HTC Evo 4G (Not) Review Part 4: Calls, Apps, Games, and More

I’ve been using the HTC Evo 4G for a week and wanted to update my (not a) review with more thoughts on this excellent phone. (Here are the links to part 1, part 2, and part 3 if you missed it.) This time around I’m going to talk about the phone’s call quality, apps, games and more. While some of these aspects are more about the Android platform than the actual phone, I wanted to give you a sense of what the overall Evo 4G experience is like. Let’s go!

Call Quality: Unlike most of my friends, I actually use my mobile phone to make a lot of phone calls. I know it’s crazy, but it’s true (Christopher Cross). For the last nine months I’ve been using a BlackBerry Curve 8900 on T-Mobile as my personal phone, so I’ll use that as a measuring stick. Compared to the 8900 on UMA (WiFi), the call quality is comparable. Everything sounded clear, though I wish the ear piece had an additional level or two of volume. The people I spoke with on the Evo 4G said I sounded good, but it was obvious that I was calling from a mobile phone. Compared to the 8900 on Edge, it was no contest. The Evo 4G was much, much better.

Since everyone is comparing the Evo 4G to the iPhone — rightly or wrongly — I’ll throw in that comparison as well. The Evo 4G kicks the iPhone 3GS’ ass as a telephone. It’s not even close. Overall I was very satisfied with how the Evo 4G works as a phone. Keep in mind that my calls were made in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Your experience may be different depending on where you work and play.

Apps: A lot of you aren’t familiar with the Android Market, so I wanted to discuss my experience with it on the Evo 4G. Obviously this isn’t a measure of the phone itself, but the Android platform. In terms of reference, media playing, and social apps, the Android Market has almost everything I want. Sure, the iPhone App Store has way more choices, but more isn’t always better. Sometimes it’s just more.

The two apps that I missed from my iPhone 3GS are Tweetdeck and a full Skype client. The former is on its way to Android and should be released in the next few weeks. I didn’t think the latter was coming to the Evo 4G due to Verizon’s limited exclusivity agreement with Skype, but it looks like Skype will be hitting the Android Market before the end of the year. What makes it particularly exciting for this phone is that video calls can be made thanks to the Evo 4G’s dual cameras.

Naturally, Google Apps are better on Android than any other platform. I love the phone’s version of Google Maps, Google Voice, Google Goggles, etc.

Games: Modern games is one area where Android is way, way behind the iPhone platform. The games selection in the Android Market is relatively thin and most of the titles aren’t very good. Having said that, I’m completely confident that gaming will improve on Android. Developers are flocking to the platform due to its rapid growth and comparative openness to iPhone OS. Google also hired Mark DeLoura as an Android developer advocate for gaming. DeLoura worked at Sony Computer Entertainment America’s developer relations division for a long time and was a technical director at Ubi Soft. I’ve known him for years. When I learned about his job at Google, I became way more interested in Android’s future as a gaming platform. The dude is very sharp and I know Android gaming will be much better now that he’s involved.

While current games on Android aren’t the best, the Android Market has several emulators for fans of classic games. Game Boy Color, Genesis, NES, and SNES emulators are available and it’s incredibly easy to find ROMs on the Internet. While the controls aren’t the best for games the require precision (think difficult platformers), they’re totally fine for RPGs. Considering that’s my favorite genre and the NES/SNES has some of the best RPGs of all time, these emulators will keep me busy. Just to CMA I have to note that you’re only supposed to emulate games that you own.

Voice to Text: This is one aspect of Android that I didn’t think I would care for but have come to love. The voice recognition is the best I’ve ever used. I’m astonished by how effective it is. It definitely takes some adjustment to train yourself to even think to use voice to text, but once you do it can be a real time saver. Plus, it just feels cool! It totally makes me feel like Captain Picard.

N8R’s Question: To answer RPadholic N8R’s question from the second part of this review, the Evo 4G supports a ton of file formats. For audio, MP3, AAC, AAC+, WMA, AMR, and MIDI work. For video, MPEG4, H.263, and H.264 are supported. I’ve viewed several MP4 and MKV files successfully on the Evo.

Next up I’m going to talk about the Evo 4G’s camera. Still images and video will be used. If you have any questions for now, fire away!

Author: RPadTV