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EVO 4G - My short review & why I returned it


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#1
DistortedLoop

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Just for some balance to the positive reviews I'll chime in with my 30 day experience with an EVO 4G.

Sprint Service:

I never got 4G service with it; they've not built out in Los Angeles beyond the testing in downtown phase yet. I had to rely on 3G service. The 3G service in virtually every part of Los Angeles that I had an opportunity to test it with was terrible. I routinely averaged 300-500kb/s on 3G. Could get lucky and get 600-700kb/s a fair amount of time. Very rarely saw anything over 1000kb/s. This is a Sprint issue, but since the phone is sold locked to Sprint, it's worht considering. I had a very tough time dealing with this since during my testing I had an AT&T iPhone 4 and a T-Mo Nexus One side-by-side with the EVO and both them routinely got over 1600kb/s and the T-Mo phone actually averaged about 2200kb/s. Sprint has no business calling this phone fast in non-4G areas, and it's insulting they charge $10/mo more for service because you're 4G capable when they should be giving discounts because they can't even deliver competitive 3G speeds.

Call quality was pretty good, but not as much better than my GSM phones as I'd thought it would be based on all the Verizon and Sprint fans comments to that affect out on the web.

EVO 4G phone itself:

Overall I liked the phone. Big bright screen, almost too big. I think the size and weight of this phone is about as large as you can get and still be a comfortable to use handheld/pocket phone/pda thing.

I actually liked the Sense UI on the EVO, even though I did not like the Desire/Sense port Paul made for the Nexus One.

I found battery life acceptable, but I had also ordered a Sideio extended battery (it fit in the stock case).

I found the top button a bit too recessed for my thick fingers...it's much more difficult to turn the thing it is with the top button on my iPhones and Nexus One, simply because it's so recessed.

Sprint swaps the Home and Back hard buttons from the Nexus One, which, given the size and weight of the device, made it difficult for me to use it one handed...I couldn't reach the Home button (far left of device bottom corner) with my thumb without risking losing balance and dropping the phone. Far less of an issue if the Home key were where it is on the N1.

The screen on mine (Hardware version 003 with the Novatec screen) had a very definite pinkish tint to it...bad enough that my friend who isn't a phone geek noticed and commented on it. Others on xda have reported purplish tints on theirs. It bothers some people, doesn't bother others, and the Epson screens supposedly are less pink, but have more muddled grays/blacks.

On my phone, after 13 days of use, the lower left portion of the screen started separating from the body of the phone. This led to light leakage along the bevel which was annoying and disappointing. This is a well documented issue, and I'm not sure if it's been addressed yet.

I did root mine, and could run SU stuff. Now that I hear cyanogen has one and is working his magic on it, I'm almost disappointed that I returned mine.

I don't hate the phone, I was actually saddened that the service was so bad I had to cancel the service, since the I probably could have swapped for a non-pink/non-separating screen phone eventually, but between the screen issues and the poor service I couldn't risk a two year contract.

MAYBE when Sprint rolls out 4G to all of Los Angeles County, and if the hardware issues have been addressed I'll revisit this phone, but I've replace it with the slightly smaller screen (4") Samsung Galaxy S that is much thinner, much lighter, and has a much more gorgeous screen than the EVO 4G, and despite it's having a couple of quirks (no LED flash, weak GPS), it seems a better overall phone.

Good luck to those of you who get one and stick with it. It's not a bad phone, in my opinion, but it's not the phone for me right now.

Edited by DistortedLoop, 14 July 2010 - 09:25 PM.

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#2
Nerds 2 You

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Thank you for your insight into the Evo, good to know about the screen etc.

A couple things I would like to point out though.

The phone is not to blame for the data speeds you were getting, it is the network. Sprint uses a CDMA 2000 1X (EVDO) network which has a maximum theoretical speed of 3Mbit/s or 384 kb/s in it's most recent version, so your phone was getting excellent speed for the network it was using. T-Mobile and AT&T use GSM/UMTS (voice) + HSPA (data) network which has a theoretical maximum speed of 7Mbit/s up and up to 5.6 Mbit/s download (depending on the phone, the N1 uses HSDPA so can only upload at 2Mbit/s) so it is no surprise that speeds are faster on those networks.

