HTC EVO 3D in-depth review -

Look and feel

It's a chunky fella that will make your pockets sag it weighs so much – its size will put a lot of people off. However, its huge 4.3 inch Gorilla Glass screen looks the business

Ease of use

Latest version of Android and HTC Sense 3.0 make this a joy to use – but the complete lack of any 3D portal to find 3D content makes actually getting stereoscopic downloads a pain in the backside

Features

Still only one of two handsets out there that can shoot in 3D, but the two-megapixels resolution is unimpressive. Connectivity features are top of the class – this has everything you'd expect from a £500 Android smartie

Performance

The camera leaves a lot to be desired, but the 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM make this a technological tank. You won't be left hanging around when switching between apps

Battery life

If you don't use the 3D, you'll get just under a day's worth of regular use on a full charge. As soon as you flick the 3D on, it's almost like the battery's leaking – it runs out of juice very quickly indeed

 HTC EVO 3D Review -
2.5

Review by Sunetra Chakravati,6/27/2011 3:26:10 PM

6

out of 10

Performance

4

out of 5

Look and feel

4

out of 5

Ease of use

8

out of 5

Features

4

out of 5

Battery life

Pros:

It?s 3D (if you?re into that sort of thing), has a solid build, nice big screen and packs super dual-core processing muscle. It also has the latest version of Android and HTC Sense

Cons:

The 3D hurts your eyes, gives you a headache and the novelty wears off fast. The fact that it?s almost impossible to share your 3D pictures with anyone doesn?t help

It can be no surprise that so few manufacturers have taken a stab at the 3D market. LG had a go a few months back with the novel, but highly flawed, Optimus 3D, and now HTC has taken the plunge with the Evo 3D. Its flashy selling points are straight forward enough – a 3D screen for viewing 3D games and movies, plus twin cameras so you can shoot your own stereoscopic masterpiece, a very low budget Avatar, if you will. And you can view all this 3D gloriousness without the embarrassing need to stick on a pair of specs that make you look like Roy Orbison. It's a technology pioneered by Nintendo's 3DS. And considering that portable device recently underwent a drastic price cut by a whopping third - just a few months after its initial release due to poor sales - we're sure we're not alone in thinking the 3D experience is something best left for the occasional cinema night out, rather than every time we pull our phone out of our pocket.

 

 Evo side

Beefy build

The first thing you'll notice is how chunky this handset is; this is the Yorkie of Android 2.3 Gingerbread devices and feels alarmingly big when compared to a Samsung Galaxy S II. It sizes up at 126x65x12.1mm, which in today's increasingly ultra-thin market makes for a particularly big handset. And at 170g, it's like a sumo wrestler when compared to its peers. Keep in mind - this phone is almost 3mm thicker and over 50g heavier than the aforementioned S II, and it will pose a shock to those who are used to the very latest in ultra-anorexic, high-end smarties.

 

Its build quality is almost identical to the HTC Sensation. The top gives home to the on/off switch and a 3.5mm headphone jack, the left wing is where you'll find the microSD port (looking very lonely), with the right flank being a bit more crowded with a volume rocker, dedicated camera shoot button and a switch to flick between 2D and 3D.

 

As far as touch-screens go, the Evo's is an impressive beast, a whopping capacitive 4.3-inches of gorilla glass with a 540x960 resolution giving crisp results. And like with the Sensation, there are four Android buttons sat under the screen - Home, Settings, Back and Search, all of which are touch-sensitive and nice and responsive.

 

Its rubbery rear end is where the twin camera lenses sit, which when both activated work in tandem to shoot in 3D. They're embedded in a curved, slightly-protruding rectangle, and when you look into both lenses, it almost feels like Johnny Five from Short Circuit is staring right back at you, screaming "Johnny Five is alive!". It's cute. Ish.

Evo 3D vs Sensation

To all intents and purposes, this phone is a HTC Sensation 3D. Taking the third-dimension to one side for a moment, almost every technical specification and piece of software on the two are identical. Both are powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core processor that's so meaty as to be almost cannibalistic. The sizes are very similar (although the Evo is 0.8mm thicker and 22g heavier) and they have the same sized 4.3-inch screen.

 

Both handsets run on Android 2.3 Gingerbread, so once logged into your Gmail account you'll be able to rummage around all 400,000 apps currently on the Android market and enjoy life's pleasures like push email (for all your email accounts) and super fast and slick internet access. And both being HTC, they share the identical HTC Sense 3.0 interface, the company's most recent skin that fits ever so snugly over Android. If you're new to HTC, Sense 3.0 is an ostentatious visual treat, flicking between homepages is done using a rotating carousel, and you can unlock the screen by dragging an active app or widget into a ring which opens it up. It's a superb interface, identical on both handsets, and this is where our first gripe with the Evo 3D comes in.

