I’m in Love with Android and the HTC EVO

May 27th, 2010 37 Comments

I promised a review of the HTC EVO I got at Google IO (@googleio) last week.

When I first started tinkering with Android on the Motorola Driod prior to IO, I had no intention of switching from my iPhone. In fact, I debated even opening the Droid, since I planned to sell it after the conference.

After using the Droid, the only thing holding me back from switching was the hardware itself because Droid is a clunky mess compared to an iPhone, which explains that whole “Droid Does” campaign. Classic misdirection.

The EVO is spectacular, a beautiful device. Thank you Steve Jobs for showing other manufacturers what a phone should be.

I’m in the process of weaning myself off the iPhone. I have only a few complaints so far; they are:

The 4G coverage here in Portland is wildly spotty. I’ve taken several speed tests in various parts of town. In some places, 4G is slower than 3G; in others, I’ve clocked it as high as 2,933 kbps down, 1,002 kbps up.

I keep the 4G receiver off, since the battery does drain pretty quickly, thanks in part to multitasking.

Yesterday at Radio Shack, I had another person quiz me on where I got the EVO, since it’s not released yet. I’ve been such an iPhone bigot that I’ve missed all the excitement about Android devices.

Oddly, I don’t remember people being as gaga over my iPhone when I got it in 2007. At the time, it might have been mistaken for an iPod.

The reason I was at Radio Shack is kind of important to the story. One nice thing about Android devices is that they can be mounted as drives, since they have micro SD cards. So, you can treat the phone as a drive and add music, ringtones, any media or file with simple drag and drop.

No syncing with iTunes and waiting.

Of course, if you don’t properly unmount the micro SD, the phone tells you the card is damaged, which is a bit of a scary moment because the only option offered is reformat. Turns out that’s not the end of the world, depending on how much data you have on the card, but still, it’s scary.

Thanks to Rich, who hit this problem already, I was able to mount and unmount the “damaged” card properly using a USB micro SD card reader, which I procured at Radio Shack.

Yes, we all know that tech begets more tech.

This little gadget is extremely useful for bumping up your device’s storage too. The Droids we got have 16 GB SD cards, whereas the EVO is only 8 GB, so again, thanks to Rich, my EVO now has 16 GB of storage.

I mounted the EVO’s card, copied its contents to my Mac, mounted the Droid’s card, erased it via Disk Utility, copied the EVO’s data onto it, and put the 16 GB card into the EVO.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Examining the contents of the micro SD card, it appears to house all the media (music, pictures, videos) and application cache data for the phone. I’m sure more goes on there, but I haven’t been using the phone very long.

Related to all this micro SD card business is the fact that iPhone hides all this from you. When you buy one, it’s a complete package, just plug into iTunes and go, no assembly required.

Not so with an Android phone. You’ll have to put the battery in, which was a bit of an adventure for me on both the Droid and EVO, and at some point, you might need to remove the micro SD card. So, some assembly required.

Just an observation.

I went through all the apps I have on my iPhone and tried to find the same app (or a similar one) on the Android Market. This is a big test. For the most part, I found every app I wanted, except for games.

It seems pretty clear that app producers are building for Android, which is great. I’m not sure the selection of games, which are highly dependent on the hardware, will ever be on par with the iPhone OS.

A game that runs well on the EVO might be awful on an older device like the HTC Hero. This is unfortunate, but who knows.

Oddly, the weather app that comes with Android is a fail. Its city database is woefully sparse, e.g. Hilo, HI is not in there. I also didn’t find an official Flickr app, which seems odd, although it did take them years to produce an iPhone app.

I’m really missing 1password on the EVO. I thought 1password Anywhere would work, but Android’s browser chokes on it. My guess is this will happen soon, as I’m sure they’re getting more requests for an Android version.

One cool thing is that apps you download stay on the phone, even if you don’t put a shortcut on the screen. This is useful for apps you don’t use very often and obviously different from the iPhone’s implementation of apps.

As I move music on to the EVO, I’ve discovered that Android won’t play music with DRM on it. Not sure why, probably a shot a iTunes or a “don’t be evil” thing. This came up in one of the keynotes too when they demonstrated streaming music from iTunes over the air.

The good news is that Amazon sells music with no DRM, and in most cases, they charge less than iTunes. Not by accident, Android comes with an Amazon MP3 Store app.

I’ve been buying from Amazon since they debuted the store, so luckily, I don’t have a ton of DRM-laced music.

So, now I’m completely converted to Android. I’m forwarding my calls, and I’ll be porting my number soon. I wish I could forward texts. Anyone know if that’s possible?

