Oh. My. God.
HTC's Evo, the first 4G cellphone, has to be the greatest cellphone ever, and likely will be until the Verizon iPhone 4G hits the market in, maybe, two years. It is leaps — Superman leaps — ahead of anything on the market, and will be for a while.
First, it runs on Sprint's WiMax 4G network, available to 30 million people in 27 markets right now, and 44 markets and 120 million potential 4G surfers by the end of the year. 4G powers all sorts of nasty never-seen-before functions on the Evo, for instance:
- It's a mobile hotspot. Read that again: It's a cellphone and a mobile hotspot. The Evo, which runs Android 2.1, can power 4G connections with peak download speeds of more than 10 Mbps, peak upload speeds of 1 Mbps, and average download speeds of 3-6 Mbps — all two or three times faster than 3G — for up to eight other devices, including other phones. At the demo, Sprint execs pointedly mentioned the benefit for poor 3G-crippled iPhone users when an Evo user was near. Look for this mobile hotspot feature to be widely imitated when other 4G phones hit the market.
- It's got a front-facing 1.3MP camera/camcorder, presumably for face-to-face video chats with other Evo users, and for use with certain multiplayer video games. Developers just got the SDK, so video chat and video game apps haven't been written yet — but the camera is handy for self-portraits and composing video messages.
- Wireless stream HD video from the phone to an HDTV, and download streaming HQ videos from YouTube.
Evo doesn't stop here. Keep reading for the full 4G skinny.
It's got a beautiful 4.3-inch WVGA LCD. It runs on a 1GHz processor. It has an 8MP
GB camera with dual flash and a 720p HD video recorder. It's got Google Goggle, Google's picture search function: snap a photo, say the Eiffel Tower, into the app, and you'll get an Eiffel Tower results list as fast as if you typed in "Eiffel Tower." It's got a Flash-enabled browser that has tap-and-hold copy/paste capabilities. It's got 16GB of built-in internal memory.
Evo also incorporates a number of cool convenience functions and features. For instance, like an increasing number of phones, Evo aggregates all your non-verbal communications into a "Friend Stream." Instead of continually scrolling left-and-right through the seven home screens, double-tapping the Home key gives you all seven home screens mniaturized on a single page. If you swipe through them, the screens are numbered instead of merely being represented by dots. And it's got a kickstand so you can watch video without holding the phone.
Swipe scrolling is iPhone smooth. We couldn't check out how speedy the Web was, though — even for Sprint, local Las Vegas 4G service was clogged, which isn't a good sign. While no specific battery-life ratings were released, Sprint says it'll last a whole day of heavy usage, an assertion we'll be happy to test when we get a sample before the Evo appears sometime this summer.