Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G

Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G

Summary: I have been playing with the HTC EVO Shift 4G for a few days and offer first impression of the phone. The Shift is an Android phone by HTC that has a sliding QWERTY keyboard, for fans of those.

TOPICS: Hardware, HTC, Mobility, Wi-Fi

When introduced over six months ago the HTC EVO 4G caught the imagination of smartphone enthusiasts, myself included. The large 4.3-inch screen encased in a thin form that offered the best that Android could offer at the time, along with Sprint's new 4G (WiMAX) network was an instant hit. I am happy with my EVO 4G which is still one of the best smartphones on the market today. As popular as the EVO 4G has been for HTC and Sprint, it's no wonder they have introduced the EVO Shift 4G to capitalize on that success. Unfortunately, the name is the only thing the Shift shares with the original EVO, except 4G.

My colleague Matt Miller published a thorough review of the EVO Shift 4G, so if you're interested check out his review. I have been playing with the Shift for a few days and have my own impressions of the phone to share. The Shift is a smaller, thicker Android phone by HTC that adds a sliding QWERTY keyboard for fans of physical keyboards.

Check out the photo gallery comparing the HTC EVO Shift 4G with the original EVO.

Image Gallery: Compare the HTC EVO Shift 4G with original EVO 4G. Image Gallery: EVO Shift 4G vs EVO 4G Image Gallery: EVO Shift 4G Goofy D-pad

There is nothing really special about the Shift, which will confuse some attracted by the EVO brand. The 3.6-inch display is smaller than that of the original EVO, and the Shift is slightly thicker due to the inclusion of a keyboard which slides out of side of the phone. The only thing the Shift really shares with the EVO is the ability to use the Sprint 4G network.

I think it was a mistake to use the EVO branding for the Shift, which is essentially a budget Android smartphone. I've already seen it online as cheap as a hundred bucks, and only a short time after release. It is a solid entry-level smartphone, however, that will appeal to those who need a keyboard on the phone.

Speaking of the keyboard, it is well executed by HTC with a glaring exception -- the inclusion of a giant d-pad on the keyboard. This d-pad takes up quite a bit of space on the keyboard while adding very little value. Touchscreen phones don't need d-pads as it's easy enough to just tap the screen, rather than using a pad to move around. This d-pad reminds of that found on the original Motorola Droid phone, which was also horribly executed. Otherwise the keyboard is solid and easy to use.

While the EVO Shift 4G is mostly just another Android phone, it does surprise me in one area. The Shift has a 800 MHz Snapdragon processor which should be slower than the 1 GHz processor in the EVO, but surprisingly the Shift is faster than the EVO and most other Android phones I have tested. Froyo runs fluidly on the Shift and things happen instantly, without lag. My 17 year-old son was impressed with the speed of the Shift, so it's not just my own impression.

I believe the Shift would be a good phone for those new to smartphones, or those looking for the first time to see what all the Android buzz is about. It is well-made, and is a bargain Android phone that is full-featured.

Topics: Hardware, HTC, Mobility, Wi-Fi

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  • Totally disagree

    [i]Touchscreen phones don?t need d-pads as it?s easy enough to just tap the screen[/i]

    Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. I can't tell you how many times I would [b]love[/b] to have access to the equivalent of arrow keys on my iPhone when writing and editing text. It takes many seconds and many attempts to move the cursor 1 spot forwards or backwards on the iPhone. Access to arrow key functionality would actually make the iPhone a far better device.

    And before any of you Apple zealot idiots speak up, I'm not talking about adding physical arrow keys to the iPhone, just virtual ones on the virtual keyboard.
    • RE: Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G

      @NonZealot I hear what you're saying but I find on Android phones it's easier just tapping where I want the cursor. Plus I use a 3rd party keyboard that has arrow keys too. Don't need the d-pad.
      • RE: Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G

        Word Processing and Text Messaging do require precise cursor movement which can only obtained with touchpad or arrow pad- like devices. Touch-screens are easy to type with and a delight to scroll around with, etc; but grueling torture to get the cursor in the precise position before a word in word processing or text messaging applications or behind the word within the proper field or cells in Database and Spreadsheet applications. Ask the professionals who use these devices in a productive manner, not the kids who flaunt them as toys.
    • RE: Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G

      I agree. Virtual arrow keys would be an asset on any iOS device.
    • Spot on observation

      JamesKendrick's observation that "I use a 3rd party keyboard..." really doesn't help when you're on the train and trying to text your boss about the delay on the rail lines.

