Sprint's HTC Evo 4G LTE: First impressions

By JR Raphael (@jr_raphael)

Sprint HTC Evo 4G LTE

Well, well, what do we have here? It's Sprint's new HTC Evo 4G LTE phone, set to launch next Friday, May 18, for $200 (on contract).

I got my hands on the new Evo a short time ago and have been spending some time getting to know the device. Here are my initial impressions:

• The Evo 4G LTE, despite its bulky name, feels thin and light. Following in the footsteps of HTC's other recent phone launches, it has a premium feel and practically begs to be picked up.

• The Evo 4G LTE may be based off of HTC's One series of phones, but it doesn't look like a One device -- at least, not in terms of its outside hardware. Instead, the Evo 4G LTE looks like, well, an Evo (see what Sprint's doing here?). It has the familiar gray and red color scheme with a bright kickstand centerpiece.

• In place of the seamless unibody casing on the HTC One devices, the Evo has a glossy plastic material on the top half of its back, above the kickstand, and a matte aluminum material on the bottom. It also has a silver brushed-aluminum band that wraps around its entire perimeter. Personally, I prefer the sleek unibody look of the One phones over this design, but that's really just a matter of individual preference.

HTC Evo 4G LTE

• Appearance aside, the HTC Evo 4G LTE has some nice additions that give it an edge over its One S and One X relatives. The phone has a microSD slot, which supports up to 32GB of external storage; it also has a physical camera button on its lower-right edge -- a useful feature that we haven't seen on very many phones lately.

• The rest of the Evo's hardware is pretty comparable to what's in the AT&T HTC One X -- and that's a good thing. The phone has a fantastic-looking 4.7-inch Super LCD display with 1280 x 720 resolution, a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and 1GB of RAM. It has HTC's excellent One-series 8-megapixel camera, too, as well as a 1.3-megapixel front-facing lens.

In my initial tests, the Evo's performance looks to be every bit as impressive as what I experienced with the One X. Its software is pretty much the same, too: We're looking at Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, heavily modified with HTC's Sense 4.0 interface (see my One S review for a full walkthrough of the UI). You can think of the Evo 4G LTE is a close cousin of the One phones -- a device that shares a lot of the same DNA but boasts a handful of its own unique and interesting flourishes. 

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Hungry for more? Fear not: We're just getting started. I'll be using the HTC Evo 4G LTE as my own personal phone for the next several days. Lab tests and 24-hour speed-reviews certainly have their place, but I'm far more interested in seeing how devices work in the real world -- the way a real person would use them.

Check back early next week for my in-depth impressions.    

UPDATE: HTC Evo 4G LTE: To buy or not to buy?

JR Raphael writes about smartphones and other tasty technology. You can find him on Google+, Twitter, or Facebook.

Article copyright 2012 JR Raphael. All rights reserved.

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