HTC's EVO 4G LTE from Sprint, which goes on pre-sale May 7.

It’s rare for a new smartphone to incorporate one paradigm-shifting enhancement. Two ground-breaking features is as rare as steak tartare.

But Sprint’s new HTC EVO 4G LTE, which becomes available for pre-order on May 7 for $199.99, includes two potential industry shifting technologies: HD Voice, which practically eliminates background ambient noise calls, and a camera that can shoot both HD video and 5 MP still photos simultaneously.

Perhaps more importantly to Sprint, just as the original EVO was the first-ever 4G phone, the carrier hopes to make the new EVO the centerpiece of its switch-over from its WiMAX 4G network to LTE. Sprint hopes to have its slowly evolving LTE built-out by the end of next year.

It’s grand that Sprint and HTC recognize that people still talk on their phones. The new EVO becomes the first U.S. phone to incorporate the voice-boosting HD Voice technology, which combines dual mics, and sophisticated Qualcomm encoders and decoders both in the phone and on Sprint’s voice network.


And the HD Voice result is almost miraculous, revolutionary, revelatory.

I first engaged in a conversation with a demonstrator, both of us on the original EVO – which, for a cell phone, sounded pretty good.

We then switched to the EVO and – it was as close to having a live conversation as you’ve ever heard. He sounded only slightly amplified as if standing on stage talking into a mic, his voice full, deep and resonant. Better yet, no background echo, cell network fuzz or tunnel effect whatsoever.

But wait, there’s more.

Then, standing in an isolation booth, he switched on a speaker behind him playing some moderately loud jazz. I could hear the music as ambient noise filtering through the booth I was in, but when I put the EVO to my ear – nothing, nada, silence, except for the crystal clear voice of the demonstrator coming through unsullied by the ambient music.

I then had him wander out of his controlled booth into the hubbub of the room in which the event was talking place, filled with loud, echoic conversation and pulsating house music. And other than his still clear voice, I heard barely a hint of what was obviously a party-hardy environment.

In practical terms, no longer will you have a problem hearing someone calling you from a ballgame or crowded bar or boisterous party. The drawback: if someone wants you to hear what’s going on around them. And EVO can do nothing about you being to hear above the surrounding din.

HTC also has improved all the other sounds emanating from the EVO via its Authentic Sound experience with Beats Audio.

Camera Multitasking

On the camera side, EVO can handle multi-shooting. While recording or playing back recorded HD video, the EVO can simultaneously capture 5 MP still images.

Unlike modern smartphones, EVO provides a dedicated brushed aluminum camera shutter button. Hold down this shutter and EVO captures four frames per second (up to 90 shots) in burst mode.

EVO also boasts HDR processing and a “smart” flash that can sense how far from the subject you and adjusts flash brightness accordingly.

EVO can also beam whatever is on its screen to an HDTV via Wi-Fi using a DLNA attachment that connects to an HDTV HDMI input, a concept similar to one Panasonic unveiled last week for its new Viera HDTVs.

A video or photo slideshow can continue to play in the background from EVO to HDTV while you perform other EVO duties such as checking email, Web surfing or talking. Or, you can beam your email or Web browsing or whatever you’re doing on EVO to your HDTV.

No word on price for the Wi-Fi/HDMI accessory, but it is scheduled to be available whenever the EVO is.

Pretty and Smart

The new EVO is designed to look as distinctive as it sounds and snaps pictures. The tapered perimeter around its solid anodized black aluminum body is ringed with a brushed aluminum perimeter. A red band encircles its middle, making the EVO easy to differentiate from other plain black phones and also disguises the new EVO’s kickstand, a popular feature resurrected from the original EVO.

Other highlights of the new EVO include the HTC Music Hub which brings all music apps under one heading – and HTC execs say you can import music you’ve ripped and bought from iTunes via drag-and-drop or via a microSD card – and HTC MediaLink HD, an AirPlay-like function to beam multimedia or whatever from the EVO to an HDTV using a DNLA Wi-Fi HDMI dongle.

Spec-wise, the new EVO is similar to other recent Android smartphones:

  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • HTC Sense
  • 4.7-inch super LCD HD display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz dual-core processor
  • large 2000mAh embedded battery
  • 1.3 MP front-facing camera
  • 16 GB built-in memory

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