HTC EVO Shift 4G Review
By Tommy Rebik
- January 15, 2011
Pros: The HTC Evo Shift is presented in a solid design and comes with a comfy physical keyboard. It runs Android 2.2 which is 4G capable and can be used as a mobile hot spot.
Cons: It looks picture perfect though it looks very similar to its sibling, the HTC Evo 4G. It also lacks a front-facing camera as well as an HDMI port.
HTC, is a brand known for producing awesome Android devices has done it again, and this time with the release of the HTC Evo Shift - Sprint's third 4G Android that has debuted at CES 2011. The HTC Evo Shift is the most affordable in its lineup that costs $149.99 with a two-year service contract. It is $50 cheaper than the Samsung Epic 4G and the HTC Evo 4G with a smaller display, a decent 800MHz processor (versus 1GHz), with no front-facing camera or HDMI port. It runs Android 2.2, and has 4G support with solid performance. Other features include an easy-to-use physical keyboard and is presented in a much more compact and solid design. If you are on a budget, and who loves phones that are small, then the HTC Evo Shift is a great alternative to the Epic 4G. Design wise, the HTC Evo Shift takes some design style cues from its touch-only sibling - the HTC Evo 4G. It stands out on its own for it combines high quality look & feel. It has dimensions of 4.6 inches tall by 2.3 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick and is still lightweight weighing only 5.9 ounces. You will notice some soft-touch finish and aluminum accents which gives the device a more premium feel compared to the Samsung Epic 4G, which felt a bit plasticky. It is a compact device, meaning the screen size is small -masuring 3.6 inches diagonally, the Evo Shift's display is smaller compared to the ones on its keyboard-equipped competitors. The Epic 4G comes with a 4-inch touch screen, while the T-Mobile G2 has a 3.7-inch display. You might not be able to enjoy quite as much display real estate while browsing the Web or watching videos. Overall, its display is sharp and clear as it can render up to 800x480 pixels of resolution. It also comes with a proximity sensor, a built-in accelerometer, and pinch-to-zoom support. The HTC Evo Shift features a 4 row keyboard that has rectangular buttons which are a good size for me with decent amount of spacing between them. Its buttons have this non-slippery texture, and though they're somewhat flat, they still provide a nice & tactile feedback. The keyboard is very easy to use, even if it has no dedicated number row (instead they share space with the letter keys on the top row). There;s a D-pad on the lower right-hand spine, but it is small enough – it really does not interfere with the overall ergonomics of the keyboard. There are several shortcuts on the bottom and its slider mechanism is quite strong. Its screen locks securely into place, and unlike on the G2, the hinge feels enough to handle wear and tear. The HTC Evo Shift also features four touch-sensitive controls which are below the display. They are the home screen, menu, back, and search functions. On the left spine, you will find a volume rocker along with the Micro-USB port. The power button and the standard 3.5mm headset jack are located on top. Its camera and flash are on back. The microSD expansion slot is inside the phone and you have to pull out the battery, which is very inconvenient for me. What’s worse, is that it's rather difficult to remove it. What’s in the box of the HTC Evo Shift package? Of course, there’s the unit, an AC adapter, USB cable, and the 2GB microSD card, and user’s manual. It is indeed a budget-friendly device so some functions that were sacrificed in the making it but it is still a full-featured smart phone for me. I like the fact, that it is a 4G device which also offers 3G/4G mobile hot-spot capabilities for up to 8 devices. I tested the Evo Shift in our area and the 4G signal was OK. I get an average download speeds of around 4.67Mbps and upload speeds of 0.92Mpbs, peaking at 7Mbps down, 1.03Mbps up. YouTube video streaming was OK as well. By the way, there is an additional monthly charge of $29.99 for the mobile hot-spot feature, though this has no data cap. There is also an additional monthly $10 Premium Data add-on charge over at Sprint.Other salient features included on the HTC Evo Shift are Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. Voice features include a speakerphone, voice commands, conference calling, speed dial, smart dialing, voice dialing over Bluetooth, and text & MMS with threaded chat view. The HTC Evo Shift ships running Android 2.2 with HTC Sense. You will get 7 customizable home screens along with various widgets, including HTC's Friend Stream & Group Contacts. You will also get Google services, Froyo features, as well as HTC and Sprint apps like Peep (HTC's Twitter client), Sprint Football Live, Sprint TV, and TeleNav GPS Navigator. Extra features include an FM radio, access to the Amazon MP3 store, Amazon Kindle App for Android, and a built-in media player. The HTC Evo Shift sports a 5-megapixel camera, though it has no the front-facing camera, HDMI port, and a kickstand that the HTC Evo have. Its camera offers editing options which include saturation, brightness, contrast, sharpness controls, effects, and ISO settings. Picture quality was OK and its camera is capable of recording 720p HD videos. Using Sprint’s service, using the device for calls and texts were OK. No background noise as well as voice distortion. My friends reported good audio quality. Speakerphone quality of the HTC Evo Shift was OK as well. It comes with 2GB ROM/512MB RAM and just like the T-Mobile G2, it is powered by a next-gen 800MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM7230 processor. Though most phones nowadays run 1GHz processors, I didn't find any negative effects to the device’s performance. The HTC Evo Shift was responsive all throughout my review period. All the apps that I have launched, opened almost immediately, and I didn't experience any delays when switching between tasks. The HTC Evo Shift has a 1,500mAh lithium ion battery which is rated to provide a talk time of 6 hours . As per FCC, the HTC Evo Shift 4G has a digital SAR rating of 0.72 watts per kilogram. I give the HTC Evo Shift a rating of 3.5/5 as it performs well and works as advertised. It should have been a 4, if it has a front facing camera, or at least a much larger display.