Sprint Evo takes on iPhone, Blackberry

Sprint's new Evo is packed with features, making it a serious rival to the iPhone and BlackBerry.

By TheStreet Staff Jun 7, 2010 12:44PM

TheStreet.comBy Jonathan Blum, TheStreet


There's a new small-business mobile beast loose in the land: the Sprint (S) Evo.


Finally, after, I kid you not, almost a year of speculation, pre-announcements, announcements and other marketing drivel, Sprint's premier 4G superphone, the HTC Evo, is on sale. And while far from perfect -- much more on clunk factor, grim battery life and cost -- the Google (GOOG) Android-powered Evo offers a legitimate, small-business option between the Apple (AAPL) iPhone and the full line of Research in Motion (RIMM) BlackBerry devices.


Without question, the Evo’s bright screen, blazing multi-tasking performance and support for critical business tools compete at the highest levels in the mobile-business-device market. And if you're lucky enough to have access to Sprint's 4G data service, or in line to get that product soon, the Evo is a must-consider.


I have been demoing this unit on and off for the past several months, and got a taste of 4G access in Las Vegas and Baltimore. While speaking with Sprint executives I received personal demos by company CEO Dan Hesse showcasing the device and 4G networks.

So here is all I know about the small-business applications for the Evo.


What you get: an absolute brute of a mobile workhorse.


It's this simple: The Evo has serious on-the-go work muscle. Multi-tasking apps like email, documents, texting and managing social tools, which crippled previous Android devices like the Verizon (VZ) Droid, the HTC Hero and the T-Mobile myTouch, fly on this unit.


And Google and Sprint have done a nice job addressing Android's shortcomings. There's a nifty typing and data entry training app that speeds picking up Android's bizarre touch keyboard. And HTC has done a heck of job giving this unit a rugged, rubberized business look and feel. The Wi-Fi hotspot worked essentially flawlessly. There is even an HDMI output that lets you feed a PowerPoint presentation into a projector.


And that's just the start. This unit is jammed with great work features.


What you don't get: The Evo is huge, expensive, and battery life is way limited.


Now for the bad news: All the great interactivity and ease of use require an enormous screen for a mobile phone. My test unit is nearly 5 3/8-inch diagonal, which makes the monstrous iPhone 3G S look like a pack of Orbit gum.


Battery life is a disappointment in early testing. Four hours was about average, which means you're essentially charging twice a day, particularly in the car.


And the unit's $200 price tag is only the beginning of the sticker shock. Even moderate users have little choice but to get Sprint's $70 Simply Everything plan, since it's the best deal in small-business connectivity. But Sprint bangs you for $30 extra month for the hotspot feature and another $10 for data access. That's a cool $100 per user. Sprint's argument is that the Evo can replace landed Internet access for 4G users, which is technically true. But let's face it, that's a major step for a small business: The fact is, $1,200 a year per worker for mobile phone -- that's real money.


Bottom line: Leading-edge business geeks have little choice but to get square with the Evo -- and pronto. I cannot overstate the importance of 4G networks to the business life. Faster is better. And the Evo rocks. But the more average techno-phobe firm should probably wait a few months. The high price, limited battery life and clunk factor put the Evo out of reach for the business masses for now.


When the Evo hits $100, and battery life creeps to six hours, then take the plunge.


For now, wait.


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