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Summary:

Mobile Tech Manor is my home office, but since I often work mobile it can easily be anywhere I set up shop. This week I paid attention to how I used the EVO 4G to give my thoughts on how it’s been so far.

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It’s Friday and my favorite day of the week as I get to share the happenings at Mobile Tech Manor once again. Mobile Tech Manor is my home office, but since I work mobile as often as I can it can easily be anywhere I set up shop. This week represented one month with the HTC EVO 4G smartphone, so I paid particular attention to how I used the phone to give my thoughts on how it’s been so far.

I have used many, many smartphones, both those I have purchased and others I have evaluated for the site. I consider myself a heavy smartphone user, as I tend to do a lot of things with the phones I use. Having used the EVO 4G for a month, and given it a lot of thought this week, I can truthfully say it is the best phone I have ever used.

It’s a phone first

The EVO handles everything I throw at it with ease, and makes it all enjoyable. It is an outstanding phone, as calls have been good quality without a single drop. The handset audio quality is good, the speakerphone is very loud for a phone, and performance with a Bluetooth headset has been great. The dialer app is easy to use with big buttons, and the smart dialer is as good as any I have used. That’s the dialer that searches the contact list as you tap numbers on the keypad, narrowing the list as each additional key is pressed. After just a few taps the right name is sitting there ready to tap to dial.

It’s a web appliance

The Android platform is designed from the ground up to be good at working with the web, and HTC adds features in the Sense interface that even improves on that. The EVO seamlessly links my Google contacts with both my Twitter and Facebook friends, so I stay updated on all of my people’s happenings all the time.

The stock web browser is very good, and the large 4.3-inch display makes web browsing a very desktop-like experience. It is the best browsing experience I have enjoyed on any phone, bar none. The touch interface is well implemented, with good finger scrolling and pinch zooming. I like working the web on the EVO.

Even though this browser is good, I also like using the Dolphin HD browser. It makes tabbed browsing a little easier to do than on the stock browser, and I really like how swiping left brings the bookmark menu onscreen. It becomes so natural to do this that I wish such an easy way to interact with my bookmarks existed on my desktop systems. It is that good.

I have been using Twitter more this past month than ever before, and that is due to how well the EVO serves this function. There is no shortage of good Twitter apps in the Android Market, and checking for Twitter updates is a standard part of my routine now. I have settled on the Touiteur Premium app for Twitter after trying four others, as I like how it utilizes the display. I have been asked and subsequently answered many questions about the EVO on Twitter, so if you don’t follow me (@jkendrick) and you’re interested in this phone (or other mobile stuff) you’re missing out on information you might like.

It’s an e-book reader

It is no secret I read e-books, and probably as many in a week as anyone you will meet. I have been reading them for a decade, which is about a hundred years in tech years. I have long used mobile devices as a reader, so giving the EVO a go as a reader was not a stretch. The big screen is a natural for reading e-books, and I find myself using the EVO even more than the iPad which had become my only reader since picking that up.

There are now lots of good reader apps for Android phones, and I am using two of them a lot. The Kindle app has become my favorite since it was recently released, as it interacts with the app on the iPad when needed. I also use the Kobo app since I have a few books in that library, but it doesn’t sync up with the iPad version very well so I like Kindle better. Now that Amazon has a Kindle app for all of my devices, I will be sticking with it in the future to buy all my e-books. I read mostly newer novels, so price is not a factor.

It’s a mobile hotspot

I work in different places, and this month I took a short business trip, too. The EVO has the mobile hotspot feature that I have been using a lot. It has worked as advertised, dishing out either 3G or 4G to multiple devices, and all with a simple tap on the screen. It is easier and quicker to connect than either the MiFi I used for a while on Verizon or the Overdrive I used on Sprint.

Sharing the 4G (WiMAX) connection is simply wonderful. The speed is awesome for a mobile device, and to share it with up to 8 devices is incredible. I have only shared it with as many as 3 devices, but even that’s worth the price of admission ($29.99 monthly).

When 4G is not available, and it wasn’t on my Florida trip, the Sprint 3G network is good enough to share. I used it the entire trip and it was solid enough I forgot I was on 3G most of the time. I would tap the hotspot toggle, and then my iPad and MacBook were almost instantly connected to the web over the EVO Wi-Fi. It is a great way to travel.

It’s a messaging phone

I do a lot of text messaging with family members, email with everybody and Google Talk with colleagues. The EVO does all of this with ease. HTC has a good messaging app for the texting, the GMail app works well for the email and Talk works well for IM sessions.

