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What potential HTC One buyers might want to know from HTC EVO owners

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Someone asked me the other night about the HTC One and why I hadn’t gotten one. While mostly it’s due to my money going to the diaper fund for a newborn, and having a newborn in general (it does not leave me a lot of time to play with new expensive tech), a lot of it has more to do with my fairly long history with HTC, and my learned wait-and-see approach.

For almost the last two and a half years, I’ve written about the HTC EVO line, covering the original HTC EVO 4G, the EVO 3D, and the EVO 4G LTE. There were some other EVOs thrown in there, too, but I didn’t bother with them. I’ve also owned a couple HTC Windows phones in the past, and probably have owned a total of seven HTC devices in succession.

However, most of my experiences are with the HTC EVO on Sprint. While your carrier experience may vary, my expectation is that your phone manufacturer experience will not, as it doesn’t seem to matter what model phone HTC has put out so far. The HTC One might as well be the HTC EVO 4G LTE 2.

So while this may seems like an incredibly negative piece, it’s more a “buyer be informed” based on what’s happened to me.

Buy the product you’re shown, not the potential of what it might be.

With the original EVO 4G, EVO 3D, and EVO Design 4G, Sprint captured us with the promise of WiMAX 4G. It’s coming. For about a year we heard that it would be everywhere shortly. Then it was discontinued, leaving all the phones that didn’t have access to WiMAX to linger on the overloaded 3G network.

HTC updates generally break a lot of things, fix a couple.

In 2012, the EVO 4G LTE came with Android Ice Cream Sandwich, and it was good. We expected that sometime shortly after the release of Android Jelly Bean, it would be ported over and released by HTC, and that it would be great.

We were somewhat wrong. Lingering bugs persisted five months after the release and have plagued the EVO 4G LTE. Navigation functionality is still hit or miss for owners of the device, and it just isn’t being addressed with any sense of urgency, as it’s not HTC’s flagship product any more. With one of the recent updates in March to the HTC EVO 3D , Swype was damaged and didn’t get fixed for over 45 days. It was a simple fix that shouldn’t have been required in the first place, if any reasonable testing had been done.

In short, don’t expect updates to make the phone better; expect them to make it more annoying, as HTC apparently doesn’t do very decent testing. While some of these may be carrier specific, the last big EVO 4G LTE update we had significantly more bugs found in one day than you would expect from software that should have been tested thoroughly.

HTC responds with lawyers, half statements, and delays.

With the original EVO 4G, there was the Carrier IQ scandal, in which HTC threatened to sue a developer who found code capable of logging key presses. From October of 2011 until January 2012, a series of Stooge-like finger-pointing between HTC, Sprint, and Carrier IQ went on, with all three issuing one half statement after another.

The U.S. Congress stepped in to the matter at one point before the whole thing imploded and Sprint removed the CIQ software from its devices. The removal also broke some things.

More recently, HTC sent a C&D order to someone for hosting RUUs and custom ROMs. When asked to issue a clarification on the issue, HTC issued a half statement saying it supported the community but didn’t really answer anything that was directly asked.

HTC will mock your last HTC phone.

The “wouldn’t it sound better if it were facing the right way” commercial that the HTC One is using right now is pretty much what everyone in the EVO line said from the moment they saw that the speakers were on the back. Why is it back there? That’s not a good design. We know that – and have for years.

HTC or your carier will throw the model name away.

There was the HTC EVO 4G, a masterpiece of a device. Shortly after, HTC took the EVO model name and slapped it on the Shift, which we didn’t even bother covering. Then there was the EVO View 4G, which was an HTC Flyer tablet that had the word EVO stuck on it.

Following was the EVO 3D, which combined some of the greatness of the EVO 4G with the camera of a myopic mole man; there was the EVO Design 4G, which really didn’t take off for most; them finally there was the EVO 4G LTE, which didn’t really feel like an EVO at this point.

Don’t forget the side-branding, where Sprint took the EVO 3D, threw it on Virgin Mobile, and sold it as the EVO V 4G.

Basically, the name EVO was diluted from the greatest achievement of what a phone could be, into “hey, look what we can slap our brand name on.”

You’re not getting high speed when promised, nor a promise.

If the carrier you’re looking at doesn’t have high speed data for 4G in place, it’s not going to be there when the store clerk thinks it is. I’ve been living mostly on Sprint 3G since the purchase of my 4G LTE. It’s been coming next month for a very long time.

