Update: Change of plans!
Undoubtedly the most compelling feature of the upcoming HTC EVO 4G is its built-in WiMAX connectivity. It's the first WiMAX phone in the US and definitely what got many tongues wagging when the device was announced in March. Sure, the 4.3-inch WVGA capacitive touch screen is amazing, but the HTC HD2 had it first. The 1GHz Snapdragon processor is awesome too, but at this point it's kind of just par for the course. Android 2.1 with HTC's SenseUI? Great . . . but again, nothing new.
No, the real star here is the 4G, which Sprint claims is up to 10 times faster than 3G on its network.
And I'm probably never going to use it. Why? Because even though I've recently become a self-professed smartphone whore, I'm carrier-monogamous.
My voice/data contract belongs to AT&T. So in an effort to have my cake and eat it too, so to speak, I've been buying amazing smartphones unlocked and/or off-contract to use as WiFi-only mobile internet devices, or MIDs. My primary phone is the iPhone 3GS and up until last week, the Nexus One (now sold), Nokia N900, and HTC HD2 were my un-phoned phones. I'm a gadget addict, you see, so I always prioritize want over need, maximilism over minimalism.
I work almost exclusively from my living room couch, so I'm sort of exempt from the potential problems of gadget excess that most commuters face. I don't need to think about carrying multiple gadgets to work because everything I own is either next to me, within arm's reach, or in the other room. So buying the HTC EVO was a split-second decision: I saw pictures of it, I read the specs, and I wanted it.
Most people think it's madness to buy a device and then not use the feature that makes it worth buying in the first place, but it makes sense to me. Why should I let my choice of carrier dictate which gadget I can and cannot have?
It may not be the best use of the HTC EVO, but I think it will make an amazing casual-use MID. The most important criteria for me when evaluating a device's true MID potential is the web browsing experience. Sure, great apps, multimedia playback, email, camera, and other entertainment features matter too, but I can overlook a lot of shortcomings if the browsing experience is exceptional. The Android browser is faster than any other mobile web browser that isn't proxy-based, and it will only get faster and more complete when Android 2.2 finds it way to the handset. I'll be using it at home more than anywhere else, so relying solely on WiFi for connectivity is perfectly with me.
I don't plan to use the EVO for multimedia, as I prefer my Sony X Walkman for audio and the Archos 5 Android Internet Tablet for video, so it's a non-issue that it's generally one of Android's weaker components. This might change with the superphone's HDMI output (720p), but I won't know until I see it in person. For everything else, I'm expecting the EVO to perform beautifully. Android Market doesn't have the selection that the App Store does, but most of my must-have iPhone apps are available there and it's not like I'm not giving up my iPhone anyway. I know from my Nexus One how well the EVO will handle email, and I'm hoping to be blown away by the 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera.
I'll be detailing all of my experiences with the HTC EVO 4G here, so you'll know when I do how well it does without the one thing that makes it so special.