I have done more text entry on the EVO 4G than on any phone I have used in the past. The HTC onscreen keyboard is quite good, but I installed Swype when it became available a few weeks ago. I find I can enter text using Swype faster than I can type using the HTC keyboard, and I was happily using Swype with three exceptions.

The HTC keyboard is one of the few onscreen keyboards that has four arrow keys, which makes editing text much easier. I found myself constantly missing those keys while using Swype. I also missed the context keys that the HTC keyboard presents when needed. These are keys like the .COM key while working in fields expecting URLs to be entered. Swype doesn’t do that, and I really missed them. Thirdly, the Swype keyboard doesn’t have the microphone key to allow voice input, and as a result I had been neglecting to use that nice feature.

This week I toggled the HTC keyboard back on, and I am finding it makes using the EVO more productive. I may try Swype again at some point as I can type really fast with it, but for now I’m leaving it off. The voice input feature on the EVO works really well, and I have not been using it nearly enough due to the Swype experiment. I am going to force myself to use speech as much as possible.

It’s a blogging phone

WordPress released an Android version of the blogging app that is the best on any mobile platform. I have lamented the lack of a visual editor on the iPad version of WordPress, and amazingly the Android version has one. The Android version also accesses the blog statistics, something every blogger does many times a day.

WordPress on the EVO is a joy to use, and while I wouldn’t use the phone to do a lot of heavy blogging, I can easily keep up with the site and edit posts when needed. WordPress and the EVO is a very powerful combination for me.

It’s an app phone

David Pogue calls superphones “app phones”, and that term applies to the EVO. The performance of the phone is outstanding, and there is plenty of memory for running apps. I admit I have been app happy with the EVO, as the list of apps currently installed from the Android Market demonstrates:

  • Twidroyd for Twitter
  • WordPress
  • Handcent TMS
  • ASTRO File Manager
  • Jorte
  • twicca
  • Touiteur Premium
  • Google Earth
  • Dolphin Browser HD
  • Qik for HTC EVO 4G
  • Kindle for Android
  • eBooks by Kobo
  • RedEye Scanner Live
  • Nexus Revamped Live
  • Silhouette Live Wallpaper
  • Google Maps
  • Bookmarks I/O
  • NexusMod Live Wallpaer
  • fring
  • SystemPanel App
  • Pandora Radio
  • Quick Settings
  • Got To Do
  • Bookmarks to SD
  • Bookmarks Widget
  • Speedtest.net Speed App
  • Evernote
  • NYTimes
  • Facebook for Android
  • Google Goggles
  • vizBattery Widget
  • Twitter
  • Pure Grid calendar

The apps I regularly use constitutes a much shorter list:

  • WordPress
  • ASTRO File Manager
  • Jorte
  • Touiteur Premium
  • Google Earth
  • Dolphin Browser HD
  • Qik for HTC EVO 4G
  • Kindle for Android
  • eBooks by Kobo
  • Google Maps
  • fring
  • SystemPanel App
  • Pandora Radio
  • Got To Do
  • Speedtest.net Speed App
  • vizBattery Widget

So what’s the catch?

If you’ve stayed with me so far, you are no doubt thinking that no phone is perfect, so what’s the catch? I admit as I gave a lot of thought to my use of the EVO this week, I aggressively tried to come up with things I was not happy with; or things I wish were different. I can truthfully say there is nothing I don’t like about using the EVO. Everything works as advertised, and while there are a few things that might be improved there is nothing requiring a change for my use.

I have always found things I would change on phones I’ve used, and my total satisfaction with the EVO surprises me more than you can know. I have wracked my brain for something less than acceptable, and I simply cannot find even one thing. I would change the four touch-sensitive buttons on the front of the phone to real buttons, but it’s not because they don’t work well. I would change that simply because I prefer real buttons.

I am still asked about the battery life of the EVO every day, due to the reports about poor battery life that have appeared in various places on the web. I answer these questions the same every time I am asked — the EVO battery life is no better nor worse than any smartphone I have used. I use the EVO more heavily than any other phone, and the battery lasts all day without fail. It usually has >40 percent left in the tank at the end of the day.

