The new HTC Evo 4G LTE is exclusive to Sprint, though it's essentially a reclad version of the AT&T-exclusive HTC One X. Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired
Gadget Lab is never impressed when wireless carriers trumpet smartphone exclusives. We’re not dazzled when a carrier celebrates the fact that it’s the only company to support a particular handset model. Quite the opposite, in fact: When a great phone comes out, we’d like to see it appear in every carrier’s arsenal.
Unfortunately, though, “exclusivity” is coveted by the wireless industry.
The HTC One X is exclusive to AT&T. If you’re not an AT&T customer or you don’t want to be, then that’s a real bummer because the One X is one of the nicest handsets on the market. If you’re a Sprint customer, however, you will have something very, very close to the One X coming your way in the new HTC Evo 4G LTE. And, yes, the Evo 4G LTE is exclusive to Sprint.
First, let’s start with what’s shared between these two impressive HTC smartphones: the display and the internals.
Inside, the two new devices are powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (which is also used in the T-Mobile-exclusive HTC One S) and 1GB of RAM. Both the One X and Evo 4G LTE come with 16GB of storage, and run on Google’s Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich) operating system skinned in HTC’s Sense 4 user interface.
Each handset sells for $200 on a two-year contract from their respective exclusive carriers, and they both connect to 3G and 4G LTE networks (though Sprint hasn’t launched its 4G LTE network yet, and AT&T’s operates in only a handful of U.S. markets).
Both handsets have the same 8MP rear camera, single LED rear flash, and ImageSense photo-capture software. But unlike the One X, the Evo has a dedicated photo-snapping button on its right side. The iPhone’s camera package is still the best overall smartphone camera system on the market, but in the world of Android phones, the One X and new Evo pack an unmatched combination of hardware and software.
Both the One X and Evo use the same 4.7-inch, “Super LCD” display. It boasts a 1280×720 resolution and a Retina display-caliber pixel density of 316ppi. Just as it is on the One X, the screen on the new Evo is gorgeous. On either device, this is one of the best-looking smartphone displays around.
While the display is the same on both phones, each model features different physical packaging. The Evo’s screen glass has hard-angled edges instead of the rolled edges of the One X. The One X also has a stylish curvy back, and bezeled side edges that add more visual interest to the packaging.
While I prefer the One X’s softer shape, and the hard lip of the Evo’s glass isn’t smooth as, well, glass, these are more stylistic differences than dealbreakers for the Evo.
Dividing the two portions of the Evo’s rear casing is a red band of anodized aluminum that houses a kickstand — a novelty seen on many of Sprint’s past Evo handsets.
The kickstand is fun, different and functional. It makes watching video for long periods of time a lot easier. I flew back from the CTIA Wireless show in New Orleans this week, and while watching video during the plane ride to San Francisco, I really appreciated the kickstand as it propped up the phone on a seat-back table.
I need to live with the new Evo 4G LTE a bit longer before writing up a full review on the handset, which arrives in stores on May 18. But it’s clear that HTC is producing some of the most impressive phones available on both AT&T and Sprint. And they’re doing it by making essentially the same handset for each carrier.
What would an Evo phone be without a kickstand? Photo: Ariel Zambelich/Wired