Sound quality has always been an issue with CDMA networks, the GSM/UMTS networks have always had better sound. I have personally taken 2 almost identical Blackberry Curve's, the only difference being on was CDMA and the other GSM, and the GSM variant makes the CDMA handset sound like a tin can connected to a string. The latest revision to GSM is now called UMTS which is actually the GSM standard (which was TDMA based) and makes it CDMA based now (AKA WCDMA) and is implemented much better than the CDMA that Sprint and Verison use so there are less dropped calls and much better call quality. Industry experts sometimes refer to UMTS as "CDMA finally done right"

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Thank you for your insight into the Evo, good to know about the screen etc.

A couple things I would like to point out though.

The phone is not to blame for the data speeds you were getting, it is the network.


Well...that's why I broke my review down into two sections, the first being "Sprint Service" (the network), and the second being the "EVO 4G itself". It's also why I specifically said

"this is a Sprint issue, but since the phone is sold locked to Sprint, it's worht considering." :angry:

If you're buying the EVO, you're almost certainly going to be on Sprint, unless you buy it outright, find a way to unlock it, and then trick Verizon into letting you bring it to their network. That can be done, but very few will actually try it, especially since it would mean giving up any access to WiMax, which is the real reason you should want this phone!

Sprint uses a CDMA 2000 1X (EVDO) network which has a maximum theoretical speed of 3Mbit/s or 384 kb/s in it's most recent version, so your phone was getting excellent speed for the network it was using.


Sprint uses EVDO Rev A version of CDMA2000 now, which the EVO 4G supports. Rev A is significantly faster. I'm going to be a little loose on the mb/s to kb/s conversions for ease of response, but bear with me.

I think you've misplaced your decimal on the speeds: 3mb/s is not the same as 384kb/s. 384kb/s is more like 0.3mb/s, which is very very slow for a Rev A device.

Given that I was routinely only getting 300-500kb/s on a network that can do 3000kb/s, or 10-20% of potential, I think I was getting very poor speeds, not excellent speeds. Additionally, you missed the part where I said I occasionally got over 1000kb/s (~1.0mb/s), so the device and the network are both clearly capable of the 1.2mb/s I consider the minimally acceptable speed to put up with if you're going to call your service "3G" in today's environment in the big metros like Los Angeles. I actually didn't mention it, but I did get a 2200kb/s speed test one evening! That was the frustration, the device and the network can give competitive speeds, in the evening, on a weekend, when no one else is using the network, but in the daytime, forget it, you might as well be on an EDGE device in my part of Los Angeles (San Fernando Valley).


T-Mobile and AT&T use GSM/UMTS (voice) + HSPA (data) network which has a theoretical maximum speed of 7Mbit/s up and up to 5.6 Mbit/s download (depending on the phone, the N1 uses HSDPA so can only upload at 2Mbit/s) so it is no surprise that speeds are faster on those networks.

Sound quality has always been an issue with CDMA networks, the GSM/UMTS networks have always had better sound. I have personally taken 2 almost identical Blackberry Curve's, the only difference being on was CDMA and the other GSM, and the GSM variant makes the CDMA handset sound like a tin can connected to a string. The latest revision to GSM is now called UMTS which is actually the GSM standard (which was TDMA based) and makes it CDMA based now (AKA WCDMA) and is implemented much better than the CDMA that Sprint and Verison use so there are less dropped calls and much better call quality. Industry experts sometimes refer to UMTS as "CDMA finally done right"


I actually found the voice quality pretty good on the EVO and Sprint, my point was that all the Sprint and Verizon fanboys who constantly bash AT&T for having poorer voice quality had lead me to believe it would be like using a landline compared to AT&T...they were wrong.


