By Daniel Webster | January 21, 2011 8:34 AM
The HTC EVO Shift 4G running on Sprint’s WiMax network may seem logical to compare with the first HTC EVO 4G, but to compare the two would be like comparing pineapples to cumquats. The EVO Shift could be construed as more of a business device, with a full QWERTY keyboard combined with a professional looking design. The metallic-blue and chrome accents keep this device sophisticated but may appeal to a more specific group. Will the EVO Shift see as much action and popularity as its cousin the EVO 4G? Probably not, but being powered by Android 2.2 and having WiMax connectivity still makes this feature filled device worthwhile.
The EVO Shift comes boxed in a small and simple recyclable package. Inside the box we have the EVO Shift itself, a microUSB sync/charging cable, a wall charger, and a plethora of reading material. The EVO Shift does not come with head phones, a case, screen protector, or dedicated wall charger. A postage-paid plastic envelope is also included to recycle a previous device.
The EVO Shift may seem like it is taking a step back by only having an 800MHz processor, but like we have seen in computers over the years; megahertz does not matter, architecture does. HTC has taken that to heart by integrating a new Qualcomm Scorpion MSM7630 and conjoining it with 512MB of RAM and 2GB of ROM. The processor is intentionally under clocked to conserve battery life, especially while on a 4G connection. The EVO Shift scored 1625 average on the Quadrant Standard benchmark test (faster than the Android 2.2 Nexus One).
The screen of the EVO Shift is a 3.6 inch Super LCD with a display resolution of 480 x 800 pixels (WVGA). Covering the screen is a glass capacitive multitouch digitizer. The touch sensitivity is greatly improved over HTC’s early 2010 models like the Nexus One and T-Mobile HD2. Accompanying the screen on the front of the device are four capacitive buttons with circular chrome surroundings. Although more Android devices are doing away with the search button and buttons altogether, the EVO Shift has included the search button. Other buttons on the device are a power/standby and a volume rocker.
The radios keeping the EVO Shift connected are plentiful. CDMA 800 and 1900 bands keep the phone in good reception on Sprints network. The 4G is moderately fast but in comparison to T-Mobile’s HSPA+ (extremely fast) network, the tortoise will not win this race. The device has all of the other expected features such as Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR, assisted GPS, and an FM receiver with RDS. The EVO Shift is not a world phone because of the omission of GSM bands.
The EVO Shift has the required sensors compatible with Android 2.2. These include an accelerometer, light sensor, proximity sensor, and digital compass. The build quality is at par or superior to other smartphones being released at this time. The materials used are a combination of metal, rubberized plastic, and glass; providing a secure feel in hand. The dimensions of the phone are 60.3mm wide x 117.5mm high x 15.8mm thick.
Other features to mention are the 2GB included microSD card which is expandable to 32GB, 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB 2.0 port, Li-ion 1500mAh battery, and a 5MP camera which is capable of recording 720p video.
Last and certainly least for the hardware is the non-spring assisted slide out QWERTY keyboard. Seeing that the last full Qwerty HTC released for Sprint was the Touch Pro2 (which by many was the best full QWERTY of any smartphone), the keyboard of the EVO Shift is difficult to use with average sized hands (size medium/7 gloves). The keys are flat and close together making typing on it tedious. Users will probably find it easier to type on the screen than on this keyboard.
The EVO Shift is powered by Android 2.2 which allows for Flash enabled web browsing, better allocation of graphical data, and improved speed over previous builds. Running on top of the Android 2.2 operating system is HTC’s Sense user interface. The UI provides many software elements that are skinned or not included on the generic Android 2.2 OS; a speed dialer, Calendar, Flashlight app, improved clock apps, geotagging Footprints, the FM radio software, People Search, Stocks, Teeter, and Voice recorder.
Most people are not fans of carrier bloatware but Sprint has included some less intrusive titles.
- NASCAR – Being that Sprint is a big contributor to NASCAR they thought their customers would enjoy having an app that would allow fans to check stats, view racing news, get driver information, and view video clips of many popular races.
- Sprint Football Live – Similar to the NASCAR app, this app displays team standing, news, stats, video clips, and even has a fantasy football category.
- Sprint Hotspot – Although most unlocked HTC and Android 2.2 devices have Wi-Fi already built-in. Sprint has added this app to share the EVO Shift’s 3G/4G connection with five devices.
- Sprint TV This paid for service provides low resolution television feeds over a cellular connection. There are many popular station included in various packages. The service costs around $10 a month.
- Sprint Zone This app is nothing more than an advertisement for Sprint products. There are some good deals, but most is just useless.
While the 5MP camera, with an LED flash, is plenty for taking candid shots, others may view this resolution as mediocre. Even though the camera is not the highest resolution, it makes up for this shortcoming with advanced photography software. There are tons of customizable settings to tweak that next Facebook post to make it look spectacular. Here is a sample photo.
The video camera is capable of recording up to 720p. The video quality may not win Academy Awards, but is perfectly high enough to post to YouTube and share with friends and family on that 65 inch HDTV.
Even at just 800MHz the EVO Shift is fast. Navigating through menus takes barely a fraction of a second. Video and games are smooth to transition between frames. This device beats every other Android listed on the Quadrant Standard test, at 1625.
CALL QUALITY/NETWORK SPEED
The EVO Shift’s call quality is phenomenally crisp and clear. Both sides of the conversation are heard well while using the handset. The speakerphone on the other hand is distorted and does not seem to have noise cancelling technology. The person on the other end of the call will have a challenging time trying to decipher what was said while cruising down the highway.
The network speed is fair. On 3G the EVO Shift was capable of downloading around 1MB/sec and upload around 700KB/sec. The 3G is stable and keeps a connection fine. On 4G/WiMax the data speeds are somewhat fast. Downloading speeds reached a max of around 4MB/sec and upload was about 2MB/sec. The 4G connection would only stay connected sporadically. Even in a major metropolitan city such as Seattle, the 4G connection would dip in and out of service, especially while moving.
At 1500mAh the 3.7v battery stays charged for an adequate full working day, around 10 hours of moderate use. While using 4G, the Li-ion drains like a sieve, especially if the Sprint Hotspot is being used.
PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY
The HTC EVO Shift 4G operating on Sprint’s WiMax network is available now for the subsidized price of $149.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate and $150 qualifying two year contract. The full purchase price from Sprint is $399.99.
+ Fast performance
+ Not much carrier software
+ HTC Sense UI
+ Runs Android 2.2 Froyo
+ Screen has good resolution and accurate touch input
+ Camera has advanced software and 720p video
- Keyboard is obnoxious to use
- Some may not like blue
- No headset included for the FM radio
- Battery life is short on 4G
- Speakerphone does not seem to have noise cancelling
Although the EVO Shift may not be making leaps and bounds over other Android phones out there it is still able to stand on its own. As the third 4G phone to be released by Sprint, one would wonder why not continue the trend they had set forth with the high-end EVO 4G and Epic. For those that want a reasonably priced less-intimidating 4G phone the EVO Shift is nearly perfect.
The EVO Shift has snappy hardware, an excellent build of Android, and the HTC Sense UI, this makes for an easy to use smartphone that is consumer friendly to the novice and avid smartphone aficionado.
We give the HTC EVO Shift a 3.5/5.