HTC EVO Design 4G Review

October 27, 2011
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The popular and iconic EVO brand has just added another member to the family this month and that is the new HTC EVO Design 4G. Being the second smallest to carry the title while staying right in the middle with its specifications it should make most users plenty happy. It may not be as large as the big guns like the original EVO but it sure handles its own quite well, not to mention it should only run you a crispy $100 dollar bill. Below we'll show you a few pictures and our hands-on video and let you decide for yourself if this is the next phone for you.

Now before we get started feel free to look over my hands-on post, then enjoy the goofy hands-on and unboxing video to get you up to speed.

HTC EVO Design 4G hands-on

Hardware

First I wanted to mention the display because it looks great. While it's only 4.0" compared to the other popular EVO's and their 4.3" displays we do have a qHD here. Higher resolution than the original EVO yet on a smaller screen so it truly looks great. We have a 4.0" qHD 960 x 540 resolution. The screen does feel a bit thin and tall if you ask me, but shouldn't be of any concern. Android 2.3 Gingerbread is powered by a 1.2 GHz single-core S2 processor from Qualcomm, all inside a smartphone that’s a mere 4.80 x 2.40 x 0.50 inches in size.

As you can see above, around back we have the usual soft touch matte back that many phones have used as of late -- then the popular and sturdy aluminum bezel we've come to love from HTC. They are king of the crop when it comes to build quality, everything is extremely durable and solid just as we've come to expect from HTC. Down to the bottom we have where the back is removable (with a little extra force) bringing us to the removable battery, and included 8GB micro-SD card. Taking the bottom battery cover off is a bit tricky so good luck and be careful.

The design is very simple and elegant with the aluminum around back wrapping up front and covering the entire outer shell. The left side has all the action with the micro-USB port and the volume up/down rocker. Nothing is on the right and as usual up top we have the power and wake button, as well as our 3.5mm headphone jack.

Overall I really like the design and build quality, the phone has a very durable and solid feel and if you've ever handled the HTC EVO 3D -- it is basically the same thing but smaller in this regard. My only complaint with the actual phone is the camera around back, while 5 megapixels is enough and works great it's the hump and design that is giving me the problem. The phone doesn't sit flat on a surface and if you try and touch or swipe between homescreens while its laying on your desk it wobbles and is crooked. The camera hump is just too large and should've been a bit smaller. This isn't a big deal but most phones manage to still sit fairly flat. Looking at the photo below you'll understand why.



Software

As mentioned above we have Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread as well as the usual HTC Sense UI 3.0 on board. It would have been nice to see Sense 3.5 here but we are equally as happy with 3.0 and the lockscreen ring is still my favorite part -- well that and the clock/weather widget of course. HTC Sense UI 3.0 is nothing new so I wont spend much time here although everything is extremely smooth and fluid, as you'd expect with a 1.2 GHz processor powering everything. Bloatware you ask? Other than the usual dressed in Yellow WiMAX apps and Nascar applications we also have FM Radio, Stocks, TeleNav GPS Navigator and a task manager. Everything else is standard with all HTC devices such as HTC Hub and Watch etc. I'm happy to report this is one of those rare phones that didn't come with any bloatware like most T-Mobile phones we've seen lately -- We'll done HTC.

Benchmarks

We always like to run a benchmark or two just to see how things are running and if everything seems to be playing nicely together. For a 1.2 GHz single-core phone the Quadrant results were about where we expected, just above 1900 and I tried about 5 times to break 2000 with no luck. This is actually a pretty decent score because many dual-core phones in the recent past haven't scored too much higher than that. We've also ran some Vellamo and Speedtest results to see how well that 4G WiMAX is performing.

I wont talk much about benchmarks because those that care about those things usually go for the biggest and best from a mobile device and most likely you've already bought the EVO 3D. For those that want a well rounded and powerful smartphone that will last through your 2-year contract, this will be just fine. Vallamo benchmark results were a little depressing but part of that was the poor network performance results.

Next up we have speedtests. I might not have the best 4G coverage and WiMAX range but I do live in a larger city (Las Vegas) where I'd expect to have good coverage and a stable quick connection but that just isn't the case here. Verizon 4G LTE, AT&T 3G and even T-Mobiles new 4G seems to completely win outright here. I've achieved over 9 Mbps on average with the new T-Mobile HTC Amaze 4G but was lucky to break 2 Mbps on either 4G WiMAX or the standard 3G here with the Design 4G. Maybe I'll get a better connection down on the Vegas strip and will have to give that a try soon.

Camera
The HTC EVO Design 4G does have a pretty decent camera for what you pay for. Coming in with a 5 megapixel shooter on the rear with LED flash and a 1.3 MP front for video chat I've experienced overall decent camera performance. This is no 8MP camera from the Galaxy S II but for $100 I'd be more than satisfied. Below is one quick sample and you can see a few more in the full gallery below. The camera does offer 720p video recording as well.

Battery Life
While battery testing is still ongoing because I wanted to try both 3G and 4G separate I can happily say that 3G battery life was quite excellent. We have a 1520 mAh battery with the EVO Design 4G and while using 3G only it was enough to make it through most of the day. One thing worth noting was standby battery. I barely used the phone for a few days and it lasted 2 days and 18 hours on a single charge. For those that don't use there phone all day long like myself, the EVO Design 4G will last you plenty long. 4G testing hasn't been quite as fortunate as the constant switching back and forth from 4G to 3G has been taking a toll on battery life.

