The HTC Evo 3D might have dallied a bit too long in the USA before making its way across the pond to Britain. In the time since launch, LG has released a rival stereoscopic phone that’s not half bad in 2D too, and well, everybody appears to have stopped buying the Nintendo 3DS. So does this phone have a place anymore? Let’s take a look in our HTC Evo 3D review, shall we?
The HTC Evo 3D falls into that unusual category of “the occasional HTC phone which doesn’t look like a bloody HD2″, along with the excellent HTC Incredible S.
Like that strange eco-skeleton smartphone, this goes for a curious plastic back cover, which will definitely prove divisive: we like its ridged diagonal lines and smudge resistance, and while the twin sensors of the 3D camera bulge out, they’re placed right in the middle so the phone doesn’t rock when placed down on a flat surface. The circular capacitive buttons on the front of the phone are subjective too: they work, but they look, well, different.
We’re definitely not however, fans of the fingernail thin lock/power button on the top of the phone, or the massive camera button on the side of the HTC Evo 3D, complete with 2D/3D toggle which requires a serious shove. It’s a bit superfluous, since you can toggle this on the screen whenever you launch the camera app.
As for the build and weight – it’s tough, and its 170g weight and 11.3mm depth won’t be for everyone, but those with larger hands will appreciate it still.
In 2D terms, the 4.3-inch display on the HTC Evo 3D is identical to that of the mighty HTC Sensation. It’s an LCD, pixel-packed 960×540 capacitive number, that’s crisp, and stuffs tons on screen at once. It’s a joy to be able to see more emails in your Gmail at one time (Yes, we’re geeks, we know).
Most people will be satisfied with this crispness and colour quality, but once it’s again, for purists, it’s still not on the same level as Samsung’s insane Super AMOLED Plus screen on the Galaxy S 2. Purple, bright blacks are still its undoing, and visibility outdoors in sunlight is pretty poor still. But it’s still a top screen, and video viewers will enjoy the 16:9 aspect ratio.
3D or not 3D
Of course, the twist with the HTC Evo 3D is that it is, you know 3D. Sensibly, HTC hasn’t made the home screen interface 3D just for the sake of it – you’ll only see the parallax barrier kick in when you fire up the camera or 3D video and images in the gallery.
There’s still that unfortunate graininess in 3D mode, an inevitable side effect of current auto-stereoscopic technology, but the picture quality is slightly better than that of the LG Optimus 3D, the handset’s main rival. There’s a crisp edge to objects in 3D, giving you a slightly greater sense of depth – if you’ve got a 3D screen to hand, you can see for yourself in the clips below.
HTC Evo 3D video
LG Optimus 3D video
So far, so reasonable, but there are a few major problems. While you can adjust the alignment of left and right images after taking a still 3D photo, you can’t change the resolution of 3D videos at all. Which is odd.
Worse, you can only take 3D images in landscape (the sensors actually stop the shutter from working if held vertically), which wouldn’t be so bad, were it not for the fact that the 3D images are then only displayed in portrait mode, resulting in massive black bars across the screen. Zoom in, and the 3D effect is lost. Thus, unless you’re looking at 3D pictures on another display, taking them with the HTC Evo 3D is next to pointless.
Videos looks rather good, but essentially, you’re left with the ones you film as the only means of 3D entertainment. HTC Watch does not appear to have any 3D films yet (though HTC says these are coming), and there are no pre-loaded games, as the LG Optimus 3D offers.
If 3D really is a selling point for you (and we don’t think it should be – it’s still a gimmick lacking content, if a cute one), we’d still plump for LG’s effort, despite its out of date OS.
As we were the first to report earlier this year, the British version of the HTC Evo 3D actually comes with a slightly newer software build – Android 2.3.4, which allows for video chat via the Google Talk app. Otherwise, the smartphone experience is almost identical to the HTC Sensation – you’ve got the same whizzy effects when you flick between home screens, and the same bespoke HTC apps.
As ever, these are hit and miss. We just don’t understand the appeal of Stocks, but we love the lock screen, which you can auto-launch various apps from, the Facebook/Twitter contact connecting and HTC Locations will get you out of a GPS jam when you’re outside of a 3G connection and Google Maps has failed you. HTC Watch, too, is a great option to have, though we’re a few months in now, and we’d hoped to see more TV series available (only 10 shows, at the time of writing, and some are a few seasons behind).
Our other usual reservations apply: the HTC keyboard isn’t very intelligent or responsive (download another here) and HTC’s DLNA media streaming app, Connected media, isn’t very intuitive. We still struggle to connect it to our PS3, where Samsung and Sony Ericsson Android phones have no problems.
Android itself isn’t in question at this point however. It’s firmly established itself as one of, if not the defacto best smartphone operating systems, with countless apps and games to prove that claim. If you wanted to know more about the intricacies of Android 2.3 itself, check out our Google Nexus S review here. In short though, you’re in for a treat, so long as you aren’t tired of HTC’s Sense interface already.
Speed and performance
So here’s a puzzler. The HTC Evo 3D uses the same dual-core 1.2GHz processor as the HTC Sensation, and packs in more memory (1GB of RAM as opposed to 768MB). Yet it consistently turns in lower scores on Quadrant Standard than the Sensation – around 1,600, rather than 2,000. Technically, it’s slower.
Truth be told though, you’re not going to notice the difference – it’s still bloody fast, and will run any power-hungry game you care to throw at it. It’ll easily last a day of heavy use too, thanks to a capacious 1730mAh battery (HTC, could you use these more often please?). We had no problems with call quality, and speakerphone quality proved to be of a more reasonable standard than the disappointing HTC 7 Pro.
Just the five megapixel camera here, not the 8MP sensor on the HTC Sensation. As usual with HTC, it’s not very interesting. Mediocre shots ensue in 2D, with mottling and a distinct lack of clarity. The front camera is actually sharper than the Sensation’s, at 1.3MP, but really, that’s still not enough for anything other than blurry peep shows with your other half.
HD video isn’t the full 1080p of the Sensation, but 720p – though that’s not a bad thing by any means, and it looks just grand.
There’s certainly something to be said for picking up a HTC Evo 3D as a slightly more rugged Sensation. But as a 3D phone? It’s not as compelling a proposition as the LG Optimus 3D, and even then that’s relative: the Optimus isn’t compelling either.