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printed August 29, 2014
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Review: HTC Evo 4G

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HTC's Sense interface doesn't replace Android so much as it augments it. I've always believed Android to be a bit complicated, but the learning curve pays off with a useful and highly customizable interface. HTC adds some style and some practical shortcuts, as well as some great enhancements, mostly in the contacts and calling features. Otherwise, the Android design language remains. There is a drop down notification menu, a pop up menu from the Menu key, and holding your finger on objects onscreen usually produces some sort of effect.

The HTC Evo 4G uses a seven panel homescreen that you can fill with bookmarks, application shortcuts, active widgets, folders that contain other items and more. While many touchscreen phones let you place icons and widgets on the home screen, Android goes a bit farther. For instance, when you tap a navigation shortcut, you don't just open the Google Maps app, you can jump right into a navigation session so that a shortcut might instruct the phone to direct you home every time you tap it. HTC adds more options to the widget pile, and these are mostly useful and very good looking. I wish many of them didn't take up a full home screen, though. If you want the HTC Friend Stream, which aggregates your Twitter and Facebook status feeds, you have to give up a full screen. Web bookmarks, too, take up a full screen. Most of HTC's widgets have multiple styles and sizes available, but almost all seemed a bit large. Perhaps that's why HTC added two extra panels, up from five home screen panels on the stock Android build, but I wouldn't mind some more compact options.

To jump around quickly, you can hold down the Home button to get a list of recent applications. As I also mentioned, you can pinch on any of the home panels to get a pinwheel of home screens, a faster way to jump from screen one to screen seven.

Deeper into the interface, there is an application drawer to hold all of your apps, and you can drag apps out of the drawer to create a desktop shortcut. HTC has added a splash of color to the settings menu, but it's still mostly white text on a black background, a stern design for a jumbled selection of settings. It can be difficult to find the exact setting you need. How to completely wipe the phone's memory, for instance. Is that Security? Phone Storage? Nope, it's Privacy, which makes sense, but isn't exactly intuitive.

 

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