So, that’s it. Kind of rambling.

For a giggle, here are all three devices, OG iPhone, Droid, EVO, for comparison.

Sorry about the crappy quality, taken with 2 mp iPhone camera

Interesting spec comparison:

As usual, find the comments.

Update: When I went to Camera, I got an insufficient privileges error on the micro SD card. When I copied over the files from the 8 GB card to my Mac and then to the 16 GB card, I remember having some permission issues with the DCIM directory, which is where Android stores pictures and movies.

I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but it turns out to have mattered. No worries though. I just mounted the card and used Terminal to empty the directory, since I didn’t have any media.

I suppose if you have this issue and want to save the media, that examining the permissions on any files and nested directories would help you understand what’s wrong. Further, I assume a chmod would fix it right up, since they’re just files. Anyway, just FYI.


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37 Responses to “I’m in Love with Android and the HTC EVO”

  1. manalang Says:

    I couldn't resist taking a photo of the Palm Pre with my three (!) Android phones. I would've thrown the iPhone in there too, but I didn't have it handy. http://www.flickr.com/photos/manalang/4644859345/

  2. Metroknow Says:

    This is by far one of the most useful reviews I've read. I'm not a fan of “just because it's not apple” reasoning (as in I'll take crappy design and my piss-poor apps (hi Blackberry) just to spite Jobs) – you gave a whole lot of concrete info on things I actually do as well. Thank you!

  3. withinsight_LLC (withinsight tech) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    Louis Gray: I’m in Love with Android and the HTC EVO [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  4. ileane Says:

    Oh so I guess there is one thing the EVO can't do…take it's own picture.:)

    Thanks for the details. I never thought of getting music from Amazon, I've been using iTunes instinctively. That might change in the next 15 minutes though.

  5. Jake Says:

    Hey thanks. Glad you found it useful. I'm of the same opinion that fanboism doesn't provide much helpful information. The EVO is as good as the iPhone, possibly better, depending on what you want to do with it. At least for now anyway, we'll see what's in iPhone 4.

    It won't have 4G, that's for sure.

    One caveat, I'm getting an insufficient privileges error when I go to the camera. I guess somehow the DCIM directory's privileges got borked. Will investigate and update with a fix.

  6. Jake Says:

    Nice. Care to share your thoughts of each :)

  7. Jake Says:

    Unfortunately, no, but that would be an awesome feature ;)

    Tough to beat Amazon for mp3s, cheaper and device-portable, even if you're not into that whole no-DRM thing.

  8. Steve Cox Says:

    Have they added these features yet? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xtuxax8Dtk4

  9. Bob Fraser Says:

    Matches my thinking. Moto Droid, good but still wanted an iPhone. With HTC EVO, don't yearn for an iPhone anymore. Plus I like the inclusive OS / market. Right now iPhone has first mover advantage, but wait a year. Things are going to move fast for Android.

  10. Jake Says:

    This might be why I'm so in love with the EVO and Android . . .

  11. Jake Says:

    The challenge for Android and Google will be to keep the carriers and developers in line to produce a consistently good experience. Plus, the rough edges make Android phones appeal to us (geeks), but not so much to the average user.

  12. John Says:

    Ok; I`ve done it.. And its all your fault Jake.. ;)
    I should have a HTC Desire in the post and on its way to me..

    No Evo available in the UK so next best thing..
    And now designing a laser etched metal case – because the htc desire case just doesn`t look as nice as the iphone 4g or evo.. Sigh..

  13. Jake Says:

    Happy to take the blame. The HTC Desire is a great phone too, played with one of those at IO. The specs look very good for it, similar to the EVO. HTC's Sense UI is very nice, assuming you'll get the same one they put on the phones here.

    Android phones are for geeks. I think you'll love it :)

  14. oraclenerd Says:

    what about google voice? are you using that one yet? then your port to the EVO will be seamless.

    Not sure if you can forward a non-Google Voice number though…would be interesting if you could.

  15. Jake Says:

    I've had Google Voice since it was Grand Central, but never done anyway with it. I suppose I should use it now that I'm on Android. Rich would know better, since he's actually been using Voice for a while.

  16. manalang Says:

    I use Google Voice on my EVO exclusively. Works flawlessly.

  17. oraclenerd Says:

    I concur with Rich…been using it with the BB (ugh) for about a year now, it's the only number I give out these days. The transition was fairly seamless as I forwarded my old phone to my Voice number. Amusingly, I incurred a $50 text bill initially because I was forwarding my texts to my phone (without a plan)…I just turned it off at the Google Voice admin panel and voila.

