Hands-On: HTC EVO Shift 4G
The HTC EVO Shift 4G could be mistaken for a follow-up to the EVO 4G, but it's really a different phone entirely. Find out what's different, what we liked, and what we didn't in our hands-on preview.
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The EVO Shift 4G might be related to the EVO, but it's not a successor. It's similar to how some people thought the Intercept would be a follow-up to the Moment. Like the Intercept, the EVO Shift is partly an attempt to introduce a more mass-market device to the lineup, particularly when it comes to price. So the sacrifices made compared to the EVO include a smaller screen, lower-resolution camera (5-megapixel instead of 8,) 800 MHz processor, and no front-facing camera. But it does have a keyboard, and it still has features like mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, 4G data, and DLNA media streaming.
HTC is known these days for producing hardware with nice, clean design and a solid feel. The EVO Shift is no exception. Chrome accents on the front and back add a bit of sparkle to an otherwise muted navy-color body. The back is soft-touch plastic.
The display is a regular LCD - nothing fancy - so viewing angle isn't great (not that most people would notice.) It has excellent resolution; everything looks very crisp and detailed.
The EVO Shift is somewhat large, although that's mostly in thickness, and mostly due to the sliding keyboard. The screen is somewhat smaller, which helps it be shorter and not as wide as the EVO; if the EVO feels like holding a tombstone to your head, the more manageable size of the Shift might appeal to you.
The touch keys on the front offer haptic feedback. The volume keys on the side are excellent. The lock key on the top is sloped in such a way that it's awkward to press; once you learn the trick to pressing it, it works fine, but you shouldn't need instructions on pressing a simple button. There's no dedicated camera button.
The keyboard isn't great. The disappointment starts when you slide it open; there's no spring assist to snap it open and closed. The keys themselves are separate and raised from the surface, but their flat shape makes them surprisingly difficult to tell apart by feel. The d-pad is also very flat, which makes it difficult to use as well. I found it especially tricky to press "up" without hitting the "enter" key by accident.
Rounding out our tour of the outside, there's a 3.5mm audio jack up top and a microUSB port on the side.
Prying off the battery cover can be difficult, and putting it back on properly is even trickier. Once you get it off, you won't see a memory card slot. That's because it's under the battery, with a very unusual and complicated tilt-up mechanism to swap it out.
The EVO Shift is a fairly standard Android phone with HTC's Sense interface. If you've used an EVO, the software is very similar. There's a great selection of widgets from HTC, and you can save sets of home screens as "scenes", so you can have your "work" setup and your "social" home screens, for example.
The camera software has extensive options. You have to open the half-screen options panel to see them, but that panel has an easy-to-use and efficient tabbed layout, and it's translucent, so you can see your changes in real time in the viewfinder behind. Advanced features include touch-to-focus and face detection.
The 800 MHz processor seems powerful enough for most users. There is no lag in the interface and apps launch quickly.
Rich, we disagree...
Rich Brome said:
The keyboard isn't great. The disappointment starts when you slide it open; there's no spring assist to snap it open and closed. The keys themselves are separate and raised from the surface, but their flat shape makes them surprisingly difficult to tell apart by feel.
I happen to like the sliding mechanism. It reminds me of the Motorola DROID because of the fact that it doesn't 'snap' open. I prefer that style of keyboard. Once opened, I find the keys to be great. The feedback I get from pressing them is great and I wouldn't have it any other way. This may indeed be one of my favorite keyboards. It sure does beat the heck out of the Samsung Epic.
Which style of keyboard is your favorite...
does it have the light leak like the EVO?