Sprint's WiMax network is currently available in 71 markets, including New York, where we tested the Evo Shift. We were able to get a 4G connection in most parts of Manhattan, though the signal was quite weak in Midtown. We averaged download speeds of around 4.57Mbps and upload speeds of 0.90Mpbs, peaking at 6.99Mbps down, 1.02Mbps up. CNET's full site loaded in 18 seconds, whereas the mobile sites for CNN and ESPN came up in 3 seconds and 4 seconds, respectively. By comparison, the same sites loaded in 50 seconds, 20 seconds, and 22 seconds, respectively, over 3G.
We also streamed video from Sprint TV, as well as high-quality YouTube clips and Flash content from the browser, over 4G and load times were noticeably faster and playback was smooth. Over 3G, the Sprint TV clips were pretty murky and stuttered often, almost to the point of being unwatchable. Using the smartphone as a 4G hot spot for our MacBook Pro, we were able to upload a 4.1MB photo album in 40 seconds. Note that there is an additional monthly fee of $29.99 for the mobile hot-spot plan, but there is no data cap. Also, like Sprint's other 4G devices (and now 3G smartphones), there is an additional monthly $10 Premium Data add-on charge.
Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth, and GPS are also onboard, and voice features include a speakerphone, speed dial, smart dialing, voice commands, conference calling, voice dialing over Bluetooth, and text and multimedia messaging with threaded chat view.
The Evo Shift 4G ships running Android 2.2 with HTC Sense. The latter gives you seven customizable home screens and various widgets, including HTC's Friend Stream and Group Contacts, which you can read more about in our review of the HTC Evo 4G. Aside from the Google services and Froyo features, the Evo Shift comes preloaded with a number of HTC and Sprint apps, such as Peep (HTC's Twitter client), Sprint TV, Sprint Football Live, and TeleNav GPS Navigator; these cannot be uninstalled from the device.
Other diversions include the Amazon Kindle App for Android, an FM radio, access to the Amazon MP3 store, and a built-in media player. The Evo Shift 4G also has a 5-megapixel camera, but it loses the front-facing camera, HDMI port, and kickstand that the Evo have.
The camera offers numerous editing options, including brightness, contrast, saturation, and sharpness controls, effects, and ISO settings. Picture quality was mostly good. Outdoor and nighttime shots came out sharp and bright, but there was a pinkish hue that plagued some indoor shots. The camera can also record 720p HD video, and we were impressed with the clarity and lighting of the clips.
We tested the dual-band (CDMA 800/1900) HTC Evo Shift 4G in New York using Sprint service, and call quality was good. On our end, the audio was clear with very little background noise or voice distortion. Friends also reported good sound quality.
HTC Evo Shift 4G call quality sample
Speakerphone quality was OK. The sound was mostly clear with just enough volume to hear callers in louder environments, but the audio was a bit tinny. We had no problems pairing the smartphone with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset or the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.
The HTC Evo Shift 4G has 2GB ROM/512MB RAM and like the T-Mobile G2, the smartphone is equipped with next-gen 800MHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM7230 processor. Though most high-end smartphones are running 1GHz processors, we didn't find any negative effects to performance. The Evo Shift was responsive throughout our review period. Apps launched almost immediately, and we didn't experience any significant delay when switching between tasks.
The HTC Evo Shift 4G ships with a 1,500mAh lithium ion battery with a rated talk time of 6 hours. We were able to get 6.5 hours of continuous talk time on a single charge in our battery drain tests. In general, we were able to get about a day's worth of use with 50/50 3G and 4G use. We definitely noticed that battery life was better than the Evo 4G. According to the FCC, the Evo Shift 4G has a digital SAR rating of 0.72W/kg and has a Hearing Aid Compatibility Rating of M4/T3.