HTC EVO Shift vs. Sprint's Original EVO 4G

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Grab a cigar, gang: Sprint's HTC EVO 4G officially has a new sibling.

Sprint unveiled the HTC EVO Shift 4G on Tuesday, kickstarting what promises to be a week filled with attention-grabbing Android announcements. The new EVO Shift 4G may share its older brother's name, but it's a drastically different device -- both inside and out.

The most basic differences are immediately evident upon seeing the new phone. The HTC EVO Shift is significantly smaller than its supersized predecessor, with a 3.6-inch screen compared to the original EVO's 4.3-inch monster display. The EVO Shift uses that extra room to add a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, something the first EVO does not possess.

That's just the start of the EVO story, though. Check out our comparison chart for a side-by-side glimpse at the two phones' specs, and read on for some more specifics.

HTC EVO Shift: Meet the New EVO

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The best way to sum up the difference between the HTC EVO Shift and the original EVO 4G is that the new model feels more like a productivity-focused device, while the first edition has multimedia powerhouse written all over it. The new EVO isn't necessarily better or worse; it's just a different kind of phone designed for a different kind of user. (Fittingly, as of now, there are no signs of Sprint discontinuing the EVO 4G; the new EVO Shift appears to be more of an addition than a replacement.)

Aside from its smaller profile and added physical keyboard, the EVO Shift has a 5MP camera compared to the first EVO's 8MP offering. It lacks a secondary, front-facing camera as well as an HDMI out port. The Shift does, however, record 720p HD-quality video.

In terms of under-the-hood power, the EVO Shift has an 800MHz processor -- a number that may initially appear less impressive than the EVO 4G's 1GHz chip. Interestingly, though, some early speed tests performed on the phones show the Shift coming out ahead. Mobile

retailer Wirefly ran Quadrant analyses on the two devices and consistently found the EVO Shift receiving higher benchmark scores, with end results around 1477 compared to the EVO 4G's 1232.

One burning question: What about Android battery life? The EVO 4G, after all, has taken some heat for its, err, premature depoweration. The EVO Shift's smaller screen should in theory put a lower strain on the phone's power consumption. That said, both devices use the same 1500 mAh battery, and both are listed by Sprint as having about six hours of talk time -- so we'll have to wait and see how the newcomer performs in the wild before making any final judgments.

The EVO Shift, by the way, ships with Android 2.2 -- aka Froyo. It's not immediately clear if or when it'll be upgraded to the shiny new Android Gingerbread release, but one would imagine it'd be relatively early in line for the nod. HTC has yet to make any firm upgrade commitments for any of its devices, but based on past trends -- the original EVO was the first carrier-specific device to receive the Android 2.2 upgrade, preceded only by Google's Nexus One -- the original EVO sure seems like a strong contender for a timely Gingerbread rollout, too.

The HTC EVO Shift 4G will be available for $149.99 (yep, 50 bucks cheaper than its big bro) starting January 9. It'll be sold through Sprint and also at all Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile locations.

JR Raphael is a PCWorld contributing editor and the author of the Android Power blog. You can find him on both Facebook and Twitter.

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