Thursday, June 17, 2010

As I explained in my last post, I made the decision over the past few days to move away from AT&T for mobile phone service, which necessitated a change in the smart phone hardware I use since the iPhone is exclusive (for now, anyhow) to AT&T in the United States. I did some research, got some advice from people I know, read a lot of reviews, and  heard out several others who contacted me with their thoughts -- and then today I took action.

Sprint HTC EVO 4G After work, I left the office and started for home. It was a little after 5pm, and I thought to myself, I wonder if there’s a Sprint store nearby? I’d been looking at the HTC EVO 4G, a truly impressive Android-based smart phone that operates on the Sprint/Clear 4G network for data, as well as Sprint’s 3G mobile network.

Turns out there’s a store just a few blocks away, so I turned around and drove there. I had realistic expectations as I headed over: The HTC EVO 4G is sold out on the Sprint and HTC web sites, and is in very short supply/unavailable pretty much everywhere, so my hope was that the store would at least have a working demo unit that I could take a look at and test drive.

Turns out they had two working units on the shelf, and the *very* friendly and *very* helpful young lady at the store quickly and expertly walked me though the phone for a minute or so. I was pretty impressed with the fact that she immediately picked up on my experience and expertise level and tailored her very knowledgeable interaction to me. So if someone at Sprint reads this, please take this as a commendation for Meghan O. at your Tanasbourne Town Center store in Beaverton, Oregon. She deserves a customer service award, truly. No pressure, all information, and true passion about the phone and Sprint’s service. Compare that to my experiences in AT&T stores and there’s really no contest. In fact, the Sprint customer service experience reminds me a lot of the service experience in an Apple store, come to think of it. Hmmmm… Maybe Apple should think about that.

But I digress. It turns out they had three brand new, in-the-box EVO4G phones that people had reserved but not picked up, so they were available for the taking. Oh, I started to drool. Well, not really – but I think you know what I mean.

I’ll save all the gory details of why this is such a cool phone for another post, since I need to get some sleep tonight. But I want to explain here why I’ve decided to engage Sprint as my probable (operative word there, see below) new service provider.

  • First of all, I can get more for my money. For the same price I am paying AT&T each month for iPhone service and a data plan, I can get the same number of minutes, same unlimited messaging, free calls to any mobile phone on any carrier in the US, free nights and weekends, and – BONUS – the Sprint hot-spot coverage, where the EVO 4G acts as a wifi hot-spot for up to 8 devices to access the Internet.
  • I haven’t decided this yet, but I am considering dropping the 3G data service plan from AT&T on my iPad and just using the EVO 4G to provide Internet service via the hot-spot capability (and at faster speeds, I should add). The $30 a month savings pays for the hot-spot feature. I could always sign up as needed for AT&T 3G service on an ad-hoc basis at $15 a month if I need their service for some reason.
  • Sprint has a 30-day return policy, which allows you to evaluate Sprint and the hardware you choose, and return the equipment in non-damaged condition within that window for a full refund - including no charge for the service used. In effect they’re saying, “Come try us, and if you don’t like it, we will take the equipment back and make you whole again.” That’s corporate confidence, and should I find out I’m an idiot and made a bad decision (or if I decide I want to take a look at a third carrier) I have the option to get out, no questions asked. I like the try-us-on option. Good move.
  • Sprint’s early termination fees are substantially lower than the competition’s newly-published penalties: At Sprint, it’s $200 max, and after you’re about 8 months into your 24-month contract, the penalty starts to drop by $10 a month until it bottoms out at $50 -- and that’s a pretty reasonable deal.
  • No limits on data usage for the smart phone. AT&T and others are now capping their “unlimited” plans (and thank goodness, they’re re-labeling them in most cases to be more accurate in their descriptions).
  • In the store, Meghan’s customer service skills and knowledge simply won me over. She was confident in what she was saying, quick but not rushed, covered all the bases accurately and efficiently, and answered literally every question I had with answers I wanted to hear.

I’ll add a few things about the EVO 4G phone, because they just have to be said. Keep in mind, I am a bit of an iPhone and Apple fan-boy, and I made the tough decision to leave AT&T and the iPhone not because of Apple’s hardware and software, but instead because of AT&T’s poor service and quality woes.

