O+ USA has been very busy lately, releasing not less than three new smartphones powered by the Android operating system in the past couple of months. In this review, we’re going to take a look at one of their latest models, the O+ Evo 4G.
The Evo 4G is the local company’s first — and so far the only — phone with LTE connectivity. What else is it good for apart from speedy mobile data? Read on to find out.
The Evo 4G doesn’t deviate much from the typical Android phone design. Its front bears a striking resemblance to the iconic HTC One, while its back shows a smooth, slightly glossy plastic cover that contains nothing apart from the O+ USA insignia, rear camera with flash, and built-in speaker grill.
The left side of the phone is empty, but the right side is where you’ll find the only set of hardware buttons. These are the volume up and down buttons and the combined lock switch and power button. These three are complimented by a row of touch-sensitive capacitive menu keys lined up right below the screen, on the bottom of the phone.
Frankly, the O+ Evo 4G’s design is nothing to write home about. It’s unremarkable, almost boring. But we can see the appeal of such a simple outward appearance. It gets out of the way, so to speak, and lets you get down to business right away as far as using the phone to the extent that its features will allow you to is concerned.
And what features are these? Well, for one thing, the Evo 4G boasts a 5-inch HD IPS touchscreen display. This is the part that you’ll likely spend the most time on, so it’s a good thing that it sits behind a layer of scratch-resistant glass for protection. We’ve seen better panels on more expensive models, for sure, but the one on the Evo 4G didn’t give us any problems.
We also enjoyed the fact that the display is aided by a built-in ambient light sensor which automatically adjusts the brightness of the screen. It worked exactly as it was intended to, and the colors of the screen itself were mostly accurate. The display also offers 5-point multi-touch support, which was useful for us since we’re quick-fingered touch typists who enjoy partaking in tap-heavy mobile games every once in a while.
Camera and speaker performance
The Evo 4G has a total of two cameras, as one might expect from a modern Android smartphone. The one on the front, which uses a 2-megapixel sensor, performs well only when there’s plenty of available lighting. Otherwise, it fails to capture any decent-looking photos.
Meanwhile, the one on the back with an 8-megapixel auto-focus sensor, can take much better photos. But it still won’t be enough to replace any decent digital camera. The rear camera also has an accompanying LED flash, though it’s only useful for taking pictures of subjects that are about 2-3 feet away at the farthest.
As mentioned earlier, the only other thing found on the back of the Evo 4G aside from the rear camera is the built-in speaker. It’s nothing out of the ordinary in terms of loudness and sound quality, so if you have used any entry-level to mid-range smartphone in the past 12 months, then you should know what to expect. There’s also a 3.5mm headphone port for use with headphones, and if you have a pair of wireless cans, you can just resort to using those too if you want to watch movies or listen to music.
Built for the future
But before you think of the Evo 4G as just another Android phone that has absolutely no unique characteristics, remember that it’s 4G-enabled. And not only that, it also comes equipped with a 64-bit CPU, and runs on the once-experimental Linux kernel version 3.10. In short, the Evo 4G is one of the few true phones on the market that we can somewhat unironically refer to as “future proof.” And the evidence for it can be gleamed simply by looking at the spec sheet.
In actual use, it didn’t seem all that different. The default OS on the Evo 4G is Android 4.4 KitKat, and it has a custom-made, nearly bloatware-free skin running on top of it. It’s nothing new, of course, especially if you’ve seen other 5-inch HD KitKat phones before. But there’s no discounting the fact that its built-in 4G LTE connectivity makes the Evo 4G a more complete option compared with similarly-priced alternatives.
Consider the fact that the Evo 4G has 8GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, dual-SIM support, and a 2,500mAh battery. Its 64-bit CPU, which is a quad-core chip, definitely shouldn’t have any problems running the OS and the apps smoothly for about 2-3 days of moderate to heavy use. That was exactly our experience, actually. Even with 4G data turned on periodically, we still had no trouble using the phone up to at least one full day on a single charge.
Avid gamers will also be delighted to learn that the Evo 4G has support for USB OTG accessories. Things like gamepads, any USB mouse, USB headsets, flash drives, and even keyboards should work whether you connect them through micro USB or through a full-size USB port with an OTG adapter.
And like all O+ phones, the Evo 4G has all the usual O+ software enhancements, like Air Shuffle, Air Share, Flip to Silent, and Peace to Selfie. Add to these the O+ assistive touch menu options for easy access to things like the Music player, File manager, Camera, Calculator, and other essential phone features, and you’ve got a recipe for a phone that will allow you to quickly do what you want, when you want, as long as the battery lasts. That’s a recipe for an easily dependable smartphone if we’ve ever seen one.
The O+ Evo 4G might look ordinary, but don’t let that fool you. Its design and features are practical, and its innards reliable and future-ready. At only 8k, it’s also one of the most affordable LTE-enabled handsets available on the local market. True, there are many models out there that could offer a lot of the same features for less, but this one has a complete Android phone package and a bit more, with an eye on the future.