      I agree with you, NZ. Virtual arrows would be a much better solution.
  • RE: Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G

    You call the Shift an entry level phone with a faster processor than the EVO. What exactly can the EVO do, that the Shift cannot? Don't give me crap about the pixels on the camera either. The Shift has an acceptable camera for it being a phone.

    the shift is faster.
    fits in my pocket better.
    never locks up and has no discernible lag.
    Has a keyboard that is easier to read.
    Has the same resolution screen even though it is smaller you can see the same stuff.

    So where are you seeing it as entry level? where the EVO would not be?

    Remember, price is completely irrelevant to the conversation. It only creates the illusion of product positioning, all else being equal. Things are sold for what the seller can get and 800 is less than 1GHz therefore there is an illusion of it being a lesser phone, however I always expect newer technology processors to do more at a slower clock speed as the clock is not the only thing determining performance.
    Freddy McGriff
    • Shift is not up to par with the first EVO

      @Freddy McGriff
      Shift has smaller display.
      Shift has smaller megapixel camera and one less led flash.
      Shift does not have front facing camera.
      Shift does not have HDMI port.
      Shift includes only a 2GB microSD card.
      • RE: Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G

        Don't be an EVO homer, youzer. The phone is cheaper for a reason. Who really uses front facing cameras? What do you really need an HDMI port on a phone for? Smaller Display = Smaller Phone. This is a big reason why to get the Shift over the EVO. 2GB card is another reason the price is right. I have used the EVO and like the Shift better, hands down. Have you even used the Shift? My bet is that you haven't otherwise you wouldn't be commenting.
      • RE: Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G


        So the Shift is for people who use it for business and don't need fluffy frills designed for social networking, watching movies and the like.

        Oh, and the Shift is FASTER.

        Guess I bought the right phone....
        Freddy McGriff
    • RE: Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G

      @Freddy McGriff I completely agree. Just upgraded to Shift and I love this phone. My fiance took my other Evo. Its smaller, nice good feel in my hands and performance is there, no doubt about it. I was debating between this and Epic 4G. My biggest complaint with Epic was the size. Felt like holding a PS2 in my hand. Im sure its faster, etc etc blah blah blah, but not as mobile as Shift. I dont need the HDMI of front facing camera.
    • RE: Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G

      @Freddy McGriff I completely agree. Just upgraded to Shift and I love this phone. My fiance took my other Evo. Its smaller, nice good feel in my hands and performance is there, no doubt about it. I was debating between this and Epic 4G. My biggest complaint with Epic was the size. Felt like holding a PS2 in my hand. Im sure its faster, etc etc blah blah blah, but not as mobile as Shift. I dont need the HDMI of front facing camera.
  • RE: Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G

    I just bought the HTC EVO Shift on the 14th and I am loving it so far! I had the Samsung Intercept before this. I hated the Intercept because my software kept corrupting itself. I went through 3 phones in 5 months. Probably would have kept going except I was so fed up that I decided to shell out a bunch of money on a new phone even though I had to pay full price. I originally was going to go with the EVO because I wanted a good android phone. The Shift had no reviews on it since it is so new. However, I really didn't want to shell out $450 for a new phone. I ended up paying a deposit on a new line on my account so that I could buy the Shift at a 2yr price. I paid a total of $380 for the deposit, phone, and two accessories plus I got the $100 mail-in-rebate. So, comparing the Shift to my previous phone, I am pretty impressed so far.
    • RE: Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G

      @celsber I have the VM Intercept because I cannot afford a contract. When I do, do you think the Shift is worth it for a email/IM addict like me??
  • RE: Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G

    Budget smartphone? Since when is 3.6" screen size budget?

