4G EVO Offers Promise, Disappointment

At the Google I/O developer conference yesterday I encountered what can only be described as the "Android Wall," a glass case containing all the in-market and yet-to-be released Android handsets. It was impressive and even beautiful in a way. Several things struck me as I looked over them:

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Here's a comparison of the relative sizes of the just-released HTC Incredible, with the new HTC EVO:  

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The EVO is of course the first US 4G handset, which has been given a mixed review by the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg:  

My verdict: The HTC EVO 4G, when used on Sprint’s 4G network, offers the highest consistent downstream data speeds I have ever seen on a cellular network. It also has a number of other strong features: a front-facing camera for video chatting, and the ability to serve as a Wi-Fi hotspot (for an extra fee of $30 a month) that can simultaneously connect up to eight laptops or other devices to the Internet. However, the data speeds I got in my tests weren’t spectacular, or anywhere close to the typical maximum Sprint claims, even in Baltimore, where the company’s 4G network is mature. And, when using 4G, the EVO’s battery runs down alarmingly fast.

In my tests, it didn’t last through a full day with 4G turned on. The carrier, in fact, is thinking of advising users to turn off the 4G network access when they don’t think they need it, to save battery life. This undercuts the whole idea of faster cellular speeds.

All this suggests that for most people the EVO will be yet another Android device in an emerging sea of barely differentiated Android devices. For Sprint it may sell well but it won't be any kind of savior or "___ killer."