 

Unlike with the LG Optimum 3D - which has an area for all your 3D content to be grouped together called "3D Space", the Evo 3D has no such herding pen. For an interface as beautifully designed at Sense 3.0, it would have been extremely easy for HTC to create an area solely for the purpose of gathering all your 3D games, films and pictures. As it stands, when turning the handset on, there isn't anything 3D installed and finding stereoscopic 3D content isn't an obvious or intuitive task, especially on the extremely overcrowded Android market. Another wasted opportunity is the UI itself not being in 3D - it's just exactly the same as it is on the Sensation, making the Evo 3D feel decidedly 2D. The ever brilliant HTC Friend Stream widget, which links all your Facebook, Twitter and social networking accounts into one wonderfully clean list would have looked awesome in 3D - as it is, it's still the same brilliant "2D" affair. The same can be said for the weather widget, the cloud and rain effects indicting the weather as such, make no attempt to help the phone shout "I am 3D!"

 

Evo front

Shoot me

Moving onto the 3D you'll shoot for yourself, the Evo shares many problems with the LG Optimus 3D, and has one or two new issues. Despite both cameras coming in at five-megapixels, when taking stills in 3D mode it plummets down to two-megapixels, which is borderline medieval. And even in 2D – five-megapixels is a considerable drop from the Sensation's eight-megapixel snapping prowess.

 

When shooting stills, the 3D works well if you shoot something in close range, with people and objects in the foreground looking bizarrely at odds with the background. Admittedly, what's captured in the foreground does look a little like it'd been photo-shopped in, but the 3D is impressive at first. The same can be said for when shooting video which it can do in 720p (in either 2D or 3D), providing you're not moving the handset too fast and you're shooting things up close, you'll get results that, while aren't going to win you a cinematography Oscar anytime soon, are certainly novel and will make your friends go "Ooohhhh!". For a bit.

 

Shooting things at a distance, however, proves a less satisfying experience (and there is no zoom in 3D). The 3D simply fails to differentiate different degrees of distance and all you're left with is a blurry mess that's not particularly pleasant on the eyes (in fact we thought we were going cross-eyed after a minute). Holding the phone at arm's distance lessons this, but clearly having to stretch your arm right out just to reduce the headache is not exactly ideal or fun. And as with LG's handset - the 3D effect breaks if you tilt the screen slightly, which means a steady hand is needed.

 

But gripes aside with the Evo's 3D own capabilities; we still don't see any use for this technology in today's mobile phone market. The big question most people are asking is this - is it a gimmick, or is it a technical revolution? At this current stage, we're siding with "gimmick", one that's almost completely useless as you'll not be able to share these 3D images and videos with anyone who doesn't have the same 3D tech - which is almost everyone.

 

For example, once you've taken a 3D shot - upload it to Facebook. All that your friends will see is a flat, two-megapixel picture - they'll probably think you've got some £20 budget camera phone rather than a £500 technological titan. You can upload your videos to youtube's 3D channel where your friends can watch in 3D providing they have the old red and cyan 3D specs, but it's unlikely they will, and probably won't want a pair.

 

There is another problem with 3D, after the initial "coo!" novelty wears off (and it wears off quickly), it's not actually much fun looking at things in 3D,it hurts your eyes and makes your frontal lobes feel like they're being scratched by a rabid cat. So even if everyone could look at your 3D creations, would they even want to? We're not anti-3D by any means, and admit to being gobsmacked watching Avatar and Toy Story 3 in the cinema. But a trip to the cinema to watch something in 3D that has production values in the stratosphere – and costs tens of millions to make – is a very different experience to looking at two-megapixel stills of you and your friends sat in a pub.

Evo front 2

3D multimedia

As for downloading 3D content, the experience is surprisingly unintuitive. As we've mentioned before, there's no part of the OS that makes it easy to find 3D (a flaw not shared by its LG rival). It needs and lacks some sort of widget or portal that takes you to 3D-only downloads. Gameloft has a range of games that use 3D, with Spider-Man: Total Mayhem 3D and N.O.V.A being particularly impressive titles, but again you'll find the 3D effect regularly breaks as the screen tilts around. And when it comes to gaming – this is no 3DS beater.


Connectivity is one area this phone excels, unsurprisingly given the price tag. HSPDA comes in at a sturdy 14.4Mbps and the A-GPS is lightning quick. However, when using sat-nav, again you feel like you're looking at something that could have looked awesome in 3D - but is in fact, just the same as it is on 2D phones. And the battery life when using the 3D is abysmal - you'll need several batteries if you're not constantly within plug socket range.

Conclusion

It's possible as the technology improves, 3D could become as standard on mobile phones as the camera itself, but it still feels too gimmicky, too raw and with so few ways to broadcast your pictures it's difficult to recommend a phone that costs well over £100 more than the HTC Sensation.

Dan Curley