Wrap-Up
If you are the proud owner of the HTC EVO 4G this will not be the device for you. While the processor is faster and the screen is crisp and more vibrant, it's a bit smaller and the camera takes a dip too -- not to mention we no longer have a kickstand. Instead, for someone coming from, dare I say it, the HTC Hero or even the EVO Shift slider the Design 4G is an exceptional smartphone and would make you proud.

The new EVO 3D may trump the Design 4G because of its dual camera and processor status, but the Design 4G holds its own quite well in regards to the rest of the line up available. Pair that with the 4G WiMAX and the awesomely low price I'm sure many will find this device as the perfect fit. The HTC EVO Design 4G is available now and is only $100 with a new 2-year contract. Or if you're feeling cool go snag it from Amazon Wireless for just $30. Enjoy the rest of the photos in the gallery below and be sure to let me know if you have any device specific questions.

[device id=1949]


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  • http://twitter.com/_mjm Mario Machon

    I’ve kept my Hero truckin, but it’s time for an upgrade. This review helped a lot! Long live Hero!

  • Cullinfowler

    i sell phones for sprint and i dont understand why they launched this phone its not even competing with other new phones like the gallaxy s 2

    • Chris20nyy

      Not every phone needs to be the latest and greatest (and most expensive) thing out there!  Some people just want a reasonably priced, well built 4″ phone.   Not everyone want’s to drop $300 on a huge brick that barely fits in your pants pocket.  I wen’t from an evo 3d, to a nexus S 4g because the evo was just too bulky and the 4″ screen size was perfect, however the ns4g is a purpose built phone that I don’t get along with.  I love htc devices but they never had an incredible type phone for sprint.  Now they do and it’s probably the best fit for me.

      • Jelks

        I completely agree. The Samsung Galaxy S2 is a great phone if you never leave the U.S.  But this phone is cheaper, very well-built, sufficient AND you can take it overseas (as also with the iPhone 4s).

  • Cullinfowler

    still a nice phone just doesnt compare 

  • briibrii

    omg i love this phone and if anybody has more info on it 9175578518 call me and if your cute i would like to talk to you and you can call me briibrii cuz im looking and im open to anything out there men or weomen so plz call

  • briibrii

    omg i love this phone and if anybody has more info on it 9175578518 call me and if your cute i would like to talk to you and you can call me briibrii cuz im looking and im open to anything out there men or weomen so plz call

  • Anonymous

    two good reasons to get this phone:
    1. it’s small (unlike most android phones)
    2. it’s a world phone (unlike most of Sprint’s phones)

    Plus is still has a good screen, Sense (which most people like), decent battery life, etc.
    And finally, it’s cheap.

  • Kevin75074

    Battery goes out very fast in normal usage,  the design did not leave room for off market larger battery. also the signal reception of it was not powerful, lost some calls when drive. 

  • Rgb

    Any change when you are reviewing a PHONE, you could actually review its ability to make and receive calls?

  • LB

    I switched to Evo 4G design after trying out Moto’s Droid Razr for two weeks, and t I’ll never look back. Speed wise, Evo 4G design feels just as fast as Droid Razr, but the battery life for Evo 4G is AMAZING.  If I turn off 4G, the battery lasts longer than my original Moto Droid – 17 hours easily on heavy surfing/texting/app downloading/calling, and it can easily last 2+ days if usage is light. Evo 4G design is also small so it fits great with small hands. Software wise, HTC’s bloatware is much more tolerable than Motorola’s. This is an odd situation where the extremely optimized old technology brings greater performance than new technology that’s fresh out of the oven. I’m sure in a year or two, 4G + dual core processing + batteries will bring even more amazing performances. However, I will enjoy the Evo Design in the mean time. 

  • Serg

    The Designs 4G camera is one of the best on the Sprint line up only behind the Iphone 4s maybe.  It was a Aperture of F2.2 and is a wide angel 28mm lens.  At night it takes better picture then the galaxy, photon, evo, 3D, Iphone 4.  I know since I’ve compared all in tests which wowed those around me.  The low aperture is better then the Iphone 4S which is only f2.4.  Those that know the lower the number the better.  

  • http://www.trafficbuilder.biz/ seo service provider

    The Designs 4G camera is one of the best on the Sprint line up

  • T3kmitch

    Who puts a brand new phone face down on rocks? Great backdrop… but a little risky isn’t it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/gamal.mohamed.9216778 Gamal Mohamed

    Phone is dead following only 2 months of mature and light usage. It was baught from RadioShak 2 month ago. Now the phone is sitting at HTC repair shop Untouched for over a week (according to their tracking webpage) after it was mailed on my cost 2 weeks ago. So I am going to be without a telephone for almost a month while paying boost monthly service. I am sorry that I did not listen to the usage reviews who advised future buyers to stay away. DO NOT BUY THIS PICE OF GARBAGE “htc evo design”, do not do my mistake.

    • JRuxGaming

      I haven’t had any issues so far with the phone myself. I have had mine for 8 months now and it runs like it did out of the box. I have even rooted and installed a custom ClockworkMod10 ROM featuring Android 4.1.1 (Jellybean) with few bugs, performance boost, and longer battery life (comparing to stock at 2.3.4). Something to add: the phone has been natively upgraded to Android 4.0.3 (ICS). There is an out of stock ROM with ICS available that offers cross-carrier support (Sprint and Boost).