iPhone 3G to EVO 4g – 1 Month Later

I was a little late to the Apple party and had only realized the elegance of Apple products about 2 1/2 years ago.  Within 6 months of buying an iPod Touch, I bought an iPhone and iMac.  I now additionally own 2 Apple TVs and an iPad.

The iPhone 3G was the first mobile device that I regularly used with enthusiasm throughout my 2 year contract period – I loved it!  I had every intention of upgrading to the iPhone 4, but I wasn’t blown away when I learned about the new iPhone 4 features.  I kept hearing more about Android phones and was curious what it had to offer.  After playing with an EVO at my local sprint store, I liked almost everything about it.  The screen size, the haptic feedback of the virtual keyboard, fast web page loads.  After a few weeks of debate, I went to my local Best Buy store and purchased an EVO 4G.  I knew Sprint offered a 30 day service cancellation policy – without this return policy, I probably would not have taken a gamble on this phone.  It’s now 1 month later and have the following impressions.

The biggest negatives I see

1) The battery life on the EVO is not nearly as bad as I had expected based on all the review complaints.  With light use, I got over 30 hours on a single charge.  With heavy surfing & listening to several hours of music I would get between 8-12 hours.  The catch is I have a row of widgets on my main screen that control all my battery draining services.  I only have Bluetooth, Wifi, 4G  & location based services turned on when I need them.  If I left everything on all the time, battery life would be terrible.

2) 720p video playback looks great on the EVO’s 4.3″ screen, but transferring EVO home movies on a larger HD TV shows its flaws.  It’s not bad, but it just doesn’t match up with the iPhone 4 sample movies I’ve seen.  The still pics taken on the EVO look great.  I’ve seen several still pic comparisons between the iPhone 4 & EVO.  In some comparisons the EVO still pics looked better, in some the iPhone pics seem to edge it out.

3) I live in a 4G city and considered this a big selling point when I first purchased my EVO.  Where I live, my ability to connect to 4G is very hit and miss.  When it is available I rarely end up using it anyway as web pages seem to open very fast in 3G mode.  Also, the battery drains very fast in 4G mode.  While 4G is not the killer feature I expected, I’m still glad to have it.  It’s why some people own fast sports cars.  You don’t need the speed most the time, but it’s nice to have every now & again.

What I like about the EVO

1) As I mentioned earlier, I really love the screen size & typing on this phone.  After 30 days I am still impressed by this.  I find that short emails & web surfing on my EVO to be a much better experience than on my iPhone 3G.

2) Where I live and work, I’ve found Sprint to be much superior than AT&T.  I had a lot of dead zones where I had no voice or data service at all on my iPhone.  This is not the case with my EVO.  Call quality so far has also been much better with my EVO.  About 95% of my calls have been crystal clear and I have not had one dropped call so far.  With my iPhone 3G and would estimate dropped calls about 10-20% of the time.

3) My “must have apps” were all available for Android.  In my case, Rhapsody music streaming, DoubleTwist for iTunes playlist export, Mint, Evernote.  In addition, I’ve discovered some really cool things I didn’t expect.  I’m now using a keyboard called Swype that I’ve become quite addicted to.  I’ve used my FM radio app more than expected (especially at my gym where TVs are positioned near all fitness equipment with the audio set to different FM channels).  I am also very impressed with how well voice to text recognition works on my Android phone.  It’s really usable for short emails and texting.  As an iPhone user, I couldn’t care less about Android widgets.  Once I’ve used them for a while, I can’t imagine not having them.

4) I was really annoyed that Apple didn’t include a iPhone 4/iPad tethering option.  It seems Apple would want to reward its customers who are brand loyal.  Why not at least give a little data plan discount to customers who use both an iPhone and iPad.  I haven’t used it yet but I really like having the wifi hotspot option on my EVO.   The $30 per month fee for this matches the cost of the iPad 3G data plan, but offers more flexibility.  I think Sprint would’ve been smart to offer this data plan for a little less (at $19.99 per month I would’ve signed up for it already), but I’m still glad to have it as an option.

5) I like being on a network that doesn’t impose a data cap.  Music streaming alone can add up against a data plan.  It’s nice to know that I can stream audio and video over the course of my 2 year contract without concern about exceeding a data limit.

Summary

In the end I decided to keep the EVO 4G.  I was surprised at how easy the transition was from the iPhone to an Android phone.  The stigma that current android phones are for techies only does not seem accurate to me.  If my 80 year old Grandmother was using an iPhone with a Mac, I wouldn’t recommend an android phone to her.  However, the average consumer would not have a problem making the switch.  My wife had no interest in my iPhone 3G for 2 years, but wanted an EVO herself after a couple days of playing with my phone.  I love the openness of the android platform and believe Google (as the under dog) may work harder to innovate over the next few years than Apple.

I still think the iPhone 4 is a great choice and I wouldn’t criticize anyone for purchasing it.  In the end both phones offer comparable feature sets with trade offs that boil down to personal taste.    Android fans love to criticize Apple for their “closed garden” approach to product development.  Apple has been making unrivaled products for the last 10 years using that methodology and I don’t see them ever changing this strategy.  On the opposite end, Apple fans try to stereotype android as a clumsy beta project that only appeals to the most extreme tech nerds.  The growth statistics in the android market say otherwise.  In the end, there’s probably room for both platforms to succeed.

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