  18. oraclenerd (oraclenerd) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    RE: @theappslab what about google voice? are you using that one yet? then your port to the EVO will be seamless.

    No… [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  19. Jake Says:

    I really need to start using my account. Plus, I should get a new number. It's time.

  20. Jake Says:

    Yeah, I'm just lazy. Not sure what's amusing about a $50 text bill though.

  21. Bob Fraser Says:

    I have all three phones (original samsung + 2 from I/O) forwarded to google voice for vmail. Love the text transcription when it works.

  22. Jake Says:

    Key phrase “when it works”.

  23. oraclenerd (oraclenerd) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    RE: @jkuramot I concur with Rich…been using it with the BB (ugh) for about a year now, it’s the only number I give o… [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  24. osteinmeier Says:

    I think everyone's seeing the insufficient privileges error. The weird thing is that it's not consistent: sometimes when I try to take a pic, it gives me the error, sometimes it doesn't. Gotta get a microSD reader.

    Thanks also for pointing out that the Droid came with a 16GB card.

    AFAIK, no non-Apple device can (legally) play their DRM infested iTunes songs, because they never licensed it to anyone, so no surprise it won't pllay on the Android devices. Not that it bothers me personally – I am probably the last person on earth who never bought a single song on iTunes ;)

    Overall, I agree with your review in most points. To add, I LOVE the hotspot feature. Great with my iPad.

  25. osteinmeier (osteinmeier) Says:

    Twitter Comment


    RE: @theappslab I think everyone’s seeing the insufficient privileges error. The weird thing is that it’s not consist… [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  26. Jake Says:

    Not everyone, Rich didn't. Louis Gray didn't report it either. That little SD reader is a great gadget and highly useful. You're the second person who mentioned the EVO mobile hotspot and the iPad as a wonderful combination. Kind of ironic, but I can definitely see that as gadget kismet.

  27. Jake Says:

    Ah, now I see what you mean, that issue is pretty common apparently: http://androidcommunity.com/is-the-htc-evo-4g-p

  28. Louis Gray Says:

    I did report the insufficient privileges errors. :)

    From the post:

    “… multiple issues I had with EVO saying I didn't have file permissions set correctly on my SD card when it came time to actually take pictures or shoot video. If you have ever been somebody who needed to take the picture – right now – it's not exactly the time to try and troubleshoot file permissions, consider unmounting the SD card, or turning the phone off and on, so that was frustrating. “

  29. Jake Says:

    Ah snap, I got caught for skimming :) My bad. Was your issue after a card swap or was it just like that from the jump?

  30. Louis Gray Says:

    It showed up fairly early. The EVO came with an 8 GB card, and I was also given a 2 GB card, but I haven't used that one. I don't think it was after any swappage.

  31. Jake Says:

    Rich and I both swapped the 16 GB from the Droid into the EVO. I got the permissions issue after I swapped, but just wiped it using Terminal on the Mac.

    You should get one of the micro SD readers I mention in the post. The 2 GB card is all music, compliments of Google; it's much easier to browse all that music by attaching it with a card reader.

  32. Jake Says:

    Not everyone, Rich didn't. Louis Gray didn't report it either. That little SD reader is a great gadget and highly useful. You're the second person who mentioned the EVO mobile hotspot and the iPad as a wonderful combination. Kind of ironic, but I can definitely see that as gadget kismet.

  33. Jake Says:

    Ah, now I see what you mean, that issue is pretty common apparently: http://androidcommunity.com/is-the-htc-evo-4g-p

  34. Louis Gray Says:

    I did report the insufficient privileges errors. :)

    From the post:

    “… multiple issues I had with EVO saying I didn't have file permissions set correctly on my SD card when it came time to actually take pictures or shoot video. If you have ever been somebody who needed to take the picture – right now – it's not exactly the time to try and troubleshoot file permissions, consider unmounting the SD card, or turning the phone off and on, so that was frustrating. “

  35. Jake Says:

    Ah snap, I got caught for skimming :) My bad. Was your issue after a card swap or was it just like that from the jump?

  36. Louis Gray Says:

    It showed up fairly early. The EVO came with an 8 GB card, and I was also given a 2 GB card, but I haven't used that one. I don't think it was after any swappage.

  37. Jake Says:

    Rich and I both swapped the 16 GB from the Droid into the EVO. I got the permissions issue after I swapped, but just wiped it using Terminal on the Mac.

    You should get one of the micro SD readers I mention in the post. The 2 GB card is all music, compliments of Google; it's much easier to browse all that music by attaching it with a card reader.

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