Mar 9, 2011

HTC Inspire 4G review

Before I begin the review I would like to thank the awesome TechnoBuffalo staff for giving away this awesome device to me. Make sure you visit their site and their YouTube channel to find a lot of great tech news and giveaways. You may never know, maybe one day you'll be the one reviewing stuff that you won from them!! Once again, THANK YOU TECHNOBUFFALO!!!

Ladies and gentlemen, The HTC Inspire 4G. One of the first, or I think the first ever device that sports AT&T’s HSPA+ 4G network. This monster has a 4.3 inch Super LCD display, 1Ghz next generation Snapdragon processor, a mighty 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash, and runs Google Android 2.2.

So, does this phone live up to the hype? Or you’re better off with other phones like its more expensive cousin, the Motorola Atrix 4G that is also on AT&T? But more importantly, will this high-end device make a Windows Phone 7 enthusiast turn to the Android side? Well, put on your reading glasses because we’re here to find all of that out!!!

Design and Display

HTC has a reputation of building quality smartphones and it does show on the Inspire 4G. The absolute beauty of the body of the device is made with a uni-body metal alloy that in my opinion, one of the nicest things to touch. The device feels so premium in the hand and it also feels sturdy as well. The metal alloy back does a good job on restricting any fingerprints, as well the soft touch plastic covers, that houses one for the battery, the dual LED flash, and one for the SIM card and the microSD card slot. And yes, the battery cover will be one of the hardest thing you will ever remove in your life. But, fortunately, the SIM and the microSD card slot are the ones you may have to access more often, and opening their cover is way easier than the battery cover, so yeah. It is not the biggest flaw in the world.

The first time I touched the Inspire I couldn't believe how thin it is.Sure it is not iPhone thin, but considering how wide this thing is, it surely feels thin. So thin that HTC had to make the camera bump a little bit just like on the EVO. Not a huge problem when the device is in your pocket but when you're using the Inspire on a flat surface, the device tends to wobble a bit when you press something on the upper part of the screen.

Going to the front of the device, you'll see a a 4.3 inch WVGA display. This display is a monster. I thought I wouldn't notice that much of a difference comparing my 3.8 inch HTC Surround, but it does. It really does make a big difference. But you may be wondering how is the pixel density holding up. Well, the pixels are just as good as with my HTC Surround. You'll know if a device has a bad resolution as texts seams to be blurry on their edges. That is not the case on the Inspire 4G. I think the bigger display makes the the text of course bigger, but also clearer.

One confusion I am going have with my two devices is that HTC placed the lock button on the Surround on the top right, but it placed it on the top left on the Inspire. The volume rocker is now on the other side as well. The Inspire also lacks a dedicated camera button, Not a minus in any way with the Inspire 4G's part, but I kinda hope that HTC would be consistent with the placing of these buttons on their devices (Although I blame Android for not requiring a dedicated camera button!).


The Inspire 4G's camera is the best mobile camera that I have used so far. Sure it won't replace your DSLR cameras, but it does capture great photos. Take a loot at some shots I did on the slideshow below:


One thing I like about the Inspire 4G, or Android in general, is that the settings are remembered when you exit out of the camera app, unlike where Windows Phone 7 forgets it and sets it to default. Most of the time remembering your settings is a plus, specially for video where you always want it to be 720P, but like where you see on my sample shots where I forgot to set the white balance to default, so some of the shots became to look a little bluish.

You'll see no noise when you capture shots during daytime, but on dark places and during night you'll have some pictures with a lot of grains. No big deal, as today's mobile camera tend to do that.

Battery and Performance

The Inspire 4G's battery has been criticized by a lot of reviewers, but for me having the same milliamp hours with the Surround, I have gotten used to the performance of the battery. I can safely say that it can last you throughout the day with a moderate use. If the battery is less than 15%, you'll have the option to put it on power saving mode, in which for me could last still up to four hours of stand by.

I tested how long the battery will last after a full charge, and it lasted 19 hours before it finally shut down. I did some photos, some fruit ninja action, and my brother watched some YouTube videos. I noticed that watching YouTube drains the battery quicker than any other tasks.

Let's talk about the device's performance. The Inspire 4G sports a newer version of snap dragon, so when I tested it on Quadrant it scored averaging from 1700+.  That is much faster than other devices listed on the Quadrant results chart. On Linpack the device scored about 30-50 mflops, slightly higher than what I get on the Surround, which has the older Snapdragon chip. On Neocore, which tests the performance on 3D graphics,  the Inspire 4G score a crazy fast 57FPS. That is really fast.

Browsing on the Inspire 4G is a smooth experience as well. I was going to say that Windows Phone trumps every Android with the browser speeds, it does still, but not by a lot. Pinch-to-zoom works without any lag, as well with scrolling up and down.

HTC's Customizations

So I have talked about the browser a bit, but one of the things that HTC has customized with Android is the browser (They call it "Internet"). The most notable change with the browser is that when you pinch out on a page, it'll go to a coverflow-esque mode where you can see all of your recent windows. With the stock Android browser, windows is not that discoverable, so I hugely like what they did here.

Another customization I like love on the Inspire 4G is the music application. Of course it is not as good as the music+videos hub on Windows Phone, but what they did is more like an Apple approach. On the now playing screen, you'll see an album view of your songs, presented in this 3D interface that is really nice looking. An option you can find on the top is the sound enhancement button, where you can choose whether you want a Dolby Digital, or SRS Wow enhancement. I personally prefer SRS over the others, as it gives more bass to the music.

The music app on the Inspire 4G. Sorry for the quality I took it with the Surround!
 When you're listening to music while the phone is locked, you'll see the album art of the song, and when you tap it you can skip, or pause the song, just like on Windows Phone 7. I don't think that was a feature on a stock Android. But I could be wrong.

The HTC Sense, which what HTC calls its customization on Android is not just a UI anymore. It has become so much more. I think HTC's customization of Android is the best compared to other companies that are just trying hard to differentiate. HTC's widgets for example, are super good-looking, specially that flip-style clock widget. HTC may also have the most widgets to offer than any other manufacturers out there. A lot of widgets are stored into the device, and a lot can also be downloaded on the HTC Hub (I know, they coined the name obviously from WP7.), but not only widgets, you can also download additional skins(which are not that many right now), wallpapers, sound sets, and ring tones.

HTC Sense extends outside of the Inspire 4G, as you can access on your desktop. In it, you can ring your phone at full volume, if ever you turned it silent and you can't find it, lock your phone when it got lost, or erase all of your data when it got stolen. You can also locate your phone anywhere in worldwide. Now all of these sounds really good but unfortunately it is not working for me yet. It detects that my phone is somewhere near the seas of Nigeria.


So yeah! I can't tell you enough how awesome this device is. Sure it is not perfect, but what phone is? And I think I have answered all of your questions but one -- Will it replace my Windows Phone? Well, right now I am using the Inspire 4G as my primary device, but I can't imagine losing my Windows Phone. So an answer for that is no. I don't know how will it be in the future, but right now I am an Android and a Windows Phone user -- which is definitely not a bad thing. Definitely not a bad thing.

for once, please!

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