Anyways, it's a pretty good device, and if you're in a location where WiMax is available, or Sprint actually pushes 3G out at speeds you find acceptable, then you won't do wrong grabbing an EVO 4G. There are lots of people on XDA and Sprint's Community forums that find 700kb/s typical speeds perfectly acceptable; their litmus test seems to be can they stream Pandora without stuttering. I'm much more about raw speed for downloads. I download podcasts and other stuff to my phone all the time, as well as tether it to my laptop, where 700kb/s is butt slow in my opinion. It just depends on what you think is value for your money. T-Mo, right now, gives me 6x the speed for less money than Sprint. It's a no-brainer for me until Sprint fixes 3G or adds 4G to my area. Your mileage may vary.

Edited by DistortedLoop, 15 July 2010 - 04:20 AM.

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#4
Nerds 2 You

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sorry, Mbit/s=Megabits per second not Megabytes per second. I guess I should have said Mbps instead.

"actually didn't mention it, but I did get a 2200kb/s speed test one evening"

If you got that speed it would equal a 15 Mbps connection, which is what I get on my cable modem at home or with a HSPA+ (capable of up to 21Mbps) cellular USB data stick, which the USA has no support for, AT&T is skipping the HSPA+ upgrade in favor of going directly to LTE. If you were seeing those speeds it would have been on 4g not 3G .

If you got 2200 Kbps that would be more realistic which is about 2.1 Mbps


The additional forward rates for EV-DO Rev. A are:[9]
DRC Index Data rate in kbit/s Slots scheduled Payload size (bits) Code Rate Modulation
13 1536 2 5120 5/12 16-QAM
14 3072 1 5120 5/6 16-QAM

the above chart is from Wikipedia and shows the maximum speed of the latest versions of EV-DO to be 3072 kbit/s or 3.0 Mbps

Edited by Nerds 2 You, 17 July 2010 - 07:17 PM.

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DistortedLoop

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sorry, Mbit/s=Megabits per second not Megabytes per second. I guess I should have said Mbps instead.

"actually didn't mention it, but I did get a 2200kb/s speed test one evening"

If you got that speed it would equal a 15 Mbps connection, which is what I get on my cable modem at home or with a HSPA+ (capable of up to 21Mbps) cellular USB data stick, which the USA has no support for, AT&T is skipping the HSPA+ upgrade in favor of going directly to LTE. If you were seeing those speeds it would have been on 4g not 3G .

If you got 2200 Kbps that would be more realistic which is about 2.1 Mbps
The additional forward rates for EV-DO Rev. A are:[9]
DRC Index Data rate in kbit/s Slots scheduled Payload size (bits) Code Rate Modulation
13 1536 2 5120 5/12 16-QAM
14 3072 1 5120 5/6 16-QAM

the above chart is from Wikipedia and shows the maximum speed of the latest versions of EV-DO to be 3072 kbit/s or 3.0 Mbps


Yeah, whatever dude, you want to quibble over K or k when you know exactly what I meant? Fine. I dropped the case on the K, big deal. It's obvious that the phone never got speeds above the physical limitations of the technology it uses, so what's the point in arguing over it? If the Ks and ks and Ms and ms are mixed, it's irrelevant since they were posted as relative speeds amongst the different devices I tested with the same typo error. The point I was making was that compared to competing phones on competing networks, the EVO is a slug most of the time. But thanks for the education there. LOL.

As far as the speed I got, it was comparable on that one and a few other tests only to what AT&T and T-Mobile feed me normally. I was definitely not on 4G, they don't offer it in my area, it was turned off on the phone, and the phone's signal indicator showed 3G.

Bottom line is this: SIDE-BY-SIDE IN SIMULTANEOUS TESTING, MY AT&T iPHONE 4 AND T-MOBILE NEXUS ONE CONSISTENTLY GOT 5-7 TIMES THE TEST DOWNLOAD SPEED, USING THE SAME APP AND SERVER, AS THE SPRINT EVO 4G DID ON SPRINT'S 3G NETWORK.

Anyways, I'm not going to respond to any further debates over kilobits vs kilobytes or whatever. The intent of my review was to point out it's a decent phone but the service is poor in my area, take it for the well intentions it had and move on. The rest of this stuff is technobabble that doesn't change the performance of the phone in the Los Angeles area. ;-)

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