The second glasses-free 3D device is now in our hands, and this time around it’s from HTC. Known for its eye for design and solidly built handsets, if anyone could make a desirable 3D-enabled phone, it’s HTC, right? The first real successor to the EVO line brings solid upgrades across the board and throws in a few nifty new features, but can HTC make a bleeding edge technology worth-while? Read on to find out!
- Gorgeous display: The 4.3 inch qHD display is beautiful and looks even better than most of its kind.
- HTC Sense 3.0 is a great update: The best custom skin for Android just got a whole lot better with several upgrades in software.
- Overall design is beautiful: The EVO 3D maintains the look of the original, but has many design elements that are different and welcomed.
- Probably the cheapest HTC handsets we've ever touched: The entire backing of the device feels so cheap that you feel like you're going to break it when taking the battery cover off.
- 3D technology just isn't there: No matter how you spin it, glasses free 3D isn't ready for prime time.
- HTC Sense is full of bloatware: While many are useful, HTC bundles a handful of applications you'll probably never use, and we're not even talking about the preinstalled Sprint applications.
The EVO 3D is a lot of things but ugly isn't one of them. The overall look and feel to the EVO 3D looks similar to the original but there are some subtle (and not so subtle) design changes made to the handset that give the handset a very unique look.
The front of the device is mostly covered by its beautiful 4.3 inch qHD display that looks better than most we've seen before. The Droid X2 has the same resolution display but you can still see pixels and color saturation seems off. The display on the EVO 3D is perfectly saturated, has great viewing angles (in 2D, at least), and is plenty bright.
Below the massive display are the four standard Android buttons for home, menu, back and search, and above you'll find the proximity and ambient light sensors, as well as the notification LED and front-facing camera. Of course, you'll find the Sprint and HTC branding on the front, but do you care?
The left side of the handset only sports the charging port, and is otherwise clean. The top houses the power/lock switch and the 3.5mm headphone jack, and the bottom you'll find the microphone hole and a tab for remove the battery cover. The right side of the EVO 3D is where the volume rocker, dedicated 2D/3D switch for the camera, and the large camera shutter button are. The shutter button is very large, rounded and downright ugly, but gives great feedback when pressed.
The back of the device is where you'll find the stereoscopic cameras, which are 5 megapixels each. In between the lenses is the dual-LED flash and, "3D HD Imaging" below it. The entire camera setup is raised, and you'll notice that the device isn't all that grounded when you sit it on its backside, but that's just a minor annoyance. Surrounding the cameras is a red, metallic trim that you'll find the speaker grill in as well. The trim is very nice on an otherwise bland backing.
The back side of the EVO is done up in a matte finish on a quarter of one side, and textured on the rest. This look is interesting, and we're not really sure what we think of it, but we're leaning towards, "neat." However, the materials used for the back feel down right cheap, and is really a turn off. For a company who is known for making solid handsets, HTC really missed the mark with the battery cover material.
Opening the battery cover is a pain since it feels like it will snap into two pieces at any moment. Once you do get it opened, you'll find the massive 1730 mAh battery and a 8GB microSD card that's sadly not hot-swappable.
The entire design of the EVO 3D is beautiful and you can tell HTC put a lot of attention to detail when making this EVO follow-up. The back side of the device could be made of better material, but looks amazing from an aesthetics standpoint.
HTC managed to keep the weight of the device the same as the original EVO 4G, which is definitely a good thing, but it still feels lighter. We love the red trim around the cameras, and the textured backing is a nice touch.
The only thing we're turned off by is the camera shutter button, which sticks out like a sore thumb. A lot of people may like the larger button for taking pictures, but we'd like to see a smaller button. Having this sit next to the dedicated 2D/3D camera switch is almost distracting, as they are the only metallic pieces on the device.
Build quality of the device is acceptable, but we're not sure just how the EVO 3D would fare if it took a tumble. Between the raised cameras and the cheap battery cover, the handset needs a case to ensure you don't break either one.
