Hoo boy. This is a tough one, isn’t it? In our years at Engadget, we’ve rarely seen such deafening debate and adulation for a pair of devices. In one corner we have the iPhone 4, coming off a few relatively easy rounds atop the smartphone mind share heap. However, the Droid and its ilk have weakened Apple’s spot, and here comes the HTC EVO 4G in for the kill, sporting a larger screen, 4G data, and all manner of HTC sexy. If the devices themselves weren’t enough, the debate has turned into something larger and metaphorical, with Apple representing tight restrictions and a singular top down vision, while Google’s Android stands for something perhaps a bit more haphazard but democratizing. The gloves come off after the break.
Of course, the easy answer is that they’re both great phones. The truth of the matter is that what might make the EVO the perfect smartphone for one person doesn’t necessarily pop up on another person’s radar. In many cases (like this author’s, for instance), there are many pros and cons on both platforms and devices that makes the decision difficult, almost painful. We’re going to try to lay out the facts, so that you have the best material at your disposal for making the decisions, but we’re not going to call the decision “easy” or “cut and dry” for anybody. This is a road we all eventually walk alone… into an Apple or Sprint store.
We’ve stacked these two phones up every which way specs-wise. They’re very similar phones when you run down a checklist, but there’s one glaring dissimilarity: the EVO is huge. In fact, many people might find a more direct iPhone competitor in the excellent Droid Incredible, or at least the much thinnerDroid X. Outside of lacking of a front facing camera and 4G, they’re virtually the same phone as the EVO, just smaller (in different ways). But we didn’t come here to talk Droids. Here are some of the big ways these two phones compete:
This is the quintessential spot for personal preference, so we won’t linger long. Suffice it to say that these are two companies lauded for their hardware design at the top of their game. The EVO is mostly plastic, the iPhone is glass and metal, EVO has a kickstand, the iPhone is thinner (9.3mm vs. 12.7mm). They both fit fine in a pocket, and are both striking enough visually that you wouldn’t want to hide them in a pocket. It’s hard to tell which would fare better in a drop test, but both are too premium-feeling for us to really enjoy finding out. The heft of the EVO makes it dangerous, and we’ve seen a couple reports of shattered screens. The exposed glass edges on both sides of the iPhone make it look fragile, and while it’s stronger than it looks, it’s certainly not invincible..
The EVO has higher resolution cameras front and back (8 megapixel / 1.3 megapixel, vs. 5 megapixel / VGA). Apple claims its low resolution sensor around back is to improve the low light performance, and both manufacturers are using the same “backside illuminated” tech. The EVO wins the spec war, but in practice we tend to prefer the photos and video produced by the iPhone. It has better sound and less artifacting when shooting video, with a higher framerate at 720p of 30 fps, vs. the EVO’s 24. Photos seem better as well, with less JPEG artifacting, less grain, and less chromatic aberration. That’s just what our eyes tell us, however. You decide for yourself: