Not since the original iPhone has a phone maker so radically shifted how we use a smartphone. But the new HTC EVO 4G LTE from Sprint, available for pre-sale May 7 for $199.99, includes two seismic smartphone enhancements: HD Voice, which essentially eliminates ambient noise from your received calls, and a camcorder able to shoot both HD video and snap 5 MP still photos simultaneously.

The new EVO will be the first U.S. phone to incorporate the revolutionary HD Voice technology. And it HD Voice is revolutionary.

In an isolation booth, a demonstrator switched on a speaker playing moderately loud music, which I could hear standing in my isolation booth. But when I held the new EVO to my ear, I heard nothing but his voice. When he wandered out of his pristine environment and into the loud demo area, I heard only a hint of the loud conversation and the pulsating house music.

You literally haven’t heard anything like it before.

In addition to the ambient noise damping, the HD Voice technology turned the usual fuzzy, tunnel-like cell conversation into something as close to live as I’ve ever heard, his voice full, deep and clear.

HTC also hasn’t neglected all the other multimedia sounds EVO emits via something HTC calls Authentic Sound experience with Beats Audio.

Video/Stills simultaneously

While recording or playing back recorded HD video, the EVO can simultaneously capture 5 MP still images. In record or playback mode, an on-screen shutter button is visible. It’s as simple as tapping it, and a still image is captured, unimpeding your video recording or playback.

There’s also a dedicated camera shutter button. Holding down the shutter enables a four frames-per-second burst mode. EVO’s camera also adds HDR image processing and a “smart” flash that adjusts the brightness depending on the distance of the subject.

EVO can also transmit whatever is on its screen – video, images, Web browser, email, et al – to an HDTV via Wi-Fi/DLNA attachment connected to an HDMI input on your HDTV. Pricing for the attachment will be announced when both it and the EVO actually become available.

Spec-wise, the new EVO is similar to other recent Android smartphones:

  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • HTC Sense
  • 4.7-inch super LCD HD display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.5GHz dual-core processor
  • Large 2000mAh embedded battery
  • 1.3 MP front-facing camera
  • 16 GB built-in memory

A distinctive red band around the middle of solid anodized aluminum EVO helps distinguish it from other plain, black smartphones, and also disguises the kickstand, a popular feature of the original EVO.

Stewart Wolpin