  • This is a sharp phone. The screen is big (really big) and vibrant and it’s a solid build. It feels good in your hand.
  • The camera is great, and even gives you access to detailed configuration settings like auto or manual white balance, various recording resolutions, etc.
  • And that’s just the main camera. There’s also a second, front-facing camera working at VGA resolution for video chatting/conferencing or whatever you want to use it for (maybe you want to shoot your own passport pictures – it’s all up to you).
  • One thing the Apple iPhone doesn’t have a native app for (which is a real shame), but Android does: The Google Voice app. I downloaded and installed the GV app in about a minute and configured it to use my Google Voice account, and now the Android phone uses my GV account – natively – to place and receive calls and text messages. It’s totally borged, all wired in tightly without the need to launch a separate app for calls or anything. You go to the regular phone and messaging apps on the phone, and they knows they’re tied directly to Google Voice. That’s huge, and it’s unique to the Android platform. If you’re a Google Voice power user, Android is *definitely* for you. Find me and ask for a demo, I’ll show you what I mean.
  • The Android UI is awesome. It’s responsive, intuitive and even fun to use. I’m impressed.
  • 4G data service. I happen to live in Portland, Oregon, which is one of the early cities that got WiMax/4G from the start. The network is pretty well established here and so this means a lot in my book. Fast Internet service for a flat fee and ability to share it with other devices is hot.

There’s a lot more to love about the EVO 4G phone, but I’ll save the rest for another post. Suffice it to say, I am pleasantly surprised and quite impressed with both Sprint and the new HTC phone.

More to come later. If you have an opinion, comment away and let me know!



Add/Read: Comments [6]
Android | Apple | Mobile | Tech
Wednesday, June 16, 2010 11:11:23 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Thursday, June 17, 2010 3:31:31 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Good choice. I've been on Sprint for quite a while and have found the network pretty reliable. I think it will be a while before I get 4G in the wilds of eastern florida. As far as I'm concerned I think the HTC EVO may be the first phone I have ever owned that may outlast the 2 year phone service contract.
Thursday, June 17, 2010 4:15:07 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Greg, I love my EVO and believe you will too. You've no doubt read the reports of abysmal battery life, Pogue claims it only lasts an hour! My experience shows that these reviewers have a ton of stuff running in the background that is polling the data network constantly. It's the only way to use the battery that fast in my experience. I easily get all day of heavy service out of the battery on my EVO. I shared a few tips to get the most out of the EVO battery without impacting performance or usage:

http://jkontherun.com/2010/06/10/how-to-stretch-battery-life-on-the-htc-evo-4g/

Looking forward to your thoughts on the EVO after a few days use.
Thursday, June 17, 2010 12:19:40 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I've been looking for options as well. I'm going to wait and see the first wave of Windows phones before I make the move. The competition is getting stiffer for Apple and that's a big win for all of us. :)
Thursday, June 17, 2010 7:24:29 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Just got my Evo. I've been impressed with Sprint ever since I joined to get the Hero. The Evo actually has a 1.3 MP camera in front, not VGA. Also, to save power, turn off radios, sync options, etc when not needed. Don't use a task killer though, as they really aren't good for the system. I recommend commantalb from the market for seeing apps that are running and exiting them. (note: exiting is different than killing.) If you really want good battery life, use the unrevoked root method and then download ocwidget from the market. Underclock the processor to the lowest min and highest max, and set it really low for when its sleeping. Mine has great battery life so far.

Posted from my HTC Evo 4G
superlinkx
Monday, June 13, 2011 11:11:01 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I've been looking for options as well. I'm going to wait and see the first wave of Windows phones before I make the move. The competition is getting stiffer for Apple and that's a big win for all of us. :)
Monday, June 13, 2011 11:12:04 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
ood choice. I've been on Sprint for quite a while and have found the network pretty reliable. I think it will be a while before I get 4G in the wilds of eastern florida. As far as I'm concerned I think the HTC EVO may be the first phone I have ever owned that may outlast the 2 year phone service contract.
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