t perfect and has some flaws such as disappointing battery life and the audio from the sound quality of the videos taken is lacking.
Overall Rating: 8/10
- Excellent overall value
- Fantastic build and screen quality
- Great overall performance
- 4G Capable (as good as WiMax can get) and World Phone capable
- Poor battery life
- Sound from videos are quiet and muddled