I pay a premium price for unlimited data usage, but 10 minutes on WiFi will get me a lot more than a day’s worth of Sprint 3G.

Want to root the HTC One? Good luck with that.

HTC in general requires that you use the HTCDev website to unlock your bootloader. HTCDev has been known to be down days at a time, or simply not work. And this is actually a pretty common experience.

Once you manage to register and choose to unlock, bye bye phone data. It’ll be erased for security reasons that anyone who’s played with Titanium Backup could probably have gotten around with twenty minutes of work and a computer. You’ll also need to install an ADB toolkit on your computer, have a working email that accepts strange .bin attachments, check that you know that you might have voided your warranty (probably haven’t),  and when that’s done you’ll have an unlocked bootloader.

This will allow you to flash ROMs and kernels on some devices, and on others you might find you have to jump through several hoops to flash kernels. I freely admit I’m not in the know of how this works on the One.

An unlocked bootloader, at least on the EVO series, did not mean you could flash radios or kernels, so updating the radios and firmware to whatever the carrier wanted you to run required returning to stock and doing an OTA. An embraced community had a lot of steps to take that they shouldn’t have, considering an app should be able to do all of this in one button press.

Your phone is not HTC’s concern after it has been purchased.

At least not on Sprint. You can expect maybe one OS upgrade, and a couple of patches.

This is not particularly an HTC specific issue, so don’t think I’m picking on it. Hardware manufacturers sell hardware. The carrier sells service, and it subsidizes the hardware to get you locked into contract. There’s no third element that says either have to pay for software upgrades.

Your kernel source, please?

Once a new update to the ROM is released, HTC is required to release the source to the kernel. However, you can expect to wait three months for something that could be up and distributed before the ROM OTA hits.

This is why, when the developer edition of the One was announced, I wondered why nobody had spoken out and asked if it really was a developer edition, or if it was once again a “develop three months behind” edition.

HTC produces the best phones.

What, wait … after all that seeming negativity, I’m saying something positive? Yes. HTC produces the best looking and feeling phones. Well, that’s my opinion at least.

While other manufacturers are better in one or two areas, HTC generally nails all of it in my opinion, for manufacturing quality and what it needs to do. I’ve had seven HTC phones, and I’ve worked on several Samsung devices, and I really enjoy them as well – but HTC feels better.

While the Samsung Galaxy S4 is a kick-ass phone, it’s not the best all around. It shines bright in some areas and not in others. I’d go with the One on this one. The S4 needs a body job or a case to feel right.

Are there any better alternatives?

Possibly. Honestly, I can’t keep up with what every manufacturer is doing that’s bad for customers and development. It’s not HTC specific, although I do hear about it mostly in connection with HTC’s name.

For most of you, you’re looking for a phone that takes pictures well, plays games, and won’t be an outdated hunk of metal in six months. HTC provides that, although in six months there’ll be other phones and they’ll blow your phone out of the water.

Don’t expect the company to be a saint (probably none are) and truly support development and developers. If you come with the right expectation, you’re probably going to be happy with them. I’m pretty sure they don’t kill kittens, and they do make One hell of a phone.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

Avatar of Paul E King

29 thoughts on “What potential HTC One buyers might want to know from HTC EVO owners

  • I think the “mocking last years phone” is a little ridiculous. Nearly every phone I’ve ever used , be it HTC, Samsung, Motorola or LG, had the speaker on the back of the phone. It’s a standard practice

    Granted, stupid design, but it’s not like they weren’t in step with every other manufacturer. So taking that as a mockery of their previous phone is blown out of proportion and they are just advertising something that actually hasn’t been done often.

    Sure, there was the HTC Surround, but it doesn’t reall count because the sound still sucked.

    Reply
    • Re-reading I’ll grant you that point. I had others when I initially wrote this, but do not have them handy. Will most likely edit that out.

      It is indeed standard practice, and as I said later it’s not like they kill kittens ;)

      Reply
  • A lot of your issues seem to be more with sprint than anything else. I admit htc is slow with updates, but the slow 4G rollout , the abusing of the Evo name, carrier iq. Them are all problems caused by sprint and not htc. I’m suprised sprint didn’t change the name of the One to Evo 4G lte 2. I left sprint 3yrs ago because the 3G network was more like 2G, and I live a couple miles from sprints headquarters in Overland Park, KS.