I charge it every night as I do all of my gear so it’s topped off in the mornings. I make sure I don’t run lots of widgets that require constant web connections to do updating in the background. I use Twitter apps all day, but I close them when I am not actively using them. I never, ever run any Twitter widget on the home screens as I have seen those hit every Android phone hard. I don’t use the HTC Friendstream widget as that forces lots of background updating, even if the widget is not on the active screen.

e-Book of the week

This week I read four short novels I got free at the Kindle bookstore. These were the Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith 1-4, and they were good. There are lots of Star Wars novels in the Kindle store, and I am just getting started with them. It’s surprising (and wonderful) that all four of these short novels are free. Worth every penny.

Wrap-up

That’s the week, sorry it was all EVO, all the time. The phone is still impressing me each day, and I am glad I bought it. Until this time next week, take care and be safe.

  1. Sprint is not an option where I live so I’m hoping the Motorola Droid-X on Verizon will be comparable. I like the idea of the big screen that will still fit in my pocket. Looking forward to your Droid-X review!

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    1. I do believe a Droid X may be on the way shortly. :)

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  2. Perfect timing for this. I have used the iphone for years but was not impressed with the iphone 4. Based on your posts, I am evaluating the EVO and I am also impressed. With your battery suggestions I get a lot more battery time than I did on the iphone. Thank you for posting your apps list as that is what I am exploring right now. Finding apps to replace what I used on the iphone. Question. The Samsung Epic is coming to sprint soon. I’m sure you have looked at the previews of the phone. Does that hold interest for you? I am holding off on committing to the EVO before I see that phone. Thank you for all you do. I have followed this site for several years now.

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    1. I am anxious to see the Epic 4G, and should have one soon to review. I am interested to see how Samsung handles Android, they make good hardware.

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  3. Tim Hatfield Friday, July 9, 2010

    James, thanks for the great writeup, as always. I am an iPhone user but I am considering jumping ship. I have heard some concerns about the build quality, such as light leakage, the screen popping out of the case, etc. Have you seen anything like this? Keep up the great podcast, I look forward to them.

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    1. No, my unit is rock solid, or I’d be sure and voice concerns. It feels solid in the hand, too.

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    2. I’ll second that, the physical build quality is rock solid. I’d like to think of the Evo like driving a Mustang even with HTC Sense it’s not all that refined but it sure is wicked fast. Once you get the hang of HTC Sense it’s kind of Expose like looks really cool especially because the screens move really, really fast. The animation may not be all that useful still looks really cool too. Kind of like putting the racing stripes and the coffee can exhaust on the Mustang. I’ve taken several trips on back roads with both the Evo and iPad 3G. It seems like the reason AT&T pulled the unlimited data plans was to not expose the gaping holes of coverage. I had Pandora running non stop on high quality without even a blip. While the iPad lost signal several times leaving me with just a line on the map with no directions. Even if the iPhone is slightly more polished than the Evo the blanket 3G coverage and cheaper rates should definitely push you over the edge to the Evo and if you have 4G that’s just icing on the cake.

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      1. Tim Hatfield Friday, July 9, 2010

        Thanks guys. I was fortunate enough to pick one up at my local Sprint store today. I have been setting it up and playing with it all evening. I have 30 days to decide for myself. So far it seems to be quite good.

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  4. Ok WordPress…check. Bluetooth keyboard?

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    1. Nope, I don’t use the EVO for heavy blogging as I said. It is good enough with the onscreen keyboard for post editing, commenting, etc.

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    2. Android doesn’t currently support HID Bluetooth keyboards out of the box, but the Free Pro compact, folding BT keyboard also has a SPP mode that’s supposed to work well with the EVO – no rooting or drivers required. It’s got me thinking hard about making a jump. Amazon’s got it for about ~$85: http://amzn.to/b9nkpP

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      1. Kitsch Kinkly Friday, July 9, 2010

        I’ve got a Freedom Pro and a Nexus One and it did work in SPP mode as expected. I say did because for some reason its not working anymore (the Android driver connects to the keyboard successfully when I turn it on, but keypresses don’t seem to register). I’m slowly trying to work the issue through with Freedom Input’s support team. This is with Android 2.1 originally, and the problem has followed me to 2.2.

        I’m hoping Android adds HID mode support in a future build, that would seem to make this whole problem go away.

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    3. Bluetooth keyboard? CHECK

      The Freedom Pro Universal Bluetooth Keyboard works with the Evo using drivers supplied by its manufacturer. I have one currently and have been using it mostly with “Documents to Go” (word processor/spreadsheet app), “UltraMate” (journal/diary app) and regular text messaging/IM chat/forum boards.

