"A smaller, more efficient Evo with a physical keyboard"4.5 starson by eightdrunkengods
Pros: Everything good about the Evo (except front facing camera)
Awesome physical keyboard with a D-pad
Longer battery life than the Evo
Probably going to be rooted soon
More pocket-friendly than the Evo or Epic
Cons: No front facing camera (a deal-breaker for some)
Won't be able to hot-swap the SD card since it's behind the battery (minor)
Would rather not pay for 4G service (disadvantage of all current 4G phones)
Summary: Overall this thing does it's job very well. It's pretty much what you would expect from something that borrows so heavily from a really successful phone.Update: Several months in and this phone is going strong. Battery life has improved a little (seems to be typical with smartphone batteries), screen is still perfect, phone still feels solid (slider, etc.), and it still runs all the apps I throw at it. It's survived a few drops with no dents or dings. The camera takes pretty poor pictures unless there is plenty of light but the video is surprisingly good in contrast.
The OS experience is identical to what you have with an Evo which is to say it's all pretty much flawless. I guess the processor is slower but I'm not sure that difference actually produces a noticeable or measurable difference. The call quality is as good as cell phones get. I'm always impressed by the clarity of these phones. The audio quality out through the 3.5 mm jack is impressive (YMMV depending on headset) - definitely an improvement over previous generation devices.
The build quality here seems really high. It's got kind of a blue brushed metal thing going on around the screen and durable semi-grippy material on the back like the Hero. The display is impressive. I'm surprised at how black the blacks are. The screen seems to be glass which should make it reasonably scratch resistant (again, like the Hero). I'm excited about this. I never had a screen protector on my Hero, carried it in my pocket every day, and it still doesn't have any scratches on it. The keyboard is huge. The d-pad works really well. There are even little LED's to let you know when the shift and function (FN) keys are active. Well done, HTC. I'm not sold on the capacitive buttons but they've been pretty responsive so far. The slider is rather stiff. It doesn't spring open like some phones. Instead there is a constant friction as you slide it open. We'll see how well it holds up.
The GPS acquires it's signal in a reasonable amount of time and the navigation features are definitely robust enough for this to be used as a primary navigation device (unless you are travelling where you'll have no signal).
Battery life is good. I guess I'm a light user because I typically got almost two full days per charge on the Hero. Based on yesterday and today, it seems like I'll get about the same with the Evo Shift. (with WiFi and 3G active).
The camera is good enough. Yes, it's fewer MP than an Evo camera but with a lens so small, the quality of the image sensor is way more important. Think about it. The problem with smartphone photos isn't that they aren't high-res but that they aren't exposed well. 5MP is enough for a smartphone. I fell like it should have a front-facing camera though. With the processing power, bandwidth, screen resolution, and software, everything is there for skype (or video calling app of your choice) except the camera. I personally would not use a video calling feature often but I sympathize with those for whom "no FFC" is a deal-breaker. For me, being able to put it in my pocket (vs the Epic) was a worthy trade-off. But minus 1/2 star for no FFC.
It seems to have power to spare. Even with the unsolicited startups of the default BS apps, things open and switch quickly.
There's not much else to say. It's leaner, smaller, and more efficient than it's Sprint 4G competitors and It does what it claims to do very well. Unfortunately, it doesn't claim to have a front facing camera.
Updated on Apr 2, 2011