    Reply
    • As I said up top, this was HTC on Sprint, your carrier experience may vary. If you’re looking at HTC on Sprint again,

      The Carrier IQ situation HTC was involved in quite a bit as well, that was not simply Carrier IQ (the company) or Sprint. The half statements came from everywhere.

      I’m also not blaming HTC for the rollouts… that’s entirely Sprint’s issue. If you’re looking at the One on Sprint or any network without high speed this is just something to look at.

      Reply
      • Yeah, that whole Carrier IQ thing really was all pinned on developers of that software, but it was EVERYONE’S fault. What a massive fluster-cluck that ordeal was.

        Reply
  • I agree, HTC and Sprint, never again. Heck, probably Sprint never again. All the unlimited data you can’t use. Try Sprint in Las Vegas sometime if you want to experience the real “Now Network”;

    Reply
    • The 3G here in Oregon is pretty bad too. But the LTE, although unofficial, is pretty damn fast in some areas. Here at home I get around 6mbps (meh) but when I go ot to a restaurant I’ve gotten upwards of 28mbps down and 18mbps up. Which beat out my nephews RAZR HD on Verizon.

      Reply
  • Avatar of TowerDragon

    Good article and i agree with everything you said the 4g roll out in charlotte NC is progressing but in about 8 months ill have to make my decision to keep sprint or not. Sprint has that long to roll out 4g believe me i know its hard to wait for sprint and their nationwide roll out it been a rough few years for many sprint customers.

    Reply
  • I will buy the HTC ONE after my contract is up with Sprint.The whole 4G or lack of experience has been a bad taste.Vegas is just getting LTE towers up now so by the end of the year it should be 90-100%.I have to really think about an unlocked phone from now on this 2 yr crap is old.

    Reply
  • I am lucky that I live in Houston and so I’m first on the 4G rollouts. That being said, it was all much better with the original EVO 4G and the 4G network. Moving up to the EVO 4G LTE and the LTE network was more like moving down. A year later and it still doesn’t work as good as the original. I would not buy these devices if I lived in a area where 4G or LTE is promised one day, and it ain’t all that great using Sprint on LTE now.

    Reply
  • Excellent article! Sometimes we forget about all the missteps HTC and Sprint have had. We will soon know who will buy Sprint (hopefully Softbank) and it should be a major game changer. What to look forward too? A national 4G LTE network with far fewer users. I’m one of the few users that is consistently getting 20Mbps and peaks out at 32Mbps download speeds from home. So if you are on contract there is hope.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Steve Gaudreau

    Great article, I am torn about the One. Love the build quality of it, but that kickstand and msd slot being missing just seems to me that HTC has lost their edge. It’s the consumers that make or break your business. When you offer a product that satisfies the consumers you prevail in the market. IE Samsung.

    Reply
  • For what it’s worth, I just gave up my HTC Evo 4G (on Sprint) a week ago (just shy of 3 yrs) and picked up a Nexus 4. Don’t know how any of the newer HTC devices are working, but this phone is nothing short of an utter delight. The feel. The functionality. You might want to consider one and feel sweet relief letting go of Sprint. (Also, I rooted it in about five minutes.) All that’s simply for what it’s worth. I’ll continue reading Good & Evo for Paul and John. You guys have added immeasurably to my education and abilities. Thanks for all you do.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Fifth313ment

    Paul great article! I agree 100% and congrats on the baby if I didn’t say it before.

    I agree HTC makes the best quality, designed phones and I love sense. However they don’t listen to their customers. No microSD and no removable battery are what killed the HTC ONE for me as did the horrid updates and bug fixes. I still want to hang someone at HTC for having to live with no proximity sensor for almost a year! Oh and who could forget not being able to use LTE because of the severe signal issues, THAT HTC AND SPRINT KNEW ABOUT BEFORE THE PHONE WAS RELEASED (which still aren’t fixed as of today, but they’re much better). I really wanted the ONE and I probably would have gotten it, had it either had a microSD slot or removable battery, as the phones are such great build quality that I would suffered through the bugs.

    Also there is no where near the development on the HTC ONE as there is on the OG EVO or any of the Samsung Galaxy’s because HTC is locking down there phones and attacking devs. Rooting my OG EVO was so easy yet the EVO LTE process is crazy hard.

