The five most interesting things I’ve encountered with the HTC EVO line
If you told me in June of 2010 that I would write over 400 pieces about a phone line that I only got into because my replacement cheapo Windows Mobile phone wouldn’t make phone calls where I needed it, I would not have believed it. Yet every week, there’s been some new neat discovery, ROM, root trick, scandal with Sprint, new EVO product, or other interesting development to cover.
Here’s my personal list of the top interesting things I’ve witnessed or experienced from my first couple of years of HTC EVO ownership.
Better hardware than advertised
The HTC EVO 4G shipped listing that it supported up to wireless-G but actually supported up to wireless-N. I don’t know what the reasoning behind dropping the specs were. Perhaps there was an issue with the ROM build; whatever the case, we got more than we paid for.
The HTC EVO 4G LTE lists a maximum SD card expansion of 32GB; however, my 64GB Micro SDXC that’s 80% full indicates that 32GB is not the maximum limit. Has anyone tried a 128GB unit yet?
The HTC EVO 3D shipped clocked at 1.2GHz, but the chips that HTC used were stock at 1.5GHz. Any replacement kernel could run the phone at 1.5GHz with no stability or heat issues, as that was what the chips were meant to do. 25% faster chip speed translated to about 13% faster in the real world.
I start to wonder if they sold the units with the intent of being able to report them being better after each update.
The Carrier IQ scandal
Sprint shipped the HTC EVO 4G with a monitoring application called Carrier IQ. A developer going by TrevE found that Carrier IQ was logging every keypress, and Carrier IQ the company sends him a Cease and Desist order and publicly accuses him of copyright infringement for looking at data in the system log.
HTC, Sprint, and Carrier IQ get into a three-way blame game that reads like Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” routine with all three companies getting caught appearing to lie about something either directly, via omission, or via a technicality.
The impressive continued community development of the EVO line
The HTC EVO 4G is over two years old. In phone years that’s past end of life, and yet five (or six depending on how you want to count it) operating systems later, there are still new custom ROMs being developed weekly that outperform anything that HTC shipped with the unit.
The HTC EVO 3D never had much love while it was being pushed. From bad camera software to massive requirements to get AOSP up and running even half-decently to extreme delays in releasing the last operating system, the ROMs seemed stagnant while Sprint or HTC was spending millions in advertising the world’s first 3D phone. Post advertising, the phone is seeing new life with Android development finally getting around to it.
The HTC EVO 4G LTE shipped with Ice Cream Sandwich and had mostly working Jelly Bean ROMs within a couple of weeks of it being released.
The quest for S-OFF and framing HTC as the devil for preventing it
Calling HTC the devil for preventing people from getting S-OFF has been a pretty good money and fame making venture for some, not so much for others. There have been multiple S-OFF exploits and methods found, and generally now there’s a pool of cash as an incentive for someone to figure out how to break through HTC’s latest security update.
Keep in mind the only thing S-OFF can do that S-ON can’t is flash radios and splash screens (not to be confused with boot animations) and kernels from recovery as opposed to Android mode. All things can be worked around and accomplished; S-OFF generally just saves 20 minutes down the road.
S-OFF methods have been found using SD card IO issues, paperclips, and looking at the phone funny. Whenever there’s an S-OFF method found, someone pipes up from left field with their followers and claims it was stolen from them.
S-OFF has always been a fascinating development trail to follow.
One of the reasons for the S-OFF blocking interestingly enough appears to be content management providers wanting to be able to stick a kernel in that can’t be easily replaced. That is, your business phone cannot be rigged to get around the corporate firewall and connect you to adult material (along with spying on everything you do). This isn’t really out in the business world yet for Android, but as more bring-your-device-to-work companies come up, it will be.
In the end though, S-OFF is the carrier’s final choice to make, and not HTC. You can more accurately claim HTC is selling the devil phones…
The rise and fall and rise again of 4G
If there’s one thing to be learned from the EVO line, it’s pay for what you can get today, not what you’re promised tomorrow.
When the EVO 4G shipped, WiMAX was barely out there and Sprint committed to delivering 4G to as many major markets as it could push it into. Unfortunately that was not a whole bunch, and most of the Sprint 4G/WiMAX promise was left unfulfilled.
The announcement of the abandonment of the 4G/WiMAX networks in favor of the better 4G LTE standard left many who had WiMAX feeling betrayed; however, that wasn’t the majority of Sprint users, who evidently never saw it in the first place.
The $10 fee we all thought we were paying for high speed appeared to turn into $10 we paid to subsidize Sprint’s purchase of iPhones and throw them on an already overloaded network, although that’s up for debate.
Long strange trip
That’s about that. I’m wondering what some of your highlights of EVO ownership have been. I think I got a bit nostalgic this week as fall has hit with a vengeance and that always makes me look back.
In this case, it was looking back at five EVOs I’ve owned (although to be fair, two were my wife’s) at some of the more interesting times we’ve had.