      Also, the Gamepro drivers can be used with the Evo to link a bluetooth game controller to it. Hopefully we’ll have the HDMI turned on for games and then you’ll see even more awesomeness.

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  5. I have found much the same of Swype as you on my HTC Desire here in the UK. Good in most contexts, but a few area’s let it down, and have hence resorted to using the stock HTC keyboard now. Still it is always nice to have the option of using Swype, especially for in portrait mode where I find it much easier to bang out a quick one-liner text message for example.

    I have also started writing a few blog posts using the WordPress client, and it really is brilliant. It has also improved my keyboard skills greatly.

    We are having a slight heatwave here in the UK just recently, and have noticed that my Desire can run very hot to the touch when out and about, do you find this with the Evo, James?

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    1. I was in Vegas a week ago and noticed the phone getting very hot, especially when it was in direct sun as I was walking outside. I don’t remember this happening with my BlackBerry. I was on both 3G and 4G.

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    2. I am in Houston where we’ve already had 100 degree F heat, and the phone has not seemed warm to me.

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  6. James: Missing the direction keys when using Swype?

    Just swype from the swype key (bottom left) over to the SYM key. Brings up the direction and utility keypad (copy/paste, pg up/down, etc.).

    Missing the .com and other context keys?

    Well, there aren’t keys for it, but swype does recognize www. and .com. For “www.” do a little sqiggle or loop on the “w” key and without lifting, swype down to the period. For “.com” start at the period key and just swype through com. This also works for .edu and .org. Additionally, you’ll notice that when in URL boxes, swype is intelligent enough to know you’re there and will refrain from automatically adding in spaces, so just swype in the http://www., your url, .com and you’re set.

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    1. That’s good to know about the keypad gesture. I’ll give it a try this weekend. I love Swype for text entry.

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    2. Thanks for the heads up on this! Copy and paste buttons and arrow keys!!! Swype impresses me more and more everyday I love it!!

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  7. Oh one more thing, as you love your books, if you haven’t already, give Child 44 a try by Tom Rob Smith. A truly great book, that I literally could not put down!

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  8. I’ve been loving Locale on my EVO. It is $10, but totally worth it. It turns on my Bluetooth at 4:30 when I leave work to get in the car (off at 5:15 when I’m home), it turns on WiFi at my house (off when I leave), and puts my phone on vibrate when I am at work. Fantastic app and a huge battery saver since I don’t have to remember to turn of WiFi when not at home.

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  9. In your review you state the EVO; Display: 4.3 inch LCD 480×800. The rumored Android Gingerbread update due in December supports 1280×760. Does the current hardware support this higher resolution or should I wait for better hardware when Gingerbread is released?

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    1. Gingerbread will only support the native resolution of 480×800 on the EVO, as it should. The 1280×760 is probably going to be for tablet devices which have larger screens in the range of 5-7″ I would guess. I’m sure they will come out with smaller devices with the high res screen at some point to challenge the iPhone 4′s retina display. We’ll see.

      Personally, I find the EVO’s display to be plenty adequate on the resolution front.

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      1. Re: Adequate on the resolution front.

        Agreed. The retina display is quite nice, as I’ve played with a couple of Iphone 4s. That said, the specification quoted by Apple, that the human eye resolves detail to roughly 300 dpi is actually at a distance of one foot. For obvious reasons the further the eye is from the phone, the less detail the eye can resolve.

        Pretty much the only time I use my phone a foot or closer is when reading in bed or on the couch. The vast majority of people use the phone much further as a simple street observational poll in NYC can tell you. At the more typical 1.5-2 feet distance someone might casually use a mobile device, the resolution differences are much less apparent.

        760 resolution is only really useful for a spec war.

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  10. James, I wouldn’t mind being able to use the dual LED flash on the camera with out having to turn the hotspot off/on… (one of those little hidden and annoying details you find the hard way on your shiny shiny new gadget)

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    1. The flash works as advertised for me. Not for you?

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      1. When I have the hotspot enabled and I start the camera app the flash is automatically disabled with a floating gray panel that appears for a few seconds to let me know the flash was disabled because my battery was too long etc… If you press the flash selector button the gray panel pops back up. if I turn off the hotspot and re-enter the camera app it immediately turns the flash back on.

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      2. I just tried it and you’re right. It is by design as the message given says the flash is disabled due to “low battery, cold weather or due to a phone call in progress.” It obviously treats the hotspot as a phone call which makes sense, sort of. I can’t think I would want to use the camera while hotspotting anyway.

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