    Some of you mentioned CarrierIQ but on the new EVO LTE they have something similar called Smart Device Manager (com.locationlabs.v3client), and it always runs in the background using anywhere between 4-10MB of RAM ALWAYS with NO WAY to disable or uninstall it. They also have software called vDM (virtual diagnostic manager?) client (com.redben.vdmc) which both allow Sprint or HTC to log on to your phone and take over. They both also send all data back from location info, apps, etc. Sprint uses the apps to take over your phone and force updates (EG: If you don’t pay your bill the app starts and forces a profile update which makes your phone only able to receive incoming calls, while all outgoing are transferred to Sprint Bill Services). Both don’t allow you to opt out and both use battery and memory and shouldn’t be allowed!

    I’m giving Sprint until my contract is up in April, as right now in South Florida we have LTE towers in many places however they are just as slow as the 3G! WTF? And it’s not just my EVO LTE as all my friends have the iPhone 5.

    For now I’m done with both Sprint and HTC. Unless Sprint gets their network back to at least me able to check my email when I leave my house. I hate the build quality but my next phone will likely be a Samsung.

    5th

    Reply
    • Avatar of Fifth313ment

      I forgot to add the persistent power saver notification in the notification blinds and hiding the screen on time in the battery info so that we don’t know how crappy our small internal batteries are on HTC devices. That’s on top of the million other bugs. Carry on…

      5th

      Reply
      • Avatar of Simon Belmont

        I think they’re removing the power saver notification in Android 4.2.2 on Sense 5. At least I hope.

        The Screen On time not being in the battery stats always struck me as stupid. Maybe they’ll bring that back in the Android 4.2.2 update as well.

        Reply
    • Yep you’re so correct.. HTC just doesn’t listen to it’s consumers. I wanted the One so bad… but, No SD card and no removeable battery, was a deal breaker for me. When you travel as much as I do and in places and situations where you can’t always recharge or it is inconvenient, just having that those extra fully chargeed backup batteries is always a winner. Those asshole Fucktards at HTC should listen sometimes..

      Reply
  • As an owner of the Evo 4G, Evo 3D, and now the One, I’ve seen the ups and downs with HTC. I loved the original Evo, even though Sprint’s network was slow as hell. The battery life and camera on the 3D were a joke. I left that for the Galaxy Note and then the Nexus 4.

    Here I am back with HTC’s newest phone on a prepaid provider that uses T-mobile’s network. Gotta say, after rooting it, I’m really enjoying this phone. I just installed Jellybean 4.2.2 last night via XDA.

    Seems like HTC realizes this is basically it’s last shot at relevancy in most of the world. I hope they push out updates fast and often and stop pushing out new phones with re-hashed names every other month. They really got something good with the One though and for now, I’m a happy camper.

    P.S.
    Sprint sucks

    Reply
    • Avatar of Simon Belmont

      I often see people complain of the battery life and camera on the EVO 3D, but I’ve had good luck with both on mine. In fact, the updated Sense 3.6 camera software definitely gave it a bump in clarity, though the Sense 3.0 software wasn’t bad at all. I’ve taken hundreds of photos of my (now) 8 month old son, and they all turn out really well (definitely worthy of going into a printed photo album or larger pictures on the wall in a frame). I admit, I rarely use the 3D function for pictures or video though.

      As for battery life, I easily get 24 hours out of it with HEAVY usage (example: all day, starting at 7AM, at the NYC International Auto Show, taking almost two hundred pictures, texting, phone calls, tweeting, etc, with 40% battery left at 11PM) on 3G. If it’s moderate, it’s around 2 days. If I throw it on Wi-Fi, double everything. I know that everyone’s experience is relative to how they use their devices and the apps the have running, but I’m kind of a power user, and I’ve been pleased.

      Reply
  • Avatar of Simon Belmont

    For what it’s worth, I agree with bits and pieces of Paul’s article. A lot of it seems to weigh on Sprint’s faults though.

    The updates I definitely agree with and I can only hope that this doesn’t befall my wife’s HTC One (she’s getting one shortly, but not on Sprint). The EVO 3D got ONE major update to ICS and it was HEAVILY delayed, and Virgin Mobile and the international EVO 3D had ICS before us. I think the EVO 3D would have benefited from Project Butter in a Jelly Bean update. In fact, I know it would have been because it runs CM10 and CM10.1 as smooth as glass. That’s not to say that ICS and even GB didn’t run well on it (ICS was, in particular, very smooth in the UI). They both definitely did. Hopefully the HTC One is the turning point for updates. Maybe they’ll support their older handsets as well as Samsung has been lately (Jelly Bean on the Epic 4G Touch, for example).

