Video: HTC Evo 4G Frees FaceTime From Wi-Fi (Sorta)

In our review of the iPhone 4, we noted that the FaceTime app worked fairly well, on a par with netbooks’ webcams, but Apple has limited its use to iPhone 4’s connected to a Wi-Fi network. But what if there were a way to jury-rig it so that we could use FaceTime via 3G?

We found the answer in one of the iPhone 4’s main competitors, the HTC Evo 4G. By using the Evo 4G’s Hotspot feature, we connected one iPhone to it via Wi-Fi, tricking the iPhone into thinking it was using a broadband connection rather than 3G. To cut down on variables, the second iPhone was connected to a real Wi-Fi hotspot.

So, how’d it do?

In summary: Not well. Steve Jobs was right to limit FaceTime to Wi-Fi connections. Audio came through only in patches, and video was like a slideshow at best. We somewhat expected this – we had the same experience when using Fring and Qik over 3G. So for now, limit your smart phone video chats to Wi-Fi.


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  1. Paul Sorensen Says:

    Did your “simulated 3G” connection simulate a 3G connection with or without HSUPA? With HSUPA, the theoretical upload speed is 5.8Mpbs and without it the theoretical upload speed is 348Kbps. Somewhat of a difference.

  2. Mark Shields Says:

    The FaceTime application is tuned for WiFi. You didn’t trick it — you just gave it a really sh*tty WiFi connection and then fell all over yourself saying OH LOOK HOW POORLY THIS WORKS ON 3G. The application will obviously adjust the audio/video compression, frame rate, etc. when it does become available for use on 3G directly. Duh.

  3. Tyler Says:

    Next time, try these facetime over 3g WITHOUT death-gripping the broken antennae corner of the phone.

  4. Meko Says:

    I think this is a clever use of technology. However, it’s also pretty funny that you need an Android phone for an Apple phone to be able to do what the Android phone can by default.

    Again, clever, but funny at the same time.

  5. K. T. Bradford Says:

    Mark: the 3G connection on the Evo isn’t all that bad. And I’m not understanding your point in the second half of your comment. We didn’t say: this will never work. We just said it doesn’t work very well right now.

    Tyler: We tried it in both hands. Same result.

    Paul: Good question, we’ll investigate.

  6. Mark Shields Says:

    What would be far more interesting is an article comparing face to face video conferencing solutions and whether or not they can throttle correctly based on connection speed. What exactly is the minimum WiFi speed for optimal performance? Some of us have cable or DSL sourced WiFi, but not all WiFi is sourced equally. Granted, a 3G connection on an Evo isn’t that bad, but it’s definitely not comparable to most WiFi.

    I look forward to further updates — but please, don’t throw people butter into gears and expect positive results.

  7. Kerry Davidson Says:

    This is a bad test. You need to specify EXACT bitrates on both sides otherwise your test is pointless. This could be a test proving how poor the mifi on the EVO is. When you do a scientific test, you have to remove all variables except for what you are testing, which you didn’t do. Next time, find a way to set the bitrate to an exact value on one end and then test, otherwise you aren’t really testing anything.

  8. God of Biscuits Says:

    Tyler: you’re a doofus. The iPhones were using WiFi connections.

    Meko: The iPhones needed to use external connections. They could have easily used another iPhone that had a tethering plan. You didn’t need an Android device. For that matter, they could have used a MiFi from Verizon.

    Is there ever going to be a time when people don’t attack Apple one way or another? When they’re doing poorly they get attacked for being near-death. When they’re doing well, they get attacked for the certainty that they won’t be able to hold on to the success.

    You people just suck.

  9. Silverd77 Says:

    Whatever!! I’m home with my iPhone 4 on wifi, my mom n dad are on a golf course in Reno! My moms 3G with Mywi running, my dads iPhone 4 hooked to it, called me on facetime… Was PERFECT!! saw the course.,.. The island green they were on, watched him try to land it! Not choppy, came thru perfect!! If you have the means, try it! Worked great! I was amazed! ;)

  10. nicholas Says:

    It the Evo giving off a straight wi-fi connection like a router, but just at slow speeds?

  11. Derek Says:

    while some people are going to come on here and bring up the speed issue with ATT&T’s 3g being “faster” than Sprint’s 3g i would like to beat them to the punch by pointing out that it is a moot point at the moment due to the U/l speeds AT&t has been having…

  12. Michael Says:

    Ever wonder if it’s EVO 4G’s wifi/processing/memory/3G connection causing it to go slow?
    Seems likely the case.

    Someone test it on a jailbroken iPhone 4 (use 3G facetime) and tell me how it went.
    Either way. It makes sense why it’s a Wifi only app.

  13. Paul Sorensen Says:

    K. T. Bradford “Paul: Good question, we’ll investigate.”

    How’s the investigation going?

  14. John Galt Says:

    So the Andriod rules, yes? What is the smart phone that can dock in a laptop, so you can get a bigger screen , & Windows 7?

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