Friday, July 29, 2011

A Quick Consumer Product and Service Review: HTC EVO and Sprint

Recently, The Queen and I made the decision to switch from AT&T Wireless to Sprint. The decision was not without some mild trepidation as I had been with AT&T since 1996, and The Queen had had Sprint back in the dark ages before we were married. She had had more than one bad customer service experience with Sprint. I clearly remember her frustration which led to my frustration with simple things like paying a bill or correcting an error. Then there was the fact that Sprint's network was atrociously bad with dropping calls and such. 

Fast forward to 2011. Our contract with AT&T had been expired for over a year, and our iPhones (second generation 3G) were becoming difficult to deal with (meaning they were slower than polar bear snot in a blizzard and updating the software was no help). Apparently, it is all part of Steve Jobs' evil plan to force you to buy the latest iPhone # whatever instead of continuing to service a perfectly useful product. I decided that it was time to check out what the other carriers had to offer and see if the Android phones were worth all the hype. 

Enter Sprint. They offered the HTC EVO at a reasonable (at least reasonable to me) price as the HTC EVO 3D had just come out, and their shared minutes family plan with unlimited text and data included was a big selling point especially considering that AT&T recently went to tiered data plan where you have to pay extra for unlimited anything. The total bill for Sprint's service was going to work out to about $20 less per month for double the minutes and unlimited data and text versus limited data and text with AT&T.

What could go wrong? Right?

Where to start? Let's start with the phone. That's the simplest place to begin. With the exception of one big honking, glaring, roadside flare of a battery issue, I really like the phone much better than I did the iPhone. The Queen...not so much. She has been mourning the loss of her iPhone ever since we left the Sprint store even though complained loudly for months before we made the switch about how slow her phone was and how frustrated she was. I can't win for losing. The Queen hates the phone, I think, because it's not like her iPhone. At the core of that is the battery issue with which I agree with her wholeheartedly. 

The battery on the HTC EVO flat out sucks. When we got our iPhones we were not used to how much smartphones went through battery life. We learned some relatively easy tricks to extend the battery charge, and we were happy. The iPhones wouldn't outlast a regular cell phone on battery life, but they'd make it through a full day of data usage and talking without needing a recharge every five minutes. The HTC EVO's battery makes the iPhone battery look like the Energizer bunny by comparison. It's phenomenally bad. 

For instance, I plug it in to the charger at night and use the phone as my alarm clock. The alarm goes off, I sorta kinda wake up, take the phone off the charger and take it with me into the bathroom to check email and such while I get ready for my day. In the span of the 15 to 20 minutes that it takes me to go through my morning ritual, the battery has been drained by about 10%. Apparently, that big freaking display that I love so much about the EVO accounts for 88% of the power used by the phone since it came off the charger this morning.

To be completely fair, I really do like everything else about the phone. I like the display a lot better than I do the iPhone's display. The apps seem to work better although there are some slight differences between the Apple version and Android version of identical apps like Facebook which take a little getting used to. Once you spend a day tinkering with the phone, you've figured out most of the quirks. The only thing that I think the iPhone does a little better than the droid is the contacts list. This is balanced out by the droid's smart dialing system. Want to call Bob? Any Bob. Dial 262 on the phone, and the Bobs in your contact list are presented for your selection. 

Anyway, I could have lived with the battery life issue by doing what a young friend of ours did...he bought a bigger frikkin' battery. If that were all it was, I think we could have been happy. But, nooOOOOoooo!. Sprint had to be difficult. For the past two weeks, I've heard nothing from The Queen but how bad the phone was, that it was dropping calls, etc. I was in the car with her during one of those times when a call was dropped, and it just happened to be in an area where I had consistently dropped calls with the iPhone. It told her so and suggested that that spot might just be a deadzone out of line of sight of any towers. She was skeptical but let it go for the time being; however, her complaints resumed the next day.

Things came to a head on Tuesday as The Queen and I were driving in separate cars to my mother's house. We were to be doing some house sitting this week while Mom was out of town. We took two cars as I would have to come back to our house to take care of work, our animals and other things. Whilst we were traveling from home and hearth at Castle Erickson to where Fortress Mimi is located in the hinterlands of the frontier, we were in the midst of a heated discussion about matters which do not concern my fair readers when the call was dropped. Right in the middle of a fair sized town on state highway. No signal. Zap. Discussion over. We were without cell signal for over 15 miles until we got to the interstate highway. Even then, our resumed call was dropped yet again in between small towns on the interstate. Oddly enough, we could send and receive texts while in radio silence mode.

Oh. HELL. No.

I drove back and forth between Dallas and Houston for two years with very rare dropped calls on AT&T's network due to loss of signal that lasted less than a mile. I called people from the top of a 10,000 plus foot tall mountain using my AT&T cell phone outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I've driven this exact same stretch of road between Castle Erickson and Fortress Mimi for as long as I've owned a cell phone without ever having had a dropped call with AT&T's network. Fifteen plus miles of no signal on a major state highway is UNACCEPTABLE. Period. End of story.

I will give Sprint kudos for one thing. The young lady who helped us when we signed up for service was super nice and helpful. I can only hope they are as helpful and nice when I go back in on Sunday to tell them we are taking advantage of their 30 day money back guarantee to go back to AT&T. If not, you'll be hearing about it. 

Your mileage may vary.


  1. Here in the mountains that I live around and travel through, AT&T is pretty poor when it comes to signal. Verizon or U.S. cellular is the way to go I've been told.

    My iPhone 3GS seems to have gotten slower in some respects as well. My contract is up very soon as well. We'll see what happens. I'd given thought to getting a 'droid, but honestly, I've also given thought to going back to just a cell phone with a full keyboard just for messaging if I can get one with out signing up for the internet portion.

  2. Matt, I'm sure that there are regional differences among the carriers in terms of signal reliability just simply based on infrastructure investment. However, here in the flat lands surrounding a major metro area like Dallas/Fort Worth, there is simply no excuse for not having a signal with a "major" carrier.

    I gave some consideration to getting a "messaging" phone as they are called now, but I have to admit that I'm addicted to my smartphone. It comes in real handy at times like when I needed to catch an earlier flight and check in online, and it has saved me from pure mind numbing boredom on more than one occasion.

  3. Yea, this sucks big time. If it wasn't for the convenience I would definitely go back to two tin cans and a string.....LOL

    W.V. Dincoun: Name of failed company of tin cans and string. ROFL

  4. Mr. Daddy, I don't know. Does the tin can come with unlimited text and data?

  5. Perchance that is why it failed????
    No text or data....
    And that glitch on call waiting.... *smirk*

  6. I made that same call from the top of the mountain near Jackson Hole on an AT&T (pre-Cingular, pre-AT&T again) phone back in '99, I think.

  7. John, I was there in the fall of 2002. I think it was called Cingular then. Same company regardless.

  8. Ugh. Phones. I'd gotten spoiled with my Android G1. But I killed it and the replacement MyTouch and I aren't getting along so well. I really miss my QWERTY keyboard; touch screens and I don't play nice together, but I'm learning.

  9. GunDiva, my fingers are too fat for a "real" keyboard. The Motorola Atrix we have now with AT&T has the touch screen with "Swype" texting capability. Once you get used to it, Swype works pretty well and is faster than I can poke out a message with my booger hooks.


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