    Reply
  • Again another “I’m still butthurt” article? I do realize that not everyone’s coverage is not the same, your mileage may vary on whatever network you may be I for one can’t complain about sprint. I’ve had the EVO 4G, EVO 3D, EVO FLYER/VIEW, EVO LTE and now the ONE and so far the one thing that I’ve not liked is the untimely updates and that goes way back to EVO 4G. The one thing I can tell you I’m definitely done with is this site it used to be full relevant news and interesting articles and now is just a blog for venting frustrations so thanks for the good times but i think I need to see other people if I wanted to hear bitching and moaning I would stay at home and since I already get enough of that. See ya…

    Reply
    • Avatar of Simon Belmont

      The original EVO 4G actually received a decent amount of attention, update-wise, within its lifetime (and even after it was EOL’d). It got TWO major OS updates Android 2.1 -> Android 2.2, and Android 2.2 -> Android 2.3, which was pretty good at the time (2010).

      Now, I do agree with slow updates AFTER that, though. As I said in a post above, the EVO 3D’s ICS update was extremely late to the game (after Jelly Bean was announced).

      Reply
  • I agree with the major points of the article. I have the same misgivings about HTC and purchased a GS4 that I am very happy with. The build quality is excellent, compared to HTC. My EVO 3D had the light leakage, crooked screen and luckily I got in before the updated bootloader so I didn’t have to s-off with the wire trick. Just having to deal with HTC’s lockdowns, the carrier IQ fiasco and the difficulties involved with development because of HTC not releasing source in a timely fashion added up to make me leave them out. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the years with HTC, but the times are a changing and I moved on.

    Reply
  • I am a normal dude, that bought an HTC Evo 4g when it came out and loved it (yes, even though wimax sucked then and still does today). I live in DFW, i don’t root my phones, my company has a Sprint corporate account that isnt changing, and i am happy with 4g LTE in Dallas.

    I had migrated to Samsung for the last 2+ years as HTC wasn’t offering anything i wanted.
    I just upgraded to the One last week and have to say i am ECSTATIC.
    I know i am not like many of you, but i think i “am” like many consumers. I haven’t missed the micro sd yet, battery life has been great, and i ignore blink feed as i don’t like that kind of crap anyway.

    Love this version of Sense, love the camera (even zoe), LOVE the beats audio, and am happy to be back on an HTC.

    Pocketables rocks. thanks for all the work you guys do for us.

    Reply
  • I think most important to any HTC product propsective buyer is the bleeding of top executives currently happening at HTC. Who cares if the product is great today when the company might shut down tomorrow? Sprint has worked hard to please me… they have failed to deliver on a few promises (4G, LTE). The two android HTC products I have used (EVO 4G and the EVO $G LTE) are good/great products but there are better products.

    Reply
  • Seems like more of a rant against Sprint’s network than the phone itself…

    Reply
    • I mention Sprint’s issues three times, HTC’s seven.

      Don’t really have any opinions stated on the phone, just the company.

      So, mostly would be considered a rant against HTC if you were calling it a rant.

      Reply
      • “Paul King is an associate editor at Pocketables. His articles are generally about the HTC EVO line of products and all the neat things you can do with them.”

        Maybe it’s time to update your profile if you’ve moved on from HTC products.

        This site is losing credibility with me every day considering your HTC hate. Really Paul, try posting an unbiased article, I know it’s hard for you.

        Reply
        • I’m still with all HTC EVO products.I don’t know why you would think I wasn’t. The EVO 4G LTE is my daily driver, although driver might be an overstatement since their last big update destroyed google navigation coming up on six months ago and they still haven’t fixed it.

          Just because I’ve been annoyed by what they’ve done with the developer community, the buggy updates they’ve pushed, etc doesn’t meant I’ve moved on. There’s not a lot of good to write about them at the moment – they introduced a new product, it’s starting to look like they’re doing what they did to their old products.

          Love the HTC phones, really dislike what the company’s been doing, and that’s what this is. You want to show me some positive and good things the company has been doing (except the hardware, it’s great, I know,) let me know and help give me a positive spin for them.

          Reply

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