HTC is known for making solid handsets but this isn't one of them. It's not the cheapest phone we've ever touched, but it's probably one of the cheapest handsets we've seen from HTC. The cheap feeling comes from the battery cover as we've said before, but otherwise the handset shows the expected HTC brilliance. We wish that the power/lock button and the volume rocker weren't built into the backing as the little plastic tabs may not hold up as well as real buttons.
Despite our qualms with the back of the EVO 3D, we do believe it will endure regular wear and tear and should hold up in the long run, but we do suggest grabbing yourself a case for it.
Screw 3D, Sense 3.0 is the real reason to grab this phone. HTC has updated its Android software in so many ways that its easy to forget about the 3D aspect of the phone. Yes, it's still the Sense you've seen before, but it has several tricks up its sleeve.
The best new addition to Sense 3.0 is the lock screen. It's been redesigned in a way that we've never seen before and tops very other phone out there. Instead of the slide to unlock, Sense 3.0 basically gives you a home screen on your lock screen that is heavily customizable. There are six different lock screens you can choose from; some better than others. For example if you choose the Friend Stream lock screen, every time you hit that power button you'll be greeted with the latest updates from you social networks and other will be floating behind it. From there, you can easily swipe through the updates. Easy and brilliant.
On the bottom of the lock screen is a circle that you drag to the middle of the screen to unlock, which is quite different than your standard Android lock screen and even previous versions of Sense. Four customizable applications line the bottom of the screen, right above the circle. You can easily jump into one of these applications by dragging the apps into the circle on the bottom, and away you go. Honestly, I'd like a developer to rip the lock screen from Sense and allow it to be on any device, because not only does it look amazing, it's quite functional, too.
After you get past the amazing lock screen, you'll be greeted by your standard Sense home screens, but you may have noticed that the animation is different from other version of the custom skin. Sense 3.0 introduced a 3D carousal-like setup for the home screens, and if you swipe fast enough the screens will zoom out and spin in a loop until it eventually slows down. Thanks to the blazing fast 1.2GHz dual-core processor, these heavy animations move across your screen like butter.
Other useful updates in Sense 3.0 are in the notification bar, which has a separate tab at the bottom for Quick Settings. It doesn't get in the way, and you can easily access WiFi, Hotspot, mobile networks, 4G, Bluetooth, GPS, how much memory you have in the phone, or go straight to the settings menu.
Even with the nice amount of updates in version 3.0, Sense is still easy to navigate. You're given seven home screen panels to customize with applications and widgets, and many of the widgets are provided by HTC. These widgets range from clocks to stocks, weather, Twitter, other social networks, and more.
Sense also has a good amount of bloatware on it that is just unnecessary. Apps like Footprints are nice to have, but you'll likely never use it. HTC also provides you with an application called mirror, which basically uses your front-facing camera to use as a mirror. We know it's not that hard to use the front-facing camera in the camera application, and it's applications like this that made devices like the Desire not get the Gingerbread update. Luckily, if you bitch enough, HTC will strip out some of its bloatware so it can fit in the latest update of the OS and its Sense UI.
Unlike the Optimus 3D, the EVO 3D doesn't have a dedicated 3D UI packaged along with the phone. This is a bit disappointing because the superior screen likely showcase the technology better, but that's not the case. You're given The Green Hornet in 3D, along with a 3D Spider-Man game, and an app called 3D games that's basically a link to Gameloft's website. This is another place where the Optimus 3D bests HTC's offering, as it has many more games available. For a glasses-free 3D device, HTC could have done a much better job at showcasing the technology. While it would get a bit old after a while, we'd love to see the Sense UI in 3D.
The EVO 3D ships with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, so we put it to the test to see just how powerful the chipset is. We ran the tests three times each, and the averages are below.
