When I set out to compare HTC’s EVO 4G with the Sprint’s Samsung Galaxy S variant, the Epic 4G, to see which WiMAX Android was the best of the pair, more than a few people hit me with a response along the lines of “Eh, why are you doing this? Epic is (however many) days newer, and has a Hummingbird, and it’s just…BETTER!” And for most people, I would agree, Epic is the way to go. Still–and I hate to give one of those yes and no non-answers–I prefer the EVO for myself, and it’s the EVO that I’ve been lugging around most frequently, not the Epic, though I did give it a good go.
Let me explain my reasoning for why Epic is best for most, but not myself. It has a hardware keyboard, and most people like those things. I personally hate the grid layout and can’t imagine why designers would stray from the format we all use every day at home. Nevertheless, the keys feel fantastic, and the phone really isn’t that bulky. I, however, prefer virtual keyboards. My second reason for Epic’s dominance is closely related to my #1 QWERTY-related qualm for the EVO. Epic comes with the public release version of the fabulous drag-to-type keyboard, Swype. Swype was very difficult for me to transition to, but now that the switch is complete, there’s no going back. I am hooked. Bummer for me, because the new Swype beta, which is what I run on my EVO, is an absolute mess. The public release found on Epic is brilliant. I can’t really compare a stock Epic to a hacked/modified EVO, so the contest isn’t Swype beta vs. Swype stable; it’s Swype vs. the Sense keyboard. As much as I love it, as much as I’ve gushed over HTC’s IME since I used it on the first Hero, Swype is better, in my book.
Epic is fast, but with Android 2.2 and JIT (also coming to Epic before long), EVO is a responsive device as well. Still, I run into more stalls and crashes on my EVO in one week than I would expect to in a month on the Epic. Included apps aren’t always the culprit, but they often are. I don’t even bother with some bundled apps because I don’t want the EVO to lock up. The Peep widget and icon are just shortcuts to reboot. At least that’s been my experience. One area where EVO outperforms Epic in terms of pre-loaded applications is the browser. HTC was on top of Flash long before it became available to the rest of the Android world, and their entire approach to browsing beats out other Android browsers, including stock, hands down. Where Epic often goes mobile, EVO gives me the full version. This happens to be the case with DroidDog.com. And I need to make a correction for my Epic vs. EVO sunlight visibility test, because the Epic browser has a separate brightness control from the rest of the system. OK, great…I can dim those all white web pages in the movie theater (before the previews) without making my dark apps invisible…fantastic. But the browser brightness cannot be linked to the system brightness setting? What?
If you checked out my post on hardware and software interfaces, then you know that I said I prefer TouchWiz 3.0 over Sense 1.0. If you’ve been following me for any period of time, that was probably a surprize. I’m a long-time Sense fanatic. But, as I said in the UI comparison video, I think TouchWiz has come a long way and debuted some ingenious new features, while Sense has grown stagnant. However, thanks to the leak of a Desire HD ROM with Sense, we know that a refresh is on the way, probably to the EVO by year’s end. Still, I can’t make judgement calls based on what we think is around the corner, so TouchWiz wins for innovation while the EVO packs Android 2.2.
I presented the Epic and EVO camera software (along with photo and video samples) as neutrally and honestly as possible, and the response was unanimous: Epic obliterated the EVO. Personally, there are occasions where I find the EVO colors to be more true to reality, but there is not doubt that the Epic’s images and sound are far more pleasant and impressive. EVO’s 8MP with dual LED flash can’t measure up against Epic’s 5MP with single LED flash, and when it comes to recorded audio, Epic make EVO sound like a toy. The only pro for EVO in this area is that the flash can be used as a torch whenever the video recording software is open, whereas Epic requires that the cam be recording for the torch to run.
OK then, why EVO?
So it appears that I’ve made a solid argument for buying Epic here; it has Swype, a better cam, more stable operation, and a hardware QWERTY. EVO only has Android 2.2, which will hit Epic soon enough. Well, I’m a sucker for HTC devices, and the EVO feels darn good in my hand. I like the feel of the display, which gathers and shows prints far more easily than the Epic. I like the building materials, and I like what some consider to be an awkward shape and size. Most of all–and I know many will scoff–I prefer the EVO’s front buttons. When I demonstrated the non-responsiveness of my Epic’s menu button, people told me I was pressing it wrong. That sounds familiar. I didn’t have to learn how to press buttons with the EVO, which is nice. They are also always visible, which, you know, just makes sense. The front buttons are probably the last concerns for most people buying a new Android, which is why I set this aside as one of my personal pet peeves, and why I wouldn’t list it as a flaw of the Epic.
So there you have it, folks. I’m sticking with HTC for the time being, and it’s not about brand loyalty as much as it is about the materials, build quality, and overall vibe of the EVO itself. I have a feeling that another phone will be my daily driver before too long, but the EVO makes a good hack toy for the time being. As of a few days ago, I’m running Clockwork recovery and Fresh EVO, and I’m really liking the ride. But I am ready for another vanilla Android flagship.