Category Archives: mobile

Personal review of the EVO 4G or what mobile phone manufacturers need to get right.

I started an email this morning summarizing my review on the EVO 4G, and it quickly turned out longer than I expected so I thought I’d post it here, seeing that I haven’t posted anything in 6 months.

I got the EVO 4G from my dad who attended Google I/O. Generous man that he is, he handed it over to me. For a month I carried the EVO 4G around with me, along with my Nexus One that had been updated to Froyo. It made for quite a comparison since I was able to carry two flagship android devices around with me and I’ve captured my thoughts below.

SCREEN SIZE – I can’t emphasize this enough but a big HD screen on a phone changes what you want do on the phone. Screen size seems to be one of those things whose appeal is hard to understand rationally. If you had told me it has a 4.3” screen, I might have said that’s too big. But after a single day of using the EVO 4G, I found myself always going to it instead of the Nexus One. Browsing was easier, typing was easier but most importantly I kept wanting to watch videos on the phone.

Kickstand – Who would have thought a kickstand would be useful on a phone, but it’s perfect on the EVO 4G. I would carry the phone with me to lunch, prop the phone on the table and watch videos of World Cup games. Very nicely designed.

Sense– Like the way Sense handles integration of facebook & flickr contents but don’t much like it’s UI. I ended up downloading an alternate home screen that replaced the home interface to make it look more like Froyo 2.2 (not that Froyo has amazing UI, but it’s minimalism appeals to me)


Lack of Froyo / 2.2 – I manually upgraded my Nexus One to 2.2 and it made a world of difference. Faster, better batter life and full flash integration. If the EVO was to get Froyo (which I expect it will in October), that will make a big difference.

Lack of a single HD video content / app – If you give me a big, hi-res screen – I’m going to want to watch videos and movies but there’s no single app in the android marketplace that does it (till now – Droid X launched with the Blockbuster app). The Sprint video apps were terrible. I tried Sprint TV multiple times and it either crashed, or the video didn’t fill the screen or it wasn’t of high enough resolution. I ended up downloading HD videos from youtube and vimeo and watching them. A partnership with nextflix, hulu, boxee would go a long way to making video on the android phones

Camera – Camera may be of a higher resolution than the Nexus One but pictures were worse.Lots of noise, even in daylight. Megapixels don’t always matter ( I knew that intellectually, now I know it in truth)

Contrast ratio – Compared to the AMOLED on the nexus one, the LCD on the EVo 4G looked washed out. Only pro for the LCD was better sunlight performance.

Battery Life – Definitely less than my nexus one, but with a big screen, didn’t expect any less. Had to turn off a lot to make it through the day

Call Quality – This is more of a sprint issue, but calls were not as high quality as tmobile. I felt like there was a lot of digital compression on the line.

4G – Nice in theory, never ended up using it since it sucked up battery so much. Until you can have 4G on and have the phone last through the day, I don’t see the point of 4G. Nail in the coffin is that T-mobile’s HSPA+ is expected to be faster than Sprint and they are rolling out HSPA+ by end of year. I just used WiFi instead.

Sense– The UI is too heavy taking up a lot of the screen real estate with the curved arc interface at the home screen. Also, considering it’s a google phone, lack of close integration with Picasa in the gallery is unforgiveable.

PPI – 4.3” screen deserves a higher/denser resolution than 800 x 480.

Front-Facing Camera – For this to actually be used, it needs to be paired to a solid video chatting application which Qik is not. In the month I had it, I only managed to make one video call to my dad who was on his laptop using Fring->Skype. Key here is a video chatting application that supports common video chatting applications (Gchat, Skype, iChat or FaceTime)

Mobile phone manufacturers – it’s pretty simple. Fix these issues, and you have a solid phone. I have high hopes for the Droid X since it has addressed some of the issues I’ve identified above (Blockbuster App with rental videos). Let’s see what the rest of this year has in store. It’s an exciting time to be an Android user.

Cross cultural vs culturally specific

I saw this headline this morning and first scratched my head.

Spice Phone

MWC 2008: Spice Movie Phone has a built-in optical disc drive

The question that everyone seemed to ask was why UMD? My guess, probably cause it was cheaper and easier than to license Sony’s proprietary UMD format, not to mention that UMD’s (and therefore this phone’s) future would be held hostage to Sony’s whim. What was more interesting than the question of why UMD was the question that none of the commentary picked up on.

It’s really unlikely that this Movie Phone from the Indian cellphone maker Spice would make it anywhere besides India, but it’s an amazing phone because of what it’s got on the back: an optical drive

I’m currently in the cultural human factors class taught by Judith Gregory at the Institute of design. This class provides tools and frameworks to allow designers to develop culturally aware products. A comment like the one above shrieks of cultural bias and technological adoration, assuming that since the west has moved on to SD, microSD and nanoSD (just kidding), that somehow a phone such as this would never work.

Rather than worry about the UMD aspect of this phone, my question would be how well this phone would sell in markets that might share similar characteristics to India (a large domestic film industry, manufacturing infrastructure. a large upcoming middle class and deep mobile penetration).