Quadrant (System Benchmark) - 1978
Neocore (Graphics Benchmark) - 60.4
Linpack (Processor Benchmark) - 43.093
Web Browser, Multimedia And Camera
The web browser for the EVO 3D hasn't changed at all from earlier versions of the Sense UI, and we're just fine with that. HTC has customized the browser and it looks better than most you'd find on Android devices today and many more features that provide of one the best experiences.
The vibrant qHD display allows for a great browsing experience on the device, and 720p HD Flash video plays just fine within the browser. When it's not constantly buffering, that is. While the browser itself is heavily skinned like the rest of the software, underneath you'll still find the blazing fast Android browser that rivals everything out there today.
There are certain elements that we wish Google would implement into the stock Android browser, like multi-select for bookmarks, and we definitely wouldn't mind if we saw the slick thumbnail bookmark view that HTC provides for you. While the stock Android browser is known for it's speed, HTC's browser has everything stock Android can tout, and makes it look great along the way.
There's a hefty amount of media apps on the EVO 3D, and because of the 3D aspect you'll always be entertained.
Watching YouTube 3D is generally better on the EVO 3D than the Optimus 3D, as the viewing angles are wider, but that still doesn't make it a great experience. Unfortunately, there's no dedicated application for YouTube 3D, and you'll have to manually search through the standard YouTube application.
HTC provides ones of the best skinned Android music players around, providing a slick UI that's terribly easy to use. That said, with the new Android music player available in the Market, some may never use it.
The EVO 3D ships with an app called Media Share, which is a DLNA application that allows you to stream media to your HDTV or to other DLNA-compatible devices.
One of the main attractions of the EVO 3D is that you can take pictures and videos in 3D, and it does an admirable job. You can record up to 720p in 2D and 3D, and while we did hear that the handset could record in 1080p in 2D, the option was nowhere to be found.
The 2D camera takes some nice shots, and to better show color saturation, most of the pictures were taken are of flowers. Of course, the camera performs great with about any subject, but flowers show of 3D much better, and if you have the right hardware to view 3D images (or an MPO file viewer) then feel free to download this to file view the 3D pictures taken with the handset.
Here is a link to the 3D video sample.
Some shots do look like they should be brighter than they are as you can see below.
Call Quality And Battery Life
Call quality is a solid experience that most will have no qualms about. There were only a couple of times that background noise was apparent during a call, but the receiving end said that the call was loud and clear. While you'll probably be using the EVO 3D as a media device more than a phone, at least you know it makes a good call.
Battery is what you'd expect from a device of this kind: pretty bad. 3D is to blame for the most part, and since there's little 3D content to view on this device it should probably last you through the day. Even with the massive 1730 mAh battery, the EVO 3D just barely gets through the day, but you can definitely manage to do so.
The Final Take
So you're wondering if you should grab this thing, eh? Well, it depends on what's more appealing to you. If you're in the market for a 3D phone, and don't want to grab the Thrill 4G (Optimus 3D) when it lands on AT&T, sure, grab the EVO 3D. But the 3D aspect isn't what makes this phone a good phone. In that respect, the Optimus 3D provides much better use of the technology, even with its inferior display. We usually don't see HTC throw together a phone, especially when its had a year to work on this device, but that's exactly what seemed to have happened with the EVO 3D.
With the lack of 3D content available to the device, and the questionable build quality, HTC missed the mark with this phone. That said, we still can't say it's a bad phone, as the hardware is solid enough and Sense 3.0 is simply awesome. 3D technology has a long way to go and it shouldn't be a deciding factor any time soon when you're choosing a new phone. As a regular smartphone, the EVO 3D is a solid device that should definitely satisfy, but if you're not looking to use 3D on your new phone, we'd suggest the Sensation 4G over this phone.
If HTC showcased 3D better like LG has done with the Optimus 3D then we may be more inclined to choose it. Right now, we're not choosing either of the two. Still, the EVO 3D is a solid successor to the original, even if it has some parts that don't work as well as they could.