    This is essentially the already released HTC Desire Z (Euro model) but that didn't have the silly d-pad. It's otherwise much the same (no 4G in Euro though).
  • RE: Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G


    Try getting your thumb or finger on a misspelled word in a Text Messaging or Word Processing applications on one of the smaller mobile device (Smart-phones) with on-screen keyboards or even within a word or number in a Field or Cell in Database and Spreadsheet applications on the larger mobile devices (Tablets) with on-screen keyboards, and you?d realize that it is simply excruciating torture

    One simply cannot do without a touchpad even for on-screen Operating Systems.

    Touch-screens are great for clicking and scrolling, but the thumb or finger is too big for precise cursor movement.

    Touch-pads are crucial to all small messaging devices. These might even be essential to large devices (Tablets) depending on the disproportion in size between the thumb/finger and the text.

    On-screen keyboards (Even these do require the arrow keyset) and even non-QWERTY keyboards on more manageable and much smaller and convenient devices ) would suffice for messaging and word processing applications, but for applications where you need a large view of your work, such as in word processing, spreadsheet or database documents, an on-screen keyboard will eclipse a large extent of the work area whereas a non-QWERTY keyboard would lack most of the functional the keys ; for such applications a slide or flip-out keyboards can help, provided all of the circuitry is beneath the keyboard in order to make the device as narrow as possible; if it happens to resemble a brick, it?ll have only a few select customers.

    Slide and flip-out keyboards would have their success depend on the feel and minimum-needed view of the work area. They might have a greater demand in larger devices; but the demand, be that for small or large devices would be contingent upon the feel and the size of the work-area that needs to be visible to the user for the performance of the different tasks.

    I am not sure what the users would prefer for web surfing, etc.

    With regards to fluid keys, it would take a while for people to get used to them- they might not turn out to be the huge success that intelligent or predictive text has turned out to be (but then these might be simply a matter of getting used to them. In any case, these would involve a stretched-out acclimatization curve, because your mind won?t know where the precise keys would be. Lastly, predictive-text can even greatly improve the functionality of on-screen QWERTY keyboards by spelling the right word even if you happen to hit the wrong adjoining keys; provided they do have an option for you to ignore the word correct-word (right on top of the spelled-word) for unfamiliar text etc.
  • RE: Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G

    You do need a front-facing camera for teleconferencing, apart from that, there's very little that you can do with with a smartphone on a 4G network.Furthermore, even those additional uses would be for career professionals like us, not amateurs or novices who do make up most of the market.

    You do need to be able to connect your phone to a projector or a television for presentations and even other work and personal activities.

    The display matters, but so does the convenience of carriage of a phone.

    The camera on a phone should be at least 8 MPx; with the teleconferencing one again at least 5 MPx(for you to have even the slightest chance at dating or keeping a girlfriend or a spouse)

    Flashes are absolutely useless, since they are good for only a few feet. An ISO number from 3200 to 6400 with multiple,selectable spot-metering,image stabilization, background blurring, and of course for the metering and focusing to take place around the selectable spotted area in my opinion would be far better options.
    • RE: Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G


      That's why they sell cameras. Get one. They are nice. An not one of those 14MP poor quality CMOS low end ones. Ever wonder why the more expensive cameras have lower res CMOS sensors? It is because the quality of the pixel matters, not just the quantity of them. No phone has a camera the quality of a stand alone camera and therefore the number of pixels don't really matter on a phone.
      Freddy McGriff
  • Can we just change this sites name?

    Call it, SmartPhoneNET. Yeah, it really is that bad.
  • And yet I like the d-pad.

    Played with one on the weekend, and the d-pad is very handy. Sure you can tap the screen but your thumb is already there, no need to re-grip and touch the screen. I would hardly call it huge either, lol.

    I can't agree it is entry level either. It has no front facing camera (which is actually a selling point to me) and smaller screen, but that is what I want. 4.3" is, for me, simply too big for a phone (and too small as a tablet). Picture quality is good, 720p, faster processor.

    The only thing entry level about it is 512ram and the inclusion of a 2gb SD vs the typical 8gb on most "top end" phones.

    • RE: Hands-on Impressions of the HTC EVO Shift 4G


      Maybe the inclusion of a smaller SD accounts for the price difference. I have lots of larger cards so I don;t really need a bigger one included.
      Freddy McGriff