EVO 4G reviews are in: 'A war machine,' 'a powerhouse" and on "steroids"

The WiMAX-enabled smartphone is the largest big-name phone to hit the market yet

The consensus forming on HTC's EVO 4G seems to be similar to that of Hardee's 1,400-calorie Monster Thickburger: It's terrific, but not for the faint of heart.

Everything about the EVO 4G seems to be designed as a super-sized smartphone. Its physical size is striking, with a 4.3-inch 800 x 400 pixel display screen and a weight of 6 ounces. Reviewers have generally been impressed by the phone's size, 

"You will either love how ridiculously palm-spanning a phone that is well over four inches diagonally feels -- or you will find it awkward and kind of silly," writes Gizmodo's Matt Buchanan, who describes the new phone as a "war machine." "It's just a really big phone that will polarize the buying public."

The Washington Post's Rob Pegoraro, for one, feels the phone was far too big, describing it as "a slab of a device, wider than any mobile phone I can remember using." Phandroid's Rob Jackson, on the other hand, adores the phone's large display screen, as he thinks it unlocks Android's potential to act high-quality operating system for video and other multimedia applications.

"The huge screen makes Web and multimedia even better than previously 'large' Android screens like that on the Incredible," he says. "The little kickstand makes it easy and fun to set up on your desk for quick access to notifications, watching YouTube/movies/videos, or sharing content with a crowd."

WiMAX gets its first test run

The EVO 4G's size isn't its chief draw, however. The device is best known for being the first phone to run on Sprint's high-speed WiMAX network, which currently delivers average speeds significantly faster than its rival carriers' 3G networks. And unlike the phone's size, which tended to divide reviewers, the phone's connectivity speed earned wide praise across the board.

"It's really freaking fast," Buchanan observes. "Testing the Evo in Wimax-equipped Chicago, pages just load. Thunk. Mobile sites pop up near-instantaneously."

The speed of the device, of course, depends on whether you're in range of Sprint's WiMAX network, which is due to be available in all major U.S. metropolitan areas by year-end. SlashGear's Vincent Nguyen tested the phone in Chicago and found that the EVO 4G would provide average download speeds of around 4Mbps, which is approaching a typical home broadband connection. When Pegoraro tested the phone, however, he found that it averaged between 2.5Mbps and 3Mbps, a slower speed than in Chicago but still a faster speed than 3G. So just because you're within range of a WiMAX network doesn't guarantee you'll always get broadband speeds.

One big downside for potential EVO 4G buyers is that not every major city has WiMAX yet and that EVO 4G owners will have to pay extra for WiMAX connectivity whether they're in range of the network or not. PC World's Ginny Miles reported that there is not WiMAX connectivity in San Francisco yet and that she had to try out the EVO 4G on Sprint's 3G EV-DO Rev. A network. But even with mere 3G connectivity, Miles said she was pleased with the phone's performance and was particularly "impressed with how quickly multimedia-rich pages loaded over Sprint's network."

Just the beginning

It's important to emphasize that even if you don't personally find the EVO 4G appealing, it won't be the last WiMAX phone to hit the market. Sprint has bet big on WiMAX and will no doubt aggressively push a wider variety of phones to the market as it expands to more big-name cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Boston and San Francisco. So even if you find the EVO 4G to be too heavy and unwieldy for a smartphone, there will be others in the near future that will certainly pack a 4G punch into a more compact package.

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