Decently made hardware with an abundance of middle of the road software that ultimately promises too much and delivers too little.
Car Panel is clever
Sprint's Worldwide service
Tons of bloatware
Bulging camera lens
Data speed isn't great
HTC Sense 3.0
Expensive Hotspot option
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The EVO Design 4G is an interesting curio in HTC's lineup. It boasts 4G data speeds, yet also attempts to overcome the thorny problem of how to travel overseas with a device tied to older CDMA technology from third-place U.S. carrier Sprint. Is the combination ultimately a win for consumers?
Hardware-wise, the EVO Design 4G sticks pretty close to the usual HTC playbook. Nearly identical to an iPhone 4S in size (though slightly taller and more angular), the Design 4G is well built, weighing in at a relatively modest 5.22 ounces and 0.5 inches thick – downright anemic compared to many of the big-screen smartphones that seem to be the new standard.
A 4.0-inch qHD Super LED capacitive touchscreen display packs 960 x 540 pixels nicely into the Design 4G's 4.8 x 2.4-inch black unibody frame. The front side features the same familiar horizontal earpiece used on many other HTC handsets, with a notification light tucked away at left and a front-facing 1.3 megapixel camera for video chat at right.
On the back we've got soft rubber covering roughly two-thirds of the surface, with a handsome swatch of brushed aluminum in-between. The five-megapixel camera with single LED flash protrudes from the upper left side, but thankfully this isn't quite as obtrusive as other HTC devices like the Inspire 4G – though we still don't quite understand why the manufacturer chooses to build such delicate components this way.
Up top the EVO Design 4G features a power/standby button and 3.5mm headphone jack, while a volume rocker sits comfortably on the upper left side above a micro-USB port; the bottom and right sides are free of ports or buttons.
The lower section of the back slides off to reveal the 1520mAh lithium-ion battery, held in place by a peculiar plastic gate to keep it in place. A Sprint-provided standard SIM card for worldwide GSM roaming rests below this gate (more on that in a bit), and the included 8GB micro-SD card (which can be replaced with up to 32GB) is tucked away just below the exposed part of the battery.
Sprint's HTC EVO Design 4G is available for a mere $99.99 with a two-year agreement, after $250 instant savings and $50 mail-